Homeschool Curriculum Picks for the 2021-2022 School Year...

July 14, 2021

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Whether you're a newbie or an OG Homeschooler, curriculum choices can be tough. Do you continue with what you've used before? Try something new? Do a box curriculum? Follow a friend's recommendation? There are SO many options! And honestly, there are way too many amazing options to choose from. I personally struggle with being able to narrow down our choices and actually stick to something. There are so many that I love that I find myself trying to squeeze in more than I should...

We have now entered our 6th year homeschooling (whaaaaaaa?! I can't believe we've been doing it that long!). That said, it has been the easiest year yet with knowing exactly what we're going to use and feeling confident that we're going to stick with it. We have tried and tested so many different curriculums in the past that I feel like I know what works for my kids and what doesn't. Of course, I know I'll still catch myself at times wondering if we're not doing enough or if we're doing too much. I suppose that just comes with the inner homeschool mom guilt though, right?

Here are my picks for my 2nd Grader...

And for my 5th Grader...

For Language Arts, we use a variety of things. First off, I'll talk about my absolutely FAVORITE! All About Reading -- if you don't know about it yet, click on the link and check it out. You'll thank me later. It's -- by far -- the best phonics curriculum you'll find! It can get a bit pricey, but it's worth every dime. If you've followed me at all, you know how much I love it and how amazing it has been at helping knock out Sam's speech delay. It has helped my boys go from not reading a word, to reading absolutely any word by 2nd grade. Caleb is now on Level 4 and will most likely complete it in the next 2 months. He will happily knock out a lesson or 2 a day -- especially if that includes getting to read the lesson on Messenger Kids with his Grandma Julie! Ha! I highly encourage anyone that is looking for a phonics program to check it out -- especially if you suspect your child struggles with dyslexia. It's truly the best!

I see it often asked online, so I should note...after my boys complete the All About Reading program, I let them move on to reading whatever they want (within reason). I just ask that they read for 30 minutes a day. Because Sam is at the age now where I vividly remember reading specific books and loving them, I'm kind of adding those to his list of what he has to read this year, but I generally don't force a reading program on them. At the moment, he's reading Hachet. At first, he claimed he didn't like it, but by the 2nd chapter, he was hooked! Just to help me know that he's retaining what he reads, I added a super simple reading journal last year that we will continue to use this year (and every year after?). It's not pictured since I just print the pages out as needed, but it's by Not Consumed. It's great! It's just quick, half page, activities to fill out after he reads. I would definitely check it out as a little add-on to your curriculum list!

Another one of my favorites for Language Arts (but isn't pictured above in the main photo) is Brave Writer! We absolutely love their Arrows (book studies). We use several of them every year and so far, we've started the year with The Wild Robot and the boys are in LOVE! 

Because I don't make Brave Writer my sole LA curriculum, we just sneak it in here and there. I've gone years where it was our sole curriculum and others where we didn't really use it. I have found that *for us* we like it as a supplement. I don't know how many of the writing projects we'll do this year, but we will leave them open as an option. The Arrows are meant to be a month long, but we typically don't finish in a month. The writing projects are also meant to be a month long, but when we do one, we set aside our other LA curriculum and just do one for a week as our sole focus. My favorite thing about homeschooling is the flexibility and this right here shows why, ha!

Continuing on with some of our other Language Arts choices, Explode the Code is another workbook series that we like. I like that it reinforces phonics while also working on writing and spelling. I didn't have my oldest use the books for as long as my youngest has been doing them and I can see a difference in their spelling. My oldest noticed too and asked to go back and work through the ETC series, so we've added that to his set as practice. There may or may not be a link between their spelling skills and using these workbooks, but I do feel that they help! They're silly, simply, and fun!

For Handwriting, I'm not truly sold on any one curriculum. To be honest, my youngest is working through another Handwriting Without Tears workbook simply because someone gave it to us. When my boys were younger, I preferred the Paw Patrol worksheets that I created to any professional curriculum. (Click here for the free printables.) Now that I'm really just having Caleb do handwriting for further practice, I'm not strict on what he uses. I have Sam work through a cursive workbook once a week for practice as well -- it's a fun joke workbook.

Lastly, as you can see by the photo, we use several Evan Moor workbooks that cover writing and spelling. The boys like them and I like that the layout is simple and to the point. In fact, for anyone doubting the quality, I have compared them to some big name curriculum options that I have sitting around and to be honest, I prefer the way they approach the lessons and the topics covered. My oldest really enjoyed the Spell and Write workbook last year, so I grabbed it for my youngest to try out this year. They only do one side of a page a day and knock it out in 5 minutes or less. In the photo, you can see several EM workbooks, but some of those are being saved for later in the year (mainly the non-fiction writing ones). At the moment, Caleb is using Daily 6-Traits Writing and Spell & Write. The other writing workbooks (along with Explode the Code), will come later in the year after he has finished his All About Reading curriculum. For Sam, he is alternating every other week between the grammar and spelling workbooks while also doing Daily 6 every day. We will take breaks here and there from these workbooks to do some Brave Writer writing projects throughout the year. If you were to use them straight through, each of the workbooks would only last a max of 25 weeks, so it easily gives me that space in between to tie in other things...

Moving on to Math, old school Saxon has proven to be our preferred curriculum. (I'm talking the ancient 1990's version of Saxon that you can only find in an old, beat up way...) We have tried several (including Math U See, Singapore, Masterbooks, Teaching Textbooks, etc.) and have always come back to Saxon. It may seem overwhelming if you're new to it, but just remember -- you make a curriculum work for you, not the other way around. We generally do the practice and then odd/even depending on the day. My boys have really flown through math with this program and enjoy it!

For Science, we are now on our 2nd year using Apologia. We're doing the Human Anatomy and Physiology set this year. Not pictured, but on the shelf, are several extra books and hands on activities that I plan to use with each lesson. I was given the Apologia Notebook by a friend, but I don't think we will use it other than the crossword puzzles. I don't honestly find it necessary. Instead, each boy has a composition book to take notes while going through each lesson. I lay out a huge set of colorful pens and let them have fun. They typically draw the various diagrams and write whatever information they find interesting or important. We typically read through the lesson twice a week and then leave Fridays for reading the extra books on the various topics and/or playing the games and working with the hands-on activities that I have that go along it.

For History, we are also continuing with the 2nd volume of Story of the World. My boys really enjoyed working through the Ancient World with SOTW last year, so we're going through the Middle Ages now. I follow the same schedule as science with history -- reading the lessons twice a week, then leaving Fridays for checking out any additional readers or activities that go along with the lessons that week. I alternate which days we do science vs. history -- it seems to work out well. Oh, and with Story of the World, I would definitely recommend the activity book! Unlike the Apologia Notebook, I do actually find the SOTW activity book quite helpful! It has a great list of reading comprehension questions, activities, maps, etc. to help with the lesson. We use it every time!

Last but not least, we use More Than Words for an additional study of the Bible. We started these workbooks last year, but didn't get too far. We just felt overwhelmed, so I put them away. I'm bringing them back out this year, but with the plan to do them sporadically. I have been dealing with a lot of physical therapy for my shoulder, so we have left MTW for something they can do with dad while I'm at my appointments. I love that it gives them a special time with dad to talk about the Bible. I feel that's so important to have that time with dad! So we may or may not finish these workbooks, but I'm in no rush. 

If you're on the hunt and unsure of what to use, I hope this post helps!

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