Picking Curriculum: Or Why I Start Thinking About September in February!




Lately (for which I am very thankful) school has been going remarkably smoothly. We took a bunch of time off in December due to holidays and sickness and finished out 2014 by moving the schoolroom upstairs from the basement to the biggest and sunniest of our four bedrooms.

I only moved up the things we actually needed ?on a daily basis, and have been diligent about rotating the independent learning toys for the little boys. I’ve also tweaked our schedule so that the big two and I now start school at 8 am while the little boys play downstairs for another hour, and somehow the result has been that the big two are working more independently with less dawdling, and Bull and Jack are getting more of my time and attention which has helped tremendously with their happiness and ability to learn.

One of the side effects (and one I’m very happy about with Number Five due in just twelve weeks!) is that the big two have been progressing through some of their subjects more quickly than I had planned. They have just about finished Latin (Buggle has two lessons in his book and about ten pages in his notebook, Mouse has slightly more than that), Spelling will be completed mid- March, History won’t be done until the end of April but that’s because I’m adding some more complex projects than I had originally planned. English will be finished at the beginning of April.

So I’m looking at how things are going now and starting my annual process of figuring out what we will need for next year!

Now I confess- I’m a bit of a nut about curriculum. When I was a girl I used to sit down and write lesson plans for fun! I love looking at materials and trying to match them to the children and their interests and learning styles!

But when I sat down to make my list of books for next year, I found that nearly everything we needed I had already picked out! Most of what we’ve used this year, I’m happy with and will just progress to the next level.

I do need to figure out something for science- I’m not happy with what we have and will probably be experimenting with some different approaches over the summer.

So far the 2015-2016 school books look something like this:

Handwriting: Continue with Handwriting Without Tears, add their Typing course

Spelling: Rod and Staff: Book Four for the bigs, Bull won’t start Spelling as a subject yet

Latin: Song School Latin I for Bull, Song School Latin II for the bigs (if they zoom through it like they did this year, we’ll either do the next level or switch to Lively Latin. I need to take a good look at both)

English: Rod and Staff Grammar 4 for Mouse, Buggle is doing that one this year, so I’m thinking about a year of writing a weekly or biweekly essay and no grammar book for him next year)

Math: Continue with MEP – we’ll go through the summer with that, with the plan to be in Book 3 in the fall and begin Book 4 sometime in the spring of 2016

History: Do a combination of Story of the World and RC History: I’ll need to source the reading materials and prep that over the summer, but this narrative approach seems to work well for the children.

Science: I don’t know yet, I want something that is more exploratory than what we have now, but also feeds into the children’s interests. I may end up doing unit studies with the materials I’ve been collecting over the years.

Not much is changing from this year.


In a way that’s probably good. I do most of my shopping at the HEAV Convention in June and with Number Five due in early May and needing to drive from Massachusetts I’m just not sure I’ll make it this year! If I do I’ll really miss all of the opportunities to touch, and read, and consider new books, but I think I’ll still be able to put together a good year for us.

However…just because I might miss convention doesn’t mean you need to and I’m very happy to be giving away a Family Registration again this year. All you need to do is leave a comment here or in the Facebook group or on the Facebook Page telling me something about what you are thinking for next year’s schooling! I’ll be giving you additional opportunities to enter throughout the week and then letting Jack pick a winner on Saturday!

Note: If you have already registered (and I hope you have) and you enter and win, HEAV will credit you for the amount of the free pass!


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30 Responses to Picking Curriculum: Or Why I Start Thinking About September in February!

  1. Janice Nozka says:

    I am thinking about starting a preschool curriculum for the first time! Our goal is to homeschool from preK up and my little one (Who is 2 and 1/2) clearly needs some academic engaging, so right now we are looking at Horizons preschool program. Though I feel like I have a lot of thoughts to still sift through.

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      Have you looked at the Rod and Staff ABC series for preschool? I’ve used them with all of the children so far. They are a thorough introduction to numbers, letters and the concept of schoolwork. Rod and Staff is inexpensive. For the two little boys I’ve been using the ABC Series along with a free curriculum called ABC Jesus Loves Me that I print as I need it. That one is based around Bible stories and is also easy to use and engaging. The author, gives a lot of support in how to do preschool at home and there is an active group on Facebook of people who use the curriculum.

  2. Kristi Montefusco says:

    I always seem to start looking up new curriculum options this time of year too. I think part of it is just feeling like we are actually getting close to finishing and part of it is spending the last 6-7 months in a routine and wondering if we should try to break out of it. Lol Most of our school has been working well but I am thinking of adding an additional spelling curriculum for my 6 yr old. Doing some research on that now.

  3. Laura says:

    We have started thinking about doing block scheduling this next school year. That way we have more time to focus on a few subjects at one time, as well as keeping our actual school day to the mornings.

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      We’ve gone to a four day school week, since our homeschool group meets on Friday mornings. I didn’t think we’d be able to get everything in but it actually has worked better and given us a smoother transition to weekend as we are able to do some housecleaning etc. on Fridays…K

  4. Hope says:

    I have been looking at curriculum for the last couple of weeks. My oldest will be in first grade in the fall and my youngest will start PreK. I will probably be changing everything from last year. I am debating whether to start a History curriculum with her or to wait until my youngest starts K. I can’t wait until the convention to get things at the Used sale and to be able to flip through what I have been researching!

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      The flipping through is the best part! Maybe for History just do a bunch of read-alouds? Little House on the Prairie and American Girls would both be good read alouds that they could enjoy together and there are lots of unit study and notebooking plans for those series on Pinterest if you want some schoolwork to go along with the reading!…K

  5. Catrina Persinger says:

    Our plan had been to go to public high school for my oldest still at home but now we are looking into continuing this journey at home. I’ll be looking for 4th grade and 9th grade material and I do have a list going of possible literature, electives, and curriculum.

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      I was homeschooled through high school and thought it was very valuable to be able to spend lots of time on things I was interested in. Be sure to attend the high school track of workshops at convention, there’s a lot of information on transcripts, making sure the work is challenging etc…K

  6. Alissa says:

    My eldest will be a senior next year, and I think we’re going to enroll her in three dual enrollment courses at Bluefield College. I like their Christian basis and they’re definitely a less expensive alternative.

    My 7th grader has done well with Math-U-See Pre-Algebra this year, but I think next year we may look into something different for Algebra I. Singapore maybe?

    I need to decide what curriculum to use for my son next year for math, as well. He’s in second this year, but we’re using a 3rd grade public school textbook I was able to get for free. I may look into Singapore for him, as well. We used Saxon last year and it was just too “spiral” for us.

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      Take a look at the Mathematics Enhancement Program (MEP) I link to in the article. I’ve taught Saxon, A Beka, Bob Jones, Christian Light Education, and Rod and Staff and MEP is by far my favorite. It still takes a “spiral” approach but spends a lot of time one fact drill (that the kids don’t recognize as drill and on generally enjoy) and making sure that the students understand the relationships between numbers.

      My third and fourth graders are extremely confident in math; both in the things they know how to do and the idea that they can use math to solve real world problems (how many roof pieces do I need for the model Parthenon I’m building from Legos? for example). Even if the problem type isn’t one they’ve studied they are sure that they can use math to solve any problem that includes numbers in some way.

      Plus free for the printing is always good!

  7. Monique Urton says:

    I am considering doing math u see again, and Apologia for Science. I’m unsure of Language Arts Or social studies at this moment. I’m looking into My Fathers World which may change what I use for math and science. I’m so unsure and I keep changing my mind.

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      What grade/level?

      We’ve been using Rod and Staff for third and fourth grade grammar- but only using the grammar sections of the books not the writing as I find the writing to be rather formulaic and stilted. Next year my fourth grader (current third grader) will continue with grammar, but the fourth grader is going to have a year of writing and taking dictation. Written communication skills are so very important. I don’t have a curriculum picked for writing, but will probably give assignments based on what he’s studying and reading in other areas.

  8. Jennifer says:

    We will be using Chemistry 101 and Hewitt for Literature/writing – these are both new for us, so I am praying it goes well!!

  9. Cheryl Baranski says:

    I started looking at curriculum about a month ago. I know that I will be using Hozizon math for one son and Teaching Textbooks for the other son. I am looking at doing all computer based classes for our fourteen year old. I am torn on the rest for my ten year old. A lot of it will have to fit in our very tight budget. There are times that I struggle with what to do and use.
    Thank you for this opportunity to try and win. This would be a huge blessing to us.

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      Make sure to sign up to volunteer so you can get the early admission to the Used Curriculum Sale. I often find half or more of my curriculum there at great prices!

  10. Peg says:

    I am already thinking of what read alouds we will do as a family over the travel season this spring and summer. And about some art programs for my budding artist.

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      I need to figure out reading for the summer, especially for books on tape for the couple of road trips we are planning….

  11. Crystal says:

    This will be my first year homeschooling my 1st grader. After doing a LOT of curriculum research, I am considering Abeka. I never would have thought I would homeschool but with a lot of praying, I feel God has called me to homeschool my children and I am so excited!!
    I look forward to field trips, science museums, zoo trip, picnics, nature walks, but most importantly, spending more time with my children. 🙂

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      Picking something like ABeka for the first couple of ears is a good idea. It gives you the chance to figure out what your homeschooling rhythm is going to look like without having to worry about whether you are including everything you need to cover. That said, don’t worry if you don’t do everything, if your child has mastery of a concept and can consistently do it well there’s no need to have them repeat it over and over!

      Good luck!

  12. amy says:

    My oldest will be in 9th grade so Im getting in high school mode.

  13. Brianna Riley says:

    I’m always looking forward to the planning of next year come February because this is the month of planning for me. I plan our summer and coming school year in this month. This is our slow school month. Our first few years this bothered me quite a lot but now I find comfort and renewal in this this time. We’re looking for a strong spelling program this coming year. I have tried to just wing it before and it just hasn’t worked out for us. I use MUS for out math, Learning Language Arts Through Lit for Language Arts, and we do unit studies for Science and Story of the World for History. I’m very excited for the chance to see what is available at the convention to put my hands to and see what interest me at the convention. I have three top contenders for Spelling, Logic of English, Spelling U See, and for the life of me I cannot remember the other programs name but it was not like the others I believe it was a BJU Press one but I could be wrong on that I would need to go over my notes. Any-who, I’m all excited and cannot wait to finish my planning. God bless y’all!

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      I love the way we can all make homeschooling fit into our regular lives! December is the slow month here. Since we follow a liturgical calendar December is full of Advent activities and preparation for Christmas. We do a little school but mostly projects, making gifts etc. By February we are trying hard to get as much schoolwork done as possible so we can enjoy the spring days when they come!

  14. Lyndsey Pheister says:

    We’ll be using 5 in a row, vol. 2 and part of 3 next year for preK to 2nd grade. I’ll re use my LA and math from last year for my kindergartener. Im still trying to think about what to do for 2nd grade…im thinking about introducing some new group activities for next year…possibly journaling/drawing or something creative to start the day to get tue juices flowing

  15. Stephanie says:

    My only is going to be a second grader next year. I think I have most of our curriculum figured out for next year and need to buy some of it atthe convention. I am hoping to find some fun extras like books and science kits, but I would love to find some kind of art program he likes. He just doesn’t enjoy it, but I think he hasn’t given it a great shot. 🙂

  16. julie says:

    I NEED to add more writing to our curriculum. I’ll have one in elementary, one in middle, and one in high. Writing/ grammar is my weakest subject so I haven’t focused as much on it. It’s time to crack down.

  17. Kim Shelburne says:

    I’m brand new and looking for what we will do.

    • Kyndra Steinmann says:

      I’d definitely go to the getting started sessions on Thursday if you can. They’ll be a big help in orienting yourself. What age? or ages?…K

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