What's the big deal about Young Living

4 Moms Discuss Curriculum Choices

When our family first began our "official" homeschooling journey (meaning we began a curriculum plan) we had a kindergartner, a 3 year old and a newborn.

In those days, we tried to emulate "school at home". I  set up a little school desk and even invited friends over for an "open house" so they could see the school room I had arranged and all the plans I had for the year. I wanted to make sure they knew I wasn't just planning on keeping the kids out of school so they could bring me cold drinks while I watched Jerry Springer and smoked cigarettes all day.

Our oldest child was the only one who we felt needed an actual curriculum and we settled on The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. We liked the rigorous education outlined for grades K-12 in one book and we were drawn to the amount of materials we could check out of the public library instead of spending a big chunk of change on purchased materials.

As we added more students to our homeschool, though, it became more and more difficult to keep up with the multiple schedules and levels. At one point we had three different students studying three different periods of history at the same time.

Of course, we also had a toddler and a newnewborn, so the whole "school at home" thing was also becoming more difficult.  Things were rarely quiet enough to emulate a classroom setting, and our schedule was constantly being interrupted to bake bread for new neighbors, take a meal to a new mom, or iron shirts for a recent widower.

Slowly, we were becoming more of a "life is school" type of homeschool instead of a "school at home". I liked the freedom it gave us and the life lessons my children were learning.

This is not to say that we play all day at baking cookies and never put pencil to paper. We do, however, feel more freedom than we did in the beginning to let real life happen and use those opportunities for education. For example, during the last presidential election, we felt like it was important to halt any individual history studies going on at that time and focus on the United States Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights.

Here is a general breakdown of subjects. (Keep in mind that the younger children have a much looser schedule than the older ones.)

  • For Bible, we read aloud and discuss and also do memory work. We use this ABC Memory Book for the little ones.
  • Instead of using a list of spelling words that some committee in a far away place decided children in fourth (or seventh, or ninth) grade should memorize, we correct words that are misspelled in journal writings.
  • We use Spelling Wisdom, which has pieces of great literature for the students to copy. After they feel that they have mastered all the words in the piece, I dictate it to them and they try to write it correctly.  The piece may be a quote from Abraham Lincoln or portion of  Tom Sawyer. If the child gets some words wrong, he or she practices copying the entire piece for a day or two until I give another dictation test.
  • We still use the literature lists from The Well Trained Mind, and I do quite a bit of reading aloud. I then have the children take turns narrating back to me what I have just read. The younger ones do this orally and the older ones do it in writing.
  • For math, we have used Math-U-See, Abeka, and Saxon.  Right now, I am liking Saxon best, mainly because the older grades have CD's available with a teacher explaining, say, the principles of Algebra 1. This takes the pressure off of me to remember everything I ever learned in 9th grade Algebra.
  • For history and science, I am following the recommendations from The Well Trained Mind for the 2nd and 4th grader, except I have them on the same books.  For the 7th and 9th graders' science, I have them doing Apologia science, which I am really liking.
  • My 9th grader is trying out the Sonlight history, science and literature curriculum this year, since my husband wanted her to have a more structured curriculum during her high school years. I really do like the Sonlight program, except for the part where it costs an arm and a leg. I was able to purchase some of the materials used, so it was manageable.

Basically, we are a mixed bag when it comes to curriculum. We don't feel bound to any certain company, nor do we feel compelled to complete a list of tasks or assignments that someone we don't know decided children should complete.  We try to keep our schedule flexible and still work our way through the books we have.

Remember, your homeschool must fit your family. If my loosey goosey, mixed bag approach makes you break out into a cold sweat, then by all means don't follow my lead. Look around. Check out what others recommend and go with what fits your family.

See what the other moms are saying about their curriculum choices:

Would you like to see what The 4 Moms have to say about various topics? Check these out:

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  1. Hello there! I enjoy your blog and your way with words. You make me smile and laugh out loud sometimes! I’ve heard Susan Wise Bauer speak about skill subjects and content subjects. Reading, spelling, grammar, writing, and math are skill subjects. History and science are content subjects (but the ones that seem to take the most time for us!). She suggested that you try to keep kids on grade level (as much as possible) in the skill areas and then combine ages for the content subjects. You mentioned studying three different periods of history. She suggests to “roll the little ones it” where you are in history. When you get to the end just start again. We have 4 children and they are all younger (my oldest is 7), but so far this has worked great. I just try to really nail the language arts and math (with short lessons) and then lump everyone together to do Story of the World (with coloring pages and activities for all :0) and Noeo Science (when we do it). I have also used Sonlight along with Story of the World and loved it! I just had to look at those books as “extra reading” so I did not get bogged down. I can’t wait to look up all of your other suggestions! Thanks for posting :0)

  2. I am loving this series you ladies are doing. I am getting so much information. I am finishing my third year of HSing and I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I have an 8 yr old daughter that is still struggling with her reading. But getting all this info is helping me choose different approaches to help her. DId that make sense? :) Thanks!!

  3. I hope I did not come across like the mom trying to act like a know it all! I have much less experience than you do and look forward to learning from your site! I just posted for readers considering The Well Trained Mind. I thought that it was pretty rigorous at first and just about did not use it. But after I heard her talk a few times I decided to use it as my guide and tweak it for us. I am a classical homeschooler (that’s laid back :0) who thinks that if you give them strong reading, writing, and math skills they can learn anything they want to for the rest of their life!

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      @Brandy, You didn’t come across at all like a know it all! Thank you for chiming in!

      • @Smockity Frocks, Thanks :0)

        • On welltrainedmind.com Susan Bauer has some suggestions for schooling multiple children under FAQs. I found it very helpful with my two. I love The Well Trained Mind and I am learning a lot from the classical education. That is one of the great advantages of being a homeschool mom.

  4. leigh ann says:

    Sorry if this sounds like a stalker but after reading the second paragraph of this post I am sure that we would make great friends!

  5. Thanks- just ordered Spelling Wisdom. I’m so sick of going back and forth between different spelling books and workbooks for my kids. I hate spelling and can’t decide which program to use! I still write with a dictionary at my elbow. The funny thing is about 80% of the time I look a word up, there’s more than one spelling! No wonder I still struggle with it so!

  6. I WISH my mom had been more flexible with my schooling! I was burned out on school by high school, I think, just as it was getting harder. My first year of high school I had this huge history textbook (11th grade Abeka, if I remember correctly–and I think my memory IS correct!), and I hated it. I hadn’t liked history since they quit doing stories and started making me learn facts, and my dislike of it was so great that I procrastinated that book all school year. I had done less than a quarter of it by May. And I was doing correspondence, so I HAD to finish by the end of the summer. That was daunting. I didn’t enjoy reading it. I would rather pull weeds (which I disliked). So I cheated. I’m not proud to say it, but I did. My mom was busy and let me run my own work, so I had plenty of opportunities to do it. And I really don’t remember anything I learned, that year or later, in history.

    But I really enjoy history today. I think I would enjoy college level history, where they focus less on facts and more on the why’s. If I had been allowed to learn history from a different, less facts-based perspective, I think life would have been easier.

    So that’s why what you said about stopping history during the election resonated so with me. That’s the kind of thing I want to do with my kids! Then when they get to high school, they won’t be burned out on school like I was!

  7. I love how you do spelling. I have a certain 7 year old that would rather pick lint out of the dryer then do her spelling. We are doing the Sonlight curriculum with her next year and with your method I think I can easily work that in with all her readings and journal writing. Love it!

  8. First, I have to say that I almost spit my Dr. Pepper on my computer screen when I read the Jerry Springer paragraph. LOL!

    I was going to share that Math-U-See has teaching DVDs now, all the way down to the Alpha level. Steve Demme does them, and he is actually pretty fun to watch. He has a good sense of humor. We had the DVD for Beta this year, but didn’t use it much (since I’m pretty capable of teaching multiple digit subtraction and the like), but I could definitely see the DVDs being helpful for algebra and geometry.

  9. When we first started homeschooling, I, too followed the Well Trained Mind. As my family grew it became apparent that the overall overview was a path we could follow, but the nitty-gritty details were not. Our homeschool environment has relaxed over time. Instead of putting a box around my children, I like to think of it as a fence…with boundaries….and expectations….but where they are free to explore and unearth who they are to be in Christ. If I force “traditional school” on them, I’ve seen their creativity and zest for learning flicker.

    Great post. I love the insight and candor.


  10. We use a wide variety of curriculum too – mostly literature based, because frankly we love books. :) I’ve heard good things about Well-Trained Mind’s Lit. list – is that available only if you buy the curriculum or is that a list I could find some place else?? Thanks!!

    • The Well Trained Mind is not a packaged curriculum that you buy. It is a book that has lots of suggested curriculum and a “blueprint” for k-12. It helps you know where you are headed. You could check it out from the library, look up the literature suggestions in it, and copy them down. There is also a list here:
      Or, you could get a used copy on amazon. It is a great resource no matter what method of schooling you are using. It has lists of key people in different time periods and things like that.

  11. sharon says:

    Just wanted to say that I have just recently started following your stories and blog. I love all the ideas and the info you and your family are giving. I also homeschool my son and i have found some of the things you are using wonderful. Just wanted to say thanks and keep up the great work.

  12. Jessica W. says:

    I am a regular reader and subscriber and I just adore your blog. I love your wit and encouragement. This post was great and had read it before, but God lead me to it again today. I feel like God has been leading us to use Sonlight next year and I just keep saying “Heeeelloooo, we can’t afford this” so I keep taking it off the table , but again it keeps coming back! Thank you for helping me realize that its possible when finances are tight and maybe we actually can use sonlight. I am trying to be faithful and trust in God in everything , even curriculum. Again, thank you for posting and as always, I look forward to your next post…. I just downloaded your ebook and am reading it now. Great book so far! Great job!

    Ps., may I ask what core you started with?