Is Traditional Homeschool Curriculum Right for Your Homeschool?

Does a traditional package homeschool curriculum solve your teaching challenges?  When choosing a curriculum there are a few questions that you need to honestly ask yourself:

  1. How comfortable do you feel about this subject, level, or type?
  2. How involved do you want to be?
  3. Is the curriculum within your homeschool budget?

Answers to these questions will help you narrow down your choices of packaged curriculum.

3 Popular Traditional Package Homeschooling Curriculums:

Listed below are quick reviews of three popular homeschooling curriculums in textbook format.  While each curriculum has its strengths, there are meaningful differences.

The parent involvement is nearly equal between the 3 curriculum providers, ranging from 15 minutes – 30 minutes per subject.

Abeka Abeka is a complete packaged curriculum that is a traditional method.  The package includes student and teacher books for each subject.  The lessons outlined exactly what the parent will teach each day.  The complete grade package includes math, language, spelling, reading, science, history/social studies, and health. This curriculum is a great place to start especially when coming out of the public school system.  Abeka provides the parent a quality curriculum that helps with the transition.

Our Abeka Experience:

We used Abeka from Grades 1-3.  It is a good solid curriculum especially for the new homeschooler. Their phonics program is one of the best.  I attribute my daughter’s strong reading ability to the Abeka Phonics Program. While we changed our math, science, reading, and health after 3rd grade, we continued to use the language workbook until 5th grade.

Cost of Abeka curriculum

Approximately $370 to $600 depending on the grade plus $100 or more for manipulatives and charts, which can be creatively made at home.


Bob Jones University Press (BJU) Bob Jones University Press is a complete package curriculum that uses the traditional method.  The package includes a student and teacher books for each subject.  It is good for the parent who is comfortable with more traditional teacher textbooks rather than homeschooling teacher textbooks.

Our BJU Experience

We used the Grade 6 Spelling, English, and Science.  We dropped the Spelling after 12 weeks and moved to Spelling Power.  We continued with the English Writing and Grammar and the Science until the end of the year.  It was okay, but the teacher books are written to be used in a school.

Cost of Bob Jones University Press

Example Grade 6  $737.00

Alpha Omega Publications (AOP)

Note: AOP Horizons is not a complete curriculum but worth reviewing. AOP Horizons product line is geared toward the traditional method.  There is a student and teacher book for each subject.  The student workbooks are colorful and a bit more advanced than others with the exception of Abeka.  One challenge with Horizons product line is that many subjects only go up to 3rd grade.  In addition, a parent would need to add a language arts (grammar), science, history, geography, art and music to the 3rd grade curriculum.  Horizons Math does continue to Algebra.

Our AOP Horizons Experience

We really liked the Horizons math for Grade 5.  The student workbook is colorful and fun while learning the basics.  The math is broken into two workbooks, which is actually a really nice feature.  The workbooks do not become cumbersome to the student.

Cost of  AOP Horizons

Example: Grade 3 $310.00 with current prices.  Please note: For Grade 3, one would need to add Language Arts (Grammar), Science, History/Social Studies, Geography, Art and Music to have a comprehensive program.

Is Traditional Method for You?

The Traditional method of homeschooling is great for the parent who wants to stay close to the traditional schoolroom teaching.  It can be a more comfortable entry into homeschooling for the new homeschooler.  However, the traditional workbook method can be frustrating to some students due to the emphasis of worksheets and fill in the blanks.

Some parents stay with the traditional method throughout their entire homeschooling experience.  However, many homeschooling parents will explore other curriculum, as they feel comfortable with their abilities to homeschool.  If you are new to homeschooling, visit a curriculum fair to see if Traditional method is for you and your student.

Note: All the curriculum providers listed below have online schools or Distance Learning.  Those programs will be mentioned in the article regarding Online Schools.

Have a wonderful day!

Homeschooling : What Are You Doing Next Year?


I do not like this time of year. I do not like it here or there.  I do not like it anywhere! There I said it! 

It is the time of year, when many homeschoolers are trying to decide what they are going to do in the next school year.  They are deciding a curriculum, programs, classes, or coops.  In the beginning of homeschooling, there was little choice.  Today, there are so many programs, classes, curriculum, and coops.  The choices are overwhelming.

Homeschooling one child does present an additional challenge.  As a parent, I know that my student needs to have social interaction, but which one.  After exploring many different opportunities and curriculum, I can say without a doubt, that no curriculum or program is perfect.  The challenge is finding one that meets your and your student’s needs.

I will explore the basic types of opportunities found in homeschooling:

  • Homeschooling Curriculum – Packaged Complete and Individual
  • Online classes
  • Online schools
  • Coops
  • Schools
  • Umbrella Groups
  • Church
  • Family and Friends
  • Home based solutions

There are many choices.  Here is the real deal.  You do not have to make up your mind right away.  Do not feel pressured to find a solution in January or February for next September.

There is pressure to sign up for classes because these organizations want to have a good idea of who is attending.  This helps them hire or obtain teachers and helpers. It is a legitimate concern.  It is one of those chicken and egg quandaries.

A homeschooling parent truly wants the best for their student.  A homeschooling one parent many times feels pressured from inside to find the perfect program with the right amount of socialization balanced with the academic excellence.

Come explore a new series of Homeschooling Choices in future articles.

Have a wonderful day!

Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 versus Teaching Textbooks 7

“Do we have to do math, today!” sighed my daughter.

My daughter actually really likes math.  She wants to grow up to be an architect, engineer, or scientist however not the biology, dissection kind.  We used Saxon Math for the past few years, 5/4, 6/5, and then 7/6.  However, I decided to shake things up a bit this year.

Instead of doing one math curriculum, we actually did two.  Yes, we did two math curriculum in one year!  The two math curriculum we chose for this year were Saxon Math Homechool 7/6 and Teaching Textbooks 7.  Here is my assessment of the two math homeschool curriculums: Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 versus Teaching Textbooks 7:

Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 by Saxon Publishers

Saxon Math is the gold standard.  It is the math program, which so many homeschoolers use. They are confident that Saxon will do a good job at covering math.

While I agree that Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6  is thorough in math coverage, there is a lot to be desire for making math interesting for the student.  The pages are plain text with few graphics. However, Saxon Math is a thorough program and prepares the student in mathematics for upper level mathematics.


  1. Complete system covers the expected material for testing and standards.
  2. There is a written lesson for the student to read before attempting problems.
  3. There is a substantial amount of practice problems.
  4. The lessons are spiral in nature; therefore, they increase the knowledge of each math concept.


  1. The lesson material does not explain the concept in easy to understand language.
  2. There are few graphics, which would hinder a visual learner.
  3. There are little supplemental teaching materials for the parent.  There are CDs available for the Saxon Math 7/6.  We used them for the Saxon Math 6/5, but my daughter thought they were more confusing than I am. (Side note:  That made me feel good! )
  4. There is no use of color in the text.  This is a missed opportunity for additional understanding.  It is extremely disappointing since Saxon Math is part of Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, a textbook producer.


Teaching Textbooks 7 by Greg Sabouri and Shawn Sabouri

Teaching Textbooks is really a different type of math system.  It is great for the visual and independent learner.  The Teaching Textbooks 7 math curriculum is setup around video CD-ROMs with an instructor who speaks to the student as a coach.  There is a textbook with lesson material and problems. My daughter uses the CDs and solves the problems on the computer.

Simple explanations and examples introduce the lesson material.  The explanations tend to use real world examples at the student’s age level.  Although the language and expressions are kid friendly, the coverage of mathematics is thorough.


  1. Thorough mathematics coverage in a conversational approach.
  2. Provides a second chance option.
  3. Lesson material is presented in a kid-friendly manner.
  4. Good for a visual learner.
  5. Textbook has lesson material and problems that can be used without the CDs, if desired.
  6. The grade book is available for parents to review each lesson, individual problems, and tests


  1. No customizing the problem set for the student to enhance mastery.
  2. This is not really a con but a suggestion: Teaching Textbooks 7 digital media is computer only.  In today’s world, it would be nice to have it accessible by tablet as well.


Assessment of Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 versus Teaching Textbooks 7:

My daughter feels she learns more with Saxon Math 7/6, but enjoys math more with Teaching Textbooks 7.  I believe that both math curriculum are good. Find the one that meets your teaching style, available time, and your student’s learning style.

  • Visual learnerTeaching Textbooks 7 would be the preferred math curriculum.
  • Traditional Textbook or Workbook learner (does not need color stimulation to learn) – Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 curriculum would be the preferred math curriculum.

Practice Tests for Standardized Testing

Good Morning! It is early in the morning and I just finished reviewing my daughter’s practice test for her standardized test in March. We like to use practice tests, to help us make minor tweaks in academic subjects that she may need more emphasis. One piece of advice is to review the practice tests, question by question.

photo-020After reviewing my daughter’s practice test, my assessment is that she did pretty well. Certainly, she has areas for improvement. However, I noticed something. Her strongest academic subject was her weakest overall score on the test. I was confused, so I went through the test, evaluating each question.

When I looked at the test, I felt my daughter did extremely well considering the quality of questions in the practice test book. For example, one problem in the practice test showed a picture of a gray shaded arena with seating sections. The student is to pick out which seating section are the best seats. My daughter got the question right. However, I do not know how she could easily read the numbers to figure out the seating sections. I think she made a good educated guess.

I feel that using practice tests are a sensible idea, especially if your child gets nervous for standardized testing. However, I would review the right and wrong questions to look for trends. In the end, my daughter needs additional review on poetry, punctuation, and government/civics. The information was helpful, but only because I reviewed the entire practice test. If I had taken the scores at face value, she would need to review; reading comprehension, word analysis, language mechanics, and government/civics.

I recommend that parents use practice tests to prepare their children for standardized testing, however be sure to review the details not just the overall scores.

Have a wonderful day!

Reprint with permission Copyright © 2013

Curriculum Review : Spelling Power by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon

Humbly I admit it, this is the third spelling program that we have tried this year.  We started with BJU Press Spelling 6, finally decided on the Spelling Power program by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon.  Spelling Power is expensive around $60 for the basic program and the student notebook. When it arrived, I excitedly opened the package.  I started with the Quick Start DVD right away.

The DVD got us started quickly, for which I am thankful.  We took the spelling placement exams and she placed higher than I thought.  Then after following all the placement exams, we found her niche in the ‘G’ section and started with the first spelling test.  After the first week, she was cruising along.  The true test of a successful program is an improvement with her spelling while completing writing assignments.  Her spelling started to improve. By focusing on words that she misspelled, she made a better effort to learn those troublesome words.

Spelling Power is different from the other systems that we have tried.  The others give you a list and a rule to learn.  BJU did have activities to perform with the lessons. These activities while fun, proved to keep her busy, but did not help her learn.  Spelling Power is different.  The student is given a list of words to spell.  The list is graded and the student is asked to continue on only those words that give them problems.  The student will write the word, spell the word and say it, spelling the word and look at it and write the word.  Finally, to insure understanding, the student is asked to write a sentence with the word using it properly in the sentence.  There are activity cards to use to take the system further, however I found that the basics were good.

In summary, I like Spelling Power for the following reasons:

  1.  Complete system for all grades.  As a homeschooler who has a budget, this is nice.
  2. A student is encouraged to approach spelling through written, verbal, and visual means.
  3. Most of all, it seems to be working.

In fairness, I do want to say there are a couple things I do not like.

  1. I do not like spending around $60 at one time for spelling, even if it is for all grades.
  2. I do not like add-ons, which increases the price. Ordering Spelling Power will give you the Spelling Power book, Teacher’s Resource CD and Quick Start DVD.  However, they have additional products you can buy such as the Activity Cards and the Student notebooks. I recommend the student notebooks.
  3. It is a complicated system that takes time for the parent to apply, even with the Quick Start DVD.  You do not just jump into this one.

All that said, what a difference a spelling system could make. My daughter is getting better at spelling.  I am not suggesting that this system is good for your child, but it is working for mine.  I will write a follow up at the end of the year to let you know if she is going to survive with spelling skills or we will continue our spelling quest.

Happy Spelling!


A Spelling Decision

“Mommy, this is the third spelling course we have tried this year!”

Regretfully, I acknowledged that this was true.  Finally, months into our school year, I found something that is working with my daughter.  It took months of spelling lessons to get there.

We started with BJU Press Spelling 6.  While it is a good solid spelling program, I noticed that my daughter was getting too good at the spelling tests.  You know that feeling when the tests scores are 100% correct, yet misspellings are occurring in her writing on the very words passed in the spelling test. After 12 lessons, I finally clued in.  This spelling system may not be working for her.  I asked myself, what is she truly learning? Definitely, what she is learning is not transferring to her writing.

Consequently, I thought that it was time for a change.  As part of the Classical Conversations group, I thought that we would try the spelling lists and rules in the back of the Essentials guide.  Again, she did great on her spelling tests, but lacked excellent spelling skills when writing.  Confused and concerned that my child would grow up without excellent spelling skills necessary to survive in college or beyond, I started to look for another spelling curriculum.

After exhaustive research on every homeschooling message boards and curriculum websites, I decided to try Spelling Power by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon.  Spelling Power is expensive around $60 for the basic program and the student notebook. The Spelling Power information states that it is a multi-level customized curriculum. That is actually nice for a homeschooling one family. Since we are going through homeschooling once, we are not able to take advantage of economies of scale. Is the spelling curriculum worth the price?

There is one thing that I know for sure.  It is critically important for my child to have an excellent command of spelling for her future. I feel that good spelling skills helps a student or adult to have confidence in their writing skills.

Happy Spelling!


Bugs Everywhere

jan16homeschooling1My daughter has started a live insect collection!  For Christmas, she received a deluxe butterfly pavilion, a fun ladybug dome, and a color changing ant gel farm.  She is beyond excited.  Her tiny butterfly and ladybug larvae came a couple days ago and she has been fascinated with them ever since.  All the larvae have creative names and most are still with us.  However, I must say that William the Third seems to be asleep for a very long time.

What is so amazing to me is that the larvae are growing rapidly. God is truly amazing.

We thought that we would share pictures of the larvae and life cycle of the butterflies and ladybugs.  We have not received the ants yet.  When we do, we will share those too!  This is a great homeschooling science project!

Follow our science experiments including the insects on

Have a wonderful day!


The Amazing Homeschooling Parent

Have you ever sat down and really talked to a homeschooling parent?  Over the past few years, I have noticed that homeschooling moms and dads are very smart, driven, creative, and talented parents.  If you want to know the latest on how to learn mathematics or the best reading program, ask a homeschooling parent.  They spend countless hours scouring for the best, latest, and greatest information and materials.  These homeschooling parents purchase, evaluate, and instruct using these education materials and programs. They know what works for different types of students and what does not work.  These dedicated moms and dads are focused, driven, and interesting!

Yes, interesting!  Here is one thing that most people may not realize.  Homeschooling moms and dads are very bright and interesting!  If a homeschool student has to memorize the periodic table, guess who else is memorizing the periodic table.  If the student is learning the complexity of calculus, guess who else is reviewing those calculus problems.  Yes, homeschooling moms and dads are smart, very smart. What they do not know, they carefully research, learn, and communicate.

I am humbled by the intelligence and education level of the homeschooling moms and dads around me.  In all my years of working in Corporate America with some very clever people, I have never seen a group so intelligent, creative, and willing to learn. The wonderful thing is that homeschooling parents pass on these qualities to the next generation of students.

When I think about the educational qualities, I want my daughter to learn.  I think about having the aptitude to research ideas with the desire to learn, the ability to comprehend complex information, and the wisdom to apply the information in productive and creative methods.  These qualities will serve my daughter for the rest of her life, whether it is at work, school, family, or church.  To give our children the confidence to boldly step forward with the lifelong desire to learn, is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.  To all you smart, driven and talented homeschooling parents…You are amazing!

Homeschool Technology Series: iPad 2 Technology Shift

Picture of an iPad   Apple is creating a major shift in technology with their products iPad, iPod, and iPhone.  Will these products change the world?  I will be perfectly honest…’Using is believing’.


Recently, I checked out an Apple iPad 2 32GB WiFi. From the very first swipe, I was impressed from a technological and engineering perspective.  The iPad 2 product using the iOS 4 is a significant shift in technology, but not as much from the perspective, that is a sleek fast product.  The shift is because the user’s method of thinking is significantly different and to borrow a phrase…radical.


In the first week, I have not actively accessed a website through an iPad 2 Safari web browser. THAT is an important shift.  I have downloaded apps that go to websites. However, I have not actually swiped, pointed, or looked at the web browser icon. This intrigued me to explore the iPad 2 technology.


As a former customer product test lead, I had to start testing the product.  I researched the apps with the highest ratings and started downloading.  Over the years of downloading software, I have had my share of computer crashes and lock-ups.  To my surprise, the Apple Apps downloaded flawlessly.  The iPad 2 hardware and the Apps are a great job of integrated engineering and programming! Good Job, Apple!


Should the homeschooling community change over to iPads?  I actually do not think so at this time.  In general, the average homeschooling parent is actually a high-level savvy computer user with curriculum software, training software, internet, social networking, and email.  In addition, the iPad does not use Flash, which is used by many educational websites.  While the iPad is technically savvy, it is not a replacement for the computer for the average homeschooler…Yet!  I have no doubt that Apple will be trying to close this gap.  Over the next year, I will write articles about iPad and Android products.  I will keep you posted with interesting discoveries! This is going to be fun!  Deep down, I am kind of a nerdy, geeky, engineering techie!


Have a wonderful day!


Homeschooling Curriculum Review: Visual Latin

Visual Latin logo“Mommy, can we watch those Latin videos, again!”

Periodically, I agree to do a web multimedia curriculum review.  I received Visual Latin as an evaluation copy to perform a curriculum review based on the first set of Lessons available on the website.  The evaluation is based on the ease of use, customer service, as well as the content.


From the start, the Visual Latin order process was a smooth one.  I was able to download the lessons directly on to my computer.  This is very nice.  Many curriculum providers do not provide a standalone video download.  They assume that the customer will always be connected to the internet with a high bandwidth that can handle video downloads.  This is not the case for many people. Therefore, Visual Latin’s foresight in the technical content delivery is welcomed.  During the download, I had a problem with one of the lessons, which gave me a great chance to test the customer service.  The customer service answered my email quickly with a solution.  In fact, they were already aware of the problem and provided a long-term solution.  The communication was excellent.


The Lessons are a great combination of video and worksheet.

Each Lesson has a series of three videos and worksheets. For example:

  • Lesson 1a: Grammar
  • Worksheet 1a
  • Lesson 1b: Sentences
  • Worksheet 1b
  • Lesson 1c: Reading
  • Worksheet 1c

Visual Latin picture

My daughter and I enjoyed the video lessons very much.  The lessons were clear with the right amount of material for an upper elementary/middle school student.  The best thing about the video was the feeling of a teacher-student relationship. It felt like the teacher speaking to you.  The teacher appeared friendly and approachable even though the experience was through a video.  When the video was finished, my daughter would complete the associated worksheet.  The worksheets were straightforward if you were paying attention and listening to the video.  They reinforced the subject well.


Both my daughter and I dreaded Latin before Visual Latin.  Now, we look forward to the lessons.  Are the videos for everyone?  Maybe not, each student is different and each parent is different.  In order to help the parent with purchasing decision, the Visual Latin website gives the parent an opportunity to view a lesson, free.  The lesson on the website is representative of the lessons we have evaluated.  If you have some time, visit the Visual Latin website at and check it out for yourself.


Have a wonderful day! (I would say that in Latin…but I am still learning!)




Disclosure: received an evaluation copy of the first 10 lessons of Visual Latin videos. The review is our opinion of the product.  It is recommended that each parent review the website.  Check out the trial or free lessons before purchasing to ensure that the curriculum is a match for your family. is not affiliated with Visual Latin.