We've been homeschooling for 10 years now and I've used a lot of wonderful curriculum and discarded a fair share of not so wonderful curriculum. As the old year winds down, the wheels begin turning and I begin planning for the next year. We are currently homeschooling 5 of our 6 children (Baby Wingnut is not quite ready for prime time just yet). I have a few die hard standards our family will use until our homeschooling days are through.
My number 1 curriculum is Saxon Math. I use this beginning in 1st grade. The first three years are teacher intensive but after that it is all self taught from the text with occasional help from me and the Bob Jones University D.I.V.E. CDROMs (I know, what is a good Catholic family doing using anything from BJU?) for Algebra II and beyond. I am confident my kids will have a great math background using Saxon. This is also the one text book I require my kids to finish each year, as in math each years knowledge builds upon the previous.
After years of trial and error, I finally found a spelling program that I can use with any child. Spelling Power covers all the learning styles: visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory. . . Ok, not olfactory, but wouldn't that be cool if you could learn spelling through smell? This program is multilevel, meaning one can use it with all the kids at the same time. With Spelling Power, your children only work on the words they do not already know how to spell. I have a couple natural spellers and a couple "creative" spellers, and they all improved their spelling using this curriculum.
I have come to realize, there is no better way to teach grammar than by using workbooks with lots of examples and drills. We use Seton's English series to accomplish this. These work texts are simple, inexpensive and Catholic. They cover all the parts of speech and provide ample opportunity for sentence diagramming, if you're into that. This curriculum will give your child the strong foundation in grammar, usage and mechanics they will need to become coherent writers and communicators.
For teaching our younger set to read, we use a combination of Teach Your Child to
Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Little Stories for Little Folks Catholic Phonic Readers, and Explode the Code. Depending on a child's learning style we use one more than another in combination. Our little ones particularly like the Catholic story lines in Little Stories.
Science and history are my absolute favorites when it comes to homeschooling. There are so many possibilities and with a decent sized family we have many interests. We study something different every year and we all get excited about studying something new. In another post, I'll give some of the best ideas for science and history we have used.