My Homeschool Curriculum Dilema

   Ay ay ay!  I am overwhelmed.  The more I think I have this homeschool thing figured out, the more lost I feel!  If you are a homeschooling mom – please help! 

   Trevor will be in first grade next year.  I have been trying to figure out which curriculum to use for him.  This past year I used My Father’s World Kindergarten.  I liked some things about it, but over-all I wasn’t pleased with it, and neither was Trevor. 

   For his first grade year, I felt pretty settled with the idea of using A Beka.  I had most of the workbooks that someone had given me, so I thought to be a good steward I would use what I have and buy the rest of what I need for the complete set.  Come to find out, I still had to purchase quite a bit to make a complete set – but that was ok with me, I thought it seemed to be a good fit for us. 

   I also had a friend who offered to give me her first grade Sonlight teacher books.  I would still need to purchase the student workbooks (and some other books), and I came to the conclusion that Sonlight is too pricy for us, and would not be a good long-term fit.


So, I thought I was set on A Beka, and I was very excited about this plan.  That was until – dun dun dun – I went to the Homeschool Book Fair!  Ahhhhhhhh!


   After browsing all of the booths I was torn between about 4 curricula and 2 methods of teaching.  Now I am down to being torn between 2 different curricula choices.  A Beka being one of them, and the other is by Heart of Dakota Publishing, called Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.  2 completely different types of curriculum – they seem to be worlds apart, but somehow I am drawn to both of them for different reasons.

    With A Beka I feel safe.  I know that academically it is sound, and that my kids will learn a lot.  It feels like “real” school, which is all I know.  But is “real” school what they need?  I fear that cramming so much info into them through workbooks, and tests, that they will begin to lose their love for learning, and it will be a dread.

   I like the idea of the Charlotte Mason approach, which is what Heart of Dakota uses.  Most importantly what I love about HOD is that it is a Christ-centered curriculum, with the Bible the center of the curriculum, instead of just added in as a subject like so many others.  My only fear is that they wont learn enough, but I think that is a silly fear.  I have researched it a lot, and it seems very academically sound.  I love all of the great reading books that go with the curriculum.  I love how it is laid out so nicely for teaching.  I also agree that teaching through great literature and books will help to develop a love for learning, rather than making it a dread, like workbooks & textbooks tend to do. 

   *Edited to add:  I feel I am leaning toward Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.  I had a very good discussion about all of this with my husband, who so sweetly made some time to talk with me about it.  After we talked he felt it sounded like the best fit too.  The idea of having a Christ-centered curriculum, along with instilling a love for learning in our children far outweighed the “safety”  felt with A Beka. 

 I still would love to hear all of your thoughts on this topic, on what you use, and how you came to that conclusion!


  1. Crystal says:

    I followed your link from HOD and wanted to make a comment about feeling safe. Yes, Abeka has the school look to it making it seem safe. But if you look at HOD, Carrie lays it all out for you in a more kid friendly way. I figure I can cram my child full of facts and workbooks from Abeka (or similar) or I can actually have them learn and retain the knowledge since they’ll remember it from a book we’ve read or an activity we do. Most people would remember something they’ve done or a good book they’ve enjoyed months (or years) later. But most couldn’t give you the facts that are found in a textbook after the test is over. Of course I’m biased since I use Little Hearts from HOD.

  2. Yes, Crystal, I totally agree. That is what I was trying to get at in my post, and one of the reasons we did decided HOD was the right choice for us!! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hi, I don’t think I’ve commented here yet. We’ve been homeschooling for 11 years. My oldest is 16, and we have five children. I also have a teaching degree and LOVE teaching, but I guess what I would like to say is:relax! No one really knows exactly which curriculum is the “best” for them right away. Why not keep it simple? Phonics/ reading and some math are about all a first grader needs. Read a few good books out loud, and let them play legos. Do fun stuff together. Look at my last post and what my kids are accomplishing as “big kids”. Let the hard stuff come when THEY are old enough to take it in.

    Just my two cents!LOL

  4. Thanks for your comment Jena! I am so thankful for all of the great advice!!

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  6. I totally agree with you, sis. Steven was taught on Abeka his whole life and he does not have fond memories of “workbooks”. He does, however, rave about Saxon math! I wonder if we can do HOD and incorporate Saxon? I know she uses Singapore which may be great, but I’ve heard wonderful things about Saxon. Hey, if you do HOD, you can pass down to me and I can pass down to you!:)

  7. Lara, she does have it set up where when you order the part of the curriculum that has math, you can order things individually if you want, so you could leave out the Singapore and use whatever you wanted. It is funny you said that, because that is actually what I was going to do. Megan has a first grade Saxon math book she was going to give me, so I am going to sub that for the Singapore.

    So did you decide for sure you are going to use HOD too? Yes, we could definitly pass it to each other!

  8. Jennifer says:

    Hi Katie,

    We used all Abeka for my oldest until this year for 6th grade. Abeka worked pretty well for K4-3rd but in 4th and 5th it really accelerated a lot. (I thought it did at least.) He started to hate History, Geography, and Spelling a lot. But he still likes the Penmanship and Arithmetic so we used Abeka for that this year. I still did use Abeka workbooks some for Nathaniel and it worked ok for 1st grade. ( I have to say the main reason we chose Abeka to begin with was my husband had used that in school and my Sister-in-Law who is a teacher recommended it.)

    This year we did MFW basic pkg for Exploring Countries and Cultures and really enjoyed it. We ordered the next set already for the Fall but may even start it earlier. We continue with some schoolwork in the Summer as well. I have learned a lot and will continue to every year because all my boys are different and what worked for one may not work as well with another. I love to read to my boys and that is something we try to make time for every day and sometimes they do play with legos or quiet toys while I read. It is amazing what they remember as well.

  9. Hey you! You should call me or we should email or something. 😀

    First of all, I completely agree with your sentence about feeling good and then feeling lost again. Been there done that. And I agree with the sentiment about new homeschoolers not finding the perfect fit right away and we should just relax a little and keep trying things until we find it.

    Now, having said all that…Feel free to mix and match. No rule says that you have to use only one curriculum. A lot of people that I know like A Beka reading and Saxon math. So if you decide to break it up, then go for it.

    No one thing works for everyone. I personally like to piece all the things together. Pick a reading curriculum, pick a spelling, a grammar, a math, etc.. Then I know that I’m happy with all the pieces, and if I turn out not to like one piece, then we’ll try something new for that subject next year, no big deal.

    Now, having said THAT.. 🙂 .. I also agree with focusing mainly on language arts and math for 1st grade. Get in science and social studies and art as much as you can, but don’t fret about what you don’t. I haven’t tried a lot, but I have really liked 1st Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind (Grammar for 1st and 2nd grade) and Handwriting by A Reason For. I’m going to switch to Spelling by A Reason For (which my best friend has and really likes) and Saxon math which I grew up with in public school and really liked.

    One more thing.. some kids really like workbooks and some don’t. Their learning style and preferences will help you figure a good match for them, too.

  10. I would definitely go with the one with the lowest depreciation and highest resale value.

  11. Ha Ha Preston…you’re funny.

  12. Jennifer – thanks for sharing what you guys do. It sounds like it is a great fit. I like to hear about what others do, and how they decided on it!


    Thanks for all of your thoughts. One problem I have too is figuring out what Trevor likes. To me workbooks seem fun. I like the idea of workbooks. But I dont know about Trevor. This past year with MFW he didnt care much for the worksheet pages, but they were very boring and very repetetive. When I look back at our past year with MFW, the things Trevor loved doing the most were reading all of the books we got at the library to go along with each unit, and doing the fun projects. Those are the things that made information really stick out in his mind, and that is what he was excited about. That makes me think a Charlotte Mason approach to learning would fit him best. But on the other hand, we have never done big pretty colorful workbooks before like A Beka has. He has (since he was 2 almost 3) had such a desire to learn and “do school” and was just always SO excited about it. I dont want to quench that. I want to nourish it. I think that is one reason I am so worried about picking the right thing.

    For the math, Heart of Dakota recommends using Singapore, but Megan is going to give me her Saxon math book, so I am going to use that instead. Everyone raves about Saxon, so I am excited about using that. That is what Jared used in private school too.

    Another thing too, is that I want to find something great – and stick with it. That is one reason I am putting such an emphasis on finding the right thing. I don’t want to curriculum hop every year. But, I guess with the first child there is going to be some of that until we find the right fit. For this year, we will give HOD a try, along with the Saxon. Then I guess next year I will know if it was the right choice, or if I need to go another route. HOD really sounds great and I look forward to giving it a try and seeing if it is the way for us to go!

  13. I am so glad you found peace on what to use! YEAH!

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