10 Homeschool Resources We Highly Recommend

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With nearly nearly two decades of homeschooling ‘clocked up,’ we’ve been privileged to have discovered some fantastic resources along the way to suit our family’s learning style. Sharing 10 of our favourites with you, that we highly recommend.

*Linking up at Aussie Mums List of 10 over at Live Life With Your Kids.

 

1. All About Reading

I’ve waxed lyrical before about how I love, love, love All About Reading and my love affair with All About Reading continues to grow. All About Reading is a multi-sensory program that emphasises; phonics decoding, fluency and comprehension, each lesson begins with a revision of the previous knowledge learnt and builds on in the next. All About Reading is resulting in our younger children’s reading journey being being smoother and faster than their siblings. We have finally found ‘the missing key’ to unlocking language. Jem is currently halfway through Level 2 and Bass is at the beginning of Level 1.  Jack Jack began Level 2, completed a few lessons and gained sufficient confidence in himself to realise he actually could read, he was then motivated to pick up a book and try and off he went.

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2. All About Spelling

All About Spelling was the first All About Learning product we used, initially purchased in desperation as a remedial program for our older/middle children at that time. Since then I’ve been able to introduce the program to our current younger/middle children from the beginning of their formal language learning journey and have continued to be astounded and impressed. All About Spelling is also a multi-sensory program that teaches: encoding skills, reliable spelling rules and strategies to assist your child in becoming a proficient speller. Each lesson begins with a revision of the previous words learnt and builds on skills in the new lesson. After searching for years for ‘the’ spelling program I finally found the answer to my prayers.

*The All About Learning Products are affiliate links

Australians can order through Adnil Press or Educational Warehouse.

 

3. Spelling Wisdom

We were alerted to Spelling Wisdom’s brilliance by my friend Jen’s enthusiasm many years ago and have been using it as our dictation program since. Using excerpts from many of the great classics, Spelling Wisdom teaches the spelling of 6000 of today’s most frequently used words as well as incorporating another 6500. It also teaches; punctuation, sentence structure and vocabulary. We’ve found it hugely beneficial to combine with All About Spelling. It is available in either American or British spelling options, though we’ve found the punctuation isn’t modern British, I’m uncertain the excessive amounts of commas are old English punctuation or American.

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4. Handwriting – Vigilant Supervision

I’ve used a few approaches/programs over the years and come to the conclusion that there isn’t a ‘magic program’ that will automatically produce legible handwriting. What produces legible handwriting is vigilant supervision, there are no shot cuts here, you must supervise to ensure correct grip and formation and you may need to invest in a pencil grip. For many years I just used a basic handwriting exercise book, purchased from our local news-agency (stationary store), writing out passages for the children to trace or copy. As the number of our ‘students’ grew I needed something less teacher intensive, Jen introduced me to Startwrite which I absolutely love. Startwrite enables you to make special, custom copywork pages, which I do by pasting in poetry or Bible passages and then select font and print size, being able to print the sheets makes this all quick and simple. If you are after a free customisable copywork program for Mac or PCs Jen recommends Handwriting Worksheets.com.

 

5. Mathsonline (formerly mathematics.com)

As I’ve shared previously we’ve used mathsonline for over a decade. Initially only using mathsonline for our Grade 7-12 students and using Singapore Maths for primary school but when the company expanded to include K-12 we signed up all our children. Using online lessons has been a huge blessing to our family. Each lesson includes a programmed explanation complete with teacher and blackboard, followed by a series of questions and tests to answer.  These questions are automatically marked and we, the parents receive weekly emails showcasing progress. This way we are able to firmly keep our ‘finger on the pulse’. The children pace themselves as they work their way through the various topics and sub-topics and a function we particularly appreciate is that the children aren’t locked into a grade, they have full access to across all grades. This means if a child is struggling to comprehend their building block material they can go back and access earlier grades to revise. Mathsonline is used in schools throughout Australia and line up with the Australian national curriculum, a big plus. Designed by an ex-homeschooling father they grant a massive discount to homeschooling families regardless of the number of children enrolled.  Meredith assures me this program is now available in America as well, trading under the name CTC Math.

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6. Living Books

Living Books form the backbone of our learning, with the exception of our foundational studies the majority of our learning is via a living books approach. What is a Living Book? A Living Book is generally written in a narrative, conversational tone, that engages and draws the reader in to learn more about a subject. We use living books to cover our; Faith, history, geography, science and literature, with both our highschool and primary aged children.

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The following recommended resources focus on highschool (Grade 7-12)

7. Didache Complete Course

In the primary years we prefer to use our huge collection of living books to study and nourish our Catholic Faith, however we have found a need for a more systematic approach in the teen years. Imagine my excitement when we discovered the Didache Course, a four year program covering; Church teachings, an indepth study of the Scriptures, Church History and Church Morality. Text is clearly written and teachings are cross referenced with the Catholic Catechism and Scriptures.

Bonus recommendation: Beginning Apologetics Super Set for apologetics.

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8. World Physical Geography

World Physical Geography from GeoMatters is a ‘living textbook’ we assign to our children around grades 9-10. The course has an Earth Science focus and the student workbook includes mapwork activities. Years ago I interviewed our oldest daughter about her response to World Physical Geography. Bonus recommendation: Mega maps are hugely popular here as I’ve shared previously.

9. Science Matters – Robert Hazen

Science Matters is informative, yet written clearly enough to appeal to the average reader. Updated to include accessible explanations of the most recent developments in science, from particle physics to biotechnology. Einstein was our first teen to read Science Matters and he was extremely enthusiastic about its information and style, Michelangelo is our current reader. A favourite ‘living’ science book.

Bonus Recommendation: Kahn Academy

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10. Modern Times – Paul Johnson

Our history approach is interest based rather than cyclic or chronological, although we devote a Term each year to Australian history. We have amassed a wonderful collection of living books to form the basis of our history studies as well as several popular living History texts.

Modern Times is an interesting and ‘meaty’ volume which some critics criticise, dismissing Johnson as ‘controversial and biased’ writing from a ‘conservative’ viewpoint, that is indeed true. He lists “the underlying evils” of the twentieth century as: “the rise of moral relativism, the decline of personal responsibility, the repudiation of Judeo-Christian values, not least the arrogant belief that men and women could solve all the mysteries of the universe by their unaided intellects”. We’ll take that bias 😉

Bonus Recommendations:

12 Responses

  1. Love how your 10 recommended resources are padded out with bonus!! It is very hard to limit it to 10 isn’t it since different resources fit different children in different seasons. Enjoyed reading your list though as there are so many resources available. Thanks for joining the blog hop.

    • Belinda
      I didn’t set out to add bonuses but I just couldn’t resist as it is indeed always hard to limit. There are so many more resources then when we began homeschooling our oldest aren’t there. Thanks for hosting the blog hop, the next topic has me rather excited!

  2. I didn’t know CTC Math was the same as your Maths Online! I just heard CTC mentioned by a local mom the other day. Wondering how much money I can spend on math in a year, since I already bought Singapore for the younger kids…. But having a computerized teacher would be so helpful!

    • Angela
      I only realised because when I read Meredith’s post I thought the logo awfully familiar 😉 Meredith says they love his Aussie accent, we don’t notice it 😉 Check out Meredith’s post as she has a link up to a free trial period, then you can make a better decision if it is the right fit for your family. The fact that they allow you a family rate regardless of how many children is huge! PC who is a maths nut loves Patrick’s (the teacher/creator) way of explaining things, he explains just how PC does, and the fact you have instant feedback and they mark it for you..saves my sanity.

  3. I’ve heard such great things about All About Spelling and All About Reading! I haven’t started any actual spelling or reading programs with any of my kids because all my readers have learned fairly young on their own, but I’m pretty sure my girls are going to need actual spelling instruction… When do you start it with your kids?

    • Rosie
      I understand I put off purchasing AAR for a long time as I had managed to teach several children without it, the cost in Australia is prohibitive (is it in Canada?) …but for some it wasn’t an easy journey, when I finally broke down and purchased, I discovered so many keys to unlocking their slowness 🙂
      As for AAS I had searched for years to find ‘the’ program and was/am ecstatic with it.

      As to when do I start, the official recommendation I’m not certain, possibly from the beginning alongside reading? I’d email and ask they are extremely helpful. However for our situation, I have several children needing assistance (as do you) so I put it off. Currently my 5year old is using AAR but not AAS, my nearly 8 year old has only just started using AAS and he is halfway through Level 2 AAR. Partly this is a logistically decision and partly I felt both might be too much for him and he might refuse. But as I say I’m only new at AAR (nearly 8 year old is our first to begin with it) so maybe it would be best to do both with a beginner from the start, logistics though is a clincher.

  4. I bought a homeschool curriculum because I didn’t know where to start, and I knew it would be faith-based. What surprised me though, was the expectation on my year 4 student I probably wouldn’t have pushed on him. Writing paragraphs every week (drafts/editing/final copy), reading a book and writing a detailed book review each term. These two in particular I would not have worried about if doing my own planning, especially as these are his least favourite. When do you incorporate these disciplines? Does the homeschool dept. guide you or you decide when your child is ready? And what do you use? Cheers.

    • Sherelle
      I’m intrigued as to which curriculum you purchased. I never buy curriculum’s because I always would fiddle them too much, I’ve only ever seen American ones so I’d have to change or not to; reflect our Catholic worldview, change to more Australian content, chances are we’ve already read most of the book recs, or as you found to reflect where my child is at.

      Your questions deserve a post in themselves (and I might do that yet) but in short, I introduce those disciplines much later, not sure if that’s ‘good’ or not but it’s our reality. Having said that what our older children produce astounds me so I shouldn’t worry (but I continue to). In NSW we come under the auspices of the Board of Studies, they do have broadish guidelines but I can adapt them to suit us. I don’t overly worry about ‘lining up’ anyhow, the confidence I guess of a long term homeschooler. As to what I use, ah you noticed I didn’t recommend anything, that’s because it’s a post in itself too and truth is I haven’t found that one magic program. We have some excellent resources but… each child is different and …opinionated..ouch.

      • Yes, it’s a fine line between growing in the virtue of fortitude, and turning them off creative writing! Although I am starting to see the benefit of constant practise. Hard to keep motivated sometimes. I bought Seton, so yes thoroughly Catholic, but I then need to source Australian read-alouds, geography, history etc. There is a group of homeschool mums in Brisbane in the process of getting a Catholic distance-ed program accredited. Shall be interesting to see when finalised.

        • Sherelle
          Precisely, besides there are other areas in which to aid growth in fortitude when only 9/10. It’s an interest for and love of language that’s paramount to foster at this age. I recommend immersing your children in rich literature. I can’t stress this enough. Cindy Rollins wrote in her new book, Mere Motherhood; “As I end my homeschooling career so many things start to come into focus. Here is what I do know, what I am willing to share with you: here are three things that cover a multitude of sins: reading, reading aloud, and written narration.”
          I can’t agree enough!
          http://amongstlovelythings.com/mere-motherhood/

          Ah yes, by the time we substitute, it no longer looks the same. I actually meet one of these mums at a recent Christian conference. Lovely lady 🙂 I’m also interested to see how their plans go.

  5. Thanks for the mention Erin – I’m so glad my post was helpful and so excited to see so many people already loving CTC 🙂

    • Meredith
      My pleasure. It is fantastic to realise that mathsonline/CTC is now available in America and I can now send my American friends to them. And yes isn’t it exciting when you know something works well and you see others also availing themselves of that opportunity and know you had a hand in it 🙂

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