Welcome to the 2012 curriculum fair!

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

This week we kick off our 2nd annual curriculum fair here at Simple Homeschool. Over the next month each of our contributors will share which homeschooling resources work really well for our families, and also touch on those we’ve tried that haven’t worked so well.

Personally, I prefer exploring curricula virtually than at an overwhelming exhibition hall full of rows and rows of booths. I hope our posts this month give you a sense of a few companies you’d like to explore, and save you both time and stress.

As a new homeschooler years ago, I felt like if I didn’t look at every. possible. resource, I might be “missing out.” But with a few years of experience under my belt I find, like many veteran homeschoolers, that we have happily settled into a comfortable cadence with a few favorite resources.

I no longer suffer as much wondering if the grass might be greener with another curriculum. In fact, when a popular homeschooling catalog arrived in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago, I put it straight in the recycling.

Why mess with what is already a good thing?

After all, our goal is simplicity–not only in our homeschooling–but also in family life. As most homeschoolers realize, you can’t separate one from the other. Homeschooling is a lifestyle as much as a system of education.

To that end, I want to mention the Simplify Your Family Life ebook sale that begins today and lasts only 96 hours (through Friday morning). During this period you can purchase and download a collection of over 35 e-books from popular family bloggers for just $29 (a $375 value!).

My own e-book, Mindset for Moms, is included as well as many others in categories like blogging, cooking, homemaking, marriage, minimalism, and parenting. You can see the full list of ebooks here.

If you’ve had your eye on any of these titles, this week offers a great deal to have family life inspiration at your fingertips for many months. Head here for more details and to purchase the set.

And now, on to the fair! Grab your coffee or tea and get ready to browse at your own pace–I’ll meet you back here on Wednesday.

If you could ask any question relating to curriculum or homeschooling resources, what would it be? We may be able to work some of the answers into our posts over the month.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. I have a couple of questions about homeschool curriculum that I would love to have answered. We have been homeschooling this year but very laid back since it was preschool. Next year will be a little more focused and I was wondering how do you know when a curriculum choice isn’t working? Or if they are just having a hard time with a concept and they would be with any curriculum. This isn’t really a question but.. how do you determine what needs to be done verse what can be skipped. I tend to want to do every single thing in every single subject so I can mark it off and know we didn’t miss anything!
    Lindsay @ Bytes of Memory’s latest post: Getting the Garden Ready

  2. Yay! Good timing–I’m heading to the Cincy homeschool conference this weekend and am hoping to grab next year’s curriculum while I’m there. I love being able to hold the options in my hand and browse through them!
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: What I’m Really Saying When I Say I Want to Watch TV

  3. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I am really interested in what families do for language instruction, especially French (vs. Spanish where the pronunciation is somewhat easier to master). It seems like there are a lot of really great but expensive programs out there, such as Rosetta Stone. I’m working on creating French language materials (I’m a former French teacher) for home education use and am so curious what mamas are looking for – I’d love to have a place where people could go to download resources/curriculum for use at home.
    Erika C’s latest post: Freebie Friday: Printable & Digital ABC Flashcards/Wall Art

    • Cristina says:

      Erika, I too struggle with finding curriculum-based information in French (I live in Québec and am teaching predominantly in French). So far the only luck I’ve had is at French bookstores and printing houses (CEC, in particular). But when purchasing from printing houses, the teacher guides are ridiculously expensive (i.e., $534 for grade 2 math guidebook).

      I find the biggest challenge is the lack of direction on WHAT to teach or how to help our kids figure things out (for example, what are tricks to remembering which words are feminine and which are masculine?). Workbooks are full of assignments and blank spaces for answers but no instructions on how to come up with the solution. The hardest subject is, of course, French!

      If you find any good resources, please let me know!

      • Genevieve says:

        Here are some free French ressources :http://www.academie-en-ligne.fr/default.aspx

        Ps: there are no tricks I know of to remember masculin and feminine. You just have to mmemorise them.

        • Cristina says:

          Great resource, Genevieve. Thanks.

          Maybe the masc/fem was not the best example. There was also another exercise that gave a list of words with the “sion” sound and asked the child to write whether each word was spelled with “sion” or “tion.” But no instructions are provided on how to help the child figure it out—the only option is to look in a dictionary? Isn’t that cheating? Is the lesson to teach the child to figure it out based on grammatical rules or to learn things by heart? If it’s to learn by hear, it seems a little overwhelming for a 7 year old to learn all these things by heart… It’s not like French wasn’t hard enough as it is… 🙂

  4. I’m interested to know not only what curriculum families use, but HOW they use it. I’m often overwhelmed at some of the recommendations I see like “5 lessons a week” etc. Especially since my oldest is only in Kindergarten, there are a lot of resources I’d like to use, but don’t feel that we need to pack so much in so quickly at this age. So I guess my question is, how do you adapt curriculum for your own needs/schedule and which resources are easily adaptable? Thanks!

  5. I would love to hear about what writing programs are fun and hands on. Does anyone use a program like this?

  6. I am particularly interested in preschool homeschooling (age 4-5). When do you introduce a learn to read program and how do you know your child is ready?

  7. I loved reading these posts last year.

    I’d love to read recommendations and resources for special needs/developmentally delayed children.

    These other questions in the comments above all intrigue me, as well!
    Caroline’s latest post: Five Minute Friday: Good-Bye

    • I love Handwriting Without Tears! The preK and K sets are very multi-sensory and can keep kids engaged in learning letters and sounds until they can read basic phonetic words.

  8. I’d love to know what curriculum people have found to work well with fast-learners/gifted children. I am considering pulling my 1st grader out of public school next year because they are moving at a pace that is way to slow for him, even though they have him in the accelerated track. His younger brother would be doing a K/1/2 curriculum next year and he is also a very fast learner.

  9. Oh yay!!! I am looking forward to this… think it is going to be packed with great goodies!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Works For Me Wednesday… the E-Book is Out… A Great GiveAway…

  10. My dilemma in choosing a curriculum is whether I should choose one that caters to my daughter’s strengths or to choose something that challenges the parts of her that need more development. My daughter can read and loves books so I’m tempted by something like Sonlight. At the same time, she is very literal and using her imagination and creativity is a challenge for her. For this reason, I’m tempted by something Waldorf inspired like Oak Meadow to tap into those creative parts of her. I’d be curious if others can speak into choosing curriculum based on their child’s strengths and weaknesses. I look forward to reading more!

  11. My biggest question is how to adapt one curriculum for several children. I will be homeschooling a 3rd grader and a kindergarden/1st grader next year. I am considering oak meadow 3rd grade but want to adapt it for my K/1st grader. The idea of doing completely separate lessons seems daunting because I also have a 2 year old to keep my eyes on 🙂

  12. I also would like to know about curriculums for fast/gifted learners. I also know you do a more interest led learning approach so I’m curious as to how you integrate resources into that model. I’m looking forward to the series.
    Steph’s latest post: A Theology of Faithfulness

  13. Sigh. I have so many questions, and this is my third year homeschooling. My son is spirited, very smart, artistic – and is being so difficult about anything that smacks of “school”. I swing back and forth between getting really hard on him and forcing him to do what I think he needs to do, and getting really lax and letting him mostly unschool. I have a hard time knowing when to push him to just do the work, just obey his mom, and when to honor that resistance, that it might be too much for his sensitive spirit. We school through an alternative school in our district, so we have some hoops to jump through, and have to show progress every month in our plan, but they are super supportive of various learning styles and we’ve never had a problem showing progress. I guess I just get stressed because he is 9 going on 10, next year will be 5th grade, and it seems he needs to be doing more structured work. But then he seems so young, and I just want him to play and explore. There probably isn’t an answer to this question, but it would be great to be able to discuss my fears and struggles with someone who’s been there.

    Thanks for the sale on the books! I’m going right now to get them! 🙂 Looking forward to this month on your blog.

  14. I’m curious to hear experiences using a Waldorf “curriculum.” I have looked some at the Christopherus site, but from what I can tell, many people use Waldorf as a driving philosophy and not so much as a curriculum, per se. I am curious to hear specifically about experiences with curriculum that is either Waldorf or “flows well” with a Waldorf approach. What does doing Waldorf at home really look like? Would love to know more about this. Thanks!

  15. I have written several ebooks related to these topics. Is there a way that I can be included next time?
    Heidi’s latest post: Home School Education Interviews

  16. First, I would like to hear about preschool kits- not necessarily curriculum. It’s easy to teach my little colors, numbers, etc. but they want to actually “do” school so I’d love a big kit of hands on activities to do with them- games, manipulatives, art supplies, etc. There is a lot of this stuff out there but I’m wondering if there is somewhere I can buy it all at once?
    Second, I’m looking for elective supplements. We use Sonlight and love it but I know that I need to add in some art, music and definitely some physical education and nutrition and I’m not sold on Sonlight’s electives. If anyone uses a great program for any of these for elementary, I’d love to hear about it.
    Thanks for doing this!!

  17. Oh.my.goodness. I am so excited about this! The curriculum fair is what brought me to Simple Homeschool in the first place:) I can’t wait to hear what everyone has to share. Thank you for putting this together Jamie!
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable’s latest post: They Call Us Crazy: How To Thrive When Living a Non-Mainstream Lifestyle

  18. We are going to do some preschool homeschooling next fall with our 2 who are 13 months apart. Both are already pretty advanced at 2.5 and 3.5 (both know ABCs and oldest can count to 10-15 and read a few words). We will be focusing on the older one though. We are trying to find a homeschool curricula “home” so to speak for a few years to serve as our training wheels. Dad will be teaching primarily although I will be helping out when I am not at work, and organization is more my strong suit, so he is wanting something for his first few years that is more organized. Right now we are leaning towards Sonlight. I’d love any thoughts.

    • Jennifer says:

      Rae, My daughter is 3 and I began homeschooling at around 2.5. I need structure and organization as well, what I found works best for us is to create something in each of the areas I want to work on. This is also how I structure my homeschool days (only 3 days/week). You don’t necessarily need a curriculum to purchase but you can create your own structure/curriculum of sorts. I recently purchased All about Reading Level Pre-1 and I am enjoying using that to start teaching letter recognition. I also do a thematic theme for the week(s) I choose. A bible story of the week. We check out lot’s of books about our theme from the library each week, we do lot’s of crafts in relation to the theme or letter we are studying. I use an online kids spanish learning program, we also listen to classical music as well as Seeds Family Worship CD and we play outside. The best thing is to slowly continue researching all the great resources out there and not to get overwhelmed with the “have to do it right now” thinking. I am taking it easy, learning each day and enjoying what I’m doing with my daughter.

  19. I’m looking for a new math program for next fall. We have been using Saxon math but found it moving way too slow for my advanced 2nd grader this year. Would love to know about more of the math programs out there so I can figure out the best fit for my gifted learner. Does anyone know of a math curriculum that moves at a more accelerated pace?

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