Language Arts for the New Homeschooling Family

The Good and the Beautiful

This is usually the curriculum I recommend when people are first transitioning from public school to homeschool. I haven’t used it myself, but I have looked through it and have received very positive reviews from many moms.

  • Pros
    • Free download (levels K-5 are free)
    • Keeps kids on track with public school peers (for the most part)
    • “Open and go” (meaning no parent prep required)
    • High quality and (mostly) kid friendly
    • It’s lovely to look at
  • Cons
    • Expensive to print (or buy a hard copy)
    • It includes spelling/phonics/handwriting all together, so if your child is behind in one, it’s tricky to customize
    • Lots of worksheets (some busy work)
    • Doesn’t work well for kids who have a hard time sitting still
    • It can take a long time to get through all the work each day

They just came out with an updated 3rd grade book. Here’s a video walk through.

The Charlotte Mason Method

This isn’t a curriculum, per se, but more of a collection of methods that can be combined with high quality literature to make a curriculum. This is the approach I use. It takes a little more time to wrap your head around, but it takes less time per school day than The Good and the Beautiful.

  • Pros
    • High quality and kid friendly
    • Very low cost (most books are available from a library)
    • Lessons are short, therefore school doesn’t take forever
    • No worksheets
    • The books are interesting for Mom, too
  • Cons
    • It can be confusing at first for Mom
    • Mom has to plan ahead
    • It doesn’t include grammar until age 10, so if that’s a problem for you, you’ll need to add it in
    • There are no worksheets, formal tests, or grades. Some parents prefer to have more immediate feedback on what their students are learning.

This blog post from Simply Charlotte Mason is a good description of what the method is. For me, following this method is a lot easier than using something like The Good and the Beautiful. That is not the case for everyone.

Other Options

There are many, many, many other options. You can make yourself crazy by trying to learn about them all. I’m going to link to a few other options below. These are more expensive options than the two I’ve already highlighted, but if you use a program like My Tech High or Harmony, the cost isn’t prohibitive.

Timberdoodle — I am very impressed with the selections in these curriculum kits. They include everything you need (math, reading, spelling, history, etc.) for a complete school year. The individual items/curricula that they use are well-respected. I use some of them myself. You can customize these kits if you need a different level (or if you already own something). If you want to just place one order and call it good, this is a great option.

Beautiful Feet Books — This company offers collections of wonderfully curated books. If you don’t want to spend a bunch of time wading through book lists to decide what your family should be reading, buy a history or geography pack from Beautiful Feet Books. They also have literature and music packs. And even some on character building. This isn’t a complete language arts program, but the quality books are the bulk of your language arts program.

BookShark — This company is similar to Timberdoodle. It is a collection of many of the best homeschool curricula available. It emphasizes literature more than Timberdoodle, but Timberdoodle has better toys and games. BookShark also combines lessons into a four-day school week, which some families may find very appealing.

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