Homeschoolers: Please help!



We are going into our 2nd year of homeschooling. DS is going into 4/5 grade and DD is starting K. I have been looking extensively at various homeschool curriculums. We used Seton this past school year but I think I am looking for something a little more ‘fun’ now for a couple subjects (of course Religion we will stick w/ Seton).

I went to a homeschool fair (Christian, but not Catholic…I missed the Catholic one, it was pretty pricey) recently and looked at A Beka and a few other curriculums.

Basically I am wanting to know if any of you here have tried anything other than the Catholic programs. I found that A Beka seems much more kid friendly, more colorful, and just plain fun looking. Seton, Kolbe, and CHC just don’t look like they have as exciting ‘learn to read’ programs for Kinder. KWIM?

So who out there has used programs that weren’t ‘Catholic’? Of course I would use Seton (or one of the other Catholic ones) for most subjects for DD but I was looking mainly for an intriguing reading program which is what A Beka seems to have.:shrug: **


My brother used Calvert when he was in elementary school. It is a secular program, so your use of it would depend on which aspects of their curriculum you wanted to use, but a lot of people really seem to like it. People really like it because the program repeats concepts to make sure they’re learned, as opposed to teaching them once and moving on.

Hope that’s of some help to you!


Well, I wasn’t homeschooled, but I went to Christian School. It was founded by a Baptist Church. They used A Beka Book up until the 10th grade. Those books are written by Baptists, for Baptists (read fundamentalist). In fact, they are published by Pensacola Christian College. I’m sure you could find them on the web. More than once I had to sacrifice my intellectual integrity to get the "“right” answer on a test. I just have some strong feelings. You could probably imagine what the 10th grade world history text said about the reformation. I just think there HAS to be some better choices out there.



We’re talking about for a Kindergartener here, not an older child. The reading program looks superb above the others that I have seen. The books are these little thin readers like “See Spot Run” kinda thing. The other providers (Catholic ones) are just books upon books that just aren’t as appealing to my daughter. Their phonics book for Kinder. is much more colorful and fun than the other providers also.

I can see what you mean about the Baptist stuff. I wouldn’t be using their history, science, etc. Just reading and phonics for Kinder. and maybe for 1st grade (til she is really reading on her own basically).**


Oh I understand…no big deal. I just wanted to let you know what you were getting into. I’m sure the younger stuff is fine. I guess I just saw “A beka” and had a flashback…:eek: Of course all of that is just my personal opinion anyway.


My oldest used Abeka in a Christian school. (Christian but Protestant) I use various sources for homeschool, lots of CHC and other Catholic material. Basically I hold the philosophy that the Catholic Church teaches truth, but I don’t mind selecting material from non-Catholic sources as long as those books teach truth and don’t contradict our faith. If I can find good Catholic material I will use it, but I want good quality educational material.

For beginning readers, we used a non-religous source set of beginning readers called “Bob Books”. CHC readers were more advanced–these Bob books are very simple. “Mat.:slight_smile: Sam. :smiley: Mat sat. Sam sat.” Two of my children really enjoyed them as they start out much easier and they read little illustrated books. We used the whole series. [/FONT]


What did you use with the Bob Books? Some sort of phonics program?

How do you like CHC? I thought the K program looked like a little too much, kwim? All of it looks to be above a kinder. level, in my opinion.
This is what I was viewing from A Beka:**


The Bob books are sort of a phonics program if you do the whole series. Each book introduces a new letter or phonogram sound, and they get progressively longer and more difficult. (I supplemented various other materials along with the Bob books.) Here’s their website which might tell you more if you’re interested


Here’s my two cents on A Beka, then I’ll tell you what we used.

I can’t bring myself to support in any way a company that is anti-Catholic. I know lots of devout Catholic homeschoolers who use A Beka for math or whatnot but not their history, but I still see it as funding a company that spreads heresy. If I can support a Catholic company, I would rather do that.

Ok, off soapbox.

We use CHC’s “Little Stories for Little Folks” and Spectrum Phonics books (secular) until the Kindergardener can read very very simple sentences. Then we start to integrate the “Faith and Freedom” readers (Seton carries them) and child-chosen library books.

We also use to help with beginning reading. It’s a very fun, interactive website. After using CHC’s phonics program, our children can read from this website by mid- to end of Kindergarden.

I like CHC because it is gentle, age-appropriate, and very Catholic. I don’t feel it’s as overwhelming as Seton’s program.

I’ve also had friends who’ve had great success with the “Learn to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” book. Have you checked that out, yet?

You might be surprised at what your DD finds appealing. My children are all so excited to learn to read they don’t mind sitting through the less exciting CHC program. Plus, if I let them pick very very easy books from the library, it offsets the less than glamorous nature of CHC.


I used the book Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons to teach both my kids to read, and I use Sonlight’s complete curriculum.


Well now, let’s not loose sight of the goal here.

You seem to have 2 goals:
A catholic education
To teach your K-er reading or at least beginning reading.

Colorful and fun might very well be nice, but it doesn’t neccessarily fit the goals. With Abeka, it’s my opinion they absolutely go against at least 1 of those goals.

I do like CHC’s Little Stories for Little folks. It’s very simple without sacrificing phonics and they get to jump right into reading without stress.

I did Abeka for a couple years and it was VERY stressful and time consuming, not to mention flat out anti-Catholic. They have to make the books appear colorful and fun, because by the end of the first 4 workbooks my kids couldn’t stand to open them anymore. The pretty factor roped them in, but it didn’t keep them.

Now, there’s LOTS of phonics programs online too.

for example, I like this one and it’s a bit more colorful for you.

Also, you don’t have to use any readers at all. You can simply buy or library early reading books. Step 1 books, dr. Suess, and so forth. Really that’s what all my kids prefer and the only reason they tolorate any phonics program - so they can read their own neat books!

the recommendation for Spectrum worktexts is good too. Or MCP phonics, which has been around being time-tested and approved literally for decades. You can buy them at your local bookstore.


I was a Calvert Kid :smiley:


I’m still technically Protestant but won’t use ABeka due to my own “education” using their products in Christian school. But that’s just me. I agree that they have some cute-looking products on their site.

My two oldest are 8 and 6, and I’ve used a combination of techniques to match their personalties and learning styles:

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy lessons – for my oldest, this just really clicked around lesson 15. He had been resistant, but he looked and me one day in the middle of the lesson and said, “Hey, I can do this!” And from there, he really took off. On the other hand, his younger sister struggled her way slowly through the book. She can read, but never had that light-bulb moment. But at about $15, it’s not a big investment to try it.

We also use for variety and I, too, use Sonlight – including their Language Arts/Reading program. The K program has a little box of cute readers – simply done and illustrated, but DD liked the sense of accomplishment from getting through them. Oh, and we use Explode the Code workbooks for phonics reinforcement.

I have a friend who uses WinterPromise and seems to like it, but I don’t know much about it. I’ve also heard of some success with, but it costs more than I wanted to spend so I don’t have any firsthand info on that, either.

We’re starting our fourth year of homeschooling and I know it can be tough wading through all the great-sounding curriculum out there to figure out what’s best for your family. Good luck! :slight_smile:



We used Sing, Spell, Read, & Write for Kindergarten and 1st grade. It is a fun program that incorporates everything listed in the title of the program. Kids learn by singing, playing games, worksheets, etc. It incorporates phonics, grammar, spelling, and of course reading. It was nearly perfect for us, and though it is not a religious program, it is part of Angelicum’s curriculum. I recommend it to everyone looking for a reading program. :smiley:



Look at Michael Clay Thompson’s stuff from Royal Fireworks Press for language arts. Excellent materials, and totally cost effective… we used Grammar Island last year (for a language arts advanced 1st grader) and I will use all of his stuff. You can just get the teacher’s manual and share it with the student.

We use History Odyssey (we classical, very relaxed) last year for the ancients and I’m not sure what to do for next year, Medieval… it will be full of Catholic goodness!

I like CHC… so we’ll probably get stuff from them, and I like Kolbe’s method.



My son’s school back in South Carolina used A Beka. My oldest wasn’t too impressed, didn’t feel challenged enough.

“BOB books” I haven’t heard of those in years!!! I taught my younger son to read with those Bob books…in fact, with my 6 year old I was thinking of trying to locate the set again for her! They were great…:thumbsup:


We use Abeka for Math for grades k-8. And, we use the English for k-2. And, I do like their preschool books. I also like their art books because they need very few extra supplies. I wouldn’t use their reading program, though because the readers are very Protestant focused. I like the Faith and Life readers from Seton.

We are trying a new phonics program this year–it looks like a lot of fun. We are just starting, but I think it will be our funnest learning to read year ever. It is very colorful, sturdy, and has lots of games.

I found it from another source for much cheaper than the website, so hunt around if you decide to get it.

I have heard good things about Sonlight, too.


mamacita I’m going to be a new homeschooler this year so I’m in NO way an authority on this but how about Mother of Divine Grace or Angelicum?

Some secular reading/phonics one’s I one’s I can think of are Learn Phonics by Time for Learning, Click N Read Phonics.

Someone else recommended Starfall which is really fun too. My son actually used it at public school.

I’m sure you’ve looked here already but has lots of suggestions.


Good point. Another point I want to make regarding goals for our children’s reading education: The most prevalent educational philosophy on reading today is to teach children to read early. Yet, some children may not be developmentally ready to learn to read in kindergarten or even first grade.

In teaching/watching my children learn to read (homeschool and private school) most learned rather easily–one very easily–while one child struggled and still struggles. My struggling reader knows phonics and we’ve drilled sight words, yet he has to sound out every word every time, and he spends so long to read the words that he fails to comprehend what he reads.

Because of my child’s experience, I researched a lot about dyslexia and various language problems. Some experts say about 15% of children in traditional schools have reading problems such as dyslexia. Problems with speech and/or hearing can interfere with a child learning to read too. I had my struggling reader tested by a speech therapist and audiologist. The speech therapist identified a problem and said she would expect that a child with that problem would also have problems reading. I set aside teaching reading until my child completes a program with a speech therapist.

While this child is bright, he simply wasn’t ready to read when I began teaching him. I had to slow down and re-adjust my goals for this child. In addition to a Catholic education, my goal is to teach my child to read fluently, comprehend what he reads and enjoy reading. As homeschoolers, we have the advantage of being able to set highly individualized goals and to adjust our teachings methods and materials to each particular child.


17 years of experience talking . . .

There is no ‘prefect’ curriculum. You can look and look and change programs every year, but at some point you make a decision, have confidence, and just go with it.

ABeka and other Protestant curricula may be more splashy than many of the Catholic materials out there. We got to a point when we decided we wanted to support the Catholic suppliers. There are many more Catholic materials now than there were when we started. If people had not supported them, they may have gone out of business.

I did use some ABeka materials and tried to buy those used, so I was helping a homeschool mom, not buying from ABeka directly.

Just my .02

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