Trying to choose the right homeschool curriculum can feel completely overwhelming. There are probably hundreds of choices for each and every subject, but how do you know which curriculum will be right for you and your family? I have narrowed down two of the most popular curriculum’s (Sonlight and A Beka) and done a review based on my own personal experiences using them.
Summary: Classical, Christian education, perfect for multiple kids close to the same age.
We have been using Sonlight for the last two years, and we really enjoy it. I struggled with curriculum’s that had separate science, history, Bible, language arts, etc. for each child. It was just overwhelming for me with five young kids (my three oldest are less than three years apart).
PROS- Sonlight does a really great job of tying together history and language arts, which has really helped my kids develop a firmer grasp of the person or topic we are discussing. I love the books the kids read and feel like they do a great job with making reading a priority and fun.The teacher manuals are so good, there is no prep work needed, unless you want to add extras.
Being a science lover myself, I really enjoy how Sonlight does their science curriculum. The kids get a spiral bound workbook (I have it bound, SL gives the worksheets for each student), and I usually read from an Usborne book about the human body, weather, animals, electricity, etc. With the science package you get the student worksheets, teacher guide, boxes of the science experiment materials you will need, and a DVD showing the science experiments being done.
Sonlight gives a nice in-depth look into the history of our world. I love how they have done American history in Core D. We are really enjoying studying Columbus and the early settlers. One thing I have found really useful is cross referencing Netflix and Amazon’s used DVD selection with topics we are covering. Adding in a video always seems to make my kids remember so much more about the topic, and really get into it.
CONS- I appreciate the structure of the classroom setting, but also the flexibility of homeschooling. With that being said, my biggest complaint with Sonlight’s material is that history has no worksheets or quizzes/tests in the younger years. I wish there was a workbook or worksheets that went along with what we were learning. History and science consist mostly of Usborne books. Usborne books (if you’ve never seen them) are really beautiful books with lots of great pictures and information. One drawback is that they are not Christian books. If you are a Christian you can either skip certain parts, or explain what the book says and then what the Bible says. I use a combination of both, but really haven’t had too many situations where this is an issue.
I love the reading books they choose per Core, and the language arts books you can choose, but I feel like as a whole, SL does not do the greatest job with language arts. In particular I find the kids do not enjoy the redundant language arts worksheets. It’s the same sort of thing every week, and they just get bored with it.
Summary – Christian, very structured, workbook heavy and used in many Christian schools.
A Beka has been around forever! It is what my husband used growing up, and was the first curriculum I looked at when we started this journey. If you have older kids, or your kids are more spread out (not close in age), this is a really good option. I found it comforting knowing that we were doing the same things that Christian schools were doing, and that if I put the kids in school, there would be no learning curve in that regard.
PROS – Really strong language arts program. The reading books are good, the language arts workbooks are fantastic! I really love that they have quizzes and tests and have such a strong emphasis on grammar and phonics. It’s very easy to follow and everything is laid out so nicely it doesn’t involve you having to do really any planning at all.
Really a great choice if your child can read directions and requires minimal help from you.
CONS – If you have more than two children, who are younger and require your help still with most subjects, this can be overwhelming. I had three kids doing three different grades and after three sciences, three histories, three spelling tests, etc. I just totally burned out.
Science is good, the text book is interesting, but I found that the kids got really bored reading so much each day. It was almost too much science, if that’s possible. I also was frustrated with the experiments, because nothing came along with the curriculum, it’s up to you to plan ahead and gather the needed items. I am terrible at this, so I just thought for the price, it should have been included.