Secular Curriculum options

 ** this is a work in progress...which I will have to work on in stages as everything we have is packed up waiting to be moved into the schoolroom after the work is done (new carpet, etc going in) will update as I can **

There are a few different ways to get curriculum. All in one boxed sets (Calvert, Oak Meadows) or piece it together yourself. Some benefit to both..

An all in one boxed set... gives you all the books,  at the grade level they would be in along with lesson plans etc. so not much of a time requirement on your part upfront, however some issues people run into are more expensive than putting something together yourself (often by hundreds of dollars), they tend to find that they supplement in many area's (costs them more as well since they often have to purchase the supplement they want to use), you can't customize based on kids interests (and face it, we ALL learn something better when we find it interesting),  and very few children really are at the same level in every subject. Many are ahead in a few, behind in a few and on target in a few.

Choosing your often less expensive that all in one boxed curriculum, lets you pick things according to your child's interests in each subject, lets you customize each subject to their ability not a specific grade level, Some come with lesson outlines and suggested readings so your not just "floundering" trying to figure things out. It does however take more effort on your part upfront since you have to spend so much time trying to find what you think will work. You need to know where your child is in each area (free online tests at places like can give you a good starting point. Mobymax is aligned with most public schools and is fairly accurate when assessing your child's current level. mobymax is k-8th grade), and an idea of what you are wanting to cover. It also take a little more prep work since you get to figure out what your wanting to cover on a daily basis just a little at a time, never try and plan out each day out for the whole year before you even get started. Why? because a) life happens - sick days, days that end up not going according to plan and having a very strict structure doesn't allow for life's ups and downs. b)  It's exhausting! c) you want to leave room and flexibility for area's where you child may go thru something much faster than you thought...or runs into something they are having a hard time with and takes longer than you thought. The beauty of homeschooling is being able to work at your child's pace and d) lets you adjust if you find that you just can't finish as much as you though you could on each day, i.e. you've planned a whole year of 10 pages of math, 10 pages of science etc and now find that your child can only do 3 to 5 pages of math before frustration sets in (no point in making them work when they are frustrated it just turns into a power struggle, frequently tears (for all parties involved) and a shouting match.) Save your self some frustration and allow for flexibility, off days, days when things unexpectedly happen or you have a wild hair and decide that today a ROAD TRIP is necessary for your mental health.

Easiest way to think of things is to look back at school and thing of the core subjects: math, writing, reading, science, history, etc. then add in things that your child finds, music, photography, all your "electives" 

Science - One of the biggest issues in science curriculum for homeschoolers is actually finding a real secular science, many tend to be faith based or "neutral". In most cases when I'm looking at science I consider secular to include scientific method, discuss things like big bang, evolution, etc. when appropriate for the subject (i.e. big bang in Astronomy, Evolution in biology etc). some science curriculum are more "neutral" and miss a lot of the information, these tend to be "secular" material developed by faith based companies who have omitted bible references in their books, but do not add in anything that would go against their biblical ideology. If your not sure about the difference here is a good article to read

R.E.A.L Science Odyssey - (frequently shortened to RSO) life science, physics, chemistry and earth science level ones are generally good for 1-4th grades while level 2 is good for 5-9th grade according to their website ( currently only the Biology has a level 2 (although I'm hearing rumors that level 2 on a couple of the other area's should be coming out in the next year or so :) You can order a printed text or a download and print your own as needed. There are also options for ordering a more sets of the worksheets for multiple students (In the same household).

Sassafras twins Science - more like living books than a strict curriculum. Children seem to like the books while the parents are sometimes a bit turned off by the writing. The have 4 books out at this point (Zoology, Anatomy, Botany, and Earth Science). Each book has a logbook (workbook) and an activity guide for the parent. We have done some of the first book and have the second book (zoology and Anatomy). The kids seemed to like the story but it was a little on the younger side for them.  They were already pretty knowledgeable about animals so they found the workbooks a little boring. I personally would say k-2nd grade is good, older is okay if they are just being introduced to wildlife around the world.**this is more of a NEUTRAL Science and not strictly secular**

Science Kits

History - Secular history seems to be hard to find as well. Things we've used and like include:

History Odyssey  - Also by (same as the R.E.A.l. Science Odyssey) Both RSO and HO (history odyssey) have a "try before you buy" section on the website so you can download each  your interested in and see a required materials list, a  breakdown of chapters and what's covered, etc. its a very handy tool! Here they also have multiple "levels" for each section of history. Level one is good for 1-6th, Level two is good for 5th -9th and level three for 9th grade and up. They breakdown in to 4 sections: Ancients, middle ages, early modern and modern times for each level (level three only has 2 sections currently (ancients and middle ages). There is an outline on the first page of the packet (we store ours in a three ring binder ) that goes by week 1, week 2, etc. and lesson#1, Lesson #2, etc. so you can mark off when they are started/finished and you have a lesson plan to follow. There are activities and maps included as well which is really nice. One thing to pay attention to is the use of Story of The World (SOTW) in Level 1 sections. They do not go front to back in SOTW but skip around a bit using the information they want from the book. SOTW is not strictly secular and many do have issues with the fact that some things are myths and then in some area's tries to make bible related things sound more "fact". So be aware of the useage of the books and your feelings about the book. Another book used is the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (which we like and is secular).

History pockets By Evan-Moor available thru Rainbow resource center, Amazon, etc. is secular and has activities similar to lap booking for the younger set. We used their ancients book along with the HO ancients book level 1 for the kids last year. They did like the activities but they like crafty type things. If your child is not into crafts than this might not be a good option for you. There are different grade levels 1-3 or 4-6 etc. and covers multiple topics.

Geography - we've used a few different geography books. We also like the 2 pack world/U.S. map  set (wall poster, laminated, dry erase) from Costco that goes out usually July/August and quickly disappears!

Evan Moor - (available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Rainbow resource center) has some nice ones. we started with Beginning Geography K-2 and they quickly progressed.

Geography thru Art - has some very fun crafts to go with different countries we are learning about (we used it last year and will use it again this year) Some crafts are more difficult and others extremely easy so multiple ages all have something they can do.

Trail guide to World Geography - We did get this to use for last year and while it was a bit interesting in parts for the majority it was pretty dry and the kids didn't really care for it. We set it aside and will see if it appeals in a year or so.

Eat Your way around the world - while not exactly a curriculum - It's a fun cookbook to go along with your geography and social studies/culture study stuff.  Lots of yummy recipes!

Trip Around the world series  -  We've used the first two and have the third one on order for this fall. Fun activities for each country you visit (including a recipe), nice overview, and pairs nicely when used with some of the other geography books we've also used.

ONLINE OPTIONS - This is a secular science and history option. Prices seem to range from the $50 to $100 range per class for the summer classes. We are just getting ready to take our first class here and will review once we have finished one. The bigger classes during the school year are more expensive 100-300 but are a full term rather than just a few weeks.


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