I wrote this article YEARS ago when my almost grown daughter was just entering kindergarten. I've updated it a leetle bit based on my YEARS of homeschool experience.
Picking a homeschool curriculum is one of the most challenging parts of homeschooling. This is your child's education we are talking about and you don't want to get off on the wrong foot.
There are a lot of factors involved when it comes to choosing the right homeschool curriculum for your child. Some things to keep in mind are…
- The age of your child.
- Your child’s learning style.
- What materials will fit your family beliefs and routines?
- And what can you afford
If you’re just starting out with preschool or kindergarten it’s just seems so easy compared to the older years. Or at least looking back I feel so. There is so much out there for these young ages and in some cases you can pull together something yourself that is just perfect for your child.
For example one of my close friends is a music teacher and her daughter is proving to be somewhat of a child prodigy. She is designing her early learning homeschool lessons around music in all its forms. So ingenious!
Choosing Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum
Little Hands To HEaven
Right off we knew we wanted a Christian curriculum. I had heard good things about several publisher and since Peanut, our daughter, wasn’t even a preschooler yet I wasn’t ready to dive into the cost of a full curriculum. So we picked up Little Hands to Heaven by Heart of Dakota to get a feel for what teaching our young’un would be like. This is a Christian curriculum designed for 2 through 5 years old. It was simple, fun, and worked as a great introduction to homeschooling for our little family.
This curriculum allowed me to see what was important when teaching my child while also getting a feel for what a homeschool day was like.
Each day was broken up into about 5 activities.
- Finger Play
- Art or Math
- Letter Activity
- and a Bible Story
The program also includes a small list for a few recommended books and resources one of which is The Singing Bible song CD. We still sing the songs from the CD to this day (she's 14) I could see that Peanut loved the songs, the crafts, learning how to count and working with Mommy. She learned different stories of the Bible, the alphabet, and her numbers up to 10.
Pre-Kindergarten (what does that mean?)
During our summer break that year we evaluated to decide what we wanted to do going forward. Our daughter was still very young but she loved learning (and apparently all the pomp and circumstance that went into setting up her homeschool) I thought about reusing Little Hands to Heaven and supplementing with other materials but since we knew that we would move on when she was in first grade we thought it would be nice to test other programs.
Note: Moms I will admit here that I agonized over my daughter being ready for Kindergarten. Oh woe is me will she be able to cut and paste? Why can't she read yet?!! Don't do what I did. Enjoy these early years. Your child will learn at their pace. Don't rush it.
It was during this time we were hearing great things about Abeka and BJU and their respective DVD programs. I was itching to get started. So was Peanut. But while I may have a degree and be the daughter of a professor or two when it came to homeschooling I was shaking in my boots that I would miss something. A DVD Boxed Curriculum seemed the perfect solution for me. Complete books, supplies, and Yaaayy another teacher figure so I could sit back and facilitate. Is this still homeschooling? Well yes it is. She’s at home isn’t she?
So first off we ordered and reviewed the online samples for Abeka. While I know, based on a now college student former Abeka student’s academic record and plain old smarts, that Abeka can produce some amazing results I thought that their DVD presentation wouldn’t be a benefit for an only child. The classroom view gave me a feeling of being left out so I wondered how that would work for Peanut. Being an only child and all. I have since heard the same from other homeschooling parents so I see I was not alone.
Next we we ordered the BJUPress Homeschool sampler DVD and watched it, and watched it, and before my little Peanut had even learned that R makes the sound “rrrrrr” she knew what that infamous letter “Bossy R” did. She L-O-V-E-D the sample DVD. Like so much. It was what I pulled out when she earned some video watching time. It trumped Richard Scarry and Curious George. She watched all the different grades on that DVD up to Grade 6. She watched them over and over and was so excited to start Pre-K. So Bob Jones Homeschool Kindergarten Curriculum it was.
While the program seemed pricey you know how it is with an only child so we went on and ordered the Pre-K (or K-4) DVD Curriculum. It was worth it for us. With probably about 15 to 30 minutes of preparation each night the daily classes had a set schedule of learning about the world around you, math, a little bit of exercise or working out the wiggles, and then english skills. There were story times and field trips. It was a year of learning to listen and follow directions along with other preparations for Kindergarten. We made a cute little supply box and got to know our 2 teachers for the year.
Mini BJU Press Homeschool Kindergarten Review
At the writing of this blog post we have just finished up the Kindergarten year (K5) with BJU and had a really positive experience. Having the curriculum all laid out before me really helped put my mind at ease. And I loved the Biblical Truths class to reinforce what is learned in church and the home.
The days lessons do take preparation so each night I took about 15 to 30 minutes to pull things together starting with watching the Moms Minutes portion on the DVD and pre-reading the text. It does help to know generally what is happening a week in advance in case you have to go to the store. One thing I would have liked would have been a complete craft kit but I pulled together my own.
Some of the benefits of the Bob Jones Homeschool curriculum are…
- It is very helpful that you get the DVDs, teacher’s text, work texts, and some (not all) manipulatives that will be needed during your school year.
- We had fun class mascots and many other cool visitors we got to know and look forward to seeing.
- The production is done very well. The teachers are talking to your child not a classroom of other kids while your child watches on.
- Colorful, entertaining, and I felt she learned a lot.
- This year Peanut learned to…
- count to 150
- beginning fractions
- beginning spelling
- met missionaries
- learned to memory several scriptures
- created endless crafts (what to do with them now)
- a little about various countries
- some history
- and much more
Nothing is perfect so here are some of the cons of the program…
- Sometimes the prep work can seem daunting. About halfway through the year I got the hang of it and was able to do prep everything in about 15 minutes for 3 classes. Reading ahead a week or two also helped.
- Again I would have liked a craft kit with all those torturous shapes cut out.
- Might be more expensive than other programs.
Some more positives are that I like that there are resources to use during the summer so Peanut’s newfound reading and math skills are not lost over the summer break.
I can really see the DVD portion of this curriculum being helpful for a larger family where mom does not have so much time to spend individually with each child. The higher grades (7-12) for BJU offer the option of using one or as many online/DVD courses as you wish.
I know DVD homeschool is not for everyone. Creative types may like to pull together their own curriculum. And some parents may like to do all the teaching themselves. If you wan to know more about the BJU Hard Drive/DVD class option for Kindergarten check out the blurb and link below.