View Full Version : Help? Curriculum isn't working for us.

09-14-2011, 08:30 PM

This is my first year homeschooling. I looked at various curriculum's and I have sorta pieced-together a curriculum that I was semi-happy with but it wasn't "well-rounded". So, then I started getting the official curriculums and I feel more lost than ever! Can someone attempt to get me on track? Tell me I am being too much of a perfectionist? Something? I feel like I am not doing enough...

My son is in 2nd grade. I would like to do spelling, math, LA/grammer, art as an extra or part of our learning we already do. Science and Histry thrown in a few days a week. As I get more comfortable I can add more subjects but now I just need the basics.

I have:

(spelling)-Sequential spelling. We are doing ok with that.
(history)- The Story of the World. Volume 2. I think it's a bit advanced for him and I don't like the workbook it's too much. I haven't figured out a way of working this that I am comfortable with yet.

Then the problem... MBtP....7-9 y/o It takes forever!!! There is nothing for me to just "read" to him and do the activity. They give me like 2 blurbs of a sentance about the lesson and that's it. I don't want to have to stop and have him look it up on the internet. (I'll have to wrangle him back away from the computer and spend 5 minutes getting him refocused.)

Math I have various workbooks that I sorta match up and pick something out of. It's very tiring but it's going ok.

LA is another problem. I am piecing that together but this is my weak area and I don't know where to start. I'd like an all in one program. Except we have the spelling covered.

I don't like MBtP and would like to eliminate it after I find something better.
Can someone please help get me on the right track? I already spent $150 on MBtP thankfully I didn't buy the whole program and just bought one section.

I can go out and spend a few hundred dollars more on a program if need be but it has to work this next time or I'll get a grumpy face from hubby. Understandably. :O)

Can anyone offer me some advice?

09-14-2011, 08:50 PM
Well, we usually tell people not to spend a whole lot at first, because its hard to quit using something that isnt working if you spent a lot on it! My understanding is that MBtP is supposed to be an almost all-in-one unit study. My kids dont do well w unit study . . lets read about this here, then look at a video, then draw a picture, then telll a story, then read some more . . . all about the same subject? I cant imagine you'd have a hard time reselling it, tho - people who like unit studies really seem to love MBtP.

2nd grade LA is usually pretty light. How well is he reading? My son was doing Time4Learning, which i guess covered a lot of the basics of LA for 1st and 2nd. But really, you mostly want him to practice reading and practice writing and learn some about punctuation and grammar, right? Even just having him write something every day is fine. Some people like ot have thier kids copy quality writing or wise saying (or bible verses) and some like to have their kids read something (or have it read to them) and then dictate back a retelling in their own words. LA can still be pretty loose at this age (or at least it was for us)

I'm sure you'll have lots of other good suggestions - i'm very relaxed ecclectic, so thats what I know

09-14-2011, 09:04 PM
Being able to open a curriculum and go really does make things much, much easier! The subjects I just never seemed to find time for last year are all the ones that were difficult for me to use. I've replaced them with more open-and-go curricula this year, and I'm really amazed at how much more we get done and how much more smoothly my day goes.

How well does your son read? There are different reading programs that you might enjoy, depending on your son's level.

For math, you might find it much easier to buy a curriculum and use that. There are several that aren't very expensive. A lot of people like Singapore, and for that you can use just the text and workbook to start. If you like it, you may decide to add other components (challenging word problems, etc.). Each part is about $14 or so, though (haven't bought it for a couple of years, so I'm not current here), so they're not a big investment. Right Start and Math-U-See are other curricula that people like, though they may be more expensive because of manipulative needs. MEP is a free curriculum you can print yourself (google MEP math). They have lesson plans for each day that lay out step by step exactly what you should do. All you really need to print out to do years 1-6 are the lesson plans and the practice books.

Language Arts - I had a really hard time teaching writing before this year. This year I've been trying Winning With Writing, and I'm really liking it. My DS is no longer dreading writing time, and neither am I. They have sample weeks online for each grade level, and you can buy a workbook for one semester at a time to try. They're only about $15 each. I haven't found the answer keys at all necessary so far. Each week is a set of five lessons, and they're very incremental. Each day's work builds on the previous, and the students gradually learn how to write a sentence, a paragraph, or an longer piece of writing. The same company also has a Growing With Grammar program that I haven't tried, but I know people who like its ease of use. We use the MCT stuff, and we really like that, but it may or may not suit your needs. I think it's less open-and-go, but I do really love it!

I hope this helps. It really made all the difference to me to find curricula that were easy for me to use. Keep browsing curricula threads to get ideas!

09-14-2011, 09:10 PM
I don't think your problem is that you're not doing enough. Clearly you're trying to do too much! I'm not an MBtP user, but I thought part of the point of doing it was that it covered so many things for you! In particular, why are you looking for a separate LA program on top of that and why are you doing both MBtP and SOTW?

So, math and spelling are going well? Great. I would drop MBtP and just not replace it with anything else other than reading books - either aloud or, if you ds is a good reader, independently. As for the rest of language arts... 2nd grade can mean so many different skill levels and needs. If your ds needs more support reading, then look into a phonics program - we use Explode the Code workbooks but there's other options. If you'd like something schoolish for grammar you could look at Evan-Moor or Growing with Grammar or First Language Lessons or something. But you could also just decide 2nd grade is too young for formal grammar and not do it (don't worry, you wouldn't be alone in that decision). If he needs more handwriting practice, you could get a handwriting workbook like Handwriting Without Tears. Or you could just print out copywork from online or just give him a notebook and let him copy a sentence from a book every day. As for writing, some people think copywork is plenty - you can even get a copywork based program like Writing With Ease. Or you can get him something like Just Write or Winning with Writing or Evan Moor 6 Trait Writing or something like that. Or you could just do some fun creative writing.

As for science and history... I personally found the SOTW AG to be a bit absurd. I had my issues with SOTW, but it's basically fine (though I prefer Builders of the Old World as a spine instead!). I would just focus on doing fun projects and reading supplemental books. The medieval stuff is so much fun. No way King Arthur or knights and castles is over his head, right? I think if you're hoping a 1st or 2nd grader will come out of SOTW having all these facts memorized, then you're asking too much. But if you come at it with the idea that a kid will come out of it thinking history is interesting and having a general sense of the flow of history, as well as a few key names and places that will make a foundation for later, then I think it works well.

09-14-2011, 09:20 PM
For my second grader, we use:

Language Arts: Sequential Spelling 1, daily copywork to practice penmanship, punctuation, and capitalization, a cheap grammar workbook (I picked it up at a Barnes and Noble), lots of read alouds (plucked from Ambleside Online's Year 2 list), and at least a half hour of independent reading.

Math: Singapore math

History: SOTW 1 and 2 plus picture books and stories from the library.

Science: Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding K-2 (takes some prep work) and seasonal nature study

We do LA and math every day, history M/W/F, and science on T/Th.

Accidental Homeschooler
09-14-2011, 09:25 PM
What we do with SOTW volume one is read it (some of it she has asked to read more than once), check out the literature suggestions from the library, read the corresponding Usborne History book (sometimes use the internet link but not often) and sometimes do the suggested activity (we set up our own dig, did cuneiform writing on clay and are planning to cook the African dinner). I don't use any of the student activity pages (money I wasted). Sometimes we watch a dvd, also from the library, an Ancient civilization series. We found one for Mesopotamia, for China and for Africa. History is one of my dd's favorites and for us it is mostly reading. My dd is in first grade and we do writing and reading for language arts. For writing we use Handwriting without Tears and a phonics reading program with additional reading together. Sorry you are having to start over with some of your choices! I have abandoned some of my original choices too. It is disappointing.

09-14-2011, 09:28 PM
Just a few suggestions, although you've had so much help:

Check out Evan-Moor (http://www.evan-moor.com/). Their line of Daily Practice books are inexpensive and excellent for a second-grader when you just want to start touching on the basics. They also have units available for download that cost from $2 to $3 each so you can try it out with your son without investing in a full book.

There are many, many people on this forum who love Time4Learning. I would also suggest taking a look at BrainPop Jr (http://www.brainpopjr.com/) for your son. We've had a subscription since my son started homeschooling and it's been worth every penny.

There are also many printable resource companies out there. Over time I've used Teacher FileBox (http://www.teacherfilebox.com/) , abcteach (http://www.abcteach.com/) and Scholastic Printables (http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/home/). Abcteach has some free resources; the others require a monthly subscription.

So you won't have to drop a couple hundred on a brand new curriculum.

09-14-2011, 10:07 PM
I agree that you are doing too much on top of MBtP. MBtP is a complete curriculum except for adding in math. If you are doing LA and History on top of this, than no wonder you are feeling overwhelmed! We are using MBtP this year, but last year when my dd was in second grade we used AAS for spelling which we really liked. For math we used Saxon, which was not a good fit for her so we switched to TT towards the end of the year. We loved History Odyssey for ancient history. For science we used BFSU which was fantastic. I am really missing that this year. We used Just Write for writing and read a lot of books. We did not use a grammar curriculum as it didn't seem necessary yet. I'm sorry your curriculum didn't work out for you. That happened to me last year and I ended up spending way more than I wanted to. But sometimes it takes awhile to find a good fit. I think math is one of the most difficult curricula to select for your child. In my experience, the first curricula you buy is seldom what you stick with. I wish you luck in finding what works for both of you. Let us know what you settle on. :)

09-14-2011, 10:12 PM
on the cheap:

LA worksheets (free) - http://www.scholastic.com/dodea/index2.htm the "Skill builders" cover all the basics, IMO. And you really only need to do half of them, as there's quite a bit of repetition.

Math - we pieced stuff together for gr1 and part of gr2, then I bought Math Mammoth. I got it on a half-price sale and am SO happy with it. Low cost (I had been planning to go with pricey Math-U-See, but am glad I didn't), and it covers alot. It's "just" worksheets, but they're well explained and cover everything you can think of for math.

Science - we're doing a combo of Aha!Science (cheap! online and fun), and Mr.Q's Life Sciences (free Pdf book). We have various science experiment books that we play around with, and there's a multitude of fun experiments you can find online for free.

09-15-2011, 12:28 AM
Wow! Thank-you everyone for your suggestions and support! I have a lot of work to do sorting through all of that information. So, much help and so quickly. :) Thanks again! I definitely feel like I have some tools to get back on track!

09-15-2011, 08:49 PM
I gotta say YOU ARE DOING TOO MUCH!! I do math, MBtP, music, and spelling, that's it! History, science all that stuff is in MBtP. If MBtP isn't working that's fine, just drop it and do some extra reading (as others have said) you'll be doing a complete day.

09-16-2011, 10:47 AM
I echo the "too much" statements. My question is, what is it about MBTP that drew you to it in the first place? If you really like the idea of the unit studies and their philosophy, then maybe consider you picked a level too high. I am doing 6-8 with my 7yr boy. And I chose that because there is a huge jump in reading and writing skills required between that and 7-9. They should mostly read the books in 7-9 independently, though I know some people do read some or all to their kids. I started with just one concept of 6-8 (the student and teacher manuals) ... that runs $60. All of the books are available at the library here. I really have enjoyed that it's open and go, and there's a mix of discussion, worksheets and some bigger projects. Sometimes, we just discuss the worksheets, as my son is still working on handwriting skills. So, I guess what I'm saying is, if you liked the idea of MBTP, maybe rethink your level.

Also, Five in a Row is a similar curriculum that is units based on literature. It even includes art. I considered it as well. I was able to get my hands on a copy from the library, and decided it wasn't for me, but it might be for you.

With either of those unit approaches, you really only have to add math and phonics if needed. Just another take on it. You'll just have to do some thinking on what style you and your child work with best. While you are considering, maybe just get outside and do some nature studies! It's getting to be a nice time of year (at least around here).

Good luck!

09-16-2011, 11:58 AM
What we did last year for my 2nd grader-

Lesson Pathways (this covered LA, writing and Literature plus it is FREE)
STOW (we did it in co-op so the activities were done there and we just read the book and did the worksheets together as a family at home)
Singapore Math but we switched to Christian Light Education as there is more review which Girlie really needs
Science- some horrible workbook from BJ's and we got Chickens, plus random shows on netflix
Spelling- Sequential Spelling (worked great for Girlie, not so hot for my 4th grade boyo)

The only things I require from my kids every day (except co-op days) are LA and Math