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  1. #1

    Smile Thoughts on curriculum for 2nd grader

    Can I please get your thoughts on these curriculum choices for a 2nd grader (restarting homeschooling this year? (We homeschooled for k) My biggest goal at this age is to have fun and to encourage him to love learning at home so much that he wants to homeschool again next year (and, to keep up with his class, should he request to return to public school next year). He currently loves math, science experiments, and reading (Beast Quest, Calvin & Hobbes, etc) but he's a *very* hesitant writer and generally seems to dislike art.

    Math: Beast Academy vs Singapore Math
    LA: Brave Writer vs Michael Clay Thompson
    Science: Moving Beyond the Page units vs REAL Science Odyssey
    Social Studies: History Quest

    Any thoughts?
    Thank you!

    Last edited by 3forMe; 08-08-2020 at 05:55 PM.

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  3. #2



    For your second grader who loves doing science experiments, can you keep letting him explore and experiment how he likes? Between those two products, are the mbtp units inexpensive? Do they have a free sample? RSO is experiment driven, and you could download the first few weeks worth of any topic for free, I recommend you try it, to see if you both like it. (I didnt like that Id constantly have to go to the mega mart to get supplies that werent a part of our lifestyle or would be around the farmers market.... pink marshmallows and borox come to mind.)
    If you have a reluctant writer, I highly recommend you read Jot It Down (Bravewriter). It may help you separate things so that everything becomes joyful and rainbows. Poetry Tea for the Win!

    Ive only used Singapore for my boys, and only used the student workbooks. It works fine for us, and the boys seemed to learn the math pretty smoothly. If math doesnt come as intuitively, you might look for something with more explanations or manipulatives. I know the Singapore workbooks are inexpensive, the two halves for a years worth are about $15 each.

    History: Cant help you here, except to say that if hes not digging it, dont sweat or push it. Find topics he finds interesting, try going in unit studies directions that way.

    There is no ďkeeping upĒ with second grade.... all the elementary years are learn as you go, and different in each school district across the country. (Some states do say ďlearn state history in x gradeĒ, but its pretty unenforceable, theyre not going to hold back students who moved from other states, or didnt learn the parts of a plant cell, or the names of the planets.)

    However, a typical 2nd grader may be finishing up building reading skills, will hopefully be comfortable and able to print clearly... and learning the easy multiplication facts (think 2,3, 5, 10 kind of thing).

    You will be fine!

    Ask when you have questions.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3


    As AM said, try out as many samples as you can.

    My oldest loved Beast Academy (did 3–5), my youngest does not like it (we use Maths Smart instead, which is a Singapore/Cambridge cross). They are both readers and I don't know why one likes it and not the other. DD12 is visual spatial, DD7 is auditory. DD7 learns best if I just sit with her and give her a quick spoken summary of what is in her math textbook for the day. She can do it by reading herself but does not understand it as well as when I talk her through it. So maybe that is the difference. Who knows, she loves reading and graphic novels though so I don't really know why BA does not click for her.

    Both my kids love the writing projects from BraveWriter and poetry teas, watching films, art appreciation etc. My oldest has a couple of the MCT books on ipad and reads them occasionally. She does not love them though and they are very expensive. Otherwise for writing, my youngest likes Printing Power and Building Writers from Handwriting Without Tears, and Draw Write Now/Draw Your World. She also does freewriting and copywork BraveWriter style.

    History, we do unit studies on whatever we feel like and I just get a bunch of library books out on the chosen topic.

    Science we do free experimentation or pick up books from the library. We have tried various RSO products (did all of chem and physics and some of bio) and never loved them. We found them ok to pick and choose what we wanted when it took our fancy but that they sucked the fun out of science and became a drag if we tried to do it all and regularly.

    Generally, my 7 year old does math (Maths Smart), reading (our own choices; at the moment she is reading The Vanderbeekers series), writing (writing project, poetry tea, freewriting, copywork, Printing Power, Building Writers, or Draw Write Now) and that is her main learning done for the day before lunch. After lunch, she can do whatever she wants of science, foreign language, art, or social studies.
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

  5. #4


    I would be cautious about Beast Academy this year if I were you. Itís a fantastic program but it doesnít really follow the typical 2nd grade math subjects, though itís not crazy out there, so it could be more difficult to switch out of if he returns to other schooling options next year. Singapore is easier to switch in & out of, or another great option is Rightstart Math. I have used all 3 of these math programs and love each of them for their own reasons. Beast Academy and Rightstart have more potential for math fun, Singapore is great for solid math skills in a clear and traditional order, Beast Academy has tremendous potential for fun as well as equally tremendous potential for frustration. The first 6 mo for my oldest in Beast Academy were very frustrating to him and he cried many times because it using a very different approach. (I love the approach it uses and once theyíre used to it itís great, but the transition was hard for both of us.)

    Rightstart is a great program for reluctant writers because much of the practice takes place through games rather than worksheets. It is also a rigorous program which helps the kids have a great number sense. It takes a lot of parent involvement. I love Singapore because it is rigorous and has enough practice to help the skills become natural without being overwhelming. My second son loves worksheets so itís a perfect fit for him. Beast Academy is great if your student is a grade level ahead in math and picks up the math concepts the first time through without difficulty. If you do Beast Academy, I recommend the online version. It covers the exact same material but can have more material when the kids need more practice. The guide books are worth having physical copies of, imo. My oldest is in Beast Academy now and loves it. He spends 1-2 hours today working on it and it works for him. My second is using Singapore and I donít currently plan to switch him to Beast Academy because he isnít the type to spend 20 minutes on a problem in order to work through it and figure it out and sometimes math isnít obvious for him so he would be very frustrated by it. Both my boys love the Beast Academy guide books and frequently ask us to read them for their bedtime stories so even if you go with a different

    Weíve liked REAL science odyssey. We have done Astronomy 1 and Life and are using Chemistry 1 this year. The writing requirements increase noticeably as the grade level increases so Iíd recommend going with one of the earlier courses over one of the later ones. It is experiment/demonstration based so there are a lot of supplies involved.

    Brave Writer didnít work for us, but I think itís a fantastic program. My boys thrive on more concrete work with clearly defined goals and boundaries so BW just didnít fit their learning style. I havenít tried the other curricula you mentioned though I have heard good things about each of them.

  6. #5


    I pieced together this year mostly (but not entirely) from Moving Beyond the Page units, so I'd say that's a great way to go. So far I'm happy with them - I haven't started using them with my son yet, but I've gone through the nitty gritty details of the first few we'll be using, so I know what I need to know in advance. I think there's a lot to like about it. I liked the unit study approach, which lets my kiddo have a say in what we'll be working on together this year. He was so excited to pick out some science topics to delve into, in particular. I'm using a patchwork of cherry-picked units from a few levels to cover my son's Social Studies, Science, and ELA.

    For Math, I went with Math Mammoth, which has been going fairly well for the past few weeks. If my son was younger, I think I would have chosen Right Start Math, but at his current level, Math Mammoth is good. He was totally uninterested in Beast Academy's unorthodox setup. Oh well!

    For whatever it's worth, my son is very much anti-art. I hope you have more luck encouraging your kiddo to do art than I do with mine!

  7. #6


    I would say Beast Academy totally depends on your child. Our experience is in stark contrast to favelemma above. My DD12 used Beast Academy from 3–5 and it has given her the best grounding in solid math skills. I don't think it is just fun or so unorthodox that it is not solid math. Her math skills now are amazing; all due to Beast Academy. She definitely does not like sitting and solving problems for 20 mins but Beast Academy was not that for her. She would spend about 30–40 min a day and get through 2–4 pages of the workbook problems.

    For her, Math Mammoth was like a slow and torturous death. Even trying to administer the placement test for it, she could not get through more than about 1/3 of it before it riled her so much that she went nuclear.

    Right Start never appealed to me as a full curriculum as it looked too finicky for my liking; however, we do like the Right Start math card games. Although, mostly actually the card sets. The actual card games book is a bit frustrating sometimes. I also got the AL Abacus book and have very rarely used it.

    My youngest uses a Singapore/Cambridge cross as I said in my first post, and it is fine. Not as boring as Math Mammoth repetitiveness. Presented in a nice way, but not as cool as the Beast Academy. But she is developing her math skills in much the same way as my older one did with Beast Academy.

    So this is where you take everyones own personal experiences with their own unique children with a big old grain of salt and go and try lots of samples and see what actually suits your child.
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

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Thoughts on curriculum for 2nd grader