New homeschooling parents, starting homeschooling for grades 3-7 are so inundated with options to choose from that they feel overwhelmed. I am so tired of seeing them follow bad advice, unknowingly, that I have decided to publish my recommedations of tried-and-test homeschooling curriculum products for the primary school grades.
One of the hidden blessings of homeschooling is the relationship that develops between parents and children when they are learning together. At this age, don’t dump your children in front of a computer. This generation spends enough time on their devices for other purposes, rather spend time together using books, nature and real life experiences in and outside your home.
Be sure to first read 4 Steps to Start Homeschooling so that you are informed about the legal aspects.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS FOR STARTING HOMESCHOOLING GRADES 3-7
These are the products that I use with my own family repeatedly, after trying various others too. They are also extremely popular with many other seasoned homeschooling families, who first tripped up by trying to replicate school at home.
The best way to homeschool your children is to breakaway from the school mindset that you have as a result of the conditioning you received at school, and to give your children a customised education, following eclectic homeschooling – where they learn the SKILLS and the CHARACTER TRAITS that they need for success in life.
1. SOCIAL STUDIES
Social Studies – For ages 8-14 Footprints On Our Land or Voetspore 1 which you can order online. This should last your family 18 months to 2 years and you can use it with more than one child. You can read more about it on our website at http://www.south-african-homeschool-curriculum.com/literature-based-curriculum.html
You only need the Footprints package and the English Grammar Worksheets which are in digital format. This is our most-loved homeschool curriculum, since 2002.
In 2021 we have finally published an Afrikaans literature based curriculum, Voetspore so that Afrikaans families can also enjoy a literature-based unit study of South Africa in their mother tongue. It has been welcomed with great enthusiasm by seasoned homeschooler who have longed for this for many years.
Voetspore 2 – Die Laaste Eeu
This is a world-famous homeschool maths programme, created by a homeschooling dad who was also a maths teacher. I love that once a week, he teaches the children new concepts via video and then after a week of lessons there is a test for me to see that they have mastered the new lessons. The comprehensive teacher guide with fully explained answers makes marking and assisting the children with new concepts so easy! I don’t have to be a maths genius to use it and none of my children have ever battled with maths.
Use the downloadable placement tests to determine which level to start on for each child. Once you have worked out which level to start at, create a customer account profile and go to the Maths page to buy it:
You need the Instructor Guide and DVD and also the Student Workbook and Tests for whichever level it is. You will also need to buy the manipulatives for the appropriate grade level. These are bought once-off and re-used in subsequent grades.
3. SCIENCE (optional)
Footprints Nature Quest is a unique, literature-driven learning safari that takes your family on a journey of discovery through the various natural biomes of our amazing country. It is aimed at children between ages 8-16 so you can use it with multiple children together.
In each region, a local guide will give you insight into the fascinating geography, flora, fauna and other natural features that make that area distinct.
Junior Science– Exploring Creation series by Jeannie Fulbright. Let your child/ren choose which book to start with according to their interests. Available from Creation Ministries
Footprints On Our Land (above) also includes an optional extra Language Arts programme for that age group, which is based on the story books used in the programme to give you an integrated learning experience. Being printable, they are a bargain price too.
If you prefer a traditional grammar workbook, these then try the very affordable Developing Language Skills workbooks. These are based on the CAPS school system but they are great for kids to work through relatively independently.
We also love the Structure and Style programme from Excellence in Writing in the USA. With video lessons and workbooks, it teaches children how to write and compose first sentences, then paragraphs, then essays using various grammatical elements correctly. Instead of focusing on terminology, it emphasises the practical SKILL of writing.
For the older children, Susan Wise Bauer’s curriculum called Writing With Skill is also recommended. My colleague Wendy has used it and recommends it. It is less expensive than Student Writing Intensive. Available from online stores.
All of these work! Not one of them is ‘the best’! You could use all of these during the many years ahead, so don’t stress too much about which one to choose. Try one and see how you like it.
For Afrikaans Second Language (I don’t recommend starting until grade 3 or higher, when the child has first mastered reading and writing in English) – go to http://sahomeschoolsuppliers.blogspot.co.za/p/products-by-grade.html
Afrikaans First Language
Primary Grades – Marisa Haasbroek’s 15-MinuutAfrikaans programme was created specially for homeschoolers by Marisa, an Afrikaans homeschool mom and published author! She has a range of other Afrikaans language courses all created specially for homeschoolers.
6. FOR PARENTS
Starting homeschooling is like starting a new career. For this new ‘job’ you need to train yourself and get better informed to make good choices for your family. If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any!
My online presentations are at Teachable.com. Create a free account and then you can view them. Some are free, some are paid for:
- 5 Vital Lessons for Every Homeschooler is free – 1 hour
- I recommend you also watch Starting Homeschooling – 6 x 1 hour presentations (R400)
You can download them to view at your convenience.
Do’t get overwhelmed with all this information. Start with the 4 Steps to Start Homeschooling – read the articles. Then slowly start looking at the curriculum options so that you are not overwhelmed! You no longer have to keep up with the school system or the dates that schools are open. Start when you are calm and ready.
It is really worthwhile to first invest both time and money to learn more about how homeschooling works best. You want to get off to a strong start, feeling confident about the decisions you make for your family.
Remember – whatever products you choose now are not permanent.
It is quite normal to try a few different curriculum options in various subjects during the first few years and then settle on the ones that your family likes best.
Here are recommendations for