Our homeschool curriculum updated for the 2013-2014 school year

This year, I officially have two middle school students. I actually find that rather exciting. We’ve got some curriculum that we really enjoy and I’m making some tweaks in preparation for high school In addition, I’m working on moving the kids toward greater independence. All that combines to create a homeschooling year about which I am terribly excited!

This post contains affiliate links. Some of these products were sent to me at now charge for the purpose of reviewing them. See full disclosure policy for more details.


Core Homeschool Curriculum

We have absolutely loved using Trail Guide to Learning since January of 2012 and will continue using it this year as our core curriculum. We’ll finish Paths of Progress before Christmas break and pick up with the new middle school curriculum, Journeys to the Ancient World when we resume school in January.

Paths of Progress

Trail Guide is a history-based, all-in-one curriculum that covers everything except math. Each level covers a range of three grade levels and can be adapted for slightly younger or older students with optional supplemental materials.

It’s an easy-to-use, literature based, hands-on curriculum with minimal teacher prep. It’s based directly on Dr. Ruth Beechick’s philosophy of education, which also complements the Charlotte Mason style.

Trail Guide offers a a consistent pattern that flows through each day, week, and unit, which allows both the parent and the student to have a predictable flow to the school day. Each unit is six weeks long, with the last week being a built-in review and wrap-up week. The units are just long enough to really delve into a topic, but move on before it becomes tedious.

I invite you to read my in-depth review of Trail Guide to Learning.


We started using WriteShop last year because Josh, who has dyslexia, needed more explicit writing instruction. Due to extreme busyness in our second semester, I didn’t spend as much time with WriteShop as I’d planned, so I just decided to start over this year with both Josh and Megan both using WriteShop I. (Last year, Megan was using WriteShop Junior.)


It won’t hurt Josh to review the things we worked on last year and it will make my life much easier having both kids doing the same lessons.


After getting Josh’s dyslexia diagnosis, we went back to All About Spelling last year. With its basis in the Orton Gillingham methods that are highly recognized for their effectiveness with dyslexics and its hands-on, multi-sensory approach, it’s just what we need for the explicit spelling instruction Josh’s learning needs require.

All About Spelling

Both Josh and Megan are doing well with it and the best part? I see that what they’re learning in spelling is finally starting to stick in their regular writing.


Josh and Megan continue to use Teaching Textbooks. I love the video instruction method and the fact that the grading is done for me. I also enjoy the fact that there are only 120 lessons, plus tests and quizzes in Teaching Textbooks. This makes it easy to get through a full year of the curriculum in a typical school year. They both typically finish early, so we take a short break, then, start on the next level.

Bible Study

We’ll continue to use the SOAP method of Bible study. One change this year is that I’m giving everyone time to do their personal Bible study a few days a week. On those days, we get together and everyone shares a bit of what they learned from what they studied. Then, we’re studying together the other days.

The purpose for that is that I want to encourage the kids to have their own Bible study time each day, but I really like our family Bible studies, too. This lets us enjoy both.

We’re also continuing to use the Scripture memory box, which may just be the most long-standing piece of “curriculum” in our homeschool.


Although Trail Guide is all-inclusive, I have made the decision to supplement science this year. The only reason for that is high school prep. Josh will be entering high school next year. We tried Apologia’s biology with Brianna and it wasn’t a good fit. Switching science curriculum mid-year caused us to get behind.


Because most colleges in Georgia require four lab-based sciences in high school, I don’t want to take any chances on getting behind with Josh. The high school level texts for Trail Guide won’t be available by the time Josh enters high school. Since I still think Apologia is excellent science curriculum, I wanted to see if we could make it work for Josh with some adjustments. So, we’re trying it during his 8th grade year. That way, if we need to make changes, we can make them before he’s in high school.

We’re using Exploring Creation with General Science. Donna Young offers some excellent resources for all Apologia sciences. I’m loving the daily lesson plans and worksheets that someone has created to go with general science. (Click the previous link and look for “A Detailed Lesson Plan by Becca.”)

The lesson plans go perfectly with the student notebooks that we’re already using and have made it simple and seamless to include this Apologia text with our Trail Guide studies. The worksheets are so well done that I’ve already checked to see if Becca has them for subsequent titles, should we decide to continue with Apologia. I’m sad to report that she does not. At least I see how the general outline works, though, so I could make them myself if I need to. I just wish someone else had already done it. {grin}


Again, we don’t need grammar because Trail Guide is all-inclusive, but my kids love Easy Grammar and Daily Grams. Really. They missed it when we quit doing it because we were using Trail Guide. They asked if we could do it again. Who’s going to say no to that?

Easy Grammar and Daily Grams


This year we’re also using something new – worldview studies by Brimwood Press. We’re using A Young Historian’s Introduction to Worldview to understand the concept of four basic worldviews. Then, we’ll be using the book, The Secret and the Scribe and its accompanying study guide as the basis for studying polytheism in light of a Christian worldview for this school year. So far, we’ve really enjoyed it and look forward to exploring subsequent titles in upcoming years. (Review coming in August.)


Throughout the year, we’ll be using some of the See the Light Art Projects DVDs. We’ll also be using A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels.


The following materials were provided to me at no charge for the purpose of reviewing: Trail Guide to Learning, WriteShop, All About Spelling, Brimwood Press worldview products, See the Light art products, Easy Grammar and Daily Grams. The others were purchased by me for our family’s personal use. This post contains affiliate links. All statements made in this post are my true and honest opinions. Your experience may vary.

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