I always feel I should apologise immediately because we are not an autonomous home educating family and I do ‘make my children work’ as opposed to the (tiresomely misunderstood) notion that most home ed children are left to do it themselves with no resources or input.
This is of course wrong on all sorts of levels. For one thing, even families who would classify themselves as autonomous have, as a rule, just as much interesting/educational stuff/clutter in their houses as we do, so ‘resources’ are not the sole stamping ground of the non-autonomous. For a second, I’ve yet to meet an autonomous home educator who, if asked to provide a maths course by the child, would say “No! I refuse! You are autonomous and will do without resources!” Thirdly, my children like and respond to having ‘work’ to do – that is how they are – and I don’t actually have any trouble getting them to do it. Whether because I’m made them so or because they are that way is almost irrelevant; this is how it has panned out here and we are all quite happy with it!
Below is a list of some of the things we’ve used. For the most part I have linked to company websites and occasionally to something of theirs on Amazon as well. If you did decide to buy things from Amazon, a little bit of money would go to me if you clicked that link. I spend it all on resources! You can use the box below to search for things and send us a few pennies if you want 🙂
I’d also say that the list below more than covers 4 girls, most of it is non consumable so we only buy it once and if I had to give up all but one publisher, I’d keep Galore Park!
This list needs some updating; however I am now refurbishing MuddlePuddle which has lots of up to date links on various pages through the website.
Education City – an online Maths/English/Science/French set of games, graded according to year group in a fun cartoon environment. It is very thorough and suited my lot for a long time. Josie still uses it, Amelie is taking a break and the older two have moved on now. Suitable for age 5-12ish.
Mathletics – a focused maths course for age 5-18. All my girls currently use it, there is a huge amount of help built in to the games. I’ve learned from it, which is ideal now Fran is on to stuff I never quite ‘got’. There is a home educators discount so ring them up!
BBC Bitesize – well worth investigating. Has plenty of useful info, with added games, for most Key Stage Levels (yawn) which my kids pick and choose between. They often use it with Max and fed into our tv from a laptop, it is known as ”telly maths’.
MoshiMonsters – now quite a phenomena, this site has ordinary online fun alongside numeracy, literacy and logic games. You can play free or have added features if you pay. Free is really fine.
Real Life Resources
Of all the things I could mention, my highest rating goes to Galore Park, which we use for most subjects these days. It is all of exceptionally high quality and the kids love it all. I like to support them direct but bargains can be had at Galore Park on Amazon
and also on eBay.
Other workbook series’ which we use at times include
Over the years we’ve used quite a few different things for this. We tried Miquon, spent a long time with Singapore, CIMT and have finally settled on Galore Park. For individual areas we occasionally dip into Schofield & Sims. One thing I do NOT find useful is the type of workbook commonly around in shops for schooled kids. They have always been distractingly jazzy and have no teaching or consolidation in them. They are really just revision books.
We put a lot of store by learned times tables and number bonds. I honestly think kids just need these skills to move on at any pace.
My kids are just a bit reluctant about written English but Galore Park is tolerable for them. It has good quality reading suggestions, interesting subject matter and covers grammar in a brisk but thorough way.
We’ve used Schofield and Sims for some general grammar and written skills work.
1001 Brilliant Writing Ideas: Teaching Inspirational Story-writing for All Ages
is useful for creative writing ideas.
NaNoWriMo was a brilliant inspiration to the older girls.
Learning to Read
All of them have learned to read using StudyDog (no longer free but worth it if you have budget), Peter and Jane books and Oxford Reading Tree books.
For spelling I either print off spelling lists, which helps with handwriting, spelling and expands vocabulary. Some of them have particularly liked Andrew Brodie Spelling Books
We’ve used Explode the Code extensively. It has its issues, the American words being one of them, but has a good solid sounding out base. I’ve linked to Ichthus there because although the website is a bit clunky (sorry!) and payment involves a little too-ing and fro-ing, it is a small family business, I’ve met them and they give great service.
In the past I bought some American style handwriting courses. I’d say they were a uniform waste of money. My experience has been that kids who read a lot develop a good range of vocab and absorb masses of punctuation and spelling. When they are ready to write (we’ve let ours type on laptops a lot) they are not focused on trying to spell and punctuate correctly, as it is already an acquired skill, and the handwriting improves quickly. None of ours are very neat writers, but neither are Max and I, but they are legible and improving.
has wonderful books which have so much information and so many easy experiments to do.
Galore Park is ideal at Junior and Senior level.
There are a number of GCSE and KS3 books available too, mainly on Amazon. We have several and dip in and out of them as resource books.
Currently we are using Real Science 4 Kids as part of a group. Free to read online, it is really excellent.
This is my passion and we could probably live without a course as we talk about history all the time, linked in to current affairs, famous people and places. However, I highly recommend in indulging in both the books and tv series of Horrible Histories.
We also use Galore Park at both levels and the Story of the World
series from time to time.
Our Island Story: A History of Britain for Boys and Girls, from the Romans to Queen Victoria
was a favourite for a while but I now find the overt Christian themes too difficult to stomach. I think I’m an Ancient Briton at heart – I don’t like the marauding hordes coming and taking us over!
Again, this occurs very naturally through reading, television and daily conversation.
We do enjoy Galore Park, although Fran finds it a little drier than others in that series.
Religion & Culture
We are not a religious household so do no ‘religious instruction’ in the way some families do. However, we have lots of books on faiths and the history of religion on the shelves. I don’t think any stand out apart from
Currently Fran has an interest in ethics so we’ve been discussing topics in more depth as they come up. We use a LOT of Barefoot Books forÂ exploring stories from cultures and religions as well as several from the Usborne range.
We use Galore Park French together; the cd and book work well. I have Encore Tricolore 1 Nouvelle Edition: Students’ Book Stage 1
to back me up, as it is familiar to me from school but doesn’t really work as a teaching tool without the (highly expensive) cds.
We use Minimus Pupil’s Book: Starting out in Latin
and Galore Park Latin as often as any child wants to (Minimus as part of a wider group but Fran works independently too with GP.)
We have just started using Skoldo
for French. The girls seem to really like it.
Art & Craft
We’ve recently started to explore art and art history in more depth.
We use Usborne Art Books
We have a music teacher who comes to our home. In addition we do music theory in a group and also use
Music Theory in Practice: Grade 1 (New ed.)
Charlotte Mason & other Curricula
In the past we stuck firmly, but not exclusively to Ambleside Online and also used various books from the Tanglewood curriculum. Although I can’t find anything to recommend bought curricula which claim to make HE easier on the parent, I do think Charlotte Mason reading lists have much to recommend them if you pick and choose interesting or unusual books. It is worth discussing or considering their relevance to today’s world as part of that.
Sonlight does provide a curriculum. We have tried it and didn’t really enjoy the structure but it has been a great place to get unusual book ideas from in the past.