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Homeschool Curriculum Review {2012-2013}

homeschool curriculum review

Homeschool Curriculum Review {2012-2013}

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This last school year was definitely a strange one for us. With a sudden decline in Apollo’s health and facing another heart surgery (this time out-of-state), we made the difficult decision to send our five youngest school-age children to our local public school. With Adalia attending the local community college, that just left me with: Judah (10th grade), Tilly (9th grade), Enoch (7th grade) and Kalina (6th grade) to homeschool. Here I will review what we used and what we did and didn’t like.

Switched-On Schoolhouse

Switched-On Schoolhouse Review

Judah and Tilly both used Switched-On Schoolhouse in their respective grades. I have a love/hate relationship with SOS. On one hand, it allowed me to continue to homeschool Judah and Tilly and allowed Tilly to keep up on her schoolwork even when we were in Houston for Apollo’s surgery. On the other hand, it was a lot of time spent on the computer and computers can be extremely inflexible. There were times when both Judah and Tilly were faced with the following problem:

True or False.

That’s right, a glitch in the program had left off the question and they just had to choose one.

Using Switched-On Schoolhouse for Math

My second complaint is trying to do math at this level on a computer is a real pain. They often had to do it in notebooks (fine) but that meant more time spent by me checking it (what we were trying to avoid in the first place). I needed to have both their computers open and their notebooks. It was a huge pain. Between the many essays, written answers and math, I still felt like I spent too much time correcting their work.

Despite this, Tilly, my Type A, has already installed SOS 10th grade on her computer and started her school year. While I don’t love this program, it can work.

The last thing I have to say about SOS is, I made the mistake of ordering the pre-made science kits. It seemed like a good idea. Once it was time for an experiment they would have everything they need! Except it didn’t work out that way.  My kids used very few items from the boxes and were often told to do an experiment and the kits would be missing basic items like test tubes, a chemical or the right sized item. It was a *huge* waste of money.

Life Pac

Kalina and Enoch each used Life Pacs in their grade. This worked out okay. I don’t love this type of learning, but, especially for Enoch in seventh grade, I feel like this did a thorough (if sometimes boring) job of covering the basics.

Teaching Textbooks

Using Teaching Textbooks for Math

Enoch stormed through Teaching Textbooks 7 for math and was finished before we returned from Houston! Teaching Textbooks can be okay, but my kids got sick of the tediousness of doing the work on the computer, so Enoch ended up just using the accompanying book as a textbook. Having said that, we just set Tucker up with Teaching Textbooks 3 today, and he was having fun…so he may do that this year.

So what did we love this year? Nothing really, except for the fact that we were able to continue homeschooling. I have been hard at work making lists and planning our upcoming year. I look forward to focusing more on this blog on homeschooling and less on medical issues in the coming months…


  1. Jo

    I’m not sure what you have available where you live, but here we have several online public school options, that sound similar to switched on schoolhouse, but there is a teacher at the other end to grade everything/check answers/etc. It is also paid for by the state, so that is a plus. You wouldn’t have to grade anything. The nice thing is, there is still time for homeschool activities, as this type of school doesn’t take nearly as much time as real school. Students can pick their classes as well.
    I really like K12, and another good one is Connections academy.

  2. Kelly

    Thank you SO much for your opnion on SOS. For over a year now, we’d planned on switching to SOS for each of our 3rd grade & up children (once they reached that grade). I had the money, read reviews, contemplated…but once it came time to order, I just couldn’t do it. We stuck with our normal curriculum & were glad we did. Now, I am even more glad that we didn’t switch! I am not a fan of sitting my kids at the computer all day to do schoolwork. I like our mix of workbooks (much like your LifePac) & hands-on teaching!

  3. Melissa

    I didn’t home school (officially)–my children are in German schools, but I ordered the Calvert program for them through first grade (it goes through eighth) so that they would also learn American folksongs and styles of learning–as well as orthography. I didn’t use their advisory service–it’s expensive, in fact the entire program is expensive, but I liked much of it–their website is worth trolling for good books (which you could order separately on Amazon).
    I’m a college teacher–on my blog I’ve also posted a “Guide to Basic Literacy” which is mostly online, or available through

  4. Ivory Walker

    Have you tried Aleks for math? It is an online math course which would involve your children being on the computer still but there is no work for you to check. The program will send you updates on your child weekly. You should look it up, they have a free trial.

  5. Elizabeth

    We were considering SOS for school this year but were scared off by bad reviews. I’m glad to hear it really was as bad as we thought it might be. I hope you find something better for the upcoming year!

  6. Lindsey Richmond

    We do SOS for 4th grade and up. Last year was our first year with it. I like the independence. But at the same time there is a lot you have to make sure your keeping an eye on. For us it worked. I would forget to check with all the little ones. I liked that I HAD to sit down with them to make sure I was keeping up on what they were doing. What I love about homeschool! no 2 homeschool families do things the same or work the same. Kids are so different too. One of mine stormed through SOS and one struggled 😛

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