Finding the RIGHT Curriculum | Transitioning from Public School to Homeschool

by Becky
Published: Updated:

This part two in my Homeschooling Series. You can find the first one, “Why We Gave up Public School and Started Homeschooling”, HERE.

Curriculum We Use 

When I was getting started, I didn’t know any homeschool Mom’s that had transitioned from public school to homeschool with older children (my oldest was going into 7th grade). Even though I had asked friends and family about curriculum and it was good advice, I soon found for Math especially, I had to pick a curriculum that transitioned well from public school.

I am going to share all the curriculum we use but of course I need to make a little disclaimer here. What works for me and what I like may or may not be what is best for your family. One of the wonderful things about homeschooling is that you can pick what works for your family and each individual child’s learning style.

All that said, I am grateful that some friends and family shared with me their favorite curriculums as it gave me a place to begin. There are so many great options these days it’s hard to choose! I hope that sharing this and some of my thoughts may help someone just starting out or looking for something that may be a better fit for their children.

Our First Curriculum Attempt

We ended up using The Good and the Beautiful for History, Science, Literacy, and Handwriting. The Good and The Beautiful is awesome overall and I’ve been really happy with it.

I don’t really think any curriculum is going to be perfect but it was a very good start for us. Where The Good and The Beautiful excels is in teaching faith based curriculum and their recommendations of stories and books that have high morals and a good message.

Good and The Beautiful Literacy- Kindergarten

My youngest used The Good and The Beautiful for Kindergarten Math. The others in 3rd, 5th, and 7th grade started on Teaching Textbooks for Math. 

Finding the Right Math for Kids going from Public School to Homeschool

The kids liked the popular homeschool math program, Teaching Textbooks when they began. It was so fun and different to do math online! I loved that it was so hands-off for me. But about 10 lessons in, some of my kids started to not like it anymore. It wasn’t really because the program was boring or too hard but it was because the teaching was so different from what they had learned in public school already. 

There were a lot of tears and struggle. The math in Teaching Textbooks is taught similarly to the math I learned in school twenty years ago. But it has very little of how math is taught today in public schools.

The more I watched them do it the more unhappy I was with how the math was being taught. It was so frustrating to them and felt like starting over at kindergarten in a lot of respects. 

About a month in, I started watching review videos about other math curricula available and my oldest, Cruz, helped me pick a new one that looked better. We chose Abeka.

I bought all the books and the kids started into it. After about a month, there were the same tears and frustration from not just Cruz in 7th grade math, but also Kian in 5th grade math.

What I didn’t realize about Abeka is that it is basically the same as Teaching Textbooks in the old style of teaching but in book form. I noticed very little mental math or talking about place value. So we hunted again for the right math.

Singapore Math 

Finally, we landed on Singapore math. I knew when I saw the method of multiplication and all the mental math that this is exactly how the kids had learned in school before! Singapore math did have a few different things than public school but for the most part the transition to this math has been way easier.

My personal opinion is that it is by far superior to the other math programs we were using. It does an incredible job of teaching place values, grouping, lots of visual pictures, and has lots of manipulatives you can buy to make it more hands on.

In truth, we did have some struggle and tears with Singapore Math too. But it wasn’t because the kids were learning differently, it was because it is challenging. There is definitely a learning curve with each math curriculum because every book builds on the rest. They assume you learn the basics of a concept back when you started.

Everything with Singapore Math lined up great with what the kids had already learned in school except for the bar models. This is Singapore Math’s way of visually explaining word problems. It’s actually amazing once you get the hang of it because it transitions so well into Algebra.

I had to look through the 3rd grade math book and find this same bar model concept then teach it to my 5th grade learner. We went through all the lessons for bar models in 3rd grade, then 4th grade, and finally the 5th grade bar model questions made a lot more sense. 

Singapore Math Vs. The Good and The Beautiful Math

The one place where Singapore Math lacks is fun. This whole time my daughter in Kindergarten has used the Good and the Beautiful Math. She loves math so far because the Good and the Beautiful does such a good job of making math fun and filling it with lots of activities and hands on learning. 

Now that we are about 90 lessons into Good and the Beautiful Math, she still finds it enjoyable but I can tell it is a little bit too repetitive and easy for her in some regards.  I bought her a Singapore Math book to see if she would be interested in switching over next year. She did a few lessons and kept begging me to do her new Singapore Math book instead of the Good and the Beautiful. 

She is using the Good and the Beautiful’s now obsolete math program because they are replacing it with a new version in August 2021 that is more affordable and more simplified. So I can’t speak to the new program but I would assume it is similar.

I will start her on Singapore Math next year and see how it goes. She hasn’t had to transition from public school so the math options are a little more open but I just love how singapore math teaches!

I wish Singapore Math was a happier mix of both fun and the really good visual and mental math concepts it excels at. Singapore Math has options for adding activities within the books but in general these are catered to a large classroom and not a homeschool setting.

I plan on making this happen myself. Next year, I will do one day a week of Math fun learning where we do a game and lots of hands on learning and save the book work in Singapore Math for the other four days of the week. 

Hands-On Learning

Our learning each day isn’t just bookwork and curriculum. We do reading aloud, listen to books in the car, study scripture, and do lots and lots of hands-on learning.

Here just a few examples of things we do often or have done where the kids are learning skills not in a curriculum. We did many of these things while the kids were going to public school too. The only difference is now they have more time to spend developing these skills. 

  • Nature study– kids play outside everyday. They collect frogs, toads, go down to our creek and find crawdads. The list here is endless.
  • Animal husbandry– We have cows, chickens, and pigs to care for right now.
  • Anatomy and biology– My oldest Cruz reminded me the other day that we had already done a dissection of an animal by butchering chickens last year. We will do this again this year. They learned about all the organs and location of them.
  • Cooking– We cook everyday from scratch. I rarely buy pre-made treats so if the kids get a craving for something they make it themselves. They have learned how to follow a recipe and cook bread, breadsticks, cookies, and make homemade ice cream regularly. They cook dinner for the family once a week.
  • Money and Jobs– We have jobs kids can do to earn money. They learn to manage their own money on a small scale.
  • Woodworking and Handyman skills– Cameron always has a project going on and the kids help right alongside him. I’ve been surprised at how much they have learned already. My boys way surpass my own skill in this area.
  • Survival skills– Most of my boys have a bag with a survival kit. This is not something they just keep in their room but use every day! When they go out to play outside they take it with them. It has flint and steel in it for starting a fire, a knife, whistle, walkie talkies, etc. They love learning about this and have read several books on it too.
  • Gardening– Kids get a lot of experience here because this is where I am often and it’s my favorite thing. 
  • Homemaking and Cleaning– Though all kids usually learn this at some point, we have a little more time to spend on it because we are at home all day. It’s nobody’s favorite but we do it! Kids do their own laundry and clean their room and have several jobs they do each day to keep the house tidy.
  • Sewing– Ok so I’m really poor at sewing (and just not interested in it) but Cameron actually excels in this area. He is good at the basics and can alter clothing. Kids haven’t shown much interest in this but will occasionally want to help.
  • Social Skills– This one’s my favorite for homeschool. Like most Mom’s, I worried a bit about my kids getting enough social time and learning socialization skills. But I was reading in a book (Family Friendly Farming) about how even in school in a sea of people kids have just a few good friends. This was definitely true with my public school experience. Homeschool eliminated the crowds and allowed my kids to still play with a few good friends. The kids have told me that they have been able to have more playdates and social time than ever this year because we are more available. That is true. My kids also get plenty of time socializing and learning from adult role models that are worth learning from. 
  • Whittling– Recently my boys have been on a whittling kick and that is why I put this one on here. They have made all kinds of wooden tools.
  • Small Business


I’ve really enjoyed seeing how much my kids have learned and grown this year. A set homeschool curriculum definitely helps me because I like a little structure and I find the kids do too.

We are lucky to live in a time when it’s very easy to start homeschooling even as someone with little to no experience. And that is hugely because of such high quality curricula available.

I hope this gives a bit of insight as to a few of the options out there and what we have enjoyed using after transitioning from public school to homeschool.

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Elise April 14, 2021 - 12:15 am

Very interesting. I’d love to hear more about the survival skills kids and see a photo :). Is it a backpack?

Alyssa March 20, 2024 - 12:27 pm

I know some time has passed since you wrote this post. Are you still happy with your switch from good and beautiful to Singapore for your daughter?

Becky March 21, 2024 - 2:11 am

Hi Alyssa, we switched back to the Good and the Beautiful for Math. My daughter did all of 1st grade in the Singapore Math book and liked it OK. But at the end of the year she wanted to go back to Good and the Beautiful. She is now working on the 3rd grade book. It’s a little more hands off for me too, since it has teaching videos and explains everything so well at the beginning of the lesson. She likes the games too. I also use Math-U-See for my older kids grades 7+. Not as fun as good and the beautiful but the teaching style is great, there are video tutorials, and the lessons aren’t too long.


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