There is a stereotype of homeschooling families, being religious households who eschew public schooling in favor of a more personal, faith-based approach to education.
And while that is perhaps true for many, the reality is that this is just a simple stereotype. In fact, there are plenty of homeschooling families who are interested in using a secular curriculum, and that number is growing.
In the past, such families perhaps had to make due with the numerous, high quality faith-based curricula out there, either by modifying them or simply ignoring any religious content.
But parents live in an age of unprecedented choice and availability of educational material, where with a click of a button you can find an assortment of companies providing learning content of all types.
We firmly believe that today no parent, secular or not, should have to simply “make do” when it comes to their children’s education, and they should be able to easily find a curriculum that suits their needs and their values.
To help out, we’ve put together this little guide. It’s intended to help secular parents get started finding the curriculum and resources they need to get started teaching the way they want quickly and effectively.
What is a secular homeschool curriculum?
A secular homeschool curriculum is, broadly speaking, a course of instruction that does not promote any religious point of view.
This type of curriculum does not include religious instruction, does not include religious material (except perhaps from an academic view), and is not affiliated with any religious group.
Contrary to what some may believe, secular programs are not limited in their particular homeschooling philosophy.
Secular curriculums can come in all flavors and styles and there are secular unschools, secular literature-based programs, secular inquiry-based programs, secular school-at-homes, secular Montessoris and more.
Does that mean a secular homeschool curriculum ignores religion altogether?
It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that a secular curriculum can’t study religion, its influence or its texts as a topic.
Comparative religion and religion’s place in society and as an influence can be an interesting subject to explore and arguably an important part of a comprehensive social studies education.
What it does mean is that a secular homeschool curriculum does not use faith-based language or undertones when exploring these topics and subjects, and does not place any one religion over another in terms of importance or truth.
As a good example, if a secular homeschool were doing a study on religion and was looking at the Bible, it would do so not as the word of God and as gospel, but through the lens of academic analysis.
It would examine the Bible perhaps with an examination of its influence as literature in Western civilization and thought, its importance to individuals from an anthropological point of view, or as a component of a comparative study of religions.
It’s also important to note that a curriculum’s secular or faith-based nature has no real bearing on its quality. In this heavily divided age we live in it is quite easy to forget that just as there are high and low quality faith-based programs, there are high and low quality secular homeschool curricula out there, as well.
How does a secular homeschool curriculum differ from a faith-neutral curriculum?
When looking for alternatives to a Christian- or faith-based homeschool curriculum, parents may come across both secular and “faith-neutral” curricula.
The terms can be a little confusing, with the word neutral seeming like it would imply a secular philosophy.
However, there are important differences between the two that parents should be aware of.
As with a secular curriculum, a neutral curriculum does not promote any particular religion or include religious material in their instruction.
Where they differ (and where the moniker “neutral” comes from) is that a faith-neutral curriculum will generally stay away from, or offer no opinion on, contentious educational topics that tend to divide religious and secular communities, such as teaching evolution, the origins of the universe, the origins of various religions and texts and so on.
This is in contrast to a secular curriculum which will take a more definite stance on these topics.
Teaching evolution is probably the most clear example of the difference between these two curriculum philosophies.
Where a secular curriculum would treat evolution as scientific fact, a critical process in biology and science, a faith-neutral curriculum will either not teach it and leave the matter to parents to sort out for themselves or teach it alongside creationism and intelligent design.
In short, a secular curriculum is specifically designed for secular teaching, where a faith-neutral curriculum is designed to be able to be used by both secular and religious parents. .
Why would parents want a secular homeschool curriculum in particular?
There are quite a few reasons why a parent would choose a secular homeschool curriculum over a neutral or faith-based one.
They are not religious
The most obvious answer, of course, is simply that the parents themselves are simply secular.
They may not follow any religion or they may not be all that religious, but whatever the reason religious ideology and belief is the not the reason they are homeschooling and they don’t feel like having to adapt a religious or neutral curriculum to their needs.
They don’t want to influence their child’s religious choices
Some parents may be spiritual but have no particularly strong adherence to any particular religion or may just want their kids to discover their own path in the future.
Such parents may look for a secular curriculum and keep religious material out of their homeschooling so as not to bias their children in one way or another.
They may be religious but want to keep religious instruction and academic instruction separate
Some parents may be religious but simply want to keep their child’s K-12 education and religious instruction separate.
There are many possible reasons for this, such as wanting to focus on core subjects during homeschool time, having specific disagreements with the Science teaching that religious curricula offer, or simply wanting to leave religious instruction in the hands of clergy or an organization,
They follow another stream or religion altogether
The homeschooling world includes many different families of many different faiths and denominations.
There are Jewish, Muslim, Lutheran, Mormon, Wiccan, Hindu, Bhuddist, Orthodox Christian families homeschoolers (among many many others), and while there are many curriculums out there that are tailored to a very wide variety of beliefs, these families may not be all that happy with the selection for whatever reason.
Consequently, they may choose a secular homeschool curriculum to use as a base.
They want to align their homeschool with a more traditional school curriculum
Whether it is in a school-at-home approach, or in preparation for eventual integration with a public school system, like college or even high school, some parents want to keep religious instruction and other subjects separate in order to better emulate the broader school system.
They want to instill more inclusive beliefs
Finally, some parents may pursue a secular curriculum as they want to instill more inclusionist values in their kids, not wanting to introduce bias against any faith, people or beliefs.
What should parents look for in a secular curriculum?
That it is actually secular
It seems like it should go without saying, but given the confusion over faith neutral and secular curricula and the various ways companies can market their material, it bears mentioning.
Parents interested in a secular approach should make sure that the curriculum they are interested in states that it is secular and do their own due diligence to make sure it teaches from a clear, secular point of view.
Obviously it should be a high quality curriculum
As we mentioned, the fact that a curriculum is secular is no guarantee of its quality. There is no shortage of curriculum providers out there and, despite their marketing points, they can be of varying quality and appropriateness.
This can be a particular issue for parents looking to move away from standards-based teaching, as they will have to examine their own homeschool needs and educational requirements and examine each curriculum in more depth to determine a best fit.
Very broadly, a good secular curriculum should:
- Fully cover the scope and sequence of the subjects it teaches, providing time to develop the skills and knowledge necessary for students to succeed
- Be clearly taught with clear objectives and end goals for students
- Have coherent connections between topics
- Be up to date in the subject matter it teaches
- Balance being interesting for kids while remaining on topic
- Be as challenging and rigorous as possible without being overly frustrating
- Be logical and sensible in its pacing
Doesn’t require modification to be secular
Nothing annoys secular homeschoolers quite as much as being told that a faith-neutral or faith-based curriculum is really good and all they have to do is just ignore parts or modify it in some way to fit them.
There are many good quality secular curricula out there, and secular homeschoolers should not have to spend time or effort tailoring a curriculum to remove religious elements.
Choosing Secular Subjects
What is a secular language arts program?
A secular language arts program won’t let religion or religious texts influence its teaching.
As such their readers, passages and read alouds won’t include religious material or be taught using any faith-oriented language, passages or undertones.
This can a little tricky if you intend to teach with the Classics or Great Books, as many are heavily influenced by religious thought and the Bible, but a secular language arts program would explore and analyze them in a more academic manner and perhaps seek to balance them by including Classics from a diversity of cultures, viewpoints and religious influences.
What is a secular social studies and history program?
In general, a secular social studies and history program takes a more inclusive approach to religion and culture, not teaching one religion as being true or more important than others.
And, while acknowledging the role of religions in history, they tend to make sure they examining different events, cultures and timelines without any bias towards one particular religion or seeing it through any particular faith’s lens.
What is a secular math curriculum?
Generally speaking, math isn’t a subject most homeschoolers would think is very impacted by a religious vs. secular approach. After all, math is math.
And it’s true that most math programs mainly concern themselves with teaching kids math, a feat which is often difficult enough.
There are some math programs out there that do have religious elements, for example including bible verses or that use biblical examples and puzzles.
In general,however, a secular math program would not include any religious references at all.
What is a secular science curriculum (ok, maybe that’s a little more clear)
Probably the most obvious difference between secular and faith-based curricula is in how they approach the sciences.
A secular curriculum will not teach science from any religious point of view or with reference to God. It will teach all relevant and widely accepted scientific theories, in particular teaching evolution, such as the possible origins of the universe and geologic time and it it will not teach intelligent design or creationism.
Generally speaking, however, it’s a lot easier to find a secular science curriculum than faith-based ones.
Some Secular Homeschool Curriculum Resources and Recommendations
It can be a little tricky sorting through the various programs and companies out there to find worthwhile secular curricula.
To help out, we’ve created a list of secular curricula and resources.
We’ve included full curricula (ones that cover all necessary subjects for their age group), as well a variety of subject specific curricula and an assortment of supplements and resources to help with teaching.
Obviously, this list isn’t totally comprehensive, but should serve as a good starting point for parents looking for secular teaching programs for their homeschool.
In addition to a brief description and our thoughts on each program, where possible we’ve included a link to an in-depth review so parents can get a better understanding of what these programs are all about and their quality.
Secular Full Homeschool Curriculum Recommendations
IXL is a widely used and individualized digital learning platform that covers the K-12 curriculum.
With a powerful adaptive question system, analytics and real time diagnostics, IXL offers parents and teachers a fairly high tech and personalized way of studying at home. It’s expansive question banks also make it an good tool for revision and practice
Time4Learning is a complete, interactive and flexible K-12 online learning curriculum.
Along with a comprehensive curriculum, it offers parents and students a variety of digital learning tools, including interesting and adaptive math games and built-in writing tools.
Time4Learning is also quite modular and its core curriculum can be customized to work with or be supplemented by many popular homeschool curricula, such as Singapore Math, Handwriting Without Tears, Rosetta Stone, Spelling City and more.
Torchlight (ages 5-13)
Torchlight is a homeschool curriculum for kids up to about the age of 13 (level 4).
Its approach is an eclectic and humanistic one, mixing elements from (among others) Charlotte Mason, unit study, classical homeschooling methods, creating a curriculum that blends literature-based study with many hands-on and experiential learning activities to keep things interesting.
Blossom & Root (K-grade 5)
A strongly secular program, Blossom & Root is an affordable and gentle homeschool curriculum that combines a Charlotte Mason approach with plenty of hands-on explorational (and often outdoor) activities, as well as a strong emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM).
Although limited in age range (up to grade 5 or so at time of writing), the program is continually expanding its curriculum.
Calvert Education (grades 3-12)
An online learning platform with a complete grades 3-12 curriculum (as well as a K-2 printed curriculum), Calvert Homeschool offers a fairly rigorous, more formal, well-organized and self-paced curriculum for homeschoolers.
Along with an impressive array of digital tools, step by step plans and resources, Calvert is a pretty easy to use and comprehensive homeschooling program.
The company is also known for the high quality of support it offers both parents and students, as well as for offering an accredited online school solution.
ABCmouse (Ages 2-8)
ABCmouse is a subscription-based online educational platform for kids 2-8. It offers a full curriculum in math, reading, music and art, science and social studies.
With its games, songs, videos, online classroom and huge library of activities, ABCmouse is an interesting and effective choice for digital early learning education.
ABCya (pre-K to 6)
Although not a full curriculum per se, ABCya is a website that can be used for fairly comprehensive supplemental practice.
The site contains hundreds of fun and well-designed educational games and resources that touch on a variety of elementary school subjects, such as math, language arts, history and science, as well as some additional skills that homeschooling parents might be interested in, such as logic and keyboard practice.
Most of the games are Common Core/NGSS aligned, but perhaps more importantly they are actually modern and nice to look at and a lot of fun for kids to play so students won’t be quite as bored while getting some focused practice.
ABCya offers both free and paid account, with the paid accounts providing a lot of tools (timers, ad-free experience) that can help parents make more effective use of it as a formal supplement.
Complete Secular Curriculum Kits / Curriculum in a Box
Moving Beyond the Page (ages 4-14)
Moving Beyond the Page is a provider of complete, comprehensive secular unit study curricula for kids ages 4-14 in Science, Social Studies, Language Arts and Math.
Parents can select to receive a package containing a full year’s (36 weeks) worth of learning, or a single semester or subject, with all the materials, books and lesson plans required to teach a student easily and effectively.
This makes it a highly useful option to consider for parents new to homeschooling, busy homeschoolers and those simply looking for ready, high quality, open and go curricula.
Additional Secular Subject Curricula and Teaching Resources
Language Arts, Reading and Spelling
Adventure Academy (ages 8-13)
While not itself a complete homeschool curriculum per se, Adventure Academy is an interesting and fairly comprehensive supplement for kids up to middle school.
A massively multiplayer online educational game for kids 8-13, Adventure Academy’s interactive 3D game world teaches English Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies through a variety of fun cartoon videos and interactive games and puzzles.
Reading Eggs (pre-K- grade 7)
Reading Eggs is a popular online program that is designed to help kids learn how to read with phonics.
Combining reading, reading comprehension, spelling and more with high-interest activities and games, Reading Eggs can be an interesting language arts and development program for preschool through elementary.
Homer Learn & Grow (PreK- grade 3)
Aimed at kids ages 2-8, Homer Learn and Grow takes a more holistic view of reading and language arts. Although more centered on reading fluency and phonics, Homer also covers math as well as critical thinking, logic and even broader socio-emotional development and creative arts.
Hooked on Phonics (PreK – grade 4)
The classic Hooked on Phonics program moved into the digital age with the launch of their self-titled app. Combining videos, songs and a decent sized digital library with the Hooked on Phonics approach, the app can be an effective way of teaching reading and reading fluency.
Explode the Code (preK to grade 4)
Explode the code is a multisensory reading program that is designed to improve reading and spelling through synthetic phonics and an effective audio-visual approach.
A popular option for many homeschoolers, Explode the code makes for an excellent phonics and spelling supplement to a broader language arts program.
All About Reading (pre K- 4)
All About Reading is an Orton-Gillingham-style approach to reading designed to help students learn to read.
The program turns learning to read into a multisensory experience through the use of games, activities, richly illustrated readers and manipulatives (tiles, flashcards and more), while its well-scripted and thorough lesson plans helps make teaching phonics a lot easier on parents, especially for those who have never taught reading before.
Read our review for more information
All About Spelling (K-12)
From the publishers of All About Reading, All About Spelling is spelling program that teaches the rules of spelling using an Orton-Gillingham-inspired hands-on approach.
With clearly scripted and direct lessons, and a variety of tiles, flashcards and tactile activities, students receive pretty comprehensive instruction in spelling rules and phonograms, as well as a variety of strategies and techniques, that can give them a more structured and logical approach to spelling unfamiliar words.
Logic of English (Pre-K – 6)
Logic of English is an all-in-one English language curriculum that teaches phonics, reading, reading comprehension, spelling, grammar, handwriting and composition through two courses – Logic of English Foundations (ore-K to Grade 2) and Essentials (Grade 2+).
The program integrates these English language into each lesson and, using an Orton-Gillinhham approach, teaches them in a very hands-on way, using a variety of tiles, flashcards, review sheets, crafts and more.
In addition, lessons in Logic of English involve a wide variety of engaging games and activities that turn its lessons into a fun, multisensory experience.
Spelling You See (K-8 and up)
Spelling You See is a spelling program that eschews the regular, mind-numbing word lists, quizzes and other rote exercises in favor of reading passages and various activities that help students visualize and remember their spelling rules.
As they progress through the seven books that make up the series, students receive a comprehensive and thorough spelling education, as well as some instruction in handwriting and similar language arts topics.
Sequential Spelling (Grades 1-8)
Sequential Spelling is a spelling program that takes a slightly different approach to teaching spelling than other programs. Rather than providing random or thematic word lists, the program groups them by word families, helping students develop an internal, intuitive understanding of spelling rules and patterns.
The program offers fairly easy to implement lessons and a relatively enriched vocabulary that, combined with a more structured and sequential approach to spelling, can help students become strong spellers.
Essentials in Writing (Grades 1-12)
Despite its name, Essentials in Writing is more of a language arts program than a writing program.
A self-paced systematic and formal writing program that uses a combination of video and exercises to teach (both online and off), Essentials in Writing incrementally covers grammar, sentence structure and composition starting in the first grade. When complimented by its supplement, Essentials in Literature, it makes for a pretty complete ELA curriculum.
The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) is a writing program that helps students, particularly reluctant writers, develop their writing skills.
It’s entertaining videos and step-by-step approach make it quite easy for parents to learn how to teach writing effectively, and can take the fear out of a blank page by giving kids the tools to approach writing in a sequential, logical and organized way.
WriteShop (Has not had faith-based content since 4th ed.) (K-12)
With its highly detailed and step by step lesson plans, WriteShop teaches parents how to help get their kids thoughts on paper in a more organized and systematic way.
Very guided and easy to follow, WriteShop tends to take a lot of the worry out of teaching kids to write and can be picked up and effectively used by parents with little to no experience at homeschooling.
Those who feel that structured writing programs can be a hindrance to the development of a young writer’s voice and creativity will appreciate BraveWriter’s gentle, child-centric and Charlotte Mason-inspired approach to teaching writing.
With parents acting as coach, BraverWriter students slowly improve their creative and formal writing skills more naturally, drawing inspiration from a variety of suggested reading and explorational activities, while gently integrating mechanics and spelling along the way, with the program ultimately becoming something of a homeschool lifestyle rather than a curriculum.
Night Zookeeper (K-7)
A self-study online writing program for kids that combines guided writing instruction and practice and an expansive online game, in Night Zookeeper kids take on the role of the titular zookeeper and help protect the zoo from invading robots.
Along the way they’ll engage in a variety of fun activities, leveling their animal wards up, take animated classes in writing style, literature and reading comprehension, as well as be given the ability to practice many different types of writing, from poetry and scriptwriting to formal essays.
As a bonus, kids can opt to receive some feedback on their writing from actual teachers and educational professionals.
Writing A-Z ( K-6)
Writing A-Z is an online writing program available to traditional schools and homeschoolers alike that gives parents and teachers access to tons of comprehensive, leveled and easily differentiated resources to help teach writing, including lesson plans, printable exercises, tips, tricks and more.
In addition to teaching tools, Writing A-Z offers a pretty cool and powerful interactive online writing environment that allows students to easily and effectively practice their writing, and lets parents manage and implement the whole process from one convenient location.
Epic! Reading (ages 12 and under)
Epic! is a subscription-based reading and learning platform that offers kids up to the age of 12 affordable access to tens of thousands of high-quality books, videos and audiobooks to help them develop their love of reading and literacy.
Vooks (ages 2-8)
Vooks is an affordable and curated digital library that adds a little something different to its catalogue: animation. Containing a variety of different read alouds and kids books, Vooks adds voice, sound and essential animation to them to make the stories come alive.
The company also provides an assortment of lesson plans that can make its books easy to integrate into an early education lesson plan.
ReadingIQ (ages 12 and under)
ReadingIQ is a digital library with thousands of very high interest books that include popular selections from National Geographic, Marvel, Pixar and more, as well as a slightly gamified rewards system to help motivate kids to read.
While newer and with slightly fewer titles than some other competitors, it does offer a great variety in the types of literature on offer. ReadingIQ’s library contains read alouds, picture books, easy readers, chapter books, and even graphic novels for kids to enjoy.
Similarly, ReadingIQ not only offers parents the ability to track their child’s reading progress, but it does so in a more sophisticated way, supporting differentiated and leveled reading with leveled reading systems, such as Lexile, Accelerated Reader and Scholastic Guided Reading, helping parents find suitable books and track their child’s progress through them.
Grammar Galaxy (grades 1-7)
Grammar Galaxy is a complete language arts curriculum for kids in grades 1-7 that teaches vocabulary, spelling, literature, composition and more through an interesting and highly immersive story-based curriculum.
The program’s rather gripping short stories take place in a fantasy universe where the English language is in dire peril from an evil Gremlin and his antics. As students are drawn into these engaging stories they’ll learn critical language arts skills and knowledge and personally challenged to complete “missions” (language arts exercises) as the newest member of the Grammar Guardians.
By integrating language arts learning into a fun story, Grammar Galaxy can be an engaging and entertaining alternative to traditional ELA textbooks that doesn’t skimp on the learning.
Megawords (Grades 4+)
Megawords is an integrated spelling, reading and vocabulary program that is specifically designed to help students master multisyllabic (“mega”) words.
Throughout its various multisensory lessons and practice exercises, students receive clear, explicit and sequential instruction in key spelling and phonics rules, learning specific letter-sound relationships, accent rules, mechanics, root words and more in order to more effectively break apart, form and use more complex words.
Wordly Wise 3000 (K-12)
Wordly Wise 3000 is a fairly rigorous vocabulary building program for students in the K-12 grade range.
Offered as both a paper-based and digital curriculum (as i3000), with Wordly Wise students will enrich their vocabulary through some fairly sophisticated and challenging word lists, as well as a good variety of different activities designed to get them thinking a bit more creatively and critically about the words they come across without a lot of rote memorization.
Vocabulary Workshop (Grades 1-10)
Vocabulary Workshop is a well-known series of books that are designed to help students from elementary to high school with their vocabulary development.
To do so, the program leans on a variety of interesting passages, digital resources and games, multisensory activities and more, all at an extremely attractive and affordable price.
Spelling Power (Grades 3+)
Spelling Power is an Orton-Gillingham-inspired homeschool spelling program designed to help students become more capable spellers through explicit and systematic instruction of phonemic spelling rules and patterns.
Although its manual can look a little intimidating at first, the program can be surprisingly straightforward and integrates a lot of interesting multisensory and hands-on activities to its rather comprehensive word lists.
WordBuild (Grades 2-12)
WordBuild is a rather complete vocabulary program that helps students develop and expand their vocabulary by learning to understand how words are formed, that is by learning affixes, root words, spelling/grammar rules and so on, learning to construct and deconstruct words as they go along.
Emphasizing critical thinking and understanding over rote memorization and drill, WordBuild’s rather short lessons include several interesting activities, such as magic squares, stair steps and word jumbles, and can be a lot more fun and more creative than typical vocabulary workbook exercises.
Draw Write Now (K-3)
Draw Write Now is a Charlotte Mason-inspired program that blends handwriting practice and drawing into its lessons to help students develop key skills, such as fine motor control, pencil control, letter formation and more.
Rather uniquely, during lessons students engage in short and approachable copywork exercises (in either block print and cursive) that develops their penmanship before being able to express their creative side by learning, in a step by step manner, how to draw a variety of pretty cool and often impressive subjects, such as people, buildings, cars, trains and more.
Handwriting Without Tears is a program designed to help students learn to write through a combination of developmentally appropriate, systematic and direct instruction and multisensory learning.
Rooted in the best practices of occupational therapy, students learn particular ways of writing and practice using a wide array of hands-on activities, such as by using magnet tiles, blocks, chalkboards, playdough, cards and even song and rhythmic movement, making the program a lot more engaging and far less frustrating than most.
Daily Language Review (1-8)
Daily Language Review is a series of language arts supplements produced by Evan Moor that can help students work on a wide range of English language skills, from grammar and mechanics to vocabulary development, reading comprehension and writing skills.
The books are Common Core ELA aligned and use a variety of highly focused workbook style activities and a reinforcing spiral approach to help reinforce and sharpen a student’s grade-level skills.
Although not the most groundbreaking practice activities out there, the series does provide students with solid and comprehensive practice that’s easy to go through and that can add a lot of value to just about any ELA curriculum.
Designed to help pre-readers and early readers learn to recognize letters and phonic sounds in a more entertaining way, Alphatales is a series of 26 colorful storybooks, each of which is centered around a particular letter of the alphabet.
Filled with humorous stories and a colorful cast of characters in the midst of various different situations and adventures, the books introduce letters and their sounds and reinforce the learning through a variety of multisensory activities and exercises.
With no particular order to the series, Alphatales can be introduced alphabetically or freely used in conjunction with a specific reading program sequence.
Jolly Phonics (Pre-K-2)
Originally developed in the UK but now adapted to suit the US and a variety of other countries, Jolly Phonics is a highly popular synthetic phonics program.
The series follows its own, use-based approach to teaching letters, digraphs, sounds and basic handwriting and does so through a highly engaging and multisensory combination of workbook activities, stories, DVDs, tactile exercises, decodable readers and even craft activities.
The program is used in both schools and homeschools around the world and its unique approach is known to get kids reading simple words relatively quickly.
Read our review for more information
Not sure where to start finding a math curriculum that fits your needs?
Singapore Math (PreK- grade 8)
With its hands-on math and Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach, the Singapore Math method helped revolutionize Singapore’s elementary school math programs and remains a highly popular and successful math method for homeschoolers in the US and around the world.
Focusing on critical thinking, math concepts and their applications, Singapore Math’s curriculum tends to create a deeper understanding of the why’s of math rather than just the how. Although it’s curriculum is a little more rigorous than others, the program is widely used by students of all kinds around the world and can be easily scaled in difficulty depending on need.
CTCMath is a self-paced, self-study video-based online program for math. Taught by a long-time math teacher, students learn through a combination of videos, adaptive questions, worksheets, printouts and more.
Although not the flashiest program around, as a math curriculum, CTC math is complete and comprehensive in terms of scope. It also offers guided lessons, optional diagnostic testing, progress tracking and even a Question Bank Wizard where parents can easily customize and build their own worksheets. Overall, its individualization and customization options have made it an increasingly popular math option in the homeschooling world.
Thinkster Math (K-12)
Thinkster Math combines expert tutoring and individualized educational guidance with a comprehensive K-12 online math curriculum.
Although not exactly the most affordable program, Thinkster Math does offer a lot more than other programs do, with private tutoring, educational consulting, a complete spiral curriculum and AI-driven adaptive learning tools to work with.
Taken as a whole, Thinkster Math can be an extremely helpful program for homeschooling parents (or students) who could use a little more professional help when it comes to math.
Beast Academy (ages 8-13)
Designed by a former Math competition champion, Beast Academy offers talented elementary and middle school math students an enrichment-focused math curriculum.
Taught rather uniquely, through professionally-illustrated graphic novels, Beast Academy’s highly-rigorous curriculum continuously challenges students with world problems and puzzles, developing stronger and deeper critical, logical and mathematical thinking skills in the process.
Beast Academy is available in print and online formats.
Art of Problem Solving (grades 5-12)
Like its sister product Beast Academy, Art of Problem Solving offers a highly rigorous curriculum filled with challenging puzzles, word problems and computational problems, and is designed as an enrichment curriculum that can take math learning deeper than most others out there.
In its textbook and online classes, students are challenged to solve math problems in many different ways, honing their understanding and deepening their critical thinking and logic skills when it comes to understanding math.
Aimed at students with an aptitude and talent for math, AoPS covers the broad range of middle and high school math topics, and even includes specific material to help prepare students for math competitions.
UnLock Math (Grades 6-12)
UnLock Math is an online math curriculum with hundreds of instructional videos aimed at kids in middle and high school.
The program is one of the more easy to use self-study math programs at this level out there for homeschooling kids. The program guides kids along a pathway that gradually unlocks as they complete videos, assignments and assessments.
To help make self-study more effective, UnLock Math has integrated a variety of adaptive learning algorithms to its questions, allowing it to better adapt to student skill as they progress.
They also provide a high level of support for students and parents, with educational professionals available during the day to answer questions and provide explanations.
Smartick (ages 4-14)
Smartick is a self-paced online math curriculum that takes place in a gamified cartoon world and teaches math to young kids in a highly engaging and very supportive way.
With a curriculum developed by educational experts, specialists and psychologists, Smartick covers foundational math and pre-algebra skills while letting kids explore their own little world, earn points and solve puzzles.
Although not exactly cheap, the program offers a variety of tools that can really individualize learning, with diagnostic tests, adaptive questions and highly in-depth and often insightful progress tracking and analytics for parents.
Saxon Math (K-12)
Well known in both homeschooling and traditional schooling circles, Saxon Math takes a back to basics approach to teaching math.
With Saxon, students learn math more incrementally, with lots of memorization, practice and repetition along the way, and generally will work more on their ability to do math quickly and efficiently.
This makes Saxon Math a very practical approach to math that can give students a more solid foundation that can help them perform better in the long run.
SplashLearn (pre K-5)
SplashLearn is a digital, game-based math and reading skill program for pre-Kindergarten through Grade 5.
The program encourages students to put their skills to the test with a vast library of topical games and activities that reward students for correct answers with points that can be redeemed for fun in-app rewards.
An adaptive program, SplashLearn uses a sophisticated algorithm to change the difficulty of its questions in real time to match student skill and can provide more personalized and differentiated learning experience.
As such, we believe it can be an excellent resource for homeschools, and can be particularly useful as a supplement for mastery math programs.
Prodigy Math (grades 1-8)
Prodigy is an online roleplaying game that also acts as a curriculum-aligned, adaptive supplement for math learning.
As students are immersed in a fun and expansive fantasy world of wizards, beasts and monsters, they’ll have to level their character up and learn new spells by engaging with the programs 50, 000 + common core/state standards-aligned math questions and honing their math skills along the way.
Math Mammoth (Grades 1-7)
Math Mammoth provides a full, mastery curriculum for elementary school math that takes a strong, conceptual approach to math.
Relatively affordable and Common Core-aligned, Math Mammoth takes a traditional approach to teaching math and tends to provide parents a good amount of detail and instructions for teaching that can help make teaching math relatively painless. The program itself tends to emphasize math concepts, the why of math rather than how to solve equations, and encourages kids to find multiple solutions to different problems.
Math Mammoth is a popular option for homeschoolers as both a stand alone curriculum or a supplement to more computational-math programs, such as Saxon.
Wild Math (K-5)
Wild Math is a math curriculum that takes explorational math to a whole new level. With Wild Math, kids learn math while exploring the great outdoors, making nature and hands-on learning a key component of its lessons and curriculum.
With wild math, parents and students explore nature together and physically engage with what they find around them as the basis for essential math examples and exercises, bringing abstract concepts to life in a way that other methods do not.
Miquon Math (grades K-4)
Miquon Math is an inexpensive math curriculum that makes hands-on learning and tactile exploration of abstract concepts a key component of learning.
Known best for its numerically representative wooden sticks, or Cuisenaire Rods, Miquon Math aims to solidify a conceptual understanding of math, by letting kids physically engage with manipulatives and objects in so-called math labs, before moving on to the written, more abstracted component of math.
Over the decades it has found great success with kids who struggle with understanding the abstract nature of math, as well as those who prefer to get up and learn by doing.
Nicole the Math Lady (grades 3-12)
Nicole the Math Lady offers help for parents who find teaching Saxon Math at home a little difficult. Members of her website can access a variety of videos covering math topics and skill for grade 3-12 (not including Calculus), as well as practice videos, online grading and progress reporting, tutorials, masterclasses, chat support and more.
When put together, Nicole the Math Lady’s tools and features can help automate many of the tasks involved with homeschooling Saxon Math. Consequently, the program can be a valuable resource to parents unsure of their own abilities in math, as well as those looking to save a little time in their busy schedule.
Mr. D Math (grades 7/8-11)
Mr. D Math is a math program that offers online instruction in pre-Algebra to pre-Calculus.
Taught by long-time math teacher and test-prep expert Mr. D and his staff of instructors, Mr. D Math offers video courses and live classes that explains math in a down-to-earth way while still delving into the concepts behind the math thoroughly.
An online system that encourages independence in study, Mr. D Math is available as a complete self-study course that students can complete at their own pace, or as a weekly/bi-weekly live class format that gives students a little more structure to their learning.
Math with confidence is a very hands-on and multisensory math program designed for students in grades K-6.
The program uses a variety of fun tactile activities and games to help students better grasp math concepts while also offering a good deal of practice and review to help them develop stronger practical math skills.
With a nicely scripted and well laid out Instructor’s Guide, the program is as easy to teach as it is for students to learn and, overall, does a pretty good job at making math lessons a lot less stressful for all parties involved.
Originally developed by Stanford University’s Educational Program for Gifted Youth, Redbird math is an online, browser-based, standards-aligned and pretty rigorous math curriculum designed to teach students math while challenging them to think critically and strategically about problem solving.
To do so, the program uses engaging and adaptive digital instruction, games, manipulatives and even a variety of interesting, STEM related projects that can have students apply their math knowledge to real life problems by coding video games, building satellites or even designing a city.
Primary Mathematics 2022 (K-6)
The 2022 edition of Primary Mathematics is an updated version of the standards-aligned Singapore math Primary Mathematics curriculum.
The curriculum still adheres to Singapore Math’s strong rigorous conceptual and manipulatives-heavy approach to learning, with its well-known and often emulated Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach.
It has, however, been redesigned and rewritten to reflect new ideas and methods for teaching, as well as providing students with more practice opportunities and even STEM-related projects that can help them learn to apply their math to real world situations.
Mathematical Reasoning (K-9)
The Critical Thinking Co.’s Mathematical Reasoning is a series of books that are designed to help students from kindergarten to middle school develop a stronger, conceptual understanding of mathematics.
Capable of being used as both a standalone curriculum or as a supplement, the program tends to eschew rote memorization and drill in favor of clear instruction and a variety of interesting, and often challenging, math exercises and puzzles designed to get them thinking deeply and critically about what they’re doing and how they are solving problems.
Go Math (K-8)
Created by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and used by schools around the US, Go Math is a conceptual math program that has found a good deal of success in homeschools as well.
The series tries to make math learning as approachable and understandable as possible, using clear explanations, a good amount of visuals, hands-on learning, dedicated vocabulary development and even games and other activities that can keep kids engaged and interested in their learning.
Math in Focus (K-8)
Math in Focus is a math curriculum based on the Singapore Math approach and is, essentially, an updated and US adapted version of My Pals Are Here, the highly successful primary school curriculum adopted by the Singapore educational system.
A strongly conceptual program, Math in Focus places a particular emphasis on developing a student’s understanding of math and getting them to apply their critical thinking and logical skills when solving problems.
To do so, it uses a series of colorful and clearly written textbooks that introduce various math concepts in a step-by-step manner, guiding students through abstract concepts by moving gradually from hands-on, manipulatives based learning to their final form as equations.
As a result, students using Math in Focus tend to develop a fairly deep and comprehensive understanding of math concepts.
ST Math (K-8)
ST Math is a digital, online math supplement that uses a variety of puzzles and challenges to get kids practicing their math without a lot of rote memorization and drill.
In the program, students immerse themselves in a cartoon, game-like environment and use their math knowledge to manipulate on-screen tools, shapes, objects and equations to clear a path so that JiJi, a fun cartoon penguin, can cross the screen unimpeded.
As an interesting twist, students aren’t really given a lot of detailed instruction or guidance to these puzzles, meaning that their reasoning, analytical and critical thinking skills will get just as much of a workout as their math ones.
Sumdog is an interactive drill and practice program for K-8 math.
The program combines a wide variety of entertaining math-based video games with a fairly powerful adaptive algorithm that can constantly challenge a student’s skills and abilities without becoming too frustrating.
In addition to being fairly powerful and having a pretty large and comprehensive math question bank, Sumdog is also quite affordable for homeschooling families, with each subscription including up to three student accounts.
Spectrum Math (K-8)
Spectrum math is a highly affordable, standards-aligned series of supplemental math workbooks that offer a thorough mixture of computational exercises and word problems to help students hone their math skills.
The books are offered as grade level supplements, covering a full grade, or as skill-based workbooks, providing deeper and more focused practice in one concept.
RightStart math is a fairly rigorous math curriculum that dives deeply into math concepts while encouraging student creativity and flexibility in problem solving.
To help make math learning a little more approachable and understandable, the program integrates a good deal of manipulatives and hands-on learning exercises into each lesson, making it a very activity-rich and engaging curriculum on the whole.
Coloring Squared (K-5)
Coloring Squared is an interesting way to get students to drill their math skills in a more interesting and creatively-fulfilling way.
The books contain a variety of math-related puzzles that, when completed, produce some pretty cool and retro pixelated artwork, that is, art reminiscent of 8 and 16 bit video games (think Nintendo or Sega Genesis).
Although primarily intended for elementary school students looking to get some extra computational practice, the books can also be a relaxing, yet skill-testing, alternative to coloring books for adults.
Math U See (K-12)
Math U See is a full, standards-aligned K-12 math curriculum designed to help students get a good grasp of math in a more approachable, easy to understand way.
To do so, the program uses a combination of video instruction, common sense explanations, ample practice opportunities, a relatively slower pace and an extensive use of manipulatives to help students grasp math concepts and hone their skills.
As a result, it can be an effective option for struggling students, those who would benefit from a more gentle approach or those who have just had bad experiences with math in the past.
Thinkwell Math (Grades 6-12)
Thinkwell math is a self-study math program that can make teaching math a much simpler and more automated process..
The program offers regular, honors and AP math courses and uses a combination of an advanced online platform, engaging video instruction and automated course management tools to help students more effectively and efficiently develop pretty strong math skills on their own.
Pandia Press’ History Quest is a full, secular curriculum that uses a narrative/storytelling approach to teach kids about history.
The course is a unit study in history and, unlike more Western-centric history curricula, contains units on a variety of different civilizations and peoples from around the world.
Through immersive and engaging storytelling and multisensory activities, students develop a fairly comprehensive understanding of different cultures throughout history and their various contributions to humanity.
Curiosity Chronicles is a comprehensive secular homeschool curriculum that takes a global perspective when it comes to history.
Through its engaging dialogue-based approach and fun, hands-on activities, students learn about a the peoples, cultures, and achievements of a variety of civilizations from around the world, from Rome and Medieval England to the long reigns of the Chinese Emperors and the rise of the Khmer Empire.
Read our in-depth review of Curiosity Chronicles for more information
Honest History (Grades 1-6)
Honest History is a series of history-oriented magazines aimed at homeschool students at the elementary level.
The series introduces kids to interesting, diverse and often overlooked topics, people and societies of history from across the world through its visually stunning and interestingly written materials.
The company also runs a free podcast hosted by professionals, experts and even the occasional celebrity.
Elemental Science (K-8)
Elemental Science is a secular homeschool science curriculum that offers elementary and middle school students a pretty comprehensive curriculum in science with a combined Classical/Charlotte Mason method.
To do so, Elemental Science splits its curriculum into 3 stages, grammar, logic, rhetoric (the Trivium method)- representing younger, middle and older students, respectively.
It then teaches using a combination of professionally designed lesson plans, high-interest, living science books and a variety of hands-on science kits and creative activities.
A solid science curriculum for kindergarten through grade 8, BFSU combines an in-depth, fairly formal and rigorous science education with a variety of hands-on activities, games and questions to get kids interested in and thinking about science in their lives.
An unscripted curriculum based on a series of books, BFSU will require parents to spend some time thinking about the material and figuring out how to implement it, but overall does an excellent job at providing a highly comprehensive and deep view of science that can be very helpful for kids who are passionate or interested in the subject matter.
R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey (Grades 1-9)
REAL Science Odyssey is a classical curriculum for science. The full curriculum consists of several volumes, each of which focuses on a specific topic of science and covers about a year’s worth of learning.
This is as opposed to many modern forms of K-8 science education, where lessons jump from subject to subject and revisit topics in greater depth as they go.
The learning itself is also broken up into three levels corresponding roughly to a classic Trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric), and the learning is a mix of multisensory hands-on science and through-provoking analysis, which together create a rigorous and interesting way of learning science.
Scientific Connections Through Inquiry (K- grade 7)
A relatively new and continuously expanding curriculum, as the name suggests SCTI is an explorational and inquiry-based learning approach for science.
Alongside a carefully crafted structure, students engage in the world around them and with a variety of activities that can then be used as material for deeper discussion, analysis and exploration of science concepts, i.e. making scientific connections.
Mel Science (ages 5-16+)
Mel Science is a provider of subscription science kits in chemistry, physics and general science for kids ages 5-9.
Along with a base kit that contains all the essentials for setting up a home lab, each month students receive a complete science kit with several experiments that touch on a variety of concepts.
The company also provides an app with detailed information on how to carry them out, troubleshooting FAQs, an essential lesson plan and ideas for deeper discussion and further learning, making each kit into a fun and fairly comprehensive science lesson.
Generation Genius (K-8)
Generation Genius is a K-8 STEM supplement that offers a full suite of entertaining and high-energy videos in science and math.
Taught by Dr. Jeff and his cast of kids/assistants, each video explores a math or science topic clearly and in depth, using fun experiments, props and even field trips to interesting locations.
In addition to their videos, Generation Genius also provides parents with access to a full suite of lesson plans, teaching guides, quizzes, worksheets and more that they can use to enrich their learning.
Read our in-depth review of Generation Genius for more information
Music and Art.
SQUILT (preschool-middle school)
SQUILT provides homeschooling families with an easy to use, open and go music appreciation curriculum for their kids. A fairly flexible program, SQUILT is centered around the idea of getting kids to sit quietly, listen to music and then (optionally) complete guided activities that help them better understand the music they’ve listened to, its structure and features, as well as its place in history.
Offered as both live lessons and as a variety of DIY bundles available in their store, SQUILT is quite comprehensive, exposing kids to a wide variety of artists and genres and a greater depth of musical learning than most other music programs out there.
Read our in-depth review of SQUILT for more information
Coding and Computer Science
Codakid (ages 8-16)
Coding is taught through a variety of videos, where the process and concepts of programming and computer science are carefully and clearly explained and demonstrated on-screen by a cadre of high-energy and entertaining instructors.
The learning usually centers around a variety of high interest project courses that kids will enjoy, such as coding their own games, apps, websites, drones and even Minecraft mods, which helps make Codakid a useful and interesting addition to a curriculum.
Tynker (ages 5-18)
The company offers dozens of courses with thousands of projects, learning modules, and tutorials to help kids learn the core concepts of coding and gain valuable experience in coding their own apps, video games, robot and more.
They can even spend time creating their own art and score music for their projects, as well as explore content and games created by other users in the community, adding an interesting social dimension that can keep kids coming back to learn and improve their coding skills.
CodeCombat (ages 9+)
CodeCombat can be an interesting way to develop coding skills in kids who love games, and Role Playing Games in particular.
The company has recently added a multiplayer element, where kids can join teams and pit their coding skills and strategic thinking against one another in battle.
Made up of several courses aimed at different age ranges, each course uses increasingly advanced games to introduce progressively more complex coding concepts until students can create their very own web app and chatbot.
Its cute cartoon graphics belie some pretty comprehensive coding topics, and overall CodeMonkey can serve as a pretty good introduction to the world of coding for younger kids.
codeSpark Academy (ages 5-9)
codeSpark Academy uses a variety of high interest games, challenges and puzzles filled with wonderfully animated and adorable characters to get younger kids coding.
The program uses drag and drop coding to teach the fundamental concepts and logic of coding, and its visual instructions lets it be used by pre- and early-readers in a much more independent way.
Alongside its games and puzzles, kids can use codeSpark’s video game maker and animation studio to build and publish their own puzzles and stories, encouraging them to explore the limits of their creativity.
CodewizardsHQ offers homeschoolers a more formal classroom-style coding learning experience.
Further, each course is capped by a project where students create fairly impressive projects, such as creating a virtual reality game, their own multiplayer game, a social media app and more.
There is even an internship program at the high school level, an interesting option for serious young coders.
About the Author
Anne Miller is the editor of The Smarter Learning Guide and is a passionate advocate for education and educational technology. A mom of two, she majored in English Language and Literature and worked as a substitute teacher and tutor for several years. When not writing she continues to root for the Yankees and the Giants.
Jennifer Keenes is a writer and a new mom living in Florida. She studied education and, prior to becoming a freelance writer, worked as a substitute teacher at the elementary and middle school level. She is a big fan of the beach, working out and homeschooling her two daughters.