Secular Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2021-2022

Kindergarten & 5th Grade

Homeschooling is an art, and like any other type of art, it takes time to master. This means choosing a homeschool curriculum that matches both your mission and vision can be a challenge, and a lot of trial and error will ensue. It’s easy to become glamoured by homeschool bloggers’ and IGers’ raving reviews, but what works for them may not work for you. 

We’re now in our 6th year of homeschooling and have tried many different curricula over the years. I invite you to continue reading below to see which secular homeschooling curriculum we’re using for our 2021-2022 school year. Perhaps my list will give you some ideas for your homeschool, or maybe not, which is totally cool, too!

Our Homeschool Approach

If you are a regular visitor to the blog or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that we are year-around, relaxed, secular homeschoolers. We homeschool 4 days/week in 3-6 week bursts and take 1-3 weeks breaks in-between. 

My little ones are unschooled-ish, where I pretty much let them play all day long. It’s amazing the amount of natural learning that takes place. Lots of counting and sorting and creative play.

As for my 10-year-old, we’re slightly a bit more formal. He works on math and creative writing pretty much every day, while all other subjects are taught as units usually based on his interests. We document most of our learning in our notebooks (we all like to join in on the fun!) or my kids make creative videos that they post on YouTube.

Note – My list is long and most likely we won’t get through everything which is perfectly okay. I just like having a good number of options available, especially since no one curriculum can do it all in my opinion.

Here’s a Look at What We’re Using this Year

Language Arts

Night Zookeeper

This is a fun online creative writing, grammar, and spelling tool with interactive lessons, challenges, and games. I can easily access my kids’ work, and tutors review their writing and give suggestions as well. This program is new to us, and I’m giving it a few months before we reassess and determine whether it’s a good fit for our family. If not, we’ll just return to our tried-and-true Brave Writer curriculum.

Brave Writer 

  • Jot it Down (Kindergarten) –  Both of my littles like to dictate stories to me which they illustrate. Usually we write comic book style, as that’s what the older of the two prefers, and the littlest one wants to do whatever her brother does.
  • Partnership Writing (5th Grade) – We haven’t started this program yet, as I’m pretty much keeping it on the backburner in case Night Zookeeper doesn’t work out.
  • Arrow & Dart – For various books we’re reading aloud. We mainly just use the juicy conversations and book celebration ideas. My kids aren’t too into copywork which is totally fine with me.

Handwriting without Tears

  • My First School Book (Kindergarten) – A classic. We only use it when my son feels like it, which is usually once a week.
  • Cursive Handwriting & Cursive Success (5th Grade) – My 10-year-old is almost done with the cursive writing program and I’m a little sad. He’s also at that stage where playing at the park is “boring.”

Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Arts

My kids loved Poodle Knows What?, so we’re continuing on to the next level. I purchased this set last year, but we never got around to it. In my opinion, you don’t need to purchase the Instructor’s Manual (I ended up selling mine), and each book can be completed in a matter of weeks. This is not a year-long Language Arts program if you’re looking for something more traditional.

Mathematics

Beast Academy (5th Grade)

This is a comic-based math program where students learn concepts through interactive challenges. My son prefers the online version and his problem-solving skills have improved dramatically. 

Singapore Math Dimensions (Kindergarten)

I love this program for younger kids, but once they get to 1st or 2nd grade you really do need to purchase the Teacher’s Manual and follow the lessons accordingly. I’m not good at that, which is why my older son switched to Beast Academy.

Pro tip – Make sure you stay true to yourself and your homeschool vision, no matter what other homeschoolers may say is the BEST curriculum out there.

WIld Math (Kindergarten)

It’s fun to take learning outdoors! My kids enjoy doing the activities in this curriculum, and we use it as a supplement to Singapore Math. My big kid likes to work with us and helps his younger siblings as well.

Spielgaben

This big box of wooden manipulatives can be used by kids of all ages. We’ve had ours for 6 years now, and it’s definitely worth the price. My kids love playing with it, and even though it comes with a series of lessons (now workbooks) that you can use, we haven’t cracked them open. Instead, I let my children play with it as they please and they’ve created some awesome geometric patterns and shapes from their imagination.

Child working in Singapore Math workbook
Singapore Math Dimensions

Science

Get Mathy (5th Grade)

For those of you that are in Ventura County, California, Jarmilla Nguyen offers both science and math classes in both her home-based classroom and online via Zoom. My son is currently taking a physics science class that he really enjoys, and I’m hoping to have him take a math class next session. I’m secretly hoping that her deep passion for math will get him excited as well. Currently, I’m not doing a very good job at that.

MEL Chemistry and Physics

We’re finishing up our chemistry subscription (finally!) and I plan on purchasing the physics kits next. Something new I noticed is that the subscriptions now include online classes. It’ll be interesting to see what those look like, and if my kids would enjoy them.

Scientific Connection through Inquiry

This is an interdisciplinary approach to science that focuses on critical thinking. It’s a great alternative to Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, as it’s more visually appealing and easier to access, plus it’s created with homeschoolers in mind.

Generation Genius

I use this mainly for the science videos, but the lessons look fun. Recently, they’ve added math lessons, but I haven’t checked them out yet.

Insect Lore

Throughout the year we raise insects. Just yesterday we released our butterflies, and now my kids want to raise ants or praying mantises next. 

MEL Chemistry experiment

History/Geography

California Out of the Box

This curriculum is an interdisciplinary, literature-based approach to history. I used to be a history teacher, so teaching with this method is my jam! Stories really do help you make connections with the past, and Christine has chosen some great books to read with each unit. This is a year-long program that also has a companion online class your child can take. We have adopted a slow approach to homeschooling and actually started this curriculum last year. The hope is to finish it up this year and move on to U.S. History (my fav and what I used to teach!)

For Which We Stand

This is a wonderful text for kids detailing how our government works. I plan on creating a unit study (or maybe a Project-Based Learning assignment? I’m so intrigued with this new to me method!) based around this book. 

American History: A Visual Encyclopedia

I’ve decided to not go with an actual curriculum when it comes to U.S. History, but instead utilize some great nonfiction texts like this encyclopedia by the Smithsonian, historical fiction novels, documentaries, and my extensive knowledge on the topic. I may also sign my oldest son up for Carrier Shell Curriculum’s new Early American History and Geography class if it fits our schedule (plus they are reading a lot of the same books I have planned!) When I teach history, I prefer to share a variety of viewpoints, show how people of varying socioeconomic statuses lived, engage in Socratic discussions, and go on as many field trips as possible, so it’s nice to find like-minded homeschoolers and educators who do the same.

Draw the World

We draw a map of the world every year. It’s fun to see how they improve over time, plus my kids end up turning them into treasure maps when they’re done and play for hours.

Honest History

I know I’ve waxed poetic about this magazine which really isn’t a magazine in my opinion. More like a journal, printed on thick quality paper, the pictures are exquisitely drawn, and the information presented has been painstakingly researched to provide our children with a rich view of history. Anyway, we continue to read and use it to supplement our homeschool history.

Letters from Afar

We’ve had a subscription for years, back when Shawnee used to hand letter the envelopes and include vintage stamps. I really wish I had kept one of those envelopes, but we do have all the old stamps in a stamp album. As for the letters, we place them in page protectors and categorize them by continents in a binder. This makes it easier to refer back to them when we get our box of Universal Yums.

Universal Yums

My kids love to receive their boxes of snacks from different countries in the mail. It truly is the highlight of the month. We read the booklet of country facts that comes with each box, refer to corresponding Letters from Afar if available, and locate the country on our world map. It’s a great way to learn geography in a very nonformal way.

Foreign Language

Duolingo

My kids use this app to learn Japanese and Vietnamese, but I feel like we need to take it to the next level as they aren’t speaking the language (which I think is way more important than reading it!)

TalkBox.mom

I just discovered this language learning program through another homeschool blogger. It’s a subscription service that teaches the entire family how to speak a foreign language the same way we learned to speak our native language, as life happens. I’m hoping that this is the program we need to get us to actually start speaking Japanese. Unfortunately, they don’t have Vietnamese yet, but I did put in a request for it. Fingers crossed!

Physical Education

Swim Lessons

My kids are taking a homeschool swim class at our local YMCA.

Ninja Zone

My younger son wants to be a fireman, so he requested to take this class as a sort of “training” for his future career.

Art/Music

Art History Kids

We are members of The Studio and each month we have access to a series of lessons about a particular artist. The lessons include book lists, videos, discussions, and open-ended art projects.

Masterpiece Society

We are also members of Masterpiece Society Studio and my kids like to take the Art School lessons and create mixed-media artwork. We use this as both a stand-alone art program and in conjunction with Art History Kids, however, Masterpiece Society now has its own series of art history courses which I haven’t had a chance to check out yet.

SQUILT

We like to use the listening calendars to introduce us to various music genres. We also have the Meet the Instruments cards that we like to reference when listening to classical music.

Final Thoughts

So that’s everything that we “might” use this year. We’ll see how it actually goes as I’ve decided to not plan more than 3-6 weeks at a time if even that. Lately, we’ve just been going with the flow and I’ve been following my kids’ interests.

However, I do hope that this list has given you some homeschool curriculum ideas or at least introduced you to new resources to consider. It really does take time to find out what works for your family, and even then, it may only work for a few years before you feel like your family needs a change. 

Have you used any of these curricula in the past? What are you using this year? I’d love to know what you’re implementing!



Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w7, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.


Hey there!

I'm Xuan Klevecka, a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. I'm an Enneagram 5w7, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find me looking at road maps and daydreaming about my family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood. I'm so happy you're here!