If you’re looking for core homeschool curricula for struggling learners, I’m sharing my top picks here.
4 Characteristics of Curricula for Struggling Learners
Before I share any curricula with you, I want to reiterate from my Structured Literacy post that struggling learners especially need their curriculum to do four things for them:
1. Teach concepts explicitly – Concepts must be taught, not just “caught.” Struggling learners often don’t get things we imply. We must specifically teach the content instead of asking them to figure things out for themselves.
2. Organize the content in a step-by-step and logical order – Organizing and categorizing information can be a challenge for struggling learners. They need a curriculum that will do this for them.
3. Constantly review older concepts – Teaching learners, especially struggling learners, isn’t a one and done kind of teaching. If you teach a concept and then move on to the next concept, they are apt to forget what was first taught. A good curricula will mix review material in with new material to show how it builds.
4. Allow you to use your own common sense and observations to be flexible with pace and content – As you make observations of your child, you need to be able to adjust the content so your learner can be successful. A good curriculum will give you hints and tips for doing this.
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Best Curricula for Struggling Learners
My top pick hands-down for struggling readers is All About Reading. As a matter of fact, it was written specifically for children with dyslexia. It fits under the umbrella of structured literacy. If you need something to guide you as you teach your struggling reader, it’s the perfect choice!
You can read more about my thoughts in my All About Reading Review.
All About Spelling definitely wins out for struggling spellers. Again, it was written specifically for children who struggle with language and spelling. You’ll find LOADS of tips to help you teach those tricky English phonics rules to your learners.
Find more tips for teaching struggling spellers.
The Institute for Excellent Writing is my top pick for struggling writers. I know this many seem contrary to everything I’ve ever written about writing in the past on my blog, but I have seen it firsthand with my own son.
Backstory: My oldest is now in high school. He has had an IEP for writing since third grade. For several years he attended a private school specifically for children with language-based learning differences.
The last essay he wrote in eighth grade from that private school honestly wasn’t very impressive at all. It sounded very robotic. Like he was given a template, and he just plugged sentences into that template. It was not cohesive at all.
Contrast that to the last essay he wrote this school year as a homeschooler with IEW, and it was a WORLD of difference. An absolute and complete 180.
I love how IEW teaches writing bite-size pieces so that writers are not overwhelmed. It explicitly teaches grammar, combining sentences, strong word choices, and other important structures that help writers learn the “how” of writing without the overwhelm.
ANYTHING you can pick that is hands-on and demonstrates abstract math concepts in concrete ways is a “yes” in my book! This means you’ll need math manipulatives!
Saxon Math – We enjoyed Saxon Math for Kindergarten through 3rd grade. Beyond that, it was a little too “text-booky” and less hands-on for my struggling learners. I appreciated the multi-sensory activities for teaching concepts and how the daily pages could be used for guided practice, then for independent practice. Review concepts were always included on each math page.
Math U See – After Saxon Math, I started with Math U See for one of my struggling learners. She has enjoyed the quick videos, which demonstrate the concepts in visual ways she can understand. I like that review concepts are constantly sprinkled into the pages.
RightStart Math – Although I haven’t personally used RightStart Math’s full curriculum, I have bought and used their Math Card Games. They are fantastic! My friends who have used the full curriculum say that it’s very hands-on and helpful for kids who really don’t get math.
Teaching Textbooks – Teaching Textbooks can be done all online. It starts in the 3rd grade. The lessons are broken down into bite-size pieces and taught in a very visual and interactive way. I also love that the lessons are self-checking. If a learner gets something wrong, they can click on how to do it with step-by-step directions. Again, review concepts are sprinkled into each lesson. If online isn’t your thing, you can still order the textbooks, which have the lessons and problems written out.
Got a learner struggling to memorize their multiplication facts? I HIGHLY recommend Times Tales!
More Thoughts on Curricula for Struggling Learners
When picking other curricula, here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- A curriculum, no matter how great is is, cannot specifically know your child like you do. Instead of letting a curriculum dictate your pace or teaching, follow the lead of your child. If your child is struggling to understand a concept, it’s okay to slow down or take a step back. This is more important then getting through the entire curriculum in one year!
- Is there an option for my learner to LISTEN to this on audio? For example, Apologia has allowed us to do this with science curricula, and Story of the World for history also has an audio component.
- Are there hands-on materials for my learner? For example, you’ll want hands-on tools to help your learners touch and manipulate concepts so they can better understand them.
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