Homeschooling without religion

Discussion in 'Home Schooling' started by PreparedRifleman73, Dec 21, 2014.

  1. PreparedRifleman73

    PreparedRifleman73 Well-Known Member

    Hey everyone,

    We are probably moving out of town to a great 22 acre home place that's primed and ready for everything we want and need. With that, we are in the VERY early stages of researching homeschooling.

    The problem is, everything is based on particular denominations. My wife and children are catholic, but we want a curriculum that is not based on biblical teachings. Certainly no offense is intended to anyone who uses that, I understand the reasoning entirely! Anyways, any good sources that don't use the bible?
  2. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    That's great, Hawk! Twenty-two acres is fantastic!

    There are a lot non-religious sources for homeschooling, but you do have to look harder for them. What ages/grades are your children? That will make a difference.

  3. Grimm

    Grimm There is a place in Hell for me...the THRONE.

    Like Goshen said you have to dig hard for the non religious curriculum. When I started looking all I could find was non bible based. Now I can't find the secular ones.
  4. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    It's out there. Don't be discouraged. :)

    Also, sometimes the faith presented in good materials is so mild that it's easy to work around. For example, there's the phonics program Spell to Write and Read that's very good. Some of the sample sentences for the teacher to read to the student (for spelling tests) may have a religious flavor, but it's easy enough for the teacher to make up a different sample sentence.

    Hawk, I'll be working outside today (all day), but I'll check this thread later tonight and see if you've responded regarding your children's ages. I'm a bit of a curriculum nut - I have a few ideas. :D And I had the same quest as you when I started homeschooling.
  5. PreparedRifleman73

    PreparedRifleman73 Well-Known Member

    Our daughter is 6, finishing up 1st grade. She's definitely gifted, reading and comprehending far above the first grade level. She was socially introverted and devastatingly shy, but no longer!

    Our son is 4 and should be starting kindergarten next year.

    And we have a 1 year old girl. Her current curriculum is "da da" and "ba ba" right now!
  6. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    Okay, Hawk, bear with me while I spit out a lot of stuff. :)

    Since you are in the early stages of researching, one thing you may not have come across yet are the different methods of homeschooling. I bring this up, because the method(s) you use makes a difference when choosing curriculum.

    For example, many folks think of homeschooling as doing school at home - sitting down with certain subjects, working through textbooks and workbooks, etc. For some this is a good match. As parents it's what we did in school so it's familiar, and there are some children who just love doing workbooks. However, there are other folks who avoid textbooks and workbooks at all costs. They consider them to be drudgery, and why bother homeschooling if they're going to just imitate a brick-and-mortar school? Still other folks are more middle-of-the-road, using textbooks and workbooks in some subjects but not others.

    Within homeschooling circles there are a couple of methods that are frequently discussed. One is the Classical method. There is an excellent book on this method: The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer & Jessie Wise. I highly recommend seeing if you can find this book in your library. It's an excellent resource for understanding classical methodology, and explains it far better than I ever could. In general, material by Susan Wise Bauer may be a good fit for you, as it is not religious. She was homeschooled herself, and has homeschooled her own children (in addition to being an English professor at the College of William and Mary).

    Another method you'll hear referenced is the Charlotte Mason method. (Charlotte Mason was an educator in the 1800s.) Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason are good places to look into this method. Whether or not a family chooses to embrace the entire Charlotte Mason method, there are a couple of components that can be applied to all methods: narration and living books. Narration is having the child "narrate back" to you what has just been read (whether the parent reads aloud, or the child reads independently). While this sounds deceptively simple, it trains the child to organize their thoughts (a precursor to both writing and logic), and they learn to pay attention to the material more, knowing that they will be expected to narrate. "Living books" are well-written books, often in narrative format, that do not "dumb down" the child. Textbooks written by committee are viewed as "twaddle" - not for the material they contain - but because they are so dry and do not engage the child. Well-written literature can be a living book, while leveled readers generally are not. You get the point.

    Another item for you to look into is the Socratic Method. Generally speaking, the teacher doesn't give the student an answer, but rather asks the student guided questions so that the student comes to know the answer for themselves. When googling this topic, be sure to include the word "homeschooling" along with "socratic method". Otherwise your google results will tend to be directed toward the collegiate level and will be, frankly, intimidating. The most common example given of Socrates for this method is when Menes asked Socrates "Can virtue be taught?" To which Socrates replied, "What is virtue?" The two went on to have a discussion wherein the came to know the answer. Your children are young for the Socratic Method in some ways, but not for discussion, which is the heart of the Socratic Method.

    Now on to curriculum...
  7. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    Language Arts

    The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading
    Spell to Write and Read
    Both of these programs are not religious, per se. You may find sample sentences that reference God (actually, I think SWR has quite a few), but there is no particular doctrine present, and the programs are excellent (and what religious references are present are very easy to work around). Both are strong phonics only programs, and may be a little different than the way you learned to read in school (no "sight words," as that is shape memorization and not reading). Pros for Phonics Road: all-inclusive language arts (phonics, grammar, literature study), well-laid out and easy for the teacher to follow using DVDs. Cons for Phonics Road: expensive; the teacher is dependent on viewing DVDs (which may or may not be a problem); a new level must be purchased each year. Pros for SWR: can be used by multiple students studying at different levels, basic program is a one-time purchase (multi-level). Cons for SWR: can be intimidating at first, although this is remedied as the program is used).
    Explode the Code
    I include this program only because it is completely secular. It is not a program I recommend.

    If you are using Phonics Road, literature study is included (levels 2-4); but I prefer the following:
    Literature Pockets: Nursery Rhymes
    Literatuer Pockets: Folktales and Fairy Tales
    Literature Pockets: Aesop's Fables
    These are wonderful, and they're completely non-religious. My son and I had a blast with these!
    Teaching the Classics (Center for Lit)
    Teacher Guides (Center for Lit)
    Reading Roadmaps (Center for Lit
    I believe the creators of Center for Lit are deeply religious - however, the materials are not. Teaching the Classics imparts a method for all literature study, and some folks not need any additional materials. However, I found that the teacher guides were helpful when I first actually used the program, especially with a younger student. (We started with Literature Pockets, then moved to Teaching the Classics) When my son was younger, we would read a book an discuss things such as characters, setting, plot (and he would narrate) - we kept it simple.

    If you are using Phonics Road, grammar is included.
    First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind
    I loved this program. By level 3 the student is diagramming sentences. Yet everything is broken down into daily segments so that the program is very simple, and there is a script for the teacher.
    Easy Grammar
    Secular and very easy to use.
    Analytical Grammar
    Some schools of thought say that children don't need formal grammar until they're a little older than your daughter - as late as third, fourth, even fifth grade. Analytical Grammar is one of those programs.

    Writing With Ease
    Writing With Ease - Level 1 Workbook
    Completely secular. Writing with Ease is an instructional book that explains the philosophy/program. The workbook is not necessary, but to me it was invaluable (without it I would have had to come up with my own materials). Level 1 utilizes narration and copywork to lead the student to writing. Given that your daughter is a strong reader, she may very well become a strong writer, and I would highly recommend Susan Wise Bauer's materials for her.
    Writing and Rhetoric
    This is another outstanding writing program - it doesn't start until third or fourth grade. Honestly, I have a hard time every year choosing between this and Writing With Ease - they are very different programs, but they are both good.
    Excellence in Writing
    And another outstanding writing program. There are some truly wonderful (non-religious) writing programs in the homeschool world.

    Wordly Wise
    This is completely secular and geared toward a school setting. It seems to be the standard in many schools.
    My personal experience with vocabulary: With my older boys we used Wordly Wise - both had attended public school, this is what they used so we continued with it. With my youngest, we don't use a vocabulary program. His understanding and use of vocabulary is outstanding. I believe it is the living books - the good literature - that we use that has made the difference. When he was younger his bedtime read aloud was more likely to be a chapter of literature rather than a picture book. As he grew older we never stopped reading aloud. He's now 12, and we still read together - but it's a family affair with him, my husband and myself. He certainly doesn't need a bedtime story anymore, but we have enjoyed so many good stories together - we have no plans to change. I think when he's grown and gone my husband an I will still be reading to each other, lol. Sharing good literature together has been such a cornerstone of learning (and relationship) for our family. I can't recommend it enough.

    I hope this can get you started. It's now about 4AM for me, so I must come back to this later. But I promise I will. There's still math and science and history (love history) and... ;)
  8. ksmama10

    ksmama10 Well-Known Member

    I have used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with widely(and wildly) mixed results. My oldest two daughters use it with smashing success. They were reading on a solid 2nd grade level by the time they were each 6 years old..after them, the success rate dropped dramatically. With subsequent children, I had to find other programs. I found one from a group in Texas, that is similar to Phonics for Spelling and Writing..had some success with that for a couple of kids.. then my youngest two boys just could not get it; I tried a half dozen different programs, til finally, I hired a home schooling friend to tutor them.. first thing she told me to do was buy a copy of Alphaphonics. Guess what, I had that one in my shelves..for the last 15 years. I never could understand how to use this book that so many claimed to be so easy to use...My friend told me to dissect the book and place each page in sheet protectors in a binder. Then, over the course of the next few months, I learned how to REALLY use this program. Each page was a now a work sheet; the sheet protectors work great with wipe off markers..Once they memorized the alphabet and sounds, we made flash cards for each page. Some weeks they had several pages to work on, and practice. Others, there was just one or two..always with review. Mistakes were to be copied several times each on notebook paper, which went into their own binders. They read very well now, at 13 and 15. This is a secular program too.. just create your own sentences for practice. It's VERY open ended. All I needed was to be shown how to use this program.
  9. lazydaisy67

    lazydaisy67 Member

    I would also recommend Explode the Code to start out with. It's just a super, all-phonics based program for beginning years. Reading doesn't necessarily need a 'special' curriculum. Just make trips to the library.
    Math-U-See is good to start out with for math. I've always used Saxon because it's advanced and I liked the spiral form of learning, but it's rather dull and boring and for visual learners it's kind of the pits. There's tons of math websites you can use to supplement any workbooks or textbooks you get. Kahn academy is one I've gone to.

    I've used Handwriting Without Tears with good results as well as Cursive Without Tears.

    You don't have to worry about science until about 4th or 5th grade and same with social studies. Sometimes those are a pick and choose type of plan as opposed to one textbook for each subject.

    If you want to teach the stuff the public schools teach you can look for McGraw-Hill or Spectrum. They're visually stimulating, but not very advanced in my opinion and the new common core way of explaining and working math problems will have you tearing your hair out at the roots.

    Also, just because a publisher is "Christian" doesn't mean there's a Bible verse on every page and you learn to add and subtract the prophets. Despite being based on Christianity, some of those companies have been in the homeschool biz for many, many years and their experience is a valuable tool when you're just starting out. If you're capable of being flexible, you can easily use what you like and chuck the rest or skip over it. Please don't assume that if the curriculum is "Christian" that it's sub-par in any way. MOST homeschool kids test out with much higher scores than public and private school kids and a good percentage of them have been taught using "Christian" curriculum. In the end, what matters most is that your kids are getting one-on-one teaching time and customized materials to fit THEIR learning style.

    I would try looking for a homeschool group or CoOp in your new area, start to interact with other homeschooling families and see what they're using. Talk to the public school and see if they participate in a Homeschool Assistance Program. If they do, they generally offer the option of a supervising teacher that can help you with curriculum choices and will monitor your progress if you'd like.
  10. Jewel

    Jewel Wild Wood Woman

    Congratulations! Just living that life is great learning.

    I couldn't find any one curriculum that worked for the way my son learned best so I created our own curriculum. I think I ended up going through 6 different curriculums for ideas and structure. I got them on loan here and there. The library had a few and I bought used ones etc. I based the whole thing on Montessori (hands on), some very structured and some almost unschooled.

    As other folks have said, there are non religious ones out there and probably a lot more these days. My son will be 22 next month. But you can also use religious material as a base and just adjust it to work for you and your kids.

    And good on you for homeschooling!
  11. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

    We homeschooled our son, the biggest thing, to take into consideration is each child's learning style. the other huge opportunity is to teach them that they are responsible and accountable for their actions, which public school does not.
  12. Moby76065

    Moby76065 Texan!

    While as a Christian I think the entire problem is a lack of god in schools.

    Why does math, English, history etc need to be hard to find?
  13. tsrwivey

    tsrwivey Supporting Member

    I homeschooled my grown kids K-12 & will homeschool my 2.5 yr old when the time comes. A worthy addition to Goshengirl's reading list is Learning All the Time by John Holt. He is the father of the unschooling movement. I am NOT an unschooler but his work has had such a positive & lasting impact on our homeschool that I consider it to be the single most important book on homeschooling (& I've read A LOT of them). I say that because this book teaches you how kids really learn best naturally & challenges all the assumptions we have about kids & learning.

    We used Singapore Math & Teaching Textbooks, liked both, had good results, & both are secular.

    We used Beautiful Feet Books for history, it's a literature based program. We've also used TruthQuest history, another literature based program but you choose the books you read from a list of choices both secular & religious.

    We didn't use a science curriculum until 7th grade. I'm sure that sounds crazy to someone new to the concept of homeschooling! We just made unit studies of sorts about whatever they were interested in. We had a lot of fun & adventure with it & the kids really learned a lot. We did Apologia life science & physical science in 7th & 8th to fill in the holes of whatever we missed. The only big thing we missed was astronomy, the rest was pretty much review. We used Apologia throughout high school, I've not seen anything near as rigorous or easy to use as Apologia, secular or religious. It prepared them well & is a homeschool staple for college bound kids. My kids are maintaining 3.5 & 4.0 averages at the University of Texas studying Occupational therapy & medical lab tech.

    We used italics handwriting (since that's how most adults write anyway) & just taught them to be able to read traditional cursive.

    We used Explode The Code with our oldest daughter, she liked it & did well with it. Our younger daughter (the second kid is always a doozie) HATED with a fiery passion reading anything phonetically controlled & had zero interest in anything fiction (why read it if it's not true?). She learned to read by my running my finger underneath the words as I read to her, mainly while reading The Care & Maintence of Bearded Dragons. She read well independently the encyclopedia by age 6 & could read & comprehend college level by age 10 (the age she finally decided maybe fiction isn't so bad). She's always got her nose stuck in a book & always has.

    I don't know what your objection to "religious" curriculum but I have a few scattered thoughts on it. In some curriculum, as long as you're not offended by a Bible verse, it's not a big deal. For example, most of the "Christian" math simply will have a Bible verse stamped in it somewhere. Very few "religious" curricula really get into doctrine & none get into anything really controversial. For the discussions of doctrine, those are limited to the high school ages & Bob Jones would be the one you'd want to steer clear of if that's what you're attempting to avoid. A Christian curriculum attempts to pass on the values, morals, & worldview of the faith & done well results in a better understanding of both the subject & their faith. NOTHING is free from having a worldview and that worldview comes through by what is included & what is not included. Faith encompasses the whole of life & if you are serious about passing on your faith to your kids, include them in all of life. Secular education produces secular kids, generally speaking.
  14. PreparedRifleman73

    PreparedRifleman73 Well-Known Member

    Tons of valuable information in this thread. Big thanks especially to goshengirl. I've actually printed the whole thread off to read!
  15. ThePrepDerp

    ThePrepDerp ExCommunicated


    Depends, which denomination are you? There's a big difference between an evangelical creationist and a Presbyterian theistic evolutionist
  16. ThePrepDerp

    ThePrepDerp ExCommunicated


    Why would we need religion in school? It's a matter of opinion Although you can obviously talk about god and pray in school, you just can't mandate and force it
  17. Grimm

    Grimm There is a place in Hell for me...the THRONE.

    THAT little gem is your personal opinion and not fact at all.

    It is really the opposite in reality. If you try to pray in a public school you are told you have to stop or face suspension. Of course that is unless you are Muslim then you get all sorts of privileges.

    Most public schools are no longer allowing Christian club or groups to meet on school property. But the "witchcraft" club and Muslims are given a classroom and funds for trips and refreshments.

    Yet another reason my mom retired from her public school teaching post.
  18. Quills

    Quills Well-Known Member

    Might I suggest "The Well-Trained Mind" by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer?

    It's an excellent educational plan which can be tweaked for your family's particular needs, and achieves a classical education for children at any ability level. I can't say enough good about it.
  19. ThePrepDerp

    ThePrepDerp ExCommunicated


    Okay but at least in my area in Midwestern Wisconsin you can pray and talk about god all you like just as long as you don't force it. I don't know if your area is different but in my area that is how it is.