Consider this Brilliant Resource When Planning Next Year’s Curriculum

Are you looking for a curriculum that is…




Me, too.

With no strings attached, I want to get my two-cents worth into the “Curriculum Planning” hub-bub of Spring!

Like many of you, I’ve spent hours pouring over curriculum websites and catalogs, making lists, lists, and more lists of the incredible resources available for my young students. The only problem with spending hours in curriculum planning, is the potential to spend thousands of dollars in curriculum buying.

Is this really necessary? I kept asking myself each time I’d tally up the potential costs of a thorough first grade curriculum.

My eye kept returning to a beloved book on the bookshelf. Finally, I picked it up again and realized I needn’t look any more.

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, is actually a comprehensive curriculum plan for pre-k through high school (and beyond!) that promotes excellence and simplicity. I’ve implemented many of their ideas for Pre-K and Kindergarten work and am thoroughly anticipating an enriching first grade year based upon their suggestions. If you’ve never picked up a copy of this essential classical education manual, I highly suggest you do so soon.  You’ll love their practical and specific recommendations and resources for all of your students – from the tiniest, on.

Here’s me in person, talking about the book in a bit more depth:







25 responses to “Consider this Brilliant Resource When Planning Next Year’s Curriculum”

  1. Sarah Mae Avatar

    Laura, I’m sold. Haha!

    By the way, what are your thoughts on Tapestry of Grace?

    1. Laura Avatar

      I have friends who love TOG, it seems to appeal to the large multi-aged family that wants to study the same thing at the same time. I took a long look at it and was impressed by its depth, but was also wary of the history-intensity. Many, many reviewers wrote about their children getting “history overload” and developing a hatred for history. Yikes. It might be something I’m interested in down the road, but a serious look at their sample unit helped me to see that it’s not what I’m looking for right now. What are your thoughts??

  2. Sarah Mae Avatar

    Still debating what to do for first grade.

    I need something that tells me what to do everyday. I thought TOG might be good fit, but I don’t know. Deciding curriculum is very difficult for me, because I like/want lot’s of things, but I know my personality needs something very structured, and not entirely overwhelming.

    We love Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons because it’s easy (I didn’t want to use it, but gave in and glad I did!). I just get Phonics Museum (per your recommendation), so I’m looking forward to starting that this summer.

    I’m going to check out the Well-Trained Mind and see if I can get some direction before September! 🙂 Again, SO glad you are one step ahead of me…I may just copy everything you do!

    1. Laura Avatar

      The Well-Trained Mind won’t tell you exactly what to do every day, though they do provide several suggestions for a weekly schedule, that will take you through a typical school year. It will require regular brainstorming and research, to gather the reading material, etc. But I like that. I personally like the opportunity to collect all kinds of resources from the library and online. I like selecting our own specific topics of study for science and art, etc. But not everybody does.

      SO, if you want the package deal, the daily plans, and the materials at-the-ready, I highly suggest Sonlight. I’ve never used the curriculum, but I’ve drooled over it, and used their read-aloud lists. 😉 My friend Steph raves about it and uses it with four little ones, all under 7-years-old. ‘Ever taken a look?

  3. Renee Avatar

    Thanks so much for the post. I bought the Well Trained Mind about a year ago and from there I bought the Ordinary Parents guide to Teaching Reading and have loved the book. My daughter is in Kindergarten and by Christmas I was a bit disapointed with the Sonlight curriculum I got. They have great book choices for reading to your child, but a bit overwhelming with schedule. I do have a 4 year old and 2 year old also, so I need things to be easy to follow. I do love the Math U See curriculum and am planning on staying with this.
    Anyway I have been reading the Well trained Mind and just bought, “The Story of the World” book and activity book for next fall. I am excited about it. The other book I am looking at is “Five in a Row” and “Draw, Write,Now”. Do you know anything about these? I houseschool mom that I know said her kids loved them. I am looking forward to hearing more about what you will be doing next year.


    1. Laura Avatar


      I’m so glad you’ll be doing the Story of the World this coming year. Be sure to let me know all of your tips and tricks! As I said in this post, I’m hoping to share our ideas regularly. 🙂

      We LOVE – truly LOVE – Five in a Row. We’ve been using the first two volumes this year, and found that they work marvelously with a variety of ages. I HIGHLY recommend that curriculum… you inspired me to write a post about it. Perhaps it will show up next week.

  4. Laura Avatar

    About Sonlight – maybe hear some more from Renee on her comment that it was a bit overwhelming?? She’ll be able to tell you better than I will… 🙂

  5. Renee Avatar

    I think with Sonlight I got there core curriculum guide that takes you thought the books that you read to them. It’s a few pages in each book each day. I love the books that they suggest, but when I sit down to read I read as much as my kids are willing to listen to and ask questions as we read. I really don’t need a schedule to help me with that, so for the money it’s really not necessary. Also they jumped around in the history books and started Hero Tales and then ended up on another book.

    I then got the Sonlight Science K and so that was another schedule to keep up with and I really didn’t like there science because it went through topics to fast and the work sheets to me are for kids that can read and write. My daughter is a great writer, but she is learning to read because that is what you do in kindergarten.

    I think what it comes down to is to many schedules for me to keep up with. I plan on taking there book reading list for next year and continue reading the books I think look great. I can come up with my own questions and as you read kids ask questions. Sometimes what we read will end up in creative play or creative crafting. It’s what kids do.

    I have a friend who loves Sonlight, but she has older kids 11 and 13. She said that later on Sonlight does a great job of incorporating literature with history. I may revisit Sonlight down the road when my kids get older, but for now I need just one schedule and keep what I do at a minimal because I have 3 young kids that have a lot of energy and jump form one activity to another.

    If someone has just one child it might work great for them. Hope this helps.


  6. Laura Avatar

    Thank you so much for your added insight, Renee!

  7. Kathi Bailey Avatar

    We are just about to finish up our 3rd year with SOTW. My kids (17 mos – 13 yrs) have all loved it!

    We use My Father’s World, and DH and I were planning on buying their next year…but the ‘history’ is just SOTW 4 and the accompanying Activity book…for, like you mentioned, HUNDREDS of dollars! Your post has me thinking…do we really need to spend that? Or can we just buy SOTW 4, the Act book, and use the LIBRARY (we LOVE the Library).

    P.S. TWTM was my first intro to homeschooling 4 years ago…and I’ve gone back to it time and time again. Absolutely FULL of great info!

    Sarah Mae – TOG…we’ve looked into that extensively, but found it to be very overwhelming schedule-wise…and I agree with Laura (VERY History-intense…and costly!)

    Renne – we almost, almost went with Sonlight this past year…but we literally would have had to buy atleast 3 core packages! NO WAY! And, again, the library is 2 minutes away!!!! (although I love their catalog, and use it like a Booklist Book for Library trips).

    After only 3 years of homeschooling, and having to ‘teach’ so many different ages (13/8th, 10/5th, 8/2nd, and 6/K…and 3 other little ones tagging along), I can honestly say…less is more…and the more you can do together as a family group, the better!

    Has anyone taken a peek at Simply Charlotte Mason? *I know, CM…but I’ve admitted our Classical bent on there…and they haven’t kicked me off 🙂

    Great post Laura, and thank you…you’ve got me thinking, thinking!

  8. Crystal Avatar

    Thank you Laura for this recommendation! And thanks to everyone for the comments! I am going to be homeschooling my son for K this year and I will also have a 3 year old. I have looked at several curriculum and was leaning towards My Father’s World. Like Sarah Mae, I am wanting something that tells me what to do!

  9. Renee Avatar

    I have a couple of mom’s that I know who have used My father’s World and have loved it. My daughter knew all her letters and the sounds that made by the beginning of Kindergarten, but I really didn’t want something that focused on letter learning. I know that do more then that and have heard that it is easy to use.

  10. Brooke McGlothlin Avatar

    Hi Laura!

    I’m a lot like Sarah Mae in that I need the schedule to go by. Because of that we’ve been using Sonlight with our 5 yo for K. We started out doing everything on the schedule, every day and by Christmas my son was totally rebelling against me reading to him at all. The exact opposite of why I chose Sonlight! So we backed off of the reading schedule and currently just read two books at a time split up throughout the day (from the core). This is much less overwhelming for my very physical little boy.

    I don’t really like their Science program either (noticed someone else mentioned that above). It does seem to fly through subjects quickly. We’re way behind the schedule because my son loves Science (even though Mama doesn’t) and we’ve taken more time than the schedule allows on certain topics to do deeper study.

    I also don’t like the Math that came with it 🙁 Horizons was horrible for my hands-on learner. I agree wholeheartedly with the commenter above, Math-U-See is FABULOUS! Not only does it appeal to all learning styles, the concepts behind the way it’s taught is much more logical.

    Finally, the Bible curriculum that is integrated into the Sonlight Core is lacking too. I scrapped it after the first week and have been using Songs for Saplings – scripture set to music. My boys are both wooed by music so it’s been a perfect way to get the word in their hearts every morning while keeping it upbeat and not too serious.

    Soooo…all that to say, we’ll probably stick with Sonlight next year just for the Core and language arts (though I might try something different for LA too) and go with Math-U-See and possibly something from Master Books (creation based curriculum) for Science.

    Wonderful discussion!

  11. Brooke McGlothlin Avatar

    Ack! I hate when homeschool moms don’t watch their grammer. Can I have a redo of one sentence above regarding Math-U-See? “Not only does it appeal to all learning styles, the concepts behind the way it’s taught ARE much more logical.”

    Shew! (Wipes brow)

    Thanks 😉

  12. Billie aka Flamingo Avatar

    i am going to be starting homeschooling next year. we are bringin home our oldest from public school. he will be in 4th grade. i ampretty sure i am going to do Classical Conversations. Have you ever heard of this? I know so many folks that do it and I have NEVER heard anything but raving reviews. It is supposably is VERY good for accountability and structure. Not that I need that. Ahem. 🙂

    It is a pure classical education and is incredible for the high school years. Check out if you are interested. If there is not one in your area, you can start one. That is what my friend did. The national program is doubling in numbers every year!

    OK…just a suggestion you may or may not have any interest in:)

  13. Laura Avatar


    Yes, I have heard wonderful things about Classical Conversations, though we do not have one in our area and I don’t have the gumption to start one at this time, but I thought I’d let you know about Heidi from Mount Hope Chronicles who has a son of similar age and attends Classical Conversations and loves it:

    Heidi is a homeschooling powerhouse. I’ve gotten so many excellent book and fine arts ideas from her. You’ll LOVE her. Search through her archives!

  14. Laura Avatar

    Brooke –

    No worries. My worst typos occur when I’m discussing educating my children. Crazy.

  15. Renee Avatar

    Grammer is one thing that scares me about Homeschooling because it has always been a challenge for me. I know it’s from the lack of good teaching when I was young. Now my husband on the other hand is Mr. Grammer expert.

  16. Amanda Avatar

    I’m so excited to go to the library tomorrow to see if they have The Well Trained Mind! My daughter will just be 3 in May and it amazes me on what she picks up on. When it was twilight a few days ago, she called it ‘metamorphisis’! Now it wasn’t a caterpillar changing to a butterfly, but she did understand the concept of change. That was a big wake up call to me that she can learn somewhat abstract concepts and who knows what else! I’ve done a little research on what to do at home in the preschool years, but scared to do much research on what to do at home after that because my head is spinning! But now there’s hope! Thanks for a great post!

  17. Anna Avatar

    Thank you so much for this. I am a graduate of 11 years of homeschooling, using mostly the A Beka curriculum. I have a 12-month-old and have already been thinking about curriculum for him. I enjoy researching it and finding ideas, but it can be so unbelievably expensive, and I don’t know where to begin or what theory I really like. The Well-Trained Mind has been on my reading list for awhile, and now I really really want to read it.

    I feel like such a newbie at all of this, after reading all the comments!

  18. mary kathryn Avatar

    Laura, I’ve been using Well-Trained Mind for the past two years, and I’ll NEVER GO BACK. I think I paid $32 for it, and it’s the best homeschooling money I’ve ever spent. With her reading lists, I go to, and buy the books I choose from her lists. I probably spend $25-$35 a year, since many are only a dollar apiece.

    My daughter, who’s almost 12, loves the education she’s getting – she loves the classical model, and richness of what she’s learning, and the fact that her education is much broader than what she’d get at a regular school. And it’s NEVER boring. I used Christian Liberty for 4 years, and the kids were often (sorry…) bored.

    I totally agree. Susan did the hard work to help us know what to look for. This book is essential for a mom who wants to be really involved in the child’s education.

  19. Marcy Avatar

    Peace Hill Press put a link to your blog on their Facebook page. 🙂

    My son is also doing K this year, and we’re going to start TWTM in the fall for 1st grade. I was originally considering child-led learning/unschooling, but he’s super bright and interested in everything. After reading TWTM and finding the Well-Trained Mind discussion forums, I’m certain that it’s everything that he’s interested in. I’m very grateful that we’ll have structure, to do things in a logical order (and not skip things that I never learned in school!).

    We’ve been using Christian Light Math and will continue that, and I’m probably going to use Noeo Science-Biology I, because he’ll enjoy the depth of that a little more than what TWTM recommends. But we’re definitely using Story of the World and First Language Lessons (grammar). We’re also introducing Latin with Song School Latin. DS is trying to make up his own Latin spells to play Harry Potter. Ha! We’re also using Artistic Pursuits for Art and CLE for Bible. I’m really looking forward to all of it!

  20. andi Avatar

    Thank you for this great post! I have checked out The Well-Trained Mind so many times from the library- this post really inspired me to just go ahead and get my own copy!

    What are you planning on doing with Lia this next year?

    P.S. My daughter is around Vivienne’s age- Audrey is 5- and she absolutely LOVES Viv’s vlogs about cooking! Are you guys thinking about making any more?

  21. Melanie Avatar


    I was just wondering what you use as a science curriculum. I grew up christian but going to a secular school which taught secular curriculum. But I don’t want to teach my children this way Do you know of any curriculum that would would recommend?

  22. Melanie Johns Avatar
    Melanie Johns

    Hi Laura!
    I love this book too! (and we are not even homeschoolers!) After buying The Well-Trained Mind a couple of years ago, I’ve used the resources listed to supplement my kids’ education and summer reading lists. I even ordered the SOTW for my own self! Ha! I never enjoyed history in school and thus did not do a good job of retaining it. So, I figured that buying a comprehensive overview geared for children (who are expected to know nothing) would be a good way to re-educate myself! I am sure you’ll do a great job of using this book as the springboard for your curriculum!

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