It’s a tie between:

- Beast Academy – Paid
- Khan Academy – Free

I’d probably end up using both. When we homeschooled my kids LOVED the Beast Academy books for ages 8-13. They come in pairs where one is full-color graphic novel style to explain concepts and the other is a black and white workbook. It was the only math program they ever begged to do.

I’d use the Beast Academy workbooks as our day to day work and then I’d pull out Khan academy grade-specific math classes for their quizzes and assessments to check if they’ve learned everything expected for that grade. I’d fall back on Khan for videos and lessons if there were areas where Beast Academy didn’t cover it enough or my kid needed a different perspective in teaching it.

This is another easy one. Hands down my kids (and my) favorite English curriculum was The MCT Language Arts Curriculum from Royal Fireworks Press. The only downside is it currently starts in 3rd grade, but he’s working on books for younger grades so that may change. It says it’s for gifted students but I would use it with any child. It interleaves stories with learning and both my kids loved it. The curriculum covers the following subjects and I recommend all of them:

- Grammar
- Vocabulary
- Writing
- Poetics
- Grammar Practice
- Literature
- Reading Trilogies (Have not read these)

If for some reason this was not available then my second choice would be Institute for Excellence in Writing. They have an excellent writing program, especially for upper elementary when you start to get into paragraphs and essays. With the one caveat that they have religious leanings so depending on what you want that is a plus or minus. However, they clearly mark what material is religious and keep it out of their main curriculum.

For elementary, I’d make both of these subjects be partially child lead. To introduce general ideas I’d pick a couple of good science and history encyclopedias aimed at elementary school kids and let them flip through and pick what subjects to read about. Then anything that really interests them can be expanded on with library books, amazon, etc. Make sure to check out the used book selection on amazon and other sources to get some deals. My favorite sources for general guides are Kingfisher, Usborne, and DK. Some possible guides include:

- A Little History of the World by E.H Gombrich (Other Little History books may also be excellent but some are more approachable for older kids.)
- A Child’s History of the World by V. M. Hillyer
- A Child’s History of Art by V. M. Hillyer
- The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia
- The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
- The Kingfisher Nature Encyclopedia
- DK Smithsonian Science (And other DK Smithsonian books but check age ranges.)

One note: Some of the above books may need to be adjusted and/or discussed depending on your secular or religious nature. We always handled family differences by discussing how the book differed from what we believed as a family and using it as a launching point to discuss how you must read with the perspective of the author in mind.

If it was me I’d teach reading and spelling as I go. I’d pick my child’s favorite book and help them figure out how to read the words. Then I’d see where they were making mistakes while writing and teaching the rules and patterns for those words. However, that assumes a lot of knowledge about reading, grammar, and spelling for the teacher. Possible if you have already taught a couple of kids to read but trickier if you are just starting out.

Someday I hope to write the details on how to do this. In the meantime, for those who just need a reading and/or spelling program right now my favorite is from https://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/. However, I recommend it with the caveat that my kids hated it when we did it. They much preferred the teach as we go style mentioned above. But if you need a reading/spelling program I thought it had the best price to performance ratio. We also used https://bartonreading.com/ but at its price, I only recommend it for those who have a dyslexic that has struggled with other reading programs. (My kids also hated it but just like All About Spelling it was a quality curriculum.)

]]>As my kids started to learn math they had similar troubles. They loved the thinking parts of math but struggled with the memorization. Just as I did they needed to learn math “tricks” instead of memorizing math facts. Then, after relying on the trick for a while, they would eventually memorize the fact.

My favorite math trick is calculating 9 times using my hands. Here’s how to do it with 9 x 6:

- Hold up all 10 fingers in front of you.
- Going from left to right find your 6th finger and lower it.
- Count the number of fingers to the left of the 6th: 5
- Count the number of fingers to the right of the 6th: 4
- 9 x 6 = 54

The trick works with any number from 1 to 9. Try it yourself. It takes one of the hardest multiplication facts and makes it one of the easiest.

For those who don’t want to use their hands you can also calculate 9 times using only subtraction. First let’s take a look at all the multiples of 9:

9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90

Each of the above numbers has an interesting trick. If you add all the individuals together they will always equal 9.

- 1 + 8 = 9
- 2 + 7 = 9
- 3 + 6 = 9
- 4 + 5 = 9
- 5 + 4 = 9
- 6 + 3 = 9
- 7 + 2 = 9
- 8 + 1 = 9
- 9 + 0 = 9

To use this to calculate 9 x 6 do the following:

- Subtract 1 from the number: 6 – 1 = 5
- Figure out what number adds to that number to get 9: 5 + 4 = 9
- Put the two numbers together and get the answer: 54