What would it cost to buy top-of-the-line curriculum for a middle schooler? Obviously every child is different, so the materials for one child might be different from what is used for another child. Still, everyone needs to study math, science, English, and social studies. Other classes are usually included, too: health, PE, art, music… If I were starting from scratch to pull together materials for a middle schooler, here’s what I’d think about using:
$90 Lyrical Learning was written for middle schoolers. $30 for volume 1, which is an introduction to biological taxonomy. $30 for volume 2, Mammals, Ecology, and Biomes. $30 for Lyrical Earth Science – Geography. This would be a very fun, simple approach that would leave students well-prepared for high school biology. Some of the textbooks are available for less on eBay, so the cost could be lower.
For a very different approach, spend $65 for each middle-school set of the best college-prep science curriculum available. The Apologia series of texts began as the lectures of a college professor who taught homeschoolers what they’d need to know to succeed in college. Seventh graders should study General Science – the set includes a student textbook, a packet of tests, and an instructor’s answer key; these can be purchased separately, too. Eighth graders should study Physical Science. The current prices on eBay don’t look competitive, so just buy the materials new. OR, for kids who learn better on the computer, Apologia’s materials can be purchased in a software format.
Language Arts (English)
$299 IEW B Deluxe Package – cost would be less if you find it on Craigslist or eBay (which I did). You should be able to recoup much of the cost by reselling it when you are finished with it, which makes the price a little less gasp-worthy. Even so, this is such an excellent curriculum that I believe it is worth every penny. Some people do this in one year; others take two years. The goal is not to “finish the book” but to develop good writing skills, so take the time you need to become a master. The Continuation B curriculum is $199 for another year’s curriculum. After that, use Continuation C at the high school level.
There are numerous options, and every family needs to evaluate which one would best fit their needs
- $15 Phonetic Zoo – fun and extremely easy to implement; my #1 recommendation; 3-yrs
- $10 How to Spell – seems straightforward, but my family didn’t like this (but you might)
- $56 Spelling Power – includes 3rd grade through college in one book
- $40 Spelling Made Simple – haven’t used this, but the reviews sound good
- $12 per book/level Sequential Spelling – not difficult, but not as user-friendly as Phonetic Zoo
All the “must read” books are available for free through the public library. Many are also free for download on a Kindle. Some public schools are willing to share their reading lists. If not, look at Sonlight’s website for suggestions on what to read, then borrow those books from the library.
Math: I recommend Math-U-See for this level of mathematics. Middle schoolers who have mastered the basics of elementary arithmetic, fractions, decimals, and percents should be ready for pre-algebra in 7th grade, followed by algebra 1 in 8th grade. The student materials consist of a student workbook and a student test book, and costs $32 for a brand new set of the two books (they are not sold individually). Add the instructor’s manual/dvd set at $57, and this is expensive. You need all of these items, which makes it $89 to get them brand now, HOWEVER these, too, are often available on eBay for significantly less money – just make sure you’re getting both student books, and both the teacher’s manual and dvd.
Middle schoolers who are not up-to-speed on the basics need to master those before moving on – this is fairly common for public school kids who are being pulled out to homeschool. It’s also fairly common for everything to suddenly make sense, and kids to advance four or five grade levels of math within a few months. I highly recommend a basic set of flashcards, then online drills for basic facts, then using Life of Fred to have fun while learning fractions/decimals/percents. If your child really enjoyed and understood the Life of Fred approach, then you could use it for algebra. It costs significantly less than MUS (but doesn’t have the built-in review that students seem to need).
Social Studies: Cost varies greatly depending on your subject and approach. Two different options would work well. Greenleaf’s instruction guide assigns projects and writing assignments. Story of the World is a four-volume series of very-easy-to-read history stories; there are also SOW activity books available for an additional cost. If it were me, I would use Greenleaf, and get Story of the World to supplement (if it’s not in the library).
- Greenleaf Curriculum – note that some of these are available on eBay at a cost savings
- The Story of the World
Beautiful Feet and Sonlight are two other excellent options for history. I find Beautiful Feet’s approach takes more time that I care to invest, but that’s my personal preference for easy-to-implement materials. Sonlight comes complete with a day-to-day schedule, but the teacher’s commentary material isn’t quite as easy to access as I personally like. Many people love these packages, though, and they are worth looking at. Note that both of these integrate history and literature.
All of these materials can sometimes be found at a discount on eBay.
Health: $30 Lyrical Life Science volume 3 – The Human Body.
PE: Document physical activity to ensure the appropriate number of hours. Participation on community sports teams counts. Use of home exercise equipment does, too.
Art: Use the public library for some books about art appreciation and drawing, and invest in some good drawing pencils – or sign up for art lessons through the parks department.
Music: If 3D music lessons aren’t an option, I very much like the video guitar lessons from Worship Guitar Class. $30 per video, or $100 for all four which would take a few years to work through. Music123 and Musicians Friend both carry acceptable quality guitars for less than you’d pay in the local shop. If your guitar doesn’t have a built-in tuner, you’ll also want to buy an electric tuner.
Home Ec: Develop a schedule, and teach kids (if they don’t already know) how to cook, balance a checkbook, do laundry, and sew.
Bottom Line: Grand total, a top-notch 7th or 8th grade curriculum using this approach would be about $780 plus the price of music lessons. It could cost less if you use the library for some of the books, or if you buy them used instead of new. You should be able to sell some of the texts on eBay when you’re finished with them to make the final expense lower.