I can't tell you how many books and curriculum I have tried in these nine years. From a hundred different publishers and with many different approaches. It's a dang jungle out there. And I'm not afraid to tell you what I have finally settled on. Maybe I can save you some time.
Early in the experience I bought dozens of mini workbooks. Lots of pages of math and mazes and crosswords and sketching and whatnot. Very simple and handy when we were home. We read ALOT and went outside and did many things. We visited police, fire, hospitals, airports, train stations, etc. Lots of visits to woods, streams, meadows. Playdates filled our calendar. The early years were fun and easy because learning is everywhere.
Soon I moved on to larger workbooks and a few websites. Learning is everywhere, so we were also very busy in our community. Museums, zoos, farms, parks, local historical places: many opportunities for learning and having fun. Films, games, cards, scavenger hunts, creation of plays and performances galore.
Next, move into the phase of freaking out about materials. Hundreds of dollars (thousands?!) spent on materials that would never be used. Fear and worrying in St. Louis. I guess it happened because I saw how quickly the kids were growing up and how frightened I felt about that.
I can honestly say that I wish I had had the courage to avoid this stage. The stage where I began questioning our methods. Am I doing enough? Are they learning enough? In hindsight, though, I realize that I needed this stage to get here! I bought many materials that were of exceptional quality, but still didn't feel like I had it quite right. I can highly recommend The Critical Thinking Company materials, though. Very high quality, secular, and generally fun.
All along, I have spent thousands of hours creating my own materials. Worksheets, packets, units, readings, writings, so many materials I don't even know how to characterize it. I ENJOY this, though, so don't think this is necessary. I completely enjoy exploring subjects in depth and creating unique "units" of study.
And now, today, I have decided to simplify. Textbooks. I have found used textbooks everywhere. Used curriculum sites, Amazon.com, yard sales, friends, and many other places (I'm veeeeery resourceful!)
I love textbooks. I feel comfortable with them. We can zoom through them at high speeds and cover lots of material in short amounts of time. Learning is EVERYWHERE, even in textbooks. At first I felt like something of a sell-out. Now I love them!
I still consider us ECLECTIC homeschoolers. My materials come from everywhere, and we still LOVE to read, but textbooks...I love them!