Frugal Homeschool Curriculum Choices for Early Elementary

Summary - Our homeschool curriculum choices for elementary,  How to teach handwriting with games and helps for small muscle coordination.  Plus tips for homeschooling kids with ADHD or 2e or sensory processing disorder. This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.

Are you homeschooling a young one?  A child who is in first grade or around that age or level?

My 2e daughter, whom we homeschooled through high school is now a college grad.  My, how time flies.  So lately I have been helping a young boy named Tim with his homeschooling.  

Here are what we are doing with him for his early elementary curriculum.  These are the same ones that I used with my now graduated daughter.  They are strong and helpful for the early homeschooling years, in my opinion.  



For reading, we focused on Pathway Primers, grade 1, which was full of sweet, character building stories and at the early reading level.  We used them as read alouds, and encouraged my first grader to follow along with the words.  The book shown above is one of the three offered together by Amazon.  We loved them all.  These are great for kids who want to hear gentle, animal and farm life related stories.

Many 2e kids may be already reading chapter books at this age.

After we read a story together, my student wanted to "read" it to himself again.  So when he did that, or when we got audio books from the library, I set him up in a special reading corner, with a shelf that blocked out distractions.  


We chose Explode the Code (ETC), starting with the Primers. We usually do these together at the table. Tim quickly learned the routine of the ETC lessons, as each lesson followed the same pattern.  Doing it semi-independently,  really helps to develop his self esteem.  This program is ideal for early reading learning. 

ETC goes all the way through 6th grade, and we loved that as it taught my daughter advanced phonics skills that made her a very strong reader.


Tim is struggling with handwriting. He does better with a thick pencil.  We chose a Handwriting Without Tears book, but put it aside at first, to focus on his small muscle coordination instead.  

But you don't really need to buy a curriculum for handwriting, in my opinion.  Here is a frugal way to teach it - BJ's Frugal Guide to Handwriting.

We included making letters in finger paint, cutting, play dough play, etc. also. 

This fall he has begun to use more "mature" grasp of his pencil, called the "pincer grasp".(see Handwriting Helps below)  

He isn't ready to use a regular sized pencil yet.  But there is no hurry!  We will keep him on the thick one as long as needed.  What does it really matter, as long as he is progressing!

Please see my page on Handwriting for more resources and ideas.  I am an OT and I encourage families to use playful games to help with handwriting issues.  Many are shared in my page mentioned above.

After we did some of the fun activities in that post, he was more than ready for to start learning to write with the program mentioned above.


We decided to use Saxon Math First Grade this year, but first our emphasis is on using manipulatives, math play, and making patterns.  We did lot of his math work and play on the floor.

For more information on manipulative math play, please go to my review of Numbers and Patterns on The Curriculum Choice.

My first grader did better with short learning periods, such as 15 or 20 minutes at a time, with minimal distractions. 

I gave him a break in between each session, where he plays, watches an educational show on tv, etc....  But when he is on a roll, then, of course, we continue.  

Tim also liked to earn stickers, which he and his mom chose each week or two from the book store.  Earning stickers gave Tim a concrete reward for doing his work.  

We always went over his sticker chart at the end of the week, to give him extra attention.   And he liked to show it to his mom and dad at dinner.

Direction Following:  

A few years ago, I began helping with a 6 year old with ADHD. He had recently been diagnosed, and his mom decided to homeschool him. 

He was a wonderful, fun loving boy, who was very active and easily distractible and who fidgeted a lot when given instructions. 

He was also very eager to learn.  Whenever there are directions to be given, Tim plays with a small toy that I give him.  

This helped to lessen his anxiety and his concentration tends to improve.

For more information on homeschooling kids with special needs, check out this group post that I enjoyed hosting at The Curriculum Choice - Special Needs Homeschooling I also have articles on ADHD, sensory issues, 2e and more on my blog.  Just click the taps Early Years or 2e at the top of my blog.

I encourage you to follow me on Pinterest.

My friend from 7 Sisters Homeschool also offers an extensive list of quality Elementary Curriculum Resources here - Favorite Homeschool Curriculum for Elementary Grades.

 Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

Want to stay in touch?  

Copyright @ BJ's Homeschool, 2020
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  1. Very pleased to know about homeschooling working with adhd. Just a quick note to tell you that I have a passion for the topic at hand. Thanks for schooling issue.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Mini Rothschild. Do you have a blog yourself? I would love to follow it, if you have one related to adhd. I will be hosting a group post on Curriculum Choice this October, on Special Needs Homeschooling. Check it out if you are interested in more info on adhd and other special needs.


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