Homeschool Complete began with their Kindergarten Complete program and is gradually expanding to other grade levels. As of Spring 2016, First Grade Complete Semester One and Reading Complete Levels A, B, and C have been added, with First Grade Semester Two coming soon. I have only reviewed Kindergarten Complete thus far.
Kindergarten Complete is a comprehensive, traditional kindergarten program designed especially for Christian homeschoolers. The program is divided into two semesters. Each semester has its own three-ring binder teacher’s manual that includes one set of student workbook pages.
While this is a complete program, you will need to obtain a number of children’s storybooks to use with every unit. Book lists are divided into the required books and extras that all relate to the themes used for each unit. The program is presented in multi-lesson units, most of which take four days to present. The program schedules lessons for four days per week to allow a flexible fifth day. Many themes follow the calendar with units on Fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter, Martin Luther King Jr., Valentine’s Day, George Washington, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring, Easter, and Summer. Interspersed are units on topics such as Me and My Family, Farm Animals, Shapes and Patterning, Fire Safety, Health and Nutrition, Behavior, Creation, Transportation, Ducks, Plants, Solar System, and Senses.
The program covers a broad range of knowledge and skills under language arts, math, social studies, science, physical development and fitness, fine arts, character development, and Bible. While this is a Christian program with a Bible verse for each unit, Bible stories and other explicitly Christian content appear sporadically. For example, the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho is used in the unit on Shapes and Patterns, Lesson 17. (In case you are wondering about the connection, the comprehension questions include two on patterns: “What pattern did the Israelites follow when they walked?” and “How did their pattern change on the seventh day?”) Similarly, Bible stories show up from time to time within other units. Units on Christmas, Easter, and Creation are thoroughly based on Christian content.
Kindergarten Complete is a multi-sensory program. Lessons seem very much like those children would experience in a Christian kindergarten classroom setting, including hands on activities. Teacher’s manuals suggest two and a half to three hours of class time per day. At first, lesson plans include suggested dialogue for the parent to show how lessons should be presented. While all lessons are explained step by step, scripting is only included when it might be helpful.
Lessons begin with “Calendar Time.” While Calendar Time includes reading and working with the calendar each day, it also includes recitation of pledges (to the American flag, Christian flag, and the Bible), counting, singing a song or reciting a poem or rhyme, and reading a story of the child’s choosing.
Math is taught with interactive activities that often include flashcards. You can create your own flashcards from templates in the teacher’s manual, or you can purchase sets of flashcards. Occasionally, some sort of math manipulative might be used (e.g., blocks, crackers, marbles). Math lessons are often reinforced with a worksheet.
For language arts you will read the storybook for the lesson or read a poem or story from the teacher’s manual. A series of questions for the read-aloud is posed in the teacher’s manuals. You might also work on letters and their sounds, sight words, handwriting, narration, or other activities. Occasionally, students might illustrate a story. Note that while the program teaches phonics, it does not present an intensive phonics approach, but rather a mixture of sight words and phonics.
Art, music, and physical education rotate through the lesson plans with games and activities. Each daily lesson plan concludes with one or two suggested “Enrichment” activities. These might be stories, games, crafts, experiments, or practical life activities. For example, Lesson 41 suggests creating a Pilgrim village out of blocks Legos, paper, or other materials, and allowing the child to act out the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians. Lesson 50 suggests practicing tying shoes and stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree.
Attractively designed worksheets (from either the teacher’s manual or the student workbook) are typical of what you find in other workbooks with some requiring writing or coloring and others to be cut and pasted.
The entire program is well laid out in a professional fashion. Lesson plans are easy to follow, with pertinent student worksheets inserted where they will be used. You are given permission to copy the worksheets and other consumable pages for an additional student in your family, or you can purchase a stand-alone student workbook if you don’t want to photocopy pages. Note that there are two separate loose-leaf student workbooks, one for each semester.
Lesson preparation and presentation time is required. You’ll need to gather storybooks and activity supplies in advance. Lists of required books and resources are included with each lesson as well as in a comprehensive list in the appendix. Bible verses for each unit are on the introductory page for each unit as well as in a comprehensive list in the appendix. Activity resources that are needed include basic school and art supplies as well as items such as clothespins, duct tape, yarn, scrap material, Goldfish crackers, cooking ingredients (for a few recipes), pebbles, sand, and plastic animals. You will want to start gathering these items in advance since there are quite a few of them.
Kindergarten Complete was written by Debra Arbuthnot, a credentialed teacher with many years of classroom teaching experience as well homeschooling experience. Kindergarten Complete takes advantage of homeschoolers’ ability to interact closely with their children with lots of discussion plus hands-on activities. Yet it retains much of the structure of a classroom experience. Most programs of this sort have multiple teacher's guides and student books, and it can be very cumbersome to juggle all of the resources. Kindergarten Complete makes it easy with just one binder at a time for all of your subject areas, and no flipping back and forth through the binder.