See the complete review in 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.
NOTE: Complete Curriculum has discontinued their Complete Curriculum membership option. They now offer texts only for immediate download.
Complete Curriculum has got to be one of the most inexpensive online curriculum providers available. They have digital-text courses for math, language arts, science, and social studies for preK through twelfth grade, although some of their courses for grades 11 and 12 are not yet available.
Course content is aligned with the national standards. The outlook is secular throughout all courses. Consequently, hot topics such as evolution, the age of the earth, and others (found especially in science and history texts) are treated from a secular perspective. While students do learn vocabulary, concepts, and skills, courses stress critical thinking rather than rote learning.
Most courses have 180 lessons for the school year. (Some science and social studies courses have fewer.) The publisher says that lessons for each subject should take one to one and a half hours a day to complete, but many lessons I reviewed would not take that much time. The customer who alerted me to this curriculum told me that for kindergarten and first grade they usually completed all four subjects within about one and a half hours per day.
Lessons are laid out in a consistent fashion in the online teacher's manuals for every subject. For each lesson, the teacher's manual lists:
- The lesson objective
- Key vocabulary words—might be used for spelling and /or vocabulary or to help students comprehend what they will read
- Materials needed
- Literary selections when appropriate—some of which are printed directly in the student manual
- An "engaging" question which the teacher uses to begin the lesson
- Supplemental engagement activities that appear for some lessons
- Extensions that appear for some lessons—these might be used with accelerated or lagging students
- Technology resources—for some lessons, suggestions are given for utilizing technology, especially websites that contribute to the lesson
- Additional Notes to the Teacher—outline or summarize the lesson
- Advance Preparation or Homework Required—gives the teacher a heads up when extra time will be required.
- Lesson Wrap-Ups—only in K-2 Math
For each course there is a student manual as well as a teacher's manual. These are downloaded as PDF files from the publisher's website. You will certainly want to print out some or all of the student manual pages since many serve as worksheets. Lessons are presented in full color with plenty of illustrations....The teacher's manual for each course includes the student manual pages with answers for all worksheets, exercises, and assessments.
You can access these textbooks at www.k12digitaltexts.com where you will download files. Choose the Ultimate K-12 Digital Text Package that includes 98 textbooks covering grades K-12 for only $144.44 or select a grade level package that contains eight digital books—textbooks for language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies plus teacher editions of each of the four texts—for only $37.95. You may install texts on a personal computing device or a server for one classroom. Students can still access content from a computer or tablet without printing out the texts, but online access is not required after downloading unless a lesson directs a student to do online research. This option gives you total flexibility. (Note that these prices are even lower than prices that applied at the time I printed 102 Top Picks. It was a bargain before, but now it's even better!)
Some additional resources are needed from time to time....Science lessons require resources for experiments and activities. Math might require pennies or other manipulatives in the early grades.
Even though students can enter some answers into the computer, this is not a computer-based curriculum like Switched on Schoolhouse where students type in all responses which are then graded by the software. Some worksheets will need to be printed out in advance.
Students create notebooks for some subjects such as spelling and writing as well as a Grammar Ring and a Vocabulary Ring where they collect rules and definitions they have written on index cards. High school students learn note taking skills and apply them across the curriculum. Students learn to integrate knowledge and skills through projects such as creating brochures, PowerPoint™ presentations, and research reports.
Language arts courses integrate all age-appropriate language arts skills—reading, literature, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, handwriting, and composition. It is expected that children have some familiarity with the alphabet prior to kindergarten; they should recognize at least some of the letters. Kindergarten teaches sounds and letters, beginning reading, writing, spelling, and printing along with other facets of language arts typically taught in kindergarten. Reading instruction is phonics-based, but it includes the introduction of many sight words....Language arts lessons often revolve around the literary selections. Students begin to create a journal in first grade. They continue to learn all forms of composition, applying those skills within language arts and across the curriculum.
Math follows a standard scope and sequence at each grade level. Simple manipulatives and visual illustrations are used to teach concepts in the early grades....Cumulative reviews help students retain skills learned in previous lessons. For high school, Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry are available, and other courses are still in the works.
The science program is inquiry-based. Lessons begin by raising questions while students do observations and experiments. Students record and analyze data according to the scientific method even in kindergarten, albeit at a very simple level....
Social studies courses cover history, geography, civics/government, and economics, with emphasis varying from grade to grade. All of these texts reflect a typical secular outlook as you might find in other texts used in government schools....Throughout the social studies courses there are frequently challenging questions to consider, and students are often directed to read or research topics and present contrasting views. This is especially true for junior and senior high courses.
The quality of the writing in the social studies courses varies from text to text. Some texts seem to be collections of information while others have more of a story-telling feel—probably the result of different authors.
Complete Curriculum does not oversee student work or issue diplomas or report cards. However, for families looking for an inexpensive, secular curriculum, this is a real bargain.