A Beka offers materials for pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade including supplementary materials. A Beka also offers enrollment in their own A Beka Academy using internet-streamed video instruction in conjunction with their own textbooks. DVDs of the classes are also available for those who need them.
A Beka's philosophy is conservative, Christian (Protestant), and patriotic. Their approach to education is traditional with an emphasis on mastery through drill, repetition, and memorization. Children develop conceptual understanding later. Learning takes place through direct instruction, workbook activities, drills, and oral responses. Older homeschooling students can use many of the A Beka courses for independent study. Hands-on activities are limited to some science experiments, the construction of some social studies reports, and arts and crafts.
All material is written from a Christian perspective. Although this is very evident in the science and history books, it is much less obviously so in most of the math and language arts books. Conservatism and patriotism are most evident in reading/literature and history.
A Beka books are colorful and appealing to children except for the amount of work involved in some of the worktexts. Many are paperback, making them both less expensive and less durable than hardbound books. Worktexts, used in many subjects, are definitely not reusable. A Beka also offers digital versions of many of their non-consumable textbooks on 12-month license agreement. Digital texts are enhanced with extra features such as links to animated videos and the ability to highlight and write notes.
A Beka sells teacher curriculum books, teacher editions, and answer keys, although they usually do not have all three resources for a single text. Teacher editions have the entire student text plus lesson plans and selected answers. Answer keys might be small, inexpensive booklets with only the answers or they might be copies of student worktexts with overprinted answers. There are often separate answer keys for textbooks and for Test/Quiz booklets. You will almost certainly want answer keys past first-grade level simply to save time checking student work.
Homeschool Curriculum books are written for subject areas by grade level, sometimes encompassing a number of courses such as the Homeschool Phonics/Reading/Spelling 1 Curriculum that covers all three subjects listed in the title. More often, the curriculum books cover only one course. such as the Homeschool Arithmetic 4 Curriculum Lesson Plans. Homeschool Curriculum books lay out lesson plans and scheduling suggestions, and they include record-keeping helps and teaching suggestions. The organization of teacher material is not the same for all courses, which creates some confusion. In some instances, you will want both the teacher edition and Homeschool Curriculum book. But, with only a few exceptions, Homeschool Curriculum books are not essential for home educators. A Beka’s catalog and website list the teaching/parent resources for each course so you can see what is available. A Beka also packages course books into parent kits and student kits for most subjects. These will give you everything you need, and maybe more, but they eliminate any confusion.
The math and language worktexts include instruction on new concepts within student books, but you will sometimes need the Homeschool Curriculum for additional instruction. However, the arithmetic program for the early years requires the Homeschool Curriculum books. The colorful arithmetic programs for grades one through three include demonstrations with manipulatives and application (word) problems, but they also require some one-on-one teaching. Arithmetic texts for the elementary grades constantly review concepts already learned. High school math courses should be "taught" rather than used for independent study, but you might use video instruction through A Beka Academy.
A Beka’s Language courses are among my Top Picks. You can read the review here.
The reading program is based upon phonics and does a good job. However, in my opinion, the complete age-graded reading program covered by the Homeschool Curriculum for each grade level might be too much work for some home educators. A Beka does teach reading at a very early age, so you will have to judge which level is appropriate for each child. A Beka uses a number of readers at each level through the elementary grades rather than a single series. For junior and senior high levels, students read an anthology. These anthologies, especially at high school level, include a good percentage of classic literature.
History books for first and second grades are not very "meaty" but are good as starting points to do further research and kindle an interest. Those for middle and upper elementary grades have solid content. History books are fairly good at junior/senior high levels, although A Beka's history books are quite subjective compared to most others. The perspective throughout the books is Protestant, conservative, and patriotic. One of A Beka's weaknesses, evident particularly in the history texts, is a lopsided emphasis on detail recall. It is easy enough to challenge students with only the appropriate questions, so this does not present a major problem.
Science books continually reinforce Biblical truths and an understanding of God as Creator. However, like most science texts for the early grades, the first and second-grade books lack substance. Science books for grades four through six teach health topics in separate health texts. Science books for junior and senior high are excellent. The high school Biology text is especially well-written, and it might be practical for home educators who are confident working through lab and field activities on their own. Chemistry and Physics are much more difficult to use.
Some homeschoolers complain that A Beka materials include too many quizzes, drills, and tests, and that the courses tend to focus on detailed, rote learning rather than concepts. However, parents can decide how much of the assessment resources to use, and they might even decide that a child can skip worktext exercises that are redundant. In the end, A Beka resources do a thorough job of covering each subject, and they often require little lesson preparation or presentation time.