We've been helping families educate their children since 1994 (not, as some suppose, since the Middle Ages), directing them to educational methods and products specifically suited to the needs and strengths of both parents and children. A lot of options have come and gone, not able to appeal to enough people or simply repeating what others have already accomplished, but a few have flourished and developed.
Among our favorites are those programs relating to the humanities: history, theology, worldview and philosophy, art, and literature. And the best way we've found to teach those subjects is through "living books," like biographies, primary source documents, historical and classic novels, magazine and newspaper articles, etc., basically anything but dry and relentlessly fact-laden textbooks.
This approach is the result of several educational philosophies, notably Classical education, the Charlotte Mason approach, and unit studies. The living books method helps get kids engaged willingly in learning, shows them how knowledge relates to life, and broadens their perspective beyond that of a mere observer by placing them in the context being studied through stories and interactive assignments.
But there's also a significant downside to this approach: it takes a lot of time. And by "a lot of time" we aren't talking one or two hours a week, we're talking several hours each week and sometimes even several hours a day. That's where curriculum options that do a lot of the legwork for busy parents are extremely useful, and for some, absolutely necessary.
The seven publishers listed here have either pioneered the living books approach to history and the humanities, or have perfected the method by building on previously established foundations. Part unit study, part Classical education, part Christian worldview instruction, these courses provide lesson plans, assignments, reading lists, and activity instructions for parents who don't have unlimited planning and execution time.
That's not to say you won't have to do anything—this approach still takes a lot of work. You'll want to know what your kids are reading, you'll need to organize their schedules, and the central advantage of this kind of learning requires a lot of direct involvement: discussion. Still, these are things you'll have to do no matter what if you intend to homeschool, and these guides help streamline the process.
Most of the resources required for these programs are products we carry, and the rest we purchase whenever they become available used. We've compiled lists that reflect those found on each of the publishers' websites to make shopping easy. We also offer reviews of each of these programs to help you find the one that works best for your family, fits into your philosophy, and caters to your kids' learning styles.