Monday, January 28, 2013

Part 3 - Alpha Omega Publications

Before I began homeschooling, I had heard of AOP, but was not familiar with them. When I first saw them at a homeschool convention, I actually was confused by their different brands, but as I began to investigate, I became a quick fan!

Unlike many other "one size fits all" textbook publishers, AOP has several brands of materials, which allows users to customize their homeschooler's education in a way that works best. (Yep, you can see already why I like AOP.) Like A Beka and Bob Jones, they offer an accredited homeschool program. They even offer student IDs and "school" merchandise. How fun! You can get more info on the Academy here. AO Academy info Their brand options include Monarch, which is online, Switched-On Schoolhouse, which is on CD-Rom, Lifepac, mastery based and  independent work-styled (I think of it as ACE with instruction!), Weaver, which is unit based so the whole family can study together, and Horizons, which uses a short-spiral method and workbooks. Check them all out at

As you may have gleaned from my blog, my youngest son Will is gifted in mathematics. He is the reason we are homeschooling, because I did not feel the traditional classroom would be a good fit for him. He is also very active and a hands-on learner, so I searched for awhile to find a math curriculum that would be a good fit for him. I chose Horizons and love it so much that his brother will do it next year as well. Some things I love about the Horizons math program:

  • The short spiral - I think I actually prefer spiral-based learning over mastery, although I haven't really done as much research on the matter as I'd like (Yes, I love to research.) There is a simple explanation in this article. Choosing a Math Curriculum (be careful of the ads on this page). Spiral learning provides a wide variety of topics, which I think is good for younger children. Plus there is a lot of review. Horizons has a very definite approach to their spiral - you can see it all planned out in the teacher edition. 
  • The colorful variety of activities on each page - Again, Will is completing several different activities on each page, which helps keep his interest. The pages are very colorful, and they do not include any explanation, just practice. The teacher's edition provides the instruction and review activities, and is quite thorough, even down to goals & objectives for each lesson. You can see a sample of the student book here. Math grade 1 student page sample (Yes, my K4 student is in first grade math. See why we're homeschooling?
  • The placement test - AOP offers a variety of placement tests for their curriculum, which really helps parents determine the best grade level for their child. This is great for gifted or slow learners, as well as students transferring from another style curriculum. See the options here. Placement tests
  • The emphasis on manipulatives - Will is a hands-on learner and needs to "see" how things work. Once  he gets it, he's got it. For example place value - seeing the group of 10 straws helped him visualize what "groups of 10" meant. I had to show him ONE TIME, but he has to physically see or handle it for it to stick. I will add here that I recommend getting manipulatives as you go along, rather than all up front. I used a list of suggested items to purchase a bunch of stuff when I bought the curriculum, but haven't used most of it yet, and some lessons he did not need the manipulative at all. Here is a great place to pick up the manipulatives though.
We have had such success with the Math program, that I have also ordered their Phonics & Reading and Health programs for Kindergarten next year. 

For Will, I have also been using Lifepac's K Language Arts this year, which covers phonics, reading, some basic grammar topics, writing, and skills like color and shape identification. The material is not introduced as quickly as in the Horizons curriculum, which is why I chose Lifepac for K4 and will do the Horizons in K (Horizons does offer what looks to be a really excellent preschool curriculum.) 

The K Language Arts seems different than the older grades' materials, but I like the idea of Lifepac - independent work + an instructor. As stated in their Scope & Sequence Lifepac S&S their curriculum is "not a self-study course." When I think of self-study curriculum, I think of Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). Some aspects are similar, like the self-tests and tests for each unit, but there is teacher instruction as well, albeit more limited than say Horizons.  Ten units comprise a year, but the units can be purchased separately or mixed & matched between grade levels. Lots of options with Lifepac.

Will's K Language Arts course is a little bit different though; obviously a non-reader cannot do much independent work. His is comprised of 2 workbooks and a teacher's guide. Each lesson has the main teaching suggestions as well as a lengthy list of extended activities. I LOVE this, because it allows me to vary the way I present the material. There are some activities I do with each lesson, others I do from time to time. There are activities for different ability levels as well. One I have tried several times, and Will is just not ready for that, so we'll try again in a few weeks (have to keep reminding myself he is in K4 and doing mostly advanced work, but isn't advanced in some areas). 

As a homeschooling mom of two (so far) I recognize that the time will come that they will need to do more independent work that what they are doing now. In light of that, I am working towards Alex being able to work independently. We are going to try Lifepac's 3rd grade History & Geography next year, so I will be able to comment on the regular Lifepacs then. But I like what I see so far in the sample material, as well as the one I ordered used from used book powerhouse ABE Books.ABE I am not familiar with AOP's other brands, but please comment if you have used them. There is plenty of information on the AOP website, such as a comparison of all the brands and samples of teacher editions and student workbooks. Thanks for reading! Part 4 will be coming soon, featuring the "A Reason For" curriculum from The Concerned Group. 


  1. Today 1/28 only is AOP's 20% off sale (they will do another one day sale in July). Use code NTBIG 20 for the discount and also receive free shipping for orders over $50. is doing their one day AOP sale tomorrow 1/29, I believe.

  2. Great summary of what's available for your child through AOP. We truly do have a variety of curriculum options that help you tailor your child's education specifically for him. As the Director of the Academy, I specifically encourage parents who may need help teaching one or more subjects to consider part or full time enrollment in the academy, where you can make use of our qualified teachers to assist you in educating your child. Elisabeth, I'm so glad you found AOP and that Horizons is working out so well for you. (I'm also a huge fan of the Horizons curriculum.)