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This year we tried two curricula from Pandia Press: Real Science Odyssey (Biology 2), History Odyssey, (Ancients 2). In this post, I’ll share our experience with this curriculum along with recommendations for families considering using Pandia for homeschool.
View our video podcast below. Or scroll down to read our full review and experience with Pandia Press: Real Science Odyssey (Biology 2) and History Odyssey (Ancients 2). This is not a sponsored review, and we paid full price for this curriculum.
Curriculum Printed by Family Nest Printing
Secular Homeschool Curriculum from Pandia Press
It can be hard to find non religious homeschool curriculum – especially when it comes to history and science. One company known for their dedication to bringing secular education to the homeschool community is Pandia Press. This year was our first year with Pandia for history and science.
There are a few differences that make Pandia stand out as a leader for secular homeschool curriculum. I’ll share our experience and recommendations below. First, little information about the company and what they have to offer.
Pandia Press offers science and history curriculum for elementary through high school grades:
Real Science Odyssey: Kindergarten-10th grade science courses (we used Biology 2).
History Odyssey: Grades 1-12 history courses with the classical 4 year rotation through ancient history, middle ages, and modern times with American history offered for grades 8-12 (we tried the level 2 Ancients).
History Quest: This is Pandia’s newest curriculum which features hands on history curriculum for elementary. We haven’t tried this, but from what we’ve seen, it would be worth a look if you’re interested in more hands-on and less literature-based history.
What makes Pandia Press stand out from other non religious curriculum?
Traditional (but not boring) Format
Many homeschool programs I see, especially in science and history, are purposefully approaching learning in a non-traditional way. Non traditional curriculum might be focused heavily on virtual components, a huge amount of hands-on activities, or flexible units that stand on their own instead of building progressively.
Side note: If you are looking for a non-traditional format, be sure to check our our Secular Homeschool Curriculum Guide
The curriculum that we tried from Pandia Press fits a more traditional learning and teaching approach. The style is (for science) textbook based with labs and (for history) using real books and encyclopedias and workbook based. However, when I say that this is a traditional kind of format, I don’t mean it’s boring. (A fear of many homeschool parents: their kids won’t be interested or willing to learn with a more traditional curriculum). The labs and activities are engaging and you will be working with some amazing books in history, as you read, write, process, and analyze the material.
For science, specifically, these are full-year courses that will keep your kids up with public school peers. The curriculum is very thorough and progressively builds knowledge throughout the course. This is the same type of style that you would see in a traditional classroom. However Pandia contains a good amount of labs fit for at-home learning, e.g. creating an observation space in your yard.
Who benefits from a more traditional approach?
This is something that I think a lot of homeschool families might be looking for. It’s a style that will probably be familiar to parents or kids who previously attended traditional, brick and mortar school. Additionally, a traditional format is especially suitable for families homeschooling older kids for the first time or temporarily homeschooling. Your kids complete lab reports, reading passages from a text, and answer written questions just like in a school setting. You can be comfortable knowing your kids will be able to complete the same type of work they would be in a traditional setting when/if they return to public school.
Pandia Press Curriculum: Developed with Homeschoolers in Mind
Although the format is more of a traditional style, these programs were definitely developed with homeschoolers in mind. Homeschool families have different needs than kids in a traditional classroom. You may be teaching a range of ages and/or want to choose topics or alternative teaching styles that fit their kids.
For families with multiple children
Firstly, Pandia’s curriculum can be taught to a span of ages, for kids up to 4 years apart. If you are teaching multiple kids close in age, you can choose a level appropriate for everyone to use together. This is a top priority for me when I’m searching curriculum. With three kids all 2 years apart, I look for programs that can do double duty. This year, I used the curriculum with my oldest son, but because we purchased the printable version, I can reuse the same curriculum with my younger two, together, in a few years.
Choose the topics you want to learn about
Secondly, since they can be used with multiple ages, you can choose what topic you want to learn first. This is a great benefit to homeschool families. Engaging your kids is half the battle! With Pandia, you can choose the history or science curriculum that excites your kids. When we made our curriculum choices this year, I asked my son what he would be interested in learning. He was SO excited about ancient history! And he went back and forth between biology and astronomy but ended up digging into bio this year. These kind of options give parents the flexibility to choose curriculum based on what will engage and excite their kids.
Classical, literature-based history
Finally, they offer a secular version of a literature based classical history rotation. Homeschoolers are in love (we are in love) with the 4 year history rotation. It’s really cool to be able to dig into history in this way. You get to see what happened all over the world during a specific period of time and how events relate to each other. Most other 4 year history cycles I’ve seen are dependent on explicitly religious books or books that might be categorized as religion-neutral or euro-centric. The classical rotation is a non-traditional approach to history. A style you won’t find if you’re looking into social studies curriculum made for public school use. But again, this curriculum focuses on a more traditional format focused on reading, writing, comprehension, and analysis.
Is Pandia Press the Right Fit for Your Family?
Overall, we really enjoyed our first year using Pandia Press. I am planning on continuing with this curriculum next year with Astronomy and Middle Ages, level 2. This is definitely a company that I would recommend other homeschool families check out. Panda uniquely balances the needs of homeschoolers with a traditional format sometimes hard to find innon-religious materials.
Real Science Odyssey by Pandia Press
If you’re looking for a year-long secular science curriculum and if traditional textbook and lab format is appealing to you, I would recommend looking into Real Science Odyssey. There was a lot included in this Biology 2 text. It is very thorough but not difficult to teach because all of the information you need is there in the text and teacher’s guide.
This curriculum does require some parent prep, especially when it comes to gathering materials and setting up labs. However, a lot of the book work can be done independently. How much independent work really depends on your child’s ability to complete work on their own. My son requires more help because of his special needs, however I imagine a lot of middle and high schoolers would be doing the bulk of the work on their own with some direction from you and, of course, checking over completed work.
Using RSO really gave me the sense that my son is keeping up with his age-level peers. The curriculum is thorough and on-point with the curriculum I saw back when I was teaching public school. With this curriculum, you can be comfortable that you’re hitting all the standards covered in middle or high school biology. Do consider purchasing the printed version of this curriculum. The text is huge!
History Odyssey by Pandia Press
If you are looking for a thorough, interesting classical history cycle curriculum, I would highly recommend History Odyssey. This curriculum was a great fit for my son. He loves to read and loved the selection of books recommended by this curriculum. You could certainly use these books to teach multiple kids together. If you are teaching more than one, I recommend choosing the printable version or getting multiple copies of the printed curriculum. A lot of the recommended reading lends itself to read-alouds for the whole family.
Like most literature-based curriculum, HO requires you to purchase books separately. This is important to keep in mind, especially if you’re budgeting for curriculum. We didn’t have any difficulty finding the required books. Many of them will likely be available from your local library. We purchased the full set of recommended books this year because our local libraries shut down due to the pandemic. If you plan to use the library for your book selection, you still need to purchase the main references spines. Find booklists for each level on the website.
From a parent’s standpoint, History Odyssey was very easy to teach. My son is on the younger side for the level two books, but he read most of the material independently. We discussed what he was reading and he completed his workbook pages and timeline mostly by himself. My expectation is that older kids, especially ones willing and able, won’t have difficulty working this curriculum independently. There is very little planning or prep involved – other than having the books on hand and moving on to the next page.
Curriculum Printed by Family Nest Printing
Ashley helps parents who want to homeschool find the resources they need to successfully teach their children. Ashley is a former teacher, current homeschooler, published author, and designer behind Circle Time with Miss Fox printables as well as the creator of this website, The Homeschool Resource Room.