Jump to content


What's with the ads?

Photo

Jumping into curriculum research-- where to even START?


19 replies to this topic

What's with the ads?

#1 Kjirstyn

Kjirstyn

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 136 posts

Posted 27 September 2016 - 09:11 PM

Hi, I'm new here, at least as far as posting goes.  :-)  I have two under two, so we won't be schooling for awhile, but partially I enjoy research and preparing, so I'm starting to look into things-- and partially, I think it's going to take awhile to sort through things, so I'd better get started.  :-D

 

I love SWB's book and that's where we'll be starting, but...even with that, I'm not sure quite how to pick curriculums or ideas, even amongst the ones suggested in WTM.  I haven't cross referenced with the book, but I gather that there are plenty of curriculums discussed on here that aren't in the book, so that just adds to the list I have to choose from.  :-)

 

Where does one start?  How do you choose without spending hundreds of wasted dollars on try-and-discards? 

 

Any and all advice appreciated.  :-D



#2 jgrabuskie

jgrabuskie

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 62 posts

Posted 27 September 2016 - 09:48 PM

The best way not to waste dollars is to join a homeschool group in your area and borrow different curriculum to go over. Or, if you are lucky and have a homeschool resale store near you, then you could view the curriculum there.

 

Now picking curriculum is a hot potato, inasmuch as everyone has their favorite. Look past favorites and choose based on your children's needs. Your kiddos are a little young yet but you could begin looking at preschool curriculum. 

 

Another way to narrow your choices is to develop a mission statement for what you want to accomplish in your homeschool. Such as, I would like to make God the priority in our homeschool and all curriculum will center around Him. Or, I would like to create a classical education plan that will give my children the best possible basis for their future career paths. It's what you want to do to help your children reach their goals academically, spiritually, etc.

 

Once you have your mission statement then you could look for curriculum that satisfies those goals. You can also look at guideline books, such as SWB TWTM for guidance on what subjects by year.

 

Another option besides buying premade curriculum is to make your own out of library books, free printables, flashcards, etc. Don't discard the idea of lots of kinesthetic learning through play too especially in the younger years.

 

If a group or store is not nearby, start with your library. TWTM and many Pinterest sites have oodles of books for children at all grade groups for various subjects. I first picked the library's copy of TWTM before I bought my own. I have also read books on Kindle Unlimited for homeschooling and children's education. There are many blogs of people homeschooling children of all ages too.

 

Now here is the caveat, even after all the careful planning be prepared to have to shelve part or all when life throws you a curve. If you have been on the forum long enough you will see Mom's and Dad's trying to figure out curriculum switches, modifications, and such. Homeschool is about fitting school to the individual and this is very difficult sometimes.

 

So I would educate myself on the main ways math is taught, i.e. conceptual and incremental for example. This information will be valuable when your kiddos are older and you understand a little about them and how they learn. Match their learning style to the math curriculum.

 

Right Now:

Read, read, and read to them. All kinds of books, every day. Special reading time in a big bean bag chair, special time in Mommy's bed. The point here is to make it special. Start with a preschool book list and the library. CRAWL, CRAWL, CRAWL that wires the brain for reading.

 

In a little bit

Writing, start with tracing, fingers in pudding, etc. Make sure they do LOTS of coloring because it builds skills for penmanship.

 

Good luck with your adventure. I understand the need to plan (I do too) but enjoy those little ones now because it will be here sooner than you think.

 


  • smarson likes this

#3 Garga

Garga

    Amateur Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 8970 posts

Posted 27 September 2016 - 10:33 PM

Hmmm...this will be the second time today I'm sharing this thread!  But take a look at the 3rd post in this thread:  http://forums.welltr...buy-everything/

 

Lots of good info to start to narrow down how to do this homeschool thing and what sort of curric to buy.


  • Mo.Bo likes this

#4 Rosie_0801

Rosie_0801

    Beekeeping Professor

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 27063 posts

Posted 27 September 2016 - 10:46 PM

I drew up a table with year level down one side and subjects across the top and set about filling it in. Naturally it gets updated periodically, but it was a useful exercise for me.

 

If you have brain power (which I sure didn't when I had toddlers) you might set yourself to learning a subject you think matters but never learned properly in school.



#5 SusanC

SusanC

    Hive Mind Level 4 Worker: Builder Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2628 posts

Posted 28 September 2016 - 07:39 AM

Because you are on the ball and starting early, I assume you won't want an all-in-one curriculum (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) I suggest looking at reading and math curriculum since those are what you are likely to use first.

#6 Josh Blade

Josh Blade

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 71 posts

Posted 28 September 2016 - 08:45 AM

I started out by checking out the forums here and elsewhere to see what other people were liking and was fit what I wanted (secular). After I got an idea of where I wanted to start (Right Start or Singapore Math for example), I would visit the company websites to look at samples, look for threads comparing the two (there are threads comparing just about any two curricula). 

 

The good news is there are a ton of really great curricula available these days, so I feel like it's pretty hard to go wrong. 


  • ExcitedMama likes this

#7 ExcitedMama

ExcitedMama

    Hive Mind Level 6 Worker: Scout Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 535 posts

Posted 28 September 2016 - 10:00 AM

I also think continuing to read here will help give you ideas as to what is popular which can help you find the right curriculum. Of course just because it's popular doesn't always mean it will be popular with you or your kids! Some curriculum have great online samples you can check out or google for blogs that do reviews to get a better idea of it. Try to decide what you think your style will be. After reading WTM does classical appeal to you? If so it gives you an idea where to start but if not you could look into other styles. I think Cathy Duffy's reviews are great because you can see so much on one site where she has reviews of almost everything. I started researching early too and it was confusing! It really makes a lot more sense when you've gotten an idea of the acronyms and what everything actually is. I know when I started out I didn't want anything I had to figure out or piece together myself so I wanted scripted curriculum like All About Reading. Other people know they are crafty and want to do it themselves so they could take something and make it fun. I think it's helpful to know in that sense what you want to do and go with that style. If you'd hate reading a script than try to avoid that type of program.
  • texasmom33 likes this

#8 Kjirstyn

Kjirstyn

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 136 posts

Posted 28 September 2016 - 10:14 AM

Hmmm...this will be the second time today I'm sharing this thread!  But take a look at the 3rd post in this thread:  http://forums.welltr...buy-everything/

 

Lots of good info to start to narrow down how to do this homeschool thing and what sort of curric to buy.

 

This link was SUPER helpful, thanks!



#9 Kjirstyn

Kjirstyn

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 136 posts

Posted 28 September 2016 - 10:17 AM

I also think continuing to read here will help give you ideas as to what is popular which can help you find the right curriculum. Of course just because it's popular doesn't always mean it will be popular with you or your kids! Some curriculum have great online samples you can check out or google for blogs that do reviews to get a better idea of it. Try to decide what you think your style will be. After reading WTM does classical appeal to you? If so it gives you an idea where to start but if not you could look into other styles. I think Cathy Duffy's reviews are great because you can see so much on one site where she has reviews of almost everything. I started researching early too and it was confusing! It really makes a lot more sense when you've gotten an idea of the acronyms and what everything actually is. I know when I started out I didn't want anything I had to figure out or piece together myself so I wanted scripted curriculum like All About Reading. Other people know they are crafty and want to do it themselves so they could take something and make it fun. I think it's helpful to know in that sense what you want to do and go with that style. If you'd hate reading a script than try to avoid that type of program.

 

So I know pretty well what *I* like, but I'm wondering about this concept of catering things to your kids' learning styles...is it very possible to figure this out without buying loads of stuff, trying it, and discarding?

 

And yes, I like WTM/Classical, although I've read several books on classical hsing and SWB's definitely appeals to me the most, for whatever reason. :-)



#10 Garga

Garga

    Amateur Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 8970 posts

Posted 28 September 2016 - 10:32 AM

So I know pretty well what *I* like, but I'm wondering about this concept of catering things to your kids' learning styles...is it very possible to figure this out without buying loads of stuff, trying it, and discarding?

And yes, I like WTM/Classical, although I've read several books on classical hsing and SWB's definitely appeals to me the most, for whatever reason. :-)

Just don't buy a lot at first. Really. We've pretty much all been there, done that in regards to buying ahead.

Buy only what you absolutely 100% need for the upcoming year. That's all. Don't buy extra books to read on the side, don't buy extra maps and globes. Just buy the absolute bare minimum of what your child needs NOW.

I pre-bought some high school level stuff when my kids were in 1st or 2nd. Well, here we are at the high school level and none of that stuff I bought is useful.

I did the same thing with pre-buying middle school stuff when the kids were tiny. Didn't use any of it.

I have learned you only buy what you need and you don't get bells and whistles until you're sure you'll use them. Go without the bells and whistles for a bit to see if you wish you had them or not.

Maybe someone else will be able to tell you whether you can find your child's learning style before buying, but I can't. It is trial and error at first. So, buy the minimum and then slowly add to it as your child's style unfolds.

Edited by Garga, 28 September 2016 - 10:33 AM.

  • Rach likes this

#11 Garga

Garga

    Amateur Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 8970 posts

Posted 28 September 2016 - 10:39 AM

As far as the nitty gritty of picking a curriculum?

I start to google for "homeschool kindergarten math." I also google "well trained mind kindergarten math." If you try to use the search function here on the site, it often won't work. But use google to search here by typing in welltrainedmind. Sometimes I type the words together, sometimes apart.

Start accumulating a list of what's even out there.

Then, once you have some titles (math mammon, beast academy, aops, CLE, MUS, etc.), start searching this forum for those specific topics "well trained mind maht mammon".

Also, pop over to the websites to look at samples of the curric.

If at all possible, and this is important if it's possible, look at it in real life. Go to a curriculum fair or a convention. Sometimes I'm torn between two curric's and if I can see them in person it often becomes clear which one I like better.

Then...buy. Use. If the kids cry every day, you chose wrong. Start over. If they don't cry every day but no one likes it, maybe keep going to the end or the year, or buy something new. But if no one cries and if no one hates the program, you're good to go. At least until next year when you start over again.

You need to do this for every subject. Search for history. Search for math. Search for reading. Search for writing. The list goes on and on.

OR...you could get an all-in-one. Then you'll only have to search for all the all-in-ones and compare those.

It's a lot of work, but I find it to be a lot of fun. Some people hate this part, some people love it.

Edited by Garga, 28 September 2016 - 10:40 AM.


#12 ClemsonDana

ClemsonDana

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 153 posts

Posted 29 September 2016 - 12:45 PM

I think that it can be really hard to plan this far ahead becasue you don't know what your kids will be ready for.  I started K with one child reading fluently, while another started with phonics instruction.  One of my children was obsessed with maps at an early age, so I incorporated maps and globes frequently - it turns out that frequent use of maps and timelines has changed how all of us understand history.  I've found that having a scope and sequence to outline what science and history is being taught each year is really helpful (we use core knowledge, but there are others) because it helps us to remember to learn about a lot of topics without dictating how we do it (books, crafts, videos, labs) - few topics have been done exactly the same way for my 2 kids.  You'll also want to consider the temperament of your family - do you like read-alouds, independent work, workbooks, more crafty methods like lapbooking, etc, - to help you can choose a curriculum that fits.  Will your children enjoy 'family reading time' followed by 'working on a project together time', or do they work best sitting across the room from each other, or in a quiet place?  In my family, we use a 'quick and easy' approach to grammar while choosing a more time-consuming math program, but other families choose literature and writing intensive approaches coupled with a more straightforward math curriculum.  My kids don't like things like lapbooking, which they see as too time consuming when you could just read about it, but others will be different.  This forum and other review sites can help you get a sense of the pros and cons of different materials, although unexpected things will pop up (I liked the thought of incorporating literature from sonlight into our unit studies, but the emotionally intense books caused my sensitive book-loving child to refuse to read anything - it works for lots of people, but apparently not us). 



#13 AdventuresinHomeschooling

AdventuresinHomeschooling

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 908 posts

Posted 06 November 2016 - 05:15 PM

My approach begins first with philosophy.  You already mentioned you want to use the WTM approach so that narrows down things for you.  Cathy Duffy and SWB have reviews on different curricula and how they fit this approach.  Ask yourself what are your goals for teaching your children?  This will provide a clearer framework for you to evaluate things.

 

Do you want Christian or secular or does it matter?  What is your style of teaching.  Read some articles on that to help you discover what will work best for you.  Simplehomeschool.net has some excellent articles.  As your kids get older, you will better learn their personalities too.  I have one gregarious, language oriented son who loves stories and snuggles, songs and art projects.  I have another who is engineering minded, loves workbooks and just wants to get it done.  He hates auditory lessons like FLL.  He hates singing and chants.  Some of the things that worked well for my first I know my second child would hate.  I have a four year old, and I am still learning what his style is.  So far, I think he is very hands on.  You don't need different curricula for each child in every subject, but the best programs can be tailored a bit.  Math and reading/language arts are often the ones where learning styles matter most.

 

Know there will be a few switches, but you don't have to expect to completely overhaul things every year.  With good research in the things you want in a curriculum before you even look at a program, you can look at it more critically as to how it will fit your needs.  Then, look at the layout.  Will the comic sans print or errors drive you crazy?  Are you a box checker, or do you need something more flexible?  Does the tone of what you are reading sound like nails on a chalkboard and run for the hills?  If it does not look appealing to you, don't try it just because it's the most popular thing out there.

 

Finally, realize that most good curricula can be tweaked to your needs if it fits some of your criteria.  There is no silver bullet perfect curriculum out there.  It is just a tool that you, the teacher, use to educate your children.  It doesn't have to be all inclusive or perfect.  It's what works best for you. 



#14 CPSTAnne

CPSTAnne

    Hive Mind Level 3 Worker: Honeymaking Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1118 posts

Posted 14 December 2016 - 12:13 PM

I have a sort of pattern I follow when looking into a new curriculum or searching for something to fill a particular subject. 

 

1. I search here on the forums for the general idea. Such as "third grade science". Another place I like to start is in the yearly planning threads. Around February they will pop up for every grade and everyone lists what they're planning for the next year. In these threads you will see many options for each subject. Here I just get ideas and see the names of lots of different curricula options.

 

2. When one catches my eye or if I see a name I don't recognize, I go to that publishers website to look at it. Here's where it helps to already have an idea of what you want or don't want in a curriculum. I only want secular, so often this step immediately crosses one off of my list. If you want only super hands-on, only workbook, literature-based, or any other clear expectation, you'll be able to see pretty quickly if it fits the bill. I also look at samples when they have them.

 

3. If I still like what I see after the publishers site, I come back here and do another search for that specifically. It's just as helpful to read why something didn't work for someone as it is to read that someone loves it. It also helps when you have other things you've tried before so you can compare that way. If I see someone didn't like what I'm searching for but they do like a lot of stuff I like, then there might be some reason I won't like it either. I wouldn't immediately dismiss, but I would look into why. This is also when I search out for specifics of how the curriculum works in practice. Like if it's good for a reluctant writer, bad for someone who doesn't want endless repetition, dry, colorful, teacher intensive, shallow.....

 

4. If you're able to check it out in person, that's a definite help. I usually don't have this option but I once was able to go to a curriculum fair and looked into several that I'd had my eye on. It helped me to cross a couple of things off my list and I discovered one I hadn't paid any attention to prior to seeing it there. 

 

5. If I end up with more than one curriculum choice that "passes" those steps, then I set up a table with the choices across the top and certain key points down the side then fill in the squares. I recently did this for a LA program for 4th (my points down the side were: grammar, writing, format, independent/teacher intensive, religious, cost/yr, schedule). I was completely torn between three until I did this and then one took a clear lead. It may still end up being a fail, it happens, but I feel more confident in going that direction now than I would have been just doing eenie meenie. 



#15 Kjirstyn

Kjirstyn

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 136 posts

Posted 14 December 2016 - 06:15 PM

Thank you!  All the input is super helpful.  I kinda wish there was a convention nearer us (closest is in OH- we're in MT), but maybe closer to when we need it, something will happen closer. Meanwhile...research!  :-D


  • Rach likes this

#16 mom of 2 boys

mom of 2 boys

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 159 posts

Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:37 PM

I started researching REALLY early too, and here's what happened - I researched every philosophy and curriculum that I could find until I determined which one I thought would be absolutely perfect, and which ones I really didn't care for. We finally started homeschooling, and within just THREE weeks we had to completely toss the whole program. It was horrible for us and totally boring. I ended up with the exact opposite of everything I thought would be the right fit lol. If I could go back in time and save myself some effort, I would probably still research the philosophies and curriculum, but instead of going into it with expectations, I would probably just go in with a chart of what is out there, and as many free samples as I could get my hands on. When I had to revamp everything, I printed sample pages from math mammoth, life of fred, horizons, explode the code, the bible study guide for all ages, and I learned on this forum that progressive phonics is completely free, which is actually what we ended up using after trying it out. I was able to get a really good feel for what would work and what wouldn't work by doing the sample pages. At one point I really thought that my son would end up being a hands on learner, and I was moving in that direction. It turns out that he does much better with just plain old black and white work books and that he is actually distracted and overwhelmed by manipulates. Good thing I held off on purchasing Math-U-See lol. So my advice is to try to find free/cheap ways to experiment with different methods and try to hold off on making any major purchases until you have seen some kind of evidence that it will be a good fit. 



#17 Evanthe

Evanthe

    Amateur Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5969 posts

Posted 04 January 2017 - 07:39 AM

So I know pretty well what *I* like, but I'm wondering about this concept of catering things to your kids' learning styles...is it very possible to figure this out without buying loads of stuff, trying it, and discarding?

 

 

That's probably going to happen a little, anyway.  Also, if you have several kids, you might end up with several different programs for a subject.  For example, my kids are drastically different from each other.  My oldest two are kinesthetic learners and they would literally cry when we did seat work when they were little.  When he was 6, my son actually screamed and threw himself against a wall when we were doing seat work on our first day of "homeschool" (it's a story we can all safely laugh about now).  We've tried textbooks with them and they can't retain the information they read unless we "do" something with it.  My current 3rd grader (who wants to be a dentist - Lol - who wants to be a dentist??) actually prefers textbooks and a school-at-home approach.  She even asks for a grade when she does something!  So, the curriculum on her bookshelf is very different from the curriculum on the teenagers' bookshelves.  

 

You can always resell curriculum that wasn't a good fit.  Our homeschool store will buy used curriculum.  You get store credit and go pick out something else (that's what I do).

 

I would pick out stuff that you would enjoy teaching.  If you enjoy it and are excited about it, they'll probably enjoy it, too (especially when they're little).  Mine were always a little more flexible when they were little.  By high school, they seem more set in their ways.  

 

Mine were about 5 before I could really see their personalities and make a guess at what kind of curriculum/homeschooling style they would like.  My youngest is almost 2 and I still have no idea what kind of learner he's going to be.  I'm at a crossroads with curriculum, because I have teenagers, almost-teenager, a grade-schooler and then the baby.  I would love to get rid of some of the early school stuff and thin out my bookcases, but I'm afraid to get rid of anything, because I don't know what is going to work with him. 



#18 smarson

smarson

    Hive Mind Level 3 Worker: Honeymaking Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 171 posts

Posted 06 January 2017 - 11:47 AM

It looks like you're on the right path to getting started and you've received lots of great advice!  The only thing I'd consider adding is buying or borrowing the book, "102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum" by Cathy Duffy.  It helps you identify your bent as well as helping to determine what kind of learner your children may be.  Now, at this age, in my opinion, almost all kids are "Wiggy Willies" but you may see that you have one that falls into another category.  I feel that this book is a resource that you can revisit in future years as your kids grow and change and you can readjust your curriculum choices around them.  

 

I really feel that at this point as well, really, you'll want to just pick whatever programs you like best.  There will be programs that you just don't like and you can simply weed them out early.  Also, I have learned through this process that while I chose one math program when I started out (simply because I didn't get the other programs and due to my inexperience homeschooling) that now I would and am choosing differently.  Go with what works for you and what you will use.  If you don't like it, you likely won't use it simply because you're not excited about it.  Does that make sense?  And like others have said, just buy for one year at a time.  

 

You will likely make mistakes and buy things that you end up not liking or your child ends up not liking and that's okay.  Learn from it, resell it here or on homeschoolclassifieds.com and move on.  And you don't have to finish a book you don't like - just saying. :)  

 

I'm not sure where in MT you are, but I would imagine there is a homeschool convention in Spokane, or if not, definitely in Seattle (if you're in Western MT such as Kalispell, Polson, Missoula, etc.  There may even be one in Coeur d'Alene or minimally, Boise.  It may be worth taking a weekend and heading to one of these during the summer.  

 

Enjoy your search!!  



#19 Jennifer132

Jennifer132

    Hive Mind Royal Larvae

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 567 posts

Posted 10 January 2017 - 10:43 PM

Read homeschooling blogs. Go to a homeschooling conference and look at the curriculum there. Watch how your kids learn and what they do or don't enjoy. And above all, don't feel you have to be like any one particular homeschooler, or follow one particular philosophy just because you started out thinking it was the best one for your family. If something isn't working, simply change it.
  • 2_girls_mommy likes this

#20 ElizabethB

ElizabethB

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 9767 posts

Posted 09 February 2017 - 04:31 PM

I told people only half jokingly that I wish I had practiced on other people's children for math!!  I tutored remedial reading for a decade before I taught my daughter to learn to read and it made it a lot easier.  I had also done algebra, trig, calc, etc. tutoring but that was NOT helpful for a child who needed extra help with lower level math.  It is helpful now that they are older and I'm finally getting to that level of math.

 

If you can find a child who needs help to tutor, you'll have mastered the basics of teaching phonics by practicing on other people's children, and they will be happy with the help, a win-win!!  Here is what I use with remedial children:

 

http://www.thephonic...howtotutor.html

 

When my children were young, I got free babysitting while being a volunteer tutor, a nice break for me since we did not live near family, the moms would watch my kids while I helped theirs learn to read better.

 

And, a bit more in depth, what I am currently working on, the above but with Greek and Latin word roots in beta form:

 

http://www.thephonic...lesspellsu.html

 

In retrospect, I would have tutored some 1st to 5th graders in math, too!