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I have been browsing posts here for a while and noticing there are seemingly a million ways to implement a classical education at home.  Homeschooling methods in general, finding where we "fit", is where I'm at.  So I am just going to start by giving a background of my homeschool experience and see what guidance will transpire....

 

I have 3 children.  An 8 year old son, an almost 6 year old son, and an almost 4 year old daughter.  My 8 year old attending a private Christian school for Kindergarten and First grade using strictly A Beka curriculum.  My 6 year old attended K4 there also, using A Beka.  I decided to homeschool starting this year, and have been at it since August.

 

Due to being completely overwhelmed at the insane amount of curriculum, I decided to purchase A Beka 2nd grade phonics, reading, and writing for my 2nd grader.  He was used to the program and seemed to enjoy it, so I found a used curriculum and ordered the student manuals.  I bought a used version of Sing, Spell, Read, and Write for my kindergartener.(which I found out quickly was a nightmare for him and sold it!)  So we have been doing a more relaxed version for him since he is only five. I chose to use Math U See for both boys.  I was still trying to figure out how to implement the other subjects in the early stages of planning.

 

Literally two weeks before I started homeschooling, I checked out TWTM from the local library and classical just seemed to make sense to me.  Seemed to give me a bit of clarity on a little more direction.  I also was reading about Charlotte Mason and liked her approach too, but I felt like I needed more structure being a newbie and all. 

 

I had signed my boys up for an art and music class and after their first class saw a flyer on the door for a new homeschool opportunity called Classical Conversations. I have read through some posts here in the past few days and know that it's a touchy subject at times.

I am a Christian, and had been praying about direction for our year.  So I called to talk to the director of CC and prayed more, a lot more.  It sounded great, but the price was steep, so I gave it a lot of thought.  This would make my weekly plan look quite different than I had been planning on, but I felt led to try it, so we did.  I figured it would help cover the subjects I was struggling with implementing, so I signed up my 2 boys and we just completed the 24th week last week. 

 

After only getting through 50 lessons of A Beka 2nd grade, I sold it last week.  I sold most everything A Beka I had been collecting over the year.  I kept the K4 Guide to use for my 4 year old when she's ready to learn to read, but pretty much sold everything else.  I realized it just was not working for us.  My 2nd grader didn't complain, but it seemed so time consuming and repetitive for him.  He is a wise little owl, and I could see he wasn't being challenged whatsoever. I believe the instructional part of teaching phonics via A Beka is very effective, as both of my boys are great readers, but past that, I'm not sold on it for us.

We LOVE Math U See and will continue using that. 

 

So now here I am, contemplating how to proceed from here. I've sold both language arts choices we started with, and now am doing nothing.  I bought my own copy of TWTM and have been reading lots of books and websites on educational philosophies.  I grew up in a very small town, my primary education was very lacking even though I graduated 6th in my class.  I have a B.S. degree, but do not work outside the home.  I feel like homeschooling my children is where I am called to be plugged into right now.  However, I didn't have a classical education, so it's all new to me.  I have read all about why teaching Latin is so important, yet I do not understand it at all.  I feel like I want to maximize my time with my children while I am teaching them, and I will just be honest to say, I do not "get" why it's important because I have no experience with it long term.  My kids have memorized Latin declensions(I think that's what they are called) this year with CC to song, but that's the extent of my experience.  I love to read and want my children to love it also.  I have not read most of the classics because I was never required to, other than a few titles in college literature.  However, I can't wait to read them to my children, or read along with them as they get older. 

 

As far as CC goes, we have enjoyed it for the most part.  My 6 year old is very hyper and has a short attention span.  He is the opposite of his eager to learn older brother.  He'd rather be doing flips and karate kicks and socializing with those who like the same.  It has been a bit stressful to me concerning his interest in CC, because it's purely social.  He likes to play constantly and distracts from the class quite often, so I felt like I had to discipline him a lot until I realized it was doing no good.  It was driving me crazy, so the last half of the year, I spent most of my time with my daughter who didn't want to be left in the nursery without me. My eight year old loves CC.  The first half of the year with CC was great, but when a few outside life stressors came along, attending the weekly class was hard for a time.  However, the social aspect has been great for them and for me, it is a great group of families.  I have really enjoyed getting to know other homeschool moms.  My children have done good with the memory work, and we all have loved doing it at home.  The songs are a big hit with my crew.  They ask to listen to the timeline song often and my 3 year old can sing the majority of it!  Blows me away how much she has picked up on this year just listening to me and the boys review.  So she loves going as well.

I am still praying and thinking on whether or not to do CC next year.  Most of it, I have been really happy with but I still question the price.  But on the other hand, I feel that for a while, I will need some structured guidance.   I have just felt confused on what to do in addition to CC. 

 

I do not know where to go from here with language arts for both boys.  I want to keep my 6 year old's interest and foster his love of reading more.  I also want my 8 year old to feel challenged somewhat, since he has a natural love of learning that I've never had to teach him.  And to give my daughter a great start in her education as well.  But where to go from here??  I don't want to model traditional education and do "school at home." 

 

I know this has turned into a novel, but I hope in this post, my confusion on direction makes sense.  I am going back and forth on how I feel about many aspects of homeschooling.  I have 3 children with seemingly different learning styles.  I tend to get overwhelmed easily with too much on my plate.  I like simplicity but want community as well.  So I am seeking advice on implementing an educational philosophy that "fits" my family, some structure advice, and curriculum choices that maybe I'm not aware of(and that is many).  I could spend all day looking for the "perfect" scenario, and sometimes I feel that's what I am doing while missing opportunities in the present.  I want learning to be enjoyable and desirable for me and my children.  This first year has been wonderful at times and very challenging at times.  I would like to come to place of peace with direction so next year seems less chaotic.  Thank you if you took the time to read all of this!! I appreciate any advice.

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Welcome Three Little Bears! I want to respond because we seemingly have many similarities. I have three sons ages 8, 5, and 3. So I understand where you're at! My first recommendation, for what it's worth, is to take things slowly by adding in pieces you want/need to incorporate. Being overwhelmed always leads to frustration for DC and mom! Even though it always seems like we 'should' be doing more, your kids are at an age where you can cover the necessary things and count everything else as icing on the cake! Some people disagree on necessary, but for me (and many others) it's the three Rs. You have math covered with Math U See. So let's look at the other two, reading and writing. For your second grader, how about letting him choose a quality novel (not the reading snippets like A Beka) and have him read to you daily from it. You could then ask him comprehension questions, study unknown vocabulary, and have him copy some sentences from it. I would highly recommend looking at Memoria Press literature for this if you need a starting point. I used Farmer Boy for my third grader this year and it was the best thing we did all year. We already have the next one just waiting to be started! If you want a spelling curriculum, have you seen that Math U See has come out with Spelling You See? I haven't used it but it might be a good fit since you like MUS. I can't recommend true writing programs because we honestly haven't done anything structured yet. This will be our first year and we will be trying IEW. With that said though, based on many people's recommendations on this board I'm thinking of implementing Writing With Ease in a few months for my first grader.

So, on to your six year old. :) Once again, I'd say take a look at Memoria Press and see if you like what you see. I am currently using their First Start Reading and it seems to be working well, so far. I don't have a lot of first grade advice bc my older went to public first grade (which is what convinced me to homeschool through high school!) so this will be my first time with second DS. Someone on this board recommended English Language Through Literature. It looks gentle and effective. You might want to look at it. It seems to be a mix of classical and CM.

I wouldn't worry about your 'style'. Your style will be whatever works for your three children. In this stage of the game, my advice would be not to add Latin yet. There will be plenty of time to add it later if you decide to. Just fill your plate with the necessary and add in fun, interest-led activities to keep it interesting. It's a great time of year to do some nature studies for science. Take a walk with a field journal (construction paper stapled into a book) for each child and let them record/draw their observations. You can talk about flowers, bee pollination, insects, etc. After trying a science 'curriculum' this year, I discovered nothing works better at this age than just doing something outside.

For your three year old, let her do anything of interest you and the boys are doing and she will have a great start to a formal education later! If she has a desire to sit and 'do school' you could get a few things from the internet (Confessions of a Homeschooler blog has a plethora of free activities and ideas for pre-k) or get the Alphabet and the Numbers books from Memoria Press for her to use. My three year old used Handwriting without Tears pre-k book this year, when he felt like it, and it was very age appropriate while still giving him good lessons on letter formation.

I hope just a little of this helps. :) We also do CC, our first year, so I understand where you're coming from on that too. Any more questions, just ask.

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It sounds to me like you are looking for a Homeschooling community and a little hand-holding with your curriculum choices.

 

Are there any local Homeschool groups in your area? Maybe a group that meets weekly at the park, or something like that? When I go to www.localhs.com I can search for groups in my state.

 

I follow TWTM pretty closely. I originally liked the idea of just a few choices to choose from. And once I got started with my choices, I mainly just kept moving right along. So, most of my suggestions would come from the book. I like Spelling Workout (SW), First Language Lessons (FLL), Writing With Ease (WWE), Handwriting Without Tears (HWOT) and Story of the World (SOTW).

 

FLL is mostly oral for the first 2 years with many poems and such to memorize. So, you might like that. We have briefly used Shurley English this year while my kids were in a hybrid program. It has quite a few little jingles to memorize, as well.

 

I agree with the pp about just having your older son read from a novel. My dd read from Little House in second grade. We also do the 4 year history cycle, so she read a few books to go along with our history studies as well. If you like a bit of a unit study approach, you could try the individual literature units from Moving Beyond the Page (MBtP).

 

For the middle son, who sounds more like my second as well, he might need to just hold off on too much seat work for now. Maybe things that are more oral, if possible. Listening to you or big brother read while coloring to practice sitting still. :-) Is he going into 1st? We saw a lot of changes in 1st grade, in terms of ability to do seat work.

 

For the little one, I love the Confessions of a Homeschooler (COAH) stuff. She has a lot of great stuff. I want to be her when I grow up. :-) We also use the HWOT pre-k book. I also like the Explode the Code (ETC) series. The have a Get Ready for the Code set of books that is good for pre-k. If your little one likes stickers, Usbourne Books makes some cute sticker books for learning numbers, letters, etc. I also like the Fundanoodle activity books. I order them on Amazon. We have a bookshelf of lots of little manipulatives, play dough, puzzles, lacing cards, etc. for the pre-k kid. I have a little workbox station setup for her. I typically fill her up about 6 or 7 boxes in the morning with some of the things I just mentioned. She is free to complete whatever she wants. She likes to do school that way 2 or 3 days a week. I don't mind if she does something else, as long as she can entertain herself. :-)

 

On another note, if you like Charlotte Mason, but want a little more direction, have you looked at Ambleside On-line?

 

Please forgive all of the acronyms I listed. I wasn't sure if you were familiar with all of the curriculum already. :-)

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MMASC- Thank you  so much for taking the time to respond and address each child!  I am going to check out all your suggestions! 

I think in the wealth of information out there, it feels complicated to keep it simple.  I like your approach a lot, seems a lot more enjoyable and a better fit for us.  I think a good starting place for our family will be to implement the reading of quality novels first and work out from there.  We have been doing reading The Boxcar Children for our bedtime reading and they love it!  I will be checking into Memoria Press asap!

 

Did you build upon any of the CC memory work topics?  I am interested in using SOTW, but then again, I don't want to add too much too quick and feel overwhelmed.  I still struggle with digging into some of the topics, like history and timeline, as we are learning them, but it has felt like it moves so quickly from week to week that I haven't been able to do that.

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2014 Homeschooling Packet

Choosing Homeschool Approach and Curriculum with Confidence by Evaluating Your Own Education

 

Without knowing what you want your curriculum to accomplish, it will be hard to evaluate if a particular curriculum or approach will meet your needs.  It’s very helpful to articulate what you want and why, not only for choosing materials, but also in responding to criticism from others.  It can clear up potential friction between spouses who may have different ideas on the subject.

 

The tremendous amount of homeschooling materials available today can be overwhelming to new homeschoolers. Beginning with a basic idea about what you want and what you don’t want can make the process of selecting easier.

 

Since homeschoolers vary widely in their views, it’s important each couple focus first on their own motivations and goals first then they can consider the motivations and goals of others and whether or not they would like to add them to their own goals.

 

 

To help parents new to homeschooling define their goals and choose a homeschooling method, couples can try the following exercises either verbally or on paper or a combination of the two. It will likely require several conversations and lead to other discussions-that’s a good thing.

 

 

1. List everything you learned in your K-12 education that was good and useful.

 

2. List everything in your K-12 education that was not good or not useful.

 

3. List everything you wish had been included in your K-12 education that would have been good or useful.

4. Describe in as much detail as possible the ideal education in the areas of academics, relationships, and life skills. Include not only general abstract ideals (like well-rounded and rigorous for example) but also specific subjects and skills that make up the abstract ideals (like Classic Literature, Formal Logic, etc.)

 

 5. What are the main reasons you want to homeschool your children?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Homeschooling Mindsets

 

I am forced to generalize.  It should be understood that the 1-2 million homeschoolers in the US do not fit neatly into categories.  Many are represented in more than one of these mindsets to varying degrees.  All three groups are represented in today’s homeschool community.

 

First Wave Homeschoolers

 

In the early 1980s before the public schools were, on the whole, viewed as performing poorly and safety was not generally an issue, two groups of people emerged creating the modern homeschooling movement.

 

The first were largely conservative Christians who wanted what they called a “Christ Centered Education†for their children.   Their goal is to integrate family relationships, life skills, academics, and religious training in equal proportions along with what they call a “Biblical Worldview†into the education of their children.  They believe that God had a particular plan for each child’s life, and it is the job of the parent to prepare their children as individuals for that purpose.  They believe that children are designed to learn best in a family situation and that institutional educational environments are for adults. They are strong proponents of individualized learning. So, in essence, they define education as including more than just academics.

 

Meanwhile a mix of secular and religious parents, many inspired by John Holt’s writings, decided that keeping their children at home and customizing an education to suit their individual talents and interests emerged.  They believe real life and academics should be integrated to give a greater understanding of the world. They see institutional settings and modern education methods as artificial, detached, and too compartmentalized to fuel the natural love of learning in children.  They are also concerned that much of modern education is not relevant to the real world adults live in. They too have different definition of education.

 

Both groups have different motivations, but some of their educational philosophy is very similar.  Most practice some variation of tutorial style education.  It fits with their views of customizing education to the individual student.  Apprenticeships, internships, and life experiences, in conjunction with academics are often common between them.  Neither group likes the standard scope and sequence or fill in the blank workbook approach that is characteristic of most institutional settings.

 

In general they share the conviction that institutional settings are bad for children, so of course, homeschooling is the only acceptable option that meets their goals.

 

These two groups are primarily responsible for the legal battles legalizing homeschooling in each state.  They currently fight to deregulate homeschooling nationwide.

 

Second Wave Homeschoolers

 

In the early 1990s several studies on academic performance revealed that homeschoolers were outperforming children in government schools on standardized tests.  A group of parents took notice because academic performance was their number one priority.  They began homeschooling their children and enjoyed combination of a flexible lifestyle and accelerated academics that homeschooling provided.

 

The do not have convictions that institutional settings are categorically bad for children, and many can afford private/religious education, but their children are thriving in the homeschooling environment so that’s where they stay.  This group has a large mix of very religious and secular people, and everyone in between. 

 

They are primarily responsible for taking homeschooling into the mainstream.

 

 

 

 

Third Wave Homeschoolers

 

By the late 1990s and after the turn of the new millennium public schools were getting bad press specifically about negative social issues and poor academic performance.  The floodgates of homeschooling opened and a new group of parents poured into the homeschool community. 

 

They are refugees fleeing what they see as a bad situation.  They do not like or have access to charter schools or cannot afford a private/religious institutional setting, so they choose to homeschool.  Some left because they see government schools as indoctrinating their children into secularism and socialism.  Some have children that are above or below average and want something more specific to their children’s individual needs.  Others are very unhappy with the social norms in public schools.  Many are very concerned about what they see as a decrease in academic standards and performance in American public education.

 

This group has helped fuel the current debate about school choice nationwide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Different Approaches to Homeschooling
 

 

Most homeschoolers use a combination of two or more of these approaches.  Homeschooling is inherently flexible, so these approaches can be adapted and modified in any way the parent chooses. This is a bird's eye view making very broad generalizations. Popular curricula, websites, and authors detailing these approaches are listed.  Let me know of others and I will gladly add them to the lists.

 

 

 

===Traditional School Approach ===

Typically uses prepackaged curriculum with a Scope and Sequence educational philosophy.  Their daily and yearly schedules usually follow the 6 hour days of institutional settings and a 180 day school year with the summer off, but many allow their children to work at their own pace and finish early.  Grading systems like those used in traditional school settings are the norm and aged grades mimic schools. Textbooks and workbooks are their primary texts. Fill in the blank and multiple choice answers are characteristic of this crowd. Children are generally taught the same information around the same age and proceed along the same path, although some may do so faster or slower.

 

Think institutional school.

 

Abeka

BJU

Alpha Omega

Apologia

Christian Liberty Press

ACE PACEs

 

=== Unschooling Approaches A and B===

This is a broad term that applies to two distinct groups.

 

Group  A

 

Generally believes children are wired for learning, and their job as teachers is to avoid interfering with the learning process.  Their job is also to provide access to learning (books, lab equipment, etc.) guided by the child’s interests.  They do not necessarily think children need to be “taught†outside of answering a child's questions.  Real life, hands-on projects and applied learning experiences are strongly preferred to other methods of instruction. Some will allow children to take classes of interest in an institutional setting-usually college.

 

Think Thomas Edison and John Holt.

 

Christian Unschooling (website)

Learning without Schooling Magazine

John Holt’s Books

Free Child Project (lots of links and resources)

 

 

Group B

 

 These parents design every learning experience to answer the question, “When am I going to use this in real life?†by actually using almost exclusively real life, hands on, applied situations and projects.  Only the real world here.  They tend to be systematic and adult directed but are very careful to take additional time to follow a child’s interests some too.

 

No known packaged curriculum, websites, or magazines that address only this approach to homeschooling.

 

 

===Unit Study Approach ===

Typically these people integrate studies based on an era, historical event, person, character trait, technological development, or historical person.  For example, if the Depression is the core of the unit study, Math (if possible), Literature, Science (if possible), History, Economics, and Writing will hinge on different elements of the Great Depression. This gives the student a multidimensional understanding.  Each child in the family is given different assignments based on ability, but all study the same core theme.

 

 

Learning through History Magazine

Konos

Learning Adventures

Moving Beyond the Page

Trail Guides to Learning

Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett

All Through the Ages

Timetables of History

 

===Living Books Approach ===

Only the best literature and writings on each subject are used.  Think of it this way, instead of reading from a distilled over simplified textbook on the Civil War, these parents have their students read several of the books about the Civil War that an author of a textbook would read preparing to write the textbook.  Now, think of doing that for Science, History, Economics, Literature, Art, etc.  This crowd is also known for

nature studies, narration, and dictation.

Heart of Dakota 

Charlotte Mason

Karen Andreola

My Father’s World

Sonlight

Greenleaf Press

All Through the Ages

Robinson’s Curriculum

 

 

===Classical Education===

Classical education has at least three distinct camps. They can be integrated as much as the parent prefers. They all have a strong preference for first source materials and use primarily Western Classics (Also called the Western Canon, or the Common Book of the Western World.) Some can include the study of "dead" languages (Hebrew, Classical or Biblical Greek, and Latin) although some are content with good English translations of Classic works while others opt for studies of Latin and Greek Roots in English.

 

Group A

 

 Characterized by the Trivium.  The 3 stages have many terms: 

 

  1. Stage 1 Grammar (facts)
  2. Stage 2 Logic (cause and effect) All stages of formal Logic inductive, deductive, material, etc. 
  3. Stage 3 Rhetoric (application and persuasion) Formal argumentation is studied.

 

Formal Logic and Rhetoric are studied specifically. History is usually studied chronologically. Logic is studied formally, and Science is studied with experimentation, biographies, and original writings of the greatest minds. Classic works from masters throughout Western Civilization in all eras are studied. Some integrate History, Geography, Science and Literature into a more unit study approach.

 

Think Dorothy Sayers.

 

Tapestry of Grace

Classical Conversations

Memoria Press

Veritas Press

Teaching the Trivium

The Well Trained Mind

The Circe Institute

 

Group B

 

Characterized by the Mentor Model and sometimes called a "Statesmen" education. Morals, virtue, and character are emphasized above all.

 

  1. In the early years children are allowed to follow their interests and learn good moral character while developing a strong work ethic.
  2. The middle years are when the parent begins inspiring students by reading classic works by the best minds on the subjects and entering into apprenticeship situations with masters of certain skills. 
  3. The later years the students are mentored in apprenticeships in entrepreneurial situations for their future leadership roles and professional pursuits.

 

Think Thomas Jefferson.

 

A Thomas Jefferson education by DeMille

A Thomas Jefferson Companion

 

Group C

 

 Also known as the Principle Approach.  This is a method often attributed to how many of the Founders were educated.

 

  1. Research the topic by looking up ideas

 

a. first source materials (original writings, documents, autobiographies, first hand historical accounts, etc.)

 

b. look up terms in dictionary (keeping in mind dictionaries that are specific to the era)

 

c. look up terms in your sacred writings or other sources related to your beliefs (Christians-Bible)

 

  1. Reason through the material looking for the underlying principles.

 

  1. Relate the information you have found through research and reason and apply it to your life.

 

  1. Record your findings in a logical, systematic, and persuasive format.

 

Think James Madison.

 

www.principleapproach.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preschool and Early Elementary Decisions

 The way to reduce insecurity is to know what your choices are and why you chose one over the others. That means homework up front and taking an active rather than passive role but it spares you the endless shifting sands of blindly accepting recommendations, experimenting with them, and then repeating the process over and over until you finally find something that works.  It saves time, money and energy in the long run and creates a more satisfying, cohesive homeschooling experience for you, your spouse and your children.

 It also gives you something intelligent to say when people question your decision to homeschool.  If you're not able to articulate what you're doing and why you're doing it the way you are, you're going to be very insecure when someone brings up the subject. 

 Since you're beginning at the beginning, you can take a deep breath and rest easy.  These are the early elementary issues that come up.  Focus on those first THEN look at curriculum. 

I would consider people pushing academics for any child under the age 6 in the same category (assuming their children didn't beg daily to learn academics.)

 There are 2 uses of the word preschool:

 

1) the time in a child's life BEFORE a child learns reading, writing, and arithmetic-usually under the age of 6 in our culture

 

2) a time when a child under 6 is learning reading, writing and arithmetic

 

There are different schools of thought on which is best for children in general and for individual children.  I suggest any parent starting out familiarize herself with the arguments for and against both and decide for herself what she thinks is best for her family and each of her individual children.

How much academics does she want for her kids? What kind of academics? How much exploring their interest? How much creative play?  How much free play? How much group play?  How much exploring nature? How much physical play?

 

Whether you choose academic preschool or not, I strongly suggest any parent (regardless of how they plan on having their child educated) start a read aloud routine.  There are plenty of excellent resources out there for finding quality books at the library and at book sellers.  Here are good books to help you find good books:

 

1) Honey for A Child's Heart

 

2) Books the Build Character

 

3) A Thomas Jefferson Education (the book lists for different age groups in the back is excellent)

 

You can also google award winning children's books for book lists.

 

My husband and I read aloud to our kids from preschool-high school about 2 hours a day (not all in one sitting.)   Search this website [The Well Trained Mind Forums] for read aloud information, suggestions, and book recordings. It's one of the most important and neglected aspects of education in America-even among many homeschoolers. There are book recordings for parents who want someone else to help read aloud to their kids and for kids who aren't reading fluently yet but want to be read to constantly.

 

There are a couple of categories for teaching reading.

 

1) Look Say (often mislabeled whole language) which is memorizing each word by how it looks

 

2) Phonics which is memorizing the sound each letter and each letter combination so each word is sounded out enough times until a child memorizes it by sight.

 

Familiarize yourself with both schools of thought and decide for yourself which you want to do and why. The vast majority of homeschoolers choose Phonics. Different Phonics curricula vary to some degree.  The most immediate difference is whether the letter names are taught first or only the letter sounds (and the names aren't mentioned.) Ruth Beechick explains why letter sounds first are preferable (both in the short and long term) in her book A Homestart in Reading.  Most other phonics approaches choose to do the letter names first. The other huge difference is how many sight words are taught in the Phonics program.

 

Having a good solid grasp of the two approaches will make you a more savvy shopper.

 

Different children are ready to learn to read at different ages.  My oldest (17 and in college now) learned to read fluently between the ages of 4 and 5. By her 5th birthday she could read any of the books in the house like an adult.  My middle child (15 and in college now) wasn't ready to learn to read until she was almost 8.  We got out the phonics when she was 6, did 2 short 10 minute sessions per day for a couple of weeks.  Nothing stuck.  We put it away for 2-3 months and repeated the process until it did stick. By the time she was 11 she could read fluently like an adult.  My youngest (now 8) was ready when she was 6.  She is a very strong reader, but not fluent like an adult yet. She'll get there when she gets there because we're voracious readers around here.

 

When it comes to math there are different approaches out there:

 

1) Most people learned to do math in a very symbolic way (counting pictures or on their fingers and adding written out numbers.) This approach emphasizes wrote memorization more.

 

2) Others incorporate a concrete representation of what's written on the paper with what are called "manipulatives."  Read about why and how they're used and decide if it's for you or not.  There are variations in curricula that use manipulatives and some also add in drawing some sort of representation of the thought process going on (putting groups of things together, taking a larger group and making them smaller groups, etc.) First they emphasize the concrete representation until it's mastered, then they focus on memorizing math facts for speed.

 

Decide for yourself which you prefer and why then you won't have to waste your time looking into curriculum that is clearly not a good fit. You can look into the different curricula that do things the way you know you prefer. 

 

Writing has different schools of thought and styles and priorities when it comes to the mechanics of writing.  Some start earlier and some later because of their views on brain development and the development of fine motor skills.  Then you have to decide which style of handwriting you want.  What is your goal?  Beauty?  Legibility?  Speed? Easier transitions between print and cursive/italic script?

 

When it comes to writing in the sense of putting ideas on paper in understandable ways, there are two approaches:

 

1) Narration based writing.  Children listen to something read, then they put into their own spoken words what they remember.  In the early stages a parent writes down what the child said out loud and the child copies it on paper.  Later the child does all of it on their own.

 

2) Not narration based. There are lots of different approaches with different techniques and priorities.  Some are more formulated than others. 

Narration is a skill developed over time with practice.  Look into what it is and how it's done. Decide if it's something you want to do.  Decide if you want to do it exclusively or in combination other approaches. Do you want formulated writing?

 

School at home or not?

 

There are roughly to two big categories of homeschoolers:

 

1) People who mimic school with pre-packaged curriculum like institutional schools use.  All subjects are segregated, they use grade levels, they use workbooks/textbooks that require the child to fill in the blanks, write short answers to questions at the back of the chapter, answer multiple choice questions, do a test at the end of the week, etc.  They tend to have their children doing seat work several hours a day, etc. They usually follow a schedule like the local schools do during the day and throughout the year. This type of person is usually doing a grading system of percentages and letter grades.

 

2) People who don't do school at home.  They use other types of materials, they often avoid any sort of grade level mindset at all (most consider it a way to slow children down) and assign different kinds of assignments that require different levels of thinking.  They have a tendency to look for approaches and materials that are more customizable and that are more flexible in nature. They tend to prefer what they call "living" or "real" books over workbook/textbooks.  They sometimes integrate subjects together.  Sometimes they do subjects, like formal logic, not done in most packaged curriculum. They often have multiple children at different developmental levels studying the same core content at the same time, but doing different levels of study and assignments. Some focus more than others on their children's individual interests and build an education around it.

 

What do you think of the typical education in America? (Or wherever you live.) Are you interested in doing the same at home or do you want to do something different?  Do you want to do a mix of the two? If you're interested in different, what kinds of different do you want and what kinds don't you want?

 

General Questions

 

What are your priorities for your children's education?  What are your goals for them by the time they're done with High School?  How structured do you want to be?  How hands on?  How much flexibility do you want built in?  How much of your child's interests do you want to include? How much of their childhood do want them sitting in a seat?  How much in the the field? What does your spouse say about these things?

 

Having a general idea about these kinds of things makes choosing what to buy and what to do much easier to decide. It also helps you ask better questions when looking into your options.

 

 

 

 

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Tmhearn- Thank you also!  I am learning the acronyms and have a page open to help when I don't know what something is! Thanks for expanding on what you were sharing! 

My 5 year old will be 6 in May and we will attempt to start a 1st grade style with him.  I have seen that he has done better over the year, but it's kind of a day to day thing with his ability to focus some days better than others.  I have not given him much seatwork at all due to seeing how he only can focus for about 10 minutes max. lol.  He does like being read to and reading to me so I do that a lot with him.  As well as my 3 year old.

I will check out your suggestions as well! 

I really like Confessions of a Homeschooler blog also!  She rocks!  We are doing her calendar print out this year and they love doing that as well. 

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Once again, I can completely relate to what you're saying about CC. I quickly decided that I would not make my five year old memorize the majority of the things we were doing in CC, and just focus on reading. He likes the history songs and timeline song, so he easily memorized them. I had my DS8 memorize more because he needed the math and grammar memorization. I just can't seem to get on board with CC being our spine, so I see it simply as a bonus. With that said, I do worry a bit more now that my oldest will be in fourth grade that we need a bit more on history and science. To answer your question specifically, I would only dig into one or two things a week that they were interested in and would do so by checking out juvenile non-fiction library books (one was on WWII leaders, Beethoven, the Presidents, etc). It would take less than thirty minutes to read and look at one of these extra books. Concerning SOTW, we tried reading the first one to them and they just didn't seem to enjoy it. Another CC mom said he kiddos love the CDs, so we borrowed those and they did seem to like listening to him a bit more than me. I actually enjoyed listening to the reader as well! You can download a free sample I think from Peace Hill Press website. But I would get your other things going smoothly first (novels and reading).

I would certainly capitalize on your six year old enjoying reading and being read to! I would make the library my second home and not worry about anything else. :)

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That's how I've approached CC with him.  He participates in our at home review, but I don't worry if he really remembers much, as I'm sure much of it sounds like a foreign language to him.  I have him read a lot of the memory work to me also since he loves to read. 

I am learning a lot about individual learning styles, age appropriate learning, and patience in this first year!! I think being a bit of an overachiever myself, I have to remember he is wired more like his father...laid back Jack! lol  My oldest is more like myself, he just stays focused and enjoys being challenged, moves very quickly through new concepts. 

The library is one of our favorite places.  I actually was able to check out SOTW audio and books, but never really had time to get into them.  But they are there, so I will check them out again sometime before purchasing our own copy. 

 

Thank you to Mom in AZ for that wealth of information!! It will be very helpful as I sort some things out!!!  I know things can change as years go by, but a general plan and direction, doing the homework as it says, will be very beneficial and reduce some stress for me in thinking about the plan. 

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I'm late to the party, but I'd like to offer some suggestions for you, Three Little Bears.

 

1) Check out the Ambleside Online curriculum. I am currently using it with my older kids and have used it for almost 3 years (!) now. My two older kids have significant learning disabilities. It is based on classic literature but is also easily adaptable to just about any given situation. Best of all, they post full book lists, weekly lesson plan outlines, and curriculum suggestions online, free of charge. AO meshes pretty well Story Of The World as well. Definitely worth checking out, even if you only use it for the reading lists.

 

2) Read Charlotte Mason's works. They are available on Ambleside Online's website. They can also be checked out of the library. Look for the separate volumes and not the 2,000+ epic rip off of the AO's volunteer effort. "A Charlotte Mason Companion" is a good addition to CM reading if you haven't read it already. It is basically an overview of CM methodology.

 

3) Start with the 3 R's + Bible your first year. Your students are young enough to do this sort of bare bones curriculum without serious repercussions, imo.

 

4) If you go with AO, reading will consist of daily selections from a read aloud book, some read aloud time with your older kids, some silent reading time for the oldest, phonics for everybody who needs it, and possibly some narrations if and when appropriate.

 

5) Arithmetic. The type of curriculum used should be doable for you and your students and shouldn't take massive amounts of time out of your day. Ideally, it should be something that everyone enjoys. "Family Math" might be something worth looking at if you are wanting to supplement MUS with family oriented activities. We do a lot of drills in our school. Personally, I think that drills should be a part of the early years but not all teachers/parents feel that way. "Math Minutes" never hurt anybody, imo, and my older ones like competing against each other.

 

6) Writing. You will have make some decisions here. There are lots of curriculum out there and unfortunately, this is not a one-size-fits-all area. Spelling, grammar, mechanics, narrations, copywork, dictation, penmanship...all fall under the writing umbrella. I decided not to do a formal writing curriculum with mine this year. I am waiting at least another year before starting anything formal with mine. We do us Handwriting Without Tears for penmanship. I have my kids do copywork as well. I have a big binder where I keep pages and pages of quotes and scriptures. The pages are in protectors and my kids use dry erase markers to copy the quotes below the originals. They also keep composition books where they write the final versions of the quotes. (We usually do 1 quote per week, copied once per day.) We use Steck-Vaughn for our spelling. There are tons of spelling books out there; look for one that speaks to you, lol.

 

7) Anything beyond the 3 R's is extra, imo. At least for the first year or so. Take some time to do some informal "fun" stuff like impromptu nature walks, trips to the library, watching nature documentaries or inspirational films together, reading aloud, or doing art projects and simple science experiments. Have your older ones keep journals where they write down questions and observations throughout the day. Have journal time every so often and look up the information together, have informal discussions.

 

8) Don't forget about life skills. Chores, meals, time outs, social niceties, crafts, all need to be taught and learned. Or at least accomplished. Cleaning rooms, putting away laundry, making lunch, answering phones, learning how to safely do things like cross the street, use a knife and handle things like paint, glue and expensive technology...those sorts of things have a place in the homeschool, imo. Common sense and mundane, yes, but still essential. These things really add up as kids get older. Best to start when they are young. ;)

 

That is all for now. Hope this proves to be helpful to you.

 

 

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I'm late to the party, but I'd like to offer some suggestions for you, Three Little Bears.

 

1) Check out the Ambleside Online curriculum. I am currently using it with my older kids and have used it for almost 3 years (!) now. My two older kids have significant learning disabilities. It is based on classic literature but is also easily adaptable to just about any given situation. Best of all, they post full book lists, weekly lesson plan outlines, and curriculum suggestions online, free of charge. AO meshes pretty well Story Of The World as well. Definitely worth checking out, even if you only use it for the reading lists.

 

2) Read Charlotte Mason's works. They are available on Ambleside Online's website. They can also be checked out of the library. Look for the separate volumes and not the 2,000+ epic rip off of the AO's volunteer effort. "A Charlotte Mason Companion" is a good addition to CM reading if you haven't read it already. It is basically an overview of CM methodology.

 

3) Start with the 3 R's + Bible your first year. Your students are young enough to do this sort of bare bones curriculum without serious repercussions, imo.

 

4) If you go with AO, reading will consist of daily selections from a read aloud book, some read aloud time with your older kids, some silent reading time for the oldest, phonics for everybody who needs it, and possibly some narrations if and when appropriate.

 

5) Arithmetic. The type of curriculum used should be doable for you and your students and shouldn't take massive amounts of time out of your day. Ideally, it should be something that everyone enjoys. "Family Math" might be something worth looking at if you are wanting to supplement MUS with family oriented activities. We do a lot of drills in our school. Personally, I think that drills should be a part of the early years but not all teachers/parents feel that way. "Math Minutes" never hurt anybody, imo, and my older ones like competing against each other.

 

6) Writing. You will have make some decisions here. There are lots of curriculum out there and unfortunately, this is not a one-size-fits-all area. Spelling, grammar, mechanics, narrations, copywork, dictation, penmanship...all fall under the writing umbrella. I decided not to do a formal writing curriculum with mine this year. I am waiting at least another year before starting anything formal with mine. We do us Handwriting Without Tears for penmanship. I have my kids do copywork as well. I have a big binder where I keep pages and pages of quotes and scriptures. The pages are in protectors and my kids use dry erase markers to copy the quotes below the originals. They also keep composition books where they write the final versions of the quotes. (We usually do 1 quote per week, copied once per day.) We use Steck-Vaughn for our spelling. There are tons of spelling books out there; look for one that speaks to you, lol.

 

7) Anything beyond the 3 R's is extra, imo. At least for the first year or so. Take some time to do some informal "fun" stuff like impromptu nature walks, trips to the library, watching nature documentaries or inspirational films together, reading aloud, or doing art projects and simple science experiments. Have your older ones keep journals where they write down questions and observations throughout the day. Have journal time every so often and look up the information together, have informal discussions.

 

8) Don't forget about life skills. Chores, meals, time outs, social niceties, crafts, all need to be taught and learned. Or at least accomplished. Cleaning rooms, putting away laundry, making lunch, answering phones, learning how to safely do things like cross the street, use a knife and handle things like paint, glue and expensive technology...those sorts of things have a place in the homeschool, imo. Common sense and mundane, yes, but still essential. These things really add up as kids get older. Best to start when they are young. ;)

 

That is all for now. Hope this proves to be helpful to you.

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