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tmstranger
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I am not yet homeschooling, but will be in the fall.  My boys are going into 2nd and 5th grades. 

 

I think the hardest part of planning our homeschool year has been committing to a curriculum.  I read and read about the different choices and just when I think I've made a decision, I read something else that changes my whole plan!

 

I am trying not to spend a ton of money, but I do want to make sure I'm covering everything and that my kids will "enjoy" homeschooling. 

 

I have read TWTM and like most of her suggestions, but because my kids have been in ps for a few years, they don't have the full classical start and I'm trying to cover any gaps.  I also know that each kid is unique and my boys are sooooo very different! 

 

I have gone back and forth with choosing a "full-grade level package" vs. creating my own experience.  I think I've decided to put together my own program so we can do history and science together...but I just can't make a final decision on any one area of school work!

 

How do you get past this? I really want to make choices in programs that I can stick with for a while and not cause more gaps in their education.  Even if I asked all of you "which math (or LA, or science, etc.) do you like the most?" you would all have different suggestions! :) I know I need to just pick one and give it a go, but I'm really struggling with that. 

 

(thanks for listening to the crazy ramblings of an overwhelmed mom!)

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It's a good idea to keep them more or less on the same track with science and history.

 

But my advice for starting out....don't try to commit to a full curriculum for every subject just yet.

 

Just focus on your basics...math and lang arts. Start slow, work on it, add something else. 

 

Math is the easy one, because honestly, whatever you choose is going to teach them math. Homeschooling math IMHO is more about self-educating yourself in how to teach it, the various methodologies etc. And if what you choose isn't to your liking, it's easy to supplement and switch. Try not to fall into the trap of thinking one way to teach math is the best way. 

 

Since you have a 5th grader you may want to think ahead into pre algebra and high school math and find a program that will carry you through.

 

Language arts---focus on a spelling program and a writing program. You can just read aloud and discuss various books. You don't need a ton of extra stuff for lang arts at first. Add more as you all gain confidence.

 

You can just read and do some fun experiments for history and science. Over time as you get into a routine, you can start to add more subjects, more enrichment, and gain more confidence to follow the rabbit trails.

 

I'm purposely NOT telling you what I like. What I like and use has changed over the years. You may find that some curricula or method serves you well, but as your kids grow and change, it no longer applies. Don't be surprised if you find yourself loving something and another year finding it sort of useless to your situation.

 

It's hard, but try not to second guess yourself too often. There's a TON of ways to homeschool and a TON of things to use. Make yourself feel better by realizing that there's no way any one could even come close to attempting to use all or even part of everything available out there. There's just so much. You really have to put blinders on and just ignore quite a lot.

 

The best thing to do is to think of your curriculum as your plan and your philosophy, and to look at the books as your tools to implement your curriculum. 

 

So first think about what you want to get out of homeschooling, what values as a family are important to you, what subjects or areas of study do you place a big importance on, what interests do you all as a family have, what are your typical routines, what are your personalities, and so on.

 

Then you can try to find something that will fit around you as an individual homeschooling family. 

 

And as some wise poster on the forum said, "the best curriculum is the one that gets done." It's true. Don't give up too early, or switch too often. Give anything you decide on a fighting chance. But don't feel bad if even after that fighting chance you still don't like it (even if someone here LOVES it). 

 

And don't be afraid to change things. If you find a math program you like, but you don't like certain assignments, or manipulatives, or instructions. Don't worry about putting them in your own words, or using a different manipulative, or changing a lesson schedule etc. Same with other subjects. Don't want to read that book recommended, find another one. 

 

Think an idea you had would be better than what was in the book...try it. 

 

HTH

 

 

 

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There's no getting around it. Just pick one. Only buy one level, buy it used, and give it a try. There is a good chance you won't get it right on the first try no matter how much research and thought you put into it before you press "buy". You can always sell it for what you bought it for (hopefully).

And keep it really simple this year.

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Don't worry about *gaps*. If you come upon something that needs more help just slow down and teach it. You'll be fine. I think it's hard to remember this isn't college and you don't have to know everything about a subject there is to know in 5th grade. I would start with The Story of the World Ancients and the Activity Guide. You will learn a lot and both children can have fun learning together. The older one will do more writing and reading. You will sort out what all works for your family over the year. Don't forget field trips and projects. :D A curriculum doesn't have to be perfect to work. Often half way through the year you might be tired of using something but that does't mean it isn't working. It means it's winter. haha Keep on going. You won't fail them, it's 2nd and 5th grade. 

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It's a good idea to keep them more or less on the same track with science and history.

 

But my advice for starting out....don't try to commit to a full curriculum for every subject just yet.

 

Just focus on your basics...math and lang arts. Start slow, work on it, add something else. 

 

Math is the easy one, because honestly, whatever you choose is going to teach them math. Homeschooling math IMHO is more about self-educating yourself in how to teach it, the various methodologies etc. And if what you choose isn't to your liking, it's easy to supplement and switch. Try not to fall into the trap of thinking one way to teach math is the best way. 

 

Since you have a 5th grader you may want to think ahead into pre algebra and high school math and find a program that will carry you through.

 

Language arts---focus on a spelling program and a writing program. You can just read aloud and discuss various books. You don't need a ton of extra stuff for lang arts at first. Add more as you all gain confidence.

 

You can just read and do some fun experiments for history and science. Over time as you get into a routine, you can start to add more subjects, more enrichment, and gain more confidence to follow the rabbit trails.

 

I'm purposely NOT telling you what I like. What I like and use has changed over the years. You may find that some curricula or method serves you well, but as your kids grow and change, it no longer applies. Don't be surprised if you find yourself loving something and another year finding it sort of useless to your situation.

 

It's hard, but try not to second guess yourself too often. There's a TON of ways to homeschool and a TON of things to use. Make yourself feel better by realizing that there's no way any one could even come close to attempting to use all or even part of everything available out there. There's just so much. You really have to put blinders on and just ignore quite a lot.

 

The best thing to do is to think of your curriculum as your plan and your philosophy, and to look at the books as your tools to implement your curriculum. 

 

So first think about what you want to get out of homeschooling, what values as a family are important to you, what subjects or areas of study do you place a big importance on, what interests do you all as a family have, what are your typical routines, what are your personalities, and so on.

 

Then you can try to find something that will fit around you as an individual homeschooling family. 

 

And as some wise poster on the forum said, "the best curriculum is the one that gets done." It's true. Don't give up too early, or switch too often. Give anything you decide on a fighting chance. But don't feel bad if even after that fighting chance you still don't like it (even if someone here LOVES it). 

 

And don't be afraid to change things. If you find a math program you like, but you don't like certain assignments, or manipulatives, or instructions. Don't worry about putting them in your own words, or using a different manipulative, or changing a lesson schedule etc. Same with other subjects. Don't want to read that book recommended, find another one. 

 

Think an idea you had would be better than what was in the book...try it. 

 

HTH

 

:iagree:

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thank you all...I appreciate the advise.  I didn't realize it would be so hard to pick!

 

I'm going to a local curriculum fair on Friday, so I'm hoping that getting my hands on some books will make my decision a little easier. 

 

And you're right...this is 2nd and 5th grade!!  I can't do worse than the ps did this year!  :)

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It's perfectly normal to need to change things once you start. Right now, you haven't homeschooled your children yet. You don't know what you will enjoy teaching or what methods your children will learn best from. It really is trial and error.

 

Later on, you may find that you settle into what you like and stick with that long term. Or you may be like me and get bored easily and just need a change now and then. I've changed all subjects at one time or another, and my kids continued to learn well. I've even changed math (gasp!) without any problems. I try to teach the children, not the curriculum. Sometimes a change is needed. Sometimes you need to try a few things and see what you like best. Start with the cheaper (or free) options and/or buy used, so you can sell and buy something else if you need to. And if money is really tight, come here and ask for advice on making what you have work. That's often doable. Don't pick the most expensive thing just because everyone raves about it. Read pro and con threads and think seriously about the type of person you are and the type of person your kids are. For example, a popular math program with loads of manipulatives wasn't a good fit for my family. It gets rave reviews from most users, but my oldest son didn't need or want manipulatives, and I don't really care for them either (I use them with my young children as needed, but I never needed them myself in order to understand the concepts and mental math taught by that curriculum). I tried the curriculum with a child that does do well with manipulatives, but it ended up a bad for for him (turns out he does best with manipulatives combined with pictorial), and it drove me nuts to have to deal with a gazillion different manipulatives each day. So reading reviews, if your family really enjoys doing math mostly with manipulatives, and you like using different ones, you could ignore my review - we're different types of people. Or if you noticed that you and your family have similar personalities and don't think you'd like using manipulatives, my review would be helpful to you too steer away from that program, even though plenty of people love it. We're all different, so picking a curriculum is largely based on the type of person you are, and you may not know that type until you start teaching.

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One of the things I have learned is sometimes I think I don't like an entire curriculum, because I started too high in the curriculum. Some curricula don't have a lot of review. It's really important to start low in these curricula, even if it means using books with numbers on the cover far below the child's grade level.

 

Since you are not starting with the boys yet, if you think you might like something you might want to use for years, get a level more at YOUR self-education level and start using it yourself. See if YOU like it, and get a feeling for how rigorous the curriculum is, and imagine what a day would be like teaching the boys with it.

 

Also know that when you make one change, it has a ripple effect across the entire curriculum. For example, when many people use Saxon, they find it can be time consuming and tiring (ESPECIALLY when the child is placed too high) and they need to ease up in other areas–for example just letting the student watch Bill Nye for science.

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Here's what I give new homeschoolers or homeschoolers considering making a change.  Consider it homeschooling orientation.

 

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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Full grade level packages are a great start.  But it really depends on your personality. If you are creative and confident, then you will probably not really love having a full grade level package.  Most of them will need supplementing depending on your kids' needs.  Keep that in mind.

 

One of the things that makes using a full grade level package difficult, is that you can't speed up or slow down in individual subjects.

 

I think the best thing to do, is to buy what makes sense to you, and what excites you.  Next year you can change or improve as necessary.  :o)  Also, try to pick curricula written by and for homeschoolers.  They generally will be easier to use and make more sense.

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I'd suggest getting the audio CD for Story of the World volume 1 and listening to it during riding in car and so on, and see how just that one thing goes, starting now or at beginning of summer. If it goes well, you could go to Volume 2, or add on just one thing for science (say an experiment kit or the first Building Understanding Fundamentals of Science (title is likely a bit off))...as you are closer to next fall you will start to have an idea of what works well for them and what not, in a pretty fun low-key way.

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The best advice I have (my oldest is 10 & we have always homeschooled, but didn't start curriculum outside of my activities and book choices until my oldest was 6):

 

- Write a list of your top 5-10 goals. This one activity will show you your top priorities. Then when you go to pick a curriculum ignore any that doesn't line up with your top goals.

 

- Prayer. It has given me the best curriculum help when I have heeded God's lead.

 

- Once you have what works spend little time on the computer, focus on teaching, and stop researching. We are happily back to all the exact same curriculum we started when my oldest was 6 1/2 and used consistently until he was 9. My curiosity to try others and be swayed by others ideas cost me a lot of time & money with great curriculums that were a poor fit for us. It also cost us a year with little progress. The curriculum that stands out to you most is probably a better fit than you know. Every curriculum has 100 good reviews and 100 bad ; plus more! The important thing is to do what works in your family and meets your educational values and goals.

 

I hope you have a Great first year home schooling!

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I haven't read ahead but in my experience and everything I have read it is pretty rare to finish where you start with homeschooling.  Not just curriculum but also philosophy.  Speaking for myself I have spent more than I wanted and my best suggestion is to relax and try try try not to go research every single resource.  The double edge sword on these boards is how easy it is to do that.  The other problem is that not only do you need to discover what works for your children but you also must find something that works for you.  It is too easy to put it off if the program isn't suited for the parent.  The good news is that it really isn't a major big deal.   The bad news is that it will feel like a huge deal.  

 

As crazy as it sounds finding this board was the best and worst thing that happened my first year homeschooling.  I learned so very much, but always felt behind and like the grass was greener.   But as you just do it your philosophy will become clearer and your confidence will grow.  You and your children will also figure out what works and what doesn't and you can always sell all the things you don't wind up using and the curricula sales board.   

 

If you possibly can try to find used resources and ask anyone and everyone you meet that is homeschooling if you can see what they are using.  They might even let you borrow it for a short period of time.  I got lucky and borrowed IEW for a couple of weeks and discovered I didn't want it before I spent all that money.  

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1) As others have said, it's okay to change curriculum.

 

2) It's okay to start (and pay for) just a few subjects (math, reading/phonics, writing...or science, science, and science if you are in our household), and add subjects one at a time every month or so until you feel your schedule is where you want to be.

As a wise, experienced homeschooler told me, "We're homeschoolers.  We're always adding and removing stuff!"

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Speaking for myself I have spent more than I wanted and my best suggestion is to relax and try try try not to go research every single resource.  The double edge sword on these boards is how easy it is to do that. 

 

As crazy as it sounds finding this board was the best and worst thing that happened my first year homeschooling.  I learned so very much, but always felt behind and like the grass was greener.   But as you just do it your philosophy will become clearer and your confidence will grow.    

 

 

 

yes, this!  thank you...this is exactly what I'm thinking...and what I hope will happen over the next year.  I hope I will gain confidence and find what works!! 

 

thank you all for your thoughtful responses that help to me to feel like I'm not alone...or crazy!

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I had the same issue when we started homeschooling.  The difference was that I planned for the changes I guess.  I knew the first year was an experiment and I whipped my kid out of PS really quick (she was previously in a private school).  So I purchased the K12 independent study option outright based on her placement test results.  Then I worked from there.  I learned what I wanted from how she interacted with the curriculum and what we did. ETC...

 

I learned that she needed me on her all day to get her school done so parent intensive is the way we went.  Now (3 years later) she can handle and wants to be more independent.  So it's more than just the curriculum that you need to worry about its your kids individual needs as well as your family's needs.  

 

What we have stuck with:

 

Math In Focus ( and we will use it through middle school)

 

Sonlight History, Read Alouds and Readers & Science (I will be switching to Bookshark/their sister company in June)

 

Nature Study (The Comstock Nature Study Book)

 

Classic Kids Collection for Music with the Meet the Worlds Greatest Composer Series books  & DSO Kids website (free)

 

Artistic Pursuits (Skill not appreciation)

 

CAP Latin Programs

 

Nature/Science/Geograpy Read Alouds:  The Storybook of Science, Pagoo, A Child's History of Geography, etc....

 

All About Spelling, Wordly Wise & First Language Lessons.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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