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Starting with 2nd, 4th, and 6th graders from public schools?

Guest Heartland Mom

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Guest Heartland Mom

This may be the most intimidating thing I've ever thought of doing, whatever that says about me.


My children have been educated in public school and are finishing up 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades this spring.  I'm still researching methods but am about 95% sure I want to homeschool my children from here on out for many reasons.  The most intimidating thing about this is trying to figure out how to teach across three grades without overwhelming my 2nd grader, and without either boring or holding back my 6th grader.  The 4th grader is quick and will almost certainly be able to work at the elder child's level soon.


Any suggestions from experienced parents about where to dive in would be greatly appreciated!

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Welcome!  I just started a little over 2 years ago (then 3rd grader and then 6th grader).  A few suggestions in general:


1.  You might want to post regarding whether cost would be a factor. 


2.  Also, people may be able to help better if you indicate whether religiously based, secular, or neutral are particular wishes of yours.


3. Unless there are special needs issues involved like ADD/ADHD. dyslexia, dysgraphia, etc. my first suggestion for this first year is something boxed and take it light.  Maybe Abeka or Oak Meadows or Rod and Staff.  Homeschooling the first year can be really rough, especially with a wide range of ages.  Having everything laid out may help you with scheduling and planning until you have gotten your feet wet.


4. Do whatever you can to incorporate some fun into your week.  Don't make this drudgery and checking off boxes or you and your kids will burn out fast.  That doesn't mean you party all day and do nothing.  But try to schedule things like some fun math games, some interesting field trips, maybe a music day where you all pick a piece of music (modern, historical, whatever) that you all like and learn about the history while listening and maybe dancing to it.


5. Start searching, if you haven't already, for other homeschoolers and coops in your area.  Your kids are used to having a lot of kids around them.  It may be a difficult adjustment to being just around family.  Start meeting other homeschoolers.


6.  Be prepared for the kids to have some serious difficulties with adjustment right at first.  This could manifest as anything from grumpiness to criticism to...well...anything.  Don't take it personally.  Some kids just smoothly transition, though, so be prepared for absolutely nothing to be an issue, too.  :)


7.  Give them a chance to pursue special interests and make those a priority.  Show them that one of the great benefits of homeschooling is having the time to find out more about things they have a genuine interest in.  You may want to do this for yourself as well, even if you feel you don't have the time.  It is good for them to see you learning new things, too.  If you can get the kids engaged in learning by their own choice, and you show them you are supporting them in this, that may go a long way to helping this process go more smoothly for the long haul.


8.  Toss out preconceived notions about grade levels.  Go at whatever pace works best for your individual child in each individual subject.  If they are thriving in math, keep going.  Find some great additional material to give them some great challenges and some fun in the subject.  Let them move as fast as they want to.  If they are struggling, slow down, maybe repeat lessons, go at the pace of the child and give them a chance to really understand the material.


gotta run but good luck...I'm sure others will have some great suggestions.

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I combine my two boys in almost all subjects. This has worked well, as older son is at grade level and younger son is advanced. Essentially I teach two grade levels for three kids. It is amazingly doable with time left over to mess around on this forum. :)

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I'm not hugely experienced (this is the end of our first year), but:


Unless you want to, you don't have to be teaching 7 hours a day.  Most work can be done either independently or semi-independently, especially by the older kid(s); you may need to set up the day's work/lesson and occasionally answer questions.  Sometimes one of them will need a bunch of undivided attention for an hour or so to really get into something complicated, but mostly I find that my 3rd (almost 4th) grader does most of her work on her own; I look over it on request or when I feel like checking on it, and we talk about how it's going, etc.


Also, public schools generally take 7-8 hours a day, right?  Homeschool is not like that (unless you want it to be); mine get the same amount of work done, and more, in 3-4 hours.  There are no other kids to slow down the pace (or speed it up past their understanding); the only questions are their questions, and the only misbehavior/distraction is what your kids create.  A lot more gets done this way :)

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Guest Heartland Mom

Thanks for the responses!



1.  You might want to post regarding whether cost would be a factor. 


2.  Also, people may be able to help better if you indicate whether religiously based, secular, or neutral are particular wishes of yours.


Cost is definitely a factor.  It has to stay under $1000/year for all three combined, and I'd prefer to keep it lower than that.


Secular preferred.  I don't feel the need to incorporate religious teaching as part of their formal education.


I guess what I'm looking for most is some sort of guide or guidance on how to manage three of them at different levels within the same shortened-day time frame.  I don't want to turn them over to the computer or videos:  the classical method with its focus on book-basked learning has tremendous appeal.  The less screen time, the better.

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Find out what your locale's requirements are for homeschooling, so you know your rights and legal responsibilities.  This also provides you with a good "bare bones" list to cover when you simply need to lighten the load for a sick day or other down day.


Lots of good advice in the posts here, and I'm reading/pondering it, too.  We are coming to the end of our first year of homeschooling, and it's been a real learning experience.  I wouldn't trade it, though!


Be ready to double up on some things, as your first picks on curricula might not all fit you and your kids well.  If something is truly not working be ready to abandon it and try another curriculum or method.  You truly can't know how something will work for you until you give it a try.


Be prepared to be really surprised by your kids' abilities.  When we started homeschooling I had my kids take the placement tests for our math program, and my younger DD tested so high I now have her working 2 grades higher, along side her sister.  When she was in brick & martar school she never exhibited such natural grasp of math, because she happily worked alongside the kids in her class without wanting to go further (very sociable). 


Glean curricula advice and suggestions here in the forums, stay open and flexible, and treat it all as a way to learn and discover together.  The greatest fun I have is watching the gears turn in my kids' heads, something I never really got to do when they were struggling through homework for classes taught in ways they just didn't get.  And I'm learning a lot right alongside my kids!


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Welcome to the club! On Wednesdays, we wear pink.


My kids are a bit closer in age, 8 and 9.5...but they pretty much do everything together. They are not on the same level for a lot of things, however. I personally do not use a set curriculum, just because if I can't check everything off, it drives me absolutely nuts. 


Here's what we do-- it has always helped me to see what other people do.


1. Explode the Code workbooks for language arts.

2. First Language lessons (which involves a read aloud)

3. Mammoth Math (they're at very different places here)

4. Writing in their notebooks at least 4 sentences on SOMETHING besides "mom is cute" or "the dog is stinky."

5. Vocabulary- I have a list of words from a dictionary, they look one up, figure out the definition and then draw a picture/write a sentence about it. This can easily be done for multiple ages. 

6. Spelling is very hit and miss so don't ask about that right now


It is going to take a bit of time for everyone to find their groove, including you. I think the most important thing is don't feel like you have to play "teacher." I don't know why, I felt that at the beginning and it just didn't work. Expect that some things will work, something things will fail horribly. 


You can do it!

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I thought this might be helpful...here are links to 2nd, 4th, and 6th grade threads with a lot of examples of what curricula others are using for those grades.


The first thing I would advise you to do is research the different homeschool methods and find which one matches best with your goals.  It sounds like you may have already done this.  If you haven't already I would highly recommend reading The Well Trained Mind, it was a huge help to me.  Figure out what your goals are for each of your kids and your family.  Having goals in place will help guide you in figuring out what curricula to use.


Depending on how confident you feel about selecting your own various curricula for each subject, using a boxed curriculum may not be a bad way to start.  Here are a couple of threads discussing some of the different boxed curricula....


Boxed, total package curriculum


box curriculum


Also here are links to a few threads discussing what homeschooling looks like in various homes. I am sure there are more, these are just a few I found with a quick search....


What does your daily schedule look like for Homeschool?


What's your schedule like?


Your Daily Schedule?


I think you have recieved some great advice thus far.  I agree with the pp who said focus on what skill level your kids are on, and start there, and not necessarily what "grade level" they should be at.  Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey.  Just remember that not everyday will go smoothly.  And when you have a rough day it is not the end of the world.  I am excited for you.  Homeschooling has been a huge blessing for my family. :)

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Yes, combine for content areas! If you can't get all three into the same curriculum in an area you'd really like to, get the two who think most alike or who are closest in skill level together. My two are 3.5 years apart (technically four grade levels), but we do science together, and we may do history together next year (I didn't do history for K). I target my older one and tailor for the younger one, but some people would aim more for the middle and supplement for the older ones. This was my first year teaching two, and it's my second year homeschooling, so I still feel like we could probably improve on this.


Cost savings...I do not have a particularly restricted budget, but I do understand about being frugal as we've been really frugal in all other areas most of our marriage. One thing to keep in perspective is that stuff you buy for the older ones is free or discounted stuff in the future (you might have to buy a blank workbook to go with something). It can be tempting to buy every manipulative on the planet for the younger ones if you like that kind of thing, but if your other kids are past that stage, you'll get less mileage from those types of items (but you can sell them too). If your children turn out to be wildly different learners, you may not benefit from passing down curriculum as much. If you think that's going to be the case, I would hunt for curriculum that gives you the most flexibility to tailor it to different kids.


I don't know how things go down at your house, but when mine are doing grade level work, I have to separate them 50% of the time because they are bickering and 50% of the time because they are getting along TOO well. It's not uncommon for one to be at the table and one to be in his room or on the couch working independently. I try to stagger work that requires direct teaching or feedback from me so that each one can keep moving. My littler one needs more breaks, but my older one gets distracted by too many breaks. They've had to accept that they are not treated exactly the same, and they realize now that they wouldn't want to have it the same either. If the littler one is getting a break, I try to be sure it's an activity break, not a screen time break. We don't do screens until school is done for everyone (and we limit it big time anyway).


When we started our school year, we elected to do a science week right away with no other subjects on the agenda. We knocked out a bunch of our science curriculum the first week to ease into things. Both of the boys love it, so it was a nice ice breaker. We were able to work on some ground rules and let my littler one show some independence, set up his very own science notebook, etc.--his older brother would love nothing more than to do everything for him, so I tried to let him carve out a few things of his own and set some boundaries. So, if you have something fun but more low key to help you ease into the year, that might be a good idea too, and it will help you spot areas of anxiety or success. You probably know what your kids are likely to need to ease into and what you can jump into enthusiastically, but a low key start is low pressure. There are also some threads around here about "first day of school" traditions for ideas that are just for fun.

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Start with Math and Language Arts instruction. You can then use the library for the rest. Try to remember that anything content wise up to high school is really to give your kids a taste for what is out there. Read lots of books, watch lots of DVDs. Science is so much better when you can see it.


Easy to use Lang. Arts materials we like have been:


Growing with Grammar/Winning With Writing {do teach this to the kids for retention}


Hake Grammar and Writing {4th on up}


WTM book lists


Logos School Press reading lists {might have to email for the list. we have used it for years]


Other Stuff:

Memoria Press


Home Art Studio


McRuffy LA and Math {for your 2nd grader}


Moving Beyond the Page {pick a grade level range and combine away. add a math and there ya' go!}


Good places for books:

Rainbow Resource {they have good reviews}


www.cbd.com {they have good samples}


Mardel's Christian Bookstore {if you have one nearby}


Local Homeschool Store {you might have one}


Welcome to a new world.


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