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Early grades: What do you wish you either had or had not spent time or money on


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I'm on the very beginnings of this journey, and I plan on homeschooling all the way through (although open to whatever happens)...  I THINK I'm finding a balance, figuring things out, and doing okay... but I feel thirsty for the wisdom that so many of you who have been at this longer have.   I guess I'm at the stage where I just doubt whatever I've decided... or does that ever go away.  :)

 

SO.... during the preschool years, and early grades (especially K-1st, 2nd maybe)  what do you either wish you had or hadn't spent time or money on...  Anything?  

 

I'm sorry if there's an identical thread out there somewhere...  I couldn't really find anything with search.

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   I guess I'm at the stage where I just doubt whatever I've decided... or does that ever go away.   :)

 

The doubting doesn't go away til you send them off to college!  The college application season is the peak self-doubt period, then the first acceptance letter comes and the relief is huge. "Oh good, I didn't ruin them after all!"

 

I'm an empty nester now, and have spent most of this last year cleaning out closets and reclaiming the house after 12 years of homeschooling. I keep coming across scraps of paper with bits of art or notes written in a childlike hand, woefully misspelled, and am filled with waves of nostalgia for those early years.  I have no regrets for how we spent that time.  We did a bit of the 3 Rs each day -- math, handwriting and learning to read, and the rest of the day was open for them to do crafts, to play and sometimes just for my reading aloud for hours on end.  I spent money on craft supplies, some good board and card games, lots of books and videos.  And legos. It was idyllic and I'm glad I took it slow, allowed us to enjoy those magical years.

 

I'm still finding lego pieces in kitchen drawers, in the corners of closets, by the way.  

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I didn't homeschool in the early years but I wish in many ways that I had.

 

Things I know others have said they wished they had done and things I KNOW I wish I had done instead of putting my kids in school (not that there is anything wrong with ps in general, it just wasn't a good fit for mine) or things that worked once we started homeschooling.

 

1.  Far less workbook work and a LOT more interest led/discovery led learning in the early years.

2.  Emphasis on the wonders of learning, and the amazing experiences out there.

3.  Loving, supportive, structured, systematic instruction in life skills with lots of scaffolding early on so that chores (house maintenance as we now call it) is not seen as a burden or punishment or something to feel like a failure at but just part of life that can even be fun if we let it (turned this around with apprenticeships later on but wish I had started with that philosophy to begin with).

4.  A LOT of exposure to literature through read alouds, audio books, fun discussions, etc., and less push for only independent reading, especially early on.

5.  More long term projects, like researching how to build a garden, building a garden, maintaining a garden and why fresh food is usually a much healthier alternative to prepackaged foods.

6.  Consistency.

7.  Appreciating my children as individuals.  They are not just extensions of my husband and myself.  They are unique beings with their own special way of looking at the universe.

8.  Early on building basic math and reading skills up through lots of hands on, and games and discussion and daily experiences and consistency and depth instead of so much rote memorization and drill, drill, drill as the school was doing.

9.  Taking time to love them, cherish them, and appreciate the moments.

10. Make a yearbook/scrapbook for every year and encourage their participation.

11. I also wish I had recognized much sooner when my kids started to struggle that things were moving too fast and they needed a different approach.  

 

As for specifics on curriculum, I may say something about that later.  Gotta go....

 

Good luck and best wishes....

 

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The one major change I made from our earliest years homeschooling: history no longer drives the bus.  I put an incredible amount of time and energy into pulling together the perfect, sequenced, coordinated history with books for each level and accompanying read alouds, hands-on projects, field trips,etc.

 

Now, history is part of our day but not a major part.The best thing I can do in the early grades is to focus on reading fluency and a love for reading, math fluency and full language arts including writing, spelling, grammar at the mid elementary years. 

 

Lisa

 

P.S. Thinking further, I would have ditched latin roots. We ended up doing Latin and I found the roots program unnecessary

 

 

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Just focus on getting them reading and doing math in real life first. Add in handwriting, and that is enough mental energy for one day for ages 4-6. Read aloud and play outside most of the day. Teach them to care for themselves and help others.

 

Give me a 3rd grader who knows how to read, can copy an 8-word sentence, and adds & subtracts easily...one who loves to be read to, is kind to other children, is respectful to adults, and knows how to entertain himself for an hour or two...and I can teach him ANYTHING!!!!  

 

Don't waste time/money on a bunch of scheduled reading type currics.

 

Spend money on books that teach YOU how to teach, like Kitchen Table Math or Treasured Conversations.  Spend money on quality books, strategy games, art supplies, music lessons.  Get an alabacus, and cuisenaire rods. Invest in sandpaper letters and a moveable alphabet. The rest of the manipulatives are not necessary, but nice if you find them cheaply.

 

 

If I could go back, I would spend more time teaching them to clean up after themselves. They get so much out of self-directed crafting, but it gets messy. Give them a crafting corner and teach them (daily!) to take care of it.

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Some things I wanted to add.  

 

1.  Homeschooling is work. It is a lot of work.  It is a career, a job that takes commitment.  Treat it as such and make sure DH is on board with that if you have a DH.  This is not just extended parenting.  Keep this in mind when you schedule your day and make plans for the year.  Your job is to be the teacher.  But since you homeschool you aren't just the teacher, you are the administrator and the school secretary and a whole host of other things, too.  This takes prep work/planning/time to brain storm, etc.  Make sure to schedule that time to prepare.  Get into this routine early so that others respect how necessary this is, especially as you get into higher grade levels.  

 

This doesn't mean it is not joyful, too, or that it is drudgery.  It isn't, or rather it doesn't have to be.  Especially when they are as young as yours, fill their day with love and play and joy along with learning basic skills.  Just make sure you respect the work that goes into this and give yourself the time for prep and recharging yourself.   :)

 

2.  Also, when someone has a job, they also have time off from that job.  Make certain that you are SCHEDULING time off every single day, even if it is just for a little while.  Time to yourself.  Time to be you.  Take a break and make sure everyone knows how important it is for you to recharge your batteries.

 

3.  Make sure to share the positives of each day with your DH, if you have one.  I made the mistake of just glossing over days that went well, but using DH as my sounding board when things were going poorly.  It gave him a skewed view and he thought homeschooling was a dismal failure.  

 

4.  If you have outside interests, talents, things you like doing, things you like pursuing, although scheduling them may be challenging DON'T STOP.  Don't lose yourself.  Homeschooling can become all consuming.  Besides this being important for you it is important for your children to see that something they have an interest in can lead to something they may enjoy for a life time and that learning occurs forever, not just in the formal schooling years.  And they can see you as a person in your own right, not just as Mommy.  That may help them when they are seeking their own identities later on and will help them to respect you.  Edited to add:  And when your kids are gone, you will still have things besides Homeschooling that hold your interest (that day may come much sooner than it feels like it will).

 

5.  Reach out to others in your homeschooling community.  See if you can develop friendships and a support structure, for you and for your kids.

 

6.  If you have a child with a strong interest in something, encourage it.  Help them achieve mastery in that area of interest at whatever level they are at and encourage them to work through the tough times to get to that mastery.

 

7.  Just briefly, curriculum that I have found to be great (although some did not work for us for various reasons, those would not apply to most homeschoolers):  Trail Guides to Learning; CLE Math (love it); Math in Focus.

 

8.  Some resources that have been enormously helpful (besides this forum :) ):  Homeschool Buyer's Co-op for tons of resources at a great discount; Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog site; Smart but Scattered (for help with staying organized for me and the kids).  There are a ton more.  That's just the quickies I can list off the top of my head.

 

Best wishes....

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I wish I'd found a way to push handwriting better. Neither of my boys has great handwriting. One of them is fine, but slow. The other is just plain embarrassing, frankly, but at least he writes quickly.

 

In general, I wish I had found a groove with writing quicker. I had taught writing for middle and high school so I had opinions about how I wanted to teach at that point, but getting to that point was really mysterious to me and nothing I found for ages jibed with my experience of teaching writing in the later years and as such I feel like we wasted a lot of time fumbling around to find our way. I wish I had understood and trusted copywork more. And that I had just played more language games with them a la Peggy Kaye's books. We did some, but I wish I'd made that a priority.

 

That's probably it, actually. I mean, it's not like my kids, who are only half-baked anyway, have cooked up perfectly, but I mostly think we did okay. I agree with others that you always have those doubts. For me, it waxes and wanes. Sometimes I feel really unsure and other times I feel really confident. You just have to plow forward.

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I am only *just* finding my groove - about 4 years in. 

I am homeschooling my first "early years". I wish I hadn't tried to fit in any formal science or history with my middle boy. We're taking it back to the basics now - reading, writing, math, and religion; anything more is icing on the cake, and achieved through literature/read alouds.

Not "early years", but after a very disappointing year in private school, I wish I hadn't been afraid of taking my 7th grader "back to the basics", so that she didn't feel so overwhelmed. We have "standards and requirements to meet", and I let that get in the way of what she NEEDS. We'll find a way to meet state requirements, while still focusing almost solely on the basics this year. She needs it. My middle son needs it. We all need it.

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Cursive. It is important to be able to read cursive and I believe teaching kids to write cursive teaches them to read it, but my adult and teen kids never use it. I would have dropped it a lot quicker since everything is typed now other than a signature.

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I remember the relief of the the oldest being accepted into college, but now almost 9 years after he graduated from college and has been married for several years, I've entered even another stage of evaluation. I now understand that an education is more than academics or schooling, and that mind, body, and soul education is essential.

 

A do over would include:

More handcrafts such as knitting and weaving and molding

Less math for the gifted younger one

More focus on handwriting as Farrar brought up, and that would include math handwriting practice

I'd read aloud more and not be so rigid about what I did read

Bedtime would be earlier

The boys would learn to drink water

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I remember the relief of the the oldest being accepted into college, but now almost 9 years after he graduated from college and has been married for several years, I've entered even another stage of evaluation. I now understand that an education is more than academics or schooling, and that mind, body, and soul education is essential.

 

A do over would include:

More handcrafts such as knitting and weaving and molding

Less math for the gifted younger one

More focus on handwriting as Farrar brought up, and that would include math handwriting practice

I'd read aloud more and not be so rigid about what I did read

Bedtime would be earlier

The boys would learn to drink water

 

These are really good points. I think we often think to academics, but I do with I'd done more habit training a la CM. Many of our habits were good like early bedtimes and plenty of water, but others like brushing teeth without reminders and cleaning up after yourself leave something to be desired. And some of those are academic habits, like putting your name on your paper or writing answers in complete sentences and copying the math problem out. Not that I would have expected those things from the get go, but they're all things my kids now, at age 10, could do much better jobs with and by training those little things all along we wouldn't have to think about them now.

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These are really good points. I think we often think to academics, but I do with I'd done more habit training a la CM. Many of our habits were good like early bedtimes and plenty of water, but others like brushing teeth without reminders and cleaning up after yourself leave something to be desired. And some of those are academic habits, like putting your name on your paper or writing answers in complete sentences and copying the math problem out. Not that I would have expected those things from the get go, but they're all things my kids now, at age 10, could do much better jobs with and by training those little things all along we wouldn't have to think about them now.

 

 

YES!!!!  100x!!!!

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More sports involving balls since DD is not coordinated. I noticed boys of the same age playing like miniature NBA stars. She walked so early that I never actually focused on sports, thinking that she must be a natural at it until it was too late (apparently soccer has to be started very early), except for swimming (life skill), biking, scooting, skateboarding, activities that would get us to places. Now she does yoga which is such an awesome form of exercise for her. She loves it! But she sucks at basketball and probably can't hit a baseball but can whack the catcher.

 

I wished I had purchased less k-4 fictional books since now I have to donate to friends and Goodwill to make room for logic/rhetoric books. I'm a huge library borrower, but I also want a mini-library at home.

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These are really good points. I think we often think to academics, but I do with I'd done more habit training a la CM. Many of our habits were good like early bedtimes and plenty of water, but others like brushing teeth without reminders and cleaning up after yourself leave something to be desired. And some of those are academic habits, like putting your name on your paper or writing answers in complete sentences and copying the math problem out. Not that I would have expected those things from the get go, but they're all things my kids now, at age 10, could do much better jobs with and by training those little things all along we wouldn't have to think about them now.

Me too, except for different things.

 

But the truth is, that I can't and couldn't have been Mary Poppins all by myself. DH would have backed me up, yes, but with no nanny or cook or housekeeper, I also think I do and have done pretty much the best that I could.

 

Threads like this can be helpful, but we each have our own strengths and do the best we can at the time.

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I'm glad I spent time with my kids: reading to them, talking with them, including then in what I was doing, and taking them places.

 

I'm glad I spent money on books, hands-on learning manipulatives (counters, balance, scale, base-10 blocks, play clock, art supplies, etc), and memberships to things like the zoo and our local children's museum.

 

I wish I hadn't spent so much time and money on classes and activities when they were in the 4-6 year range, which is funny because we waited longer to start activities and get serious about them than anyone we know (in our suburban bubble). But if I had it to do over, we would wait until 7-8 for that sort of thing and just spend more time as a family instead.

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These are really good points. I think we often think to academics, but I do with I'd done more habit training a la CM. Many of our habits were good like early bedtimes and plenty of water, but others like brushing teeth without reminders and cleaning up after yourself leave something to be desired. And some of those are academic habits, like putting your name on your paper or writing answers in complete sentences and copying the math problem out. Not that I would have expected those things from the get go, but they're all things my kids now, at age 10, could do much better jobs with and by training those little things all along we wouldn't have to think about them now.

 

Yes, this.

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I'm glad I spent time with my kids: reading to them, talking with them, including then in what I was doing, and taking them places.

 

I'm glad I spent money on books, hands-on learning manipulatives (counters, balance, scale, base-10 blocks, play clock, art supplies, etc), and memberships to things like the zoo and our local children's museum.

 

I wish I hadn't spent so much time and money on classes and activities when they were in the 4-6 year range, which is funny because we waited longer to start activities and get serious about them than anyone we know (in our suburban bubble). But if I had it to do over, we would wait until 7-8 for that sort of thing and just spend more time as a family instead.

 

Us too!  Co-ops, classes, ballet, karate, etc.

 

I wished I wouldn't have switched curricula so much and I would've spent less time online and more time outside in nature.

 

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I wish I'd spent less time on formal academics before first grade, and more time doing science experiments, art and music. Also, more outdoor play at parks (whether they had a playground or not), swimming and water play. I'd have spent a little more time on games that developed both fine and gross motor skills. Mostly I wish I had tried to make learning more fun than "sit down and lets do your math."

 

I also agree with the formal classes prior to age 6, other than gymnastics or swimming at the local rec center. The classes at the private gyms and swim clubs weren't worth it to me.

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Well, I feel mostly pleased with how I did things for ds. I did put the focus on learning through games, exploring the world and reading lots of books. I *mostly* didn't stress about the fact that he was a late bloomer by modern standards, my only regrets are when I let outside pressure make me doubt our approach (with parenting and schooling) and try to push him when he was obviously not ready, thankfully those times were few. I do see now that once he was ready we needed to do more practice for fluency and I just didn't value this enough, nor did I know that this was going to be a HUGE struggle to him due to the way his brain works. I don't however regret not drilling but would have kept with more practice through play.

 

With dd1 I wasn't able to keep the experience as play and wonder focused as I would have liked just due to my own limitations of time and energy with pregnancy, Hashimotos and more to do. I'm working hard now on getting back there with dd3 but as she is a different child that balance is of course going to look different. 

 

I think I've done a decent job habit training here, primarily because we planned to have multiple kids. I'm estatic with the independence we've fostered in how we've raised them. I've had times I wish I had been more firm and other times I should have been less but I don't see those aspects as critical as I did before but rather the relationship itself, which I think is unfortunately missed in a lot of parenting books. I wish I had the confidence I had now when my children were younger but of course that largely comes with time and experience. I'm frustrated at times that I haven't been more familiar with more handi-crafts to teach them as I think it is a very enriching experience, especially for young ones and I flounder. 

 

I would say my current thoughts are don't underestimate the importance of:

good books (and lots of them of all types)

nature

imagination

play

building up values in yourself and your children, modeling being of the first importance- love, patience, persistence, humility, etc

finding the strengths of your children 

real discussions with your children and valuing them as the little people they are

 

 

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Does the doubting really go away then?  You mean I might have something to look forward to?!

 

I have 26yodd, 25yodd, 22yods and 6yods; I opened this thread looking for advice/reassurance about 6yods.

 

Only one of my adult kids is still in college. Now they tell me that I'm supposed to look forward to when they are in their 30s and/or have kids of their own but I don't believe them any more.

 

:P

 

I probably wasn't supposed to tell you that, but I want you to soak up every bit of that sweet newborn smell and those midnight heart-to-hearts with your teen and everything in between. Please don't wish today away looking forward to a tomorrow that may not even play out the way you (and all of your support people) think it will.

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One more thing...

 

I find that with my 1yo I'm much more likely to run in the park, recite poetry while she swings, sing to her regardless of who else is around.  I did these things with my older kids, but not as much, and not as enthusiastically, and not with the same quality.  I see her coming to the table, striving to be big. I certainly don't want to rush her out of babyhood (She is my BABY!!!), but I want the highest quality literature/music/art to be *home* to her.  She is coming up in a richer culture than I gave my big kids.

 

 

I'd encourage a mother of preschoolers to bring the highest quality to her children in terms of books/music/art, and get out into nature to just *be* on a regular basis.  Don't underestimate what even a baby might be gaining from the experience. (...and it's OK for a child to simply enjoy the meter and rhythm of the experience!!!)

 

 

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I have 26yodd, 25yodd, 22yods and 6yods; I opened this thread looking for advice/reassurance about 6yods.

 

Only one of my adult kids is still in college. Now they tell me that I'm supposed to look forward to when they are in their 30s and/or have kids of their own but I don't believe them any more.

 

:p

 

I probably wasn't supposed to tell you that, but I want you to soak up every bit of that sweet newborn smell and those midnight heart-to-hearts with your teen and everything in between. Please don't wish today away looking forward to a tomorrow that may not even play out the way you (and all of your support people) think it will.

 

This.

 

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My oldest is only almost 12. I don't have the experience of some of the others, but I am having do overs, both with my K and 3 yo and with my new baby on the way. 

I don't have regrets really in the schooling I chose. We did most of the things mentioned above. Habit training, skills over content, Not too much work, lots of play time, read alouds, high quality In all, I think I did a good job. 

The biggest change is maturity for me. I started this when I was young and career driven. I had high standards and high expectations. I still do, but they are tempered with patience and faith.  I am far more compassionate with second two than I ever was with my first two. Now I know that handwriting isn't as critical as I felt it was, and that they will eventually learn to read, and I understand their limitations and accept tht I can't train everything I don't like out of them, nor should I. They will learn to care for themselves. They will learn to work hard and finish what they start. Half finished chores do not mean they will grow up to be sloppy, lazy, incompetent adults. It just means they are kids who would rather play than sweep the dining room,

As far as education goes, the road is never as straight as it looks. The workbooks we started with were great, and exactly what we needed. But that's no longer how we do things. Teaching two isn't like teaching 5. I thought when we started that if I could find the right materials, we'd be all set. I quested for the perfect things, bought years ahead, and felt so satidfied. But their needs have changed. And changed. and changed again. And so have mine. Our K this year is SO different from the first time 7 years ago. Almost all play and stories. Very little formal lessons. It's what we need now. It's ok to change things-it's necessary. 

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My oldest is only almost 12. I don't have the experience of some of the others, but I am having do overs, both with my K and 3 yo and with my new baby on the way. 

 

I don't have regrets really in the schooling I chose. We did most of the things mentioned above. Habit training, skills over content, Not too much work, lots of play time, read alouds, high quality In all, I think I did a good job. 

 

The biggest change is maturity for me. I started this when I was young and career driven. I had high standards and high expectations. I still do, but they are tempered with patience and faith.  I am far more compassionate with second two than I ever was with my first two. Now I know that handwriting isn't as critical as I felt it was, and that they will eventually learn to read, and I understand their limitations and accept tht I can't train everything I don't like out of them, nor should I. They will learn to care for themselves. They will learn to work hard and finish what they start. Half finished chores do not mean they will grow up to be sloppy, lazy, incompetent adults. It just means they are kids who would rather play than sweep the dining room,

 

As far as education goes, the road is never as straight as it looks. The workbooks we started with were great, and exactly what we needed. But that's no longer how we do things. Teaching two isn't like teaching 5. I thought when we started that if I could find the right materials, we'd be all set. I quested for the perfect things, bought years ahead, and felt so satidfied. But their needs have changed. And changed. and changed again. And so have mine. Our K this year is SO different from the first time 7 years ago. Almost all play and stories. Very little formal lessons. It's what we need now. It's ok to change things-it's necessary. 

Beautifully put. :)

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Wish I had not wasted time on:

 

CM style language arts (I have one visual spatial and one mild dyslexic so they needed systematic review with plenty of practice!)

 

Saxon math- even if I had wanted a spiral prigram which requires almost zero parental effort, Horizons would still be better than Saxon.

 

Worrying about curriculum for content subjects- honestly? The library and Story of the World provide six to seven years of science, history, literature, fine arts. All you need is a library and What Your --grader Needs to Know.

 

(Now I will say that Before Five in a Row and Five in a Row Volumes 1 were lovely for kindergarten)

 

then in 2nd through 6th if you want something hands on you can always buy a little craft kit or some history pockets, a puzzle, whatever strikes your fancy- but just picking fun library books is usually all that's necessary. The marketing schemes in homeschooling, strike me as rather ridiculous now that I've been doing this so long and found time and again that my favorite resources are free or very affordable. No one needs to buy into all the hype!!! I think that as a committed christian it actually made things worse because I had the wisdom to desire to train my kids up well but not the wisdom to see that that comes from inside me as I use God's Word, not from anything I can buy!

 

Now as we are in junior high I have found some outside classes and tutoring to be worthwhile and they are very expensive. Save your money till high school and maybe junior high.

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I would have done a lot more science. More charting and graphing and memorization of scientific things. Those things are holding my dd back in ps science right now. My ds has done two years of college just fine of the science that we learned at home, but he learned a lot of science on his own because it was a genuine interest to him. My dd had no interest in science and did not retain any of the things we learned about, so I wish I had been more rigorous with that.

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I have just one word of advice fort the younger years. Just keep it simple! I kept trying materials and wasted a boatload of money. Most little kids don't have the attention span to do all that stuff and just want to play. Get the three R's done simply and then spend the rest of your homeschool budget on museum memberships and field trips.

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I wish I hadn't spent so much time looking at blogs and seeing what other people were doing with their kids, and subsequently buying curriculum because someone else thought it was *the best*.

 

I wish had spent more time thinking about drawing my children closer as a family and less time worrying about reading and math skills.

 

I wish I had spent more time on practical life skills. More time on character and faith building since that's important to our family.

 

More time reading their cues as to readiness and way less time worrying.

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Hmm the younger years. Three kids out and two to go. This time I'm dropping the priority of history. It used to lead but not anymore. LA & math are most important. When you fall behind in those, upper level science gets difficult. History will be dropped when necessary this time thru. Math will also include time to study their facts. After they understand the concepts, their facts need to be memorized. They also need to know how to quickly calculate their facts when they are forgotten so they don't just stall ... Memorized facts are best but getting the answer is the goal.

We enjoyed doing history but it tended to take up so much time! For now it will be lowest on the priority list till math is strong and steady and their reading fluently is at or above their grade level with age appropriate comprehension skills. We may work on this with good literature, history, bible, or science books but the reading skill takes lead.

Next focus will be their spelling n writing skills.

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I wish I'd found a way to push handwriting better. Neither of my boys has great handwriting. One of them is fine, but slow. The other is just plain embarrassing, frankly, but at least he writes quickly.

 

In general, I wish I had found a groove with writing quicker. I had taught writing for middle and high school so I had opinions about how I wanted to teach at that point, but getting to that point was really mysterious to me and nothing I found for ages jibed with my experience of teaching writing in the later years and as such I feel like we wasted a lot of time fumbling around to find our way. I wish I had understood and trusted copywork more. And that I had just played more language games with them a la Peggy Kaye's books. We did some, but I wish I'd made that a priority.

 

That's probably it, actually. I mean, it's not like my kids, who are only half-baked anyway, have cooked up perfectly, but I mostly think we did okay. I agree with others that you always have those doubts. For me, it waxes and wanes. Sometimes I feel really unsure and other times I feel really confident. You just have to plow forward.

 

Wow. I was going to post pretty much that exact thing!

 

We started a new handwriting program in 5th grade, in the hopes I can remediate my particularly bad handwriting child to something, anything more. Trying to fix ingrained habits is very unpleasant. Both of mine resist the act of handwriting, though one more than the other. I wish I had pushed the practice, supervised/corrected more, and switched programs long ago!

 

I'm finally figuring out composition now, in 5th grade. I would do things differently and sooner in that area if I could go back, knowing what I know now.

 

I think I would have put some (living) foreign language in perhaps.

 

That said, I'm mostly glad I didn't push in those early grades. My kids associated school with good experiences, and I'm glad for that.

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I'm glad I trusted myself to create an academic path for my kids that did not need to resemble a school. I am glad we have spent so many hours as a family playing strategy games. I am glad that just playing has been a huge part of my kids' lives.

 

Creating an atmosphere of critical, independent thinking has been a much higher priority than focusing on content fact-based knowledge. I would rather my younger kids be able to puzzle mentally through multiple steps of a strategy game than be able to recite names and places in history or chemical elements, etc. I would rather they spend time playing than filling in blanks in workbooks. Figuring out how pulleys, levers, catapults, etc work through trial and error play means that when they study physics they go, yeah, I know that bc________. I highly value spontaneous life learning. I am not a fan of constant scheduled, lead the child to discovering what you have planned learning.

 

I teach through questions. I expect my kids to think in order to answer.

 

No regrets for my neurotypical kids. My kids are strong academically, know how to think for themselves and take on the responsibilities for doing for themselves. Lots of regrets in terms of our Aspie. I wish I had rejected academic pursuits and had focused on building a small business for him to manage with supervision. We spent a lot of money trying to assist him for a college prep and post college lifestyle which was pursuing a rose-colored-glasses life. I wish we had embraced his limitations and focused on his interests. Owning a small art studio or a video game store/gamers hang-out would have been a far better use of our money. Unfortunately the $$ is gone and we aren't in the position to spend that kind of $$ now.

 

Which leads sort of in to my last thought. Kids are way more expensive when they are older, especially in terms of academic pursuits. Don't spend thousands of dollars on academics when they are little if that choice means not investing funds for when they are older. Take that money and invest in a high school/college fund. Those are the yrs when when $$ will make a huge difference in their ability to accomplish academic goals.

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I'm glad I trusted myself to create an academic path for my kids that did not need to resemble a school. I am glad we have spent so many hours as a family playing strategy games. I am glad that just playing has been a huge part of my kids' lives.

 

Creating an atmosphere of critical, independent thinking has been a much higher priority than focusing on content fact-based knowledge. I would rather my younger kids be able to puzzle mentally through multiple steps of a strategy game than be able to recite names and places in history or chemical elements, etc. I would rather they spend time playing than filling in blanks in workbooks. Figuring out how pulleys, levels, catapults, etc work through trial and error play means that when they study physics they go, yeah, I know that bc________. I highly value spontaneous life learning. I am not a fan of constant scheduled, lead the child to discovering what you have planned learning.

 

I teach through questions. I expect my kids to think in order to answer.

 

No regrets for my neurotypical kids. My kids are strong academically, know how to think for themselves and take on the responsibilities for doing for themselves. Lots of regrets in terms of our Aspie. I wish I had rejected academic pursuits and had focused on building a small business for him to manage with supervision. We spent a lot of money trying to assist him for a college prep and post college lifestyle which was pursuing a rose-colored-glasses life. I wish we had embraced his limitations and focused on his interests. Owning a small art studio or a video game store/gamers hang-out would have been a far better use of our money. Unfortunately the $$ is gone and we aren't in the position to spend that kind of $$ now.

 

Which leads sort of in to my last thought. Kids are way more expensive when they are older, especially in terms of academic pursuits. Don't spend thousands of dollars on academics when they are little if that choice means not investing funds for when they are older. Take that money and invest in a high school/college fund. Those are the yrs when when $$ will make a huge difference in their ability to accomplish academic goals.

This post is very encouraging to me because it mostly mirrors what I am already doing with my young children, but from the perspective of someone with several grown children.

 

I wanted to second the advice to save up during the early years. My oldest is eleven and already we are putting out a lot more money to carry her interests and needs. I am grateful that we lived very, very frugally during the first decade of our marriage, putting as much money as possible into paying off student loans and paying down the mortgage. By the time my kids hit college age, we won't have a large college fund but we should have the house paid off, freeing up more money to meet needs at that time.

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I read a similar thread many years ago and took to heart the encouragement to enjoy the younger years--not to stress about academics or checklists or what the school down the street is doing. Know my kids, love my kids, read to my kids, engage with my kids, push the academics a bit when they seem ready--of course--but mostly remember that they learn through play. Let them play. Oh, and keep the TV mostly turned off.

 

One habit we started when they were babies that still continues (they're nearly 12 and 13 now) is what we call "Couch Time." They don't remember all of the books we've read, artists we've studied, conversations we've had there over the years, but I firmly believe those interactions have contributed to who they are today (and they're pretty awesome).

 

So I don't have many regrets over how we spent our time, though I do wish I could have back some of the money I foolishly spent on the shiny new curriculum of the week being raved about on the boards. Hey, there's some concrete advice: Avoid the curriculum boards.  :)

 

 

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During the preschool years, I just let my boys overrun the house with Thomas train tracks, Legos and Playmobil (lots of indirect math and play acting in there).

Even now I let them chase squirrels and birds at the park. It makes them happy and they get some sprinting exercise.

What was worth spending on for my boys was recreational gym class. It help in their coordination and make them less "clumsy" when playing with other kids. My older was a very late walker.

During the day, my home was a permanent mess at that stage and I just bear with it.

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I'm still in the early stages myself, but the best thing I've spent time on so far is figuring out how each child learns and taking that into consideration in what sorts of stuff/curriculum I get.  I've never regretted any of the purchases I've made, especially when I can find something that works and isn't expensive.   $5 or $500 in curriculum is going to be a waste if the munchkins aren't learning and I end up scrapping it.  But don't be afraid to take the time to figure out what works for you as well, since you're going to be the one teaching/presenting the material.  

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I have two fifth grade boys. Things I'm glad I did include making sure that every day they saw Mom reading and writing. I wish they'd seen Mom doing Math every day. Now I do algebra while they do CLE, and the fact that Mom sits down with her math, makes mistakes, works hard and sometimes struggles has been helpful for them.

 

Some things that might have been helpful for me to know then that I know now: Mastery means that you have practiced to get there. The idea that you can say something once, twice or twenty times and still have it not be remembered would have been a lot easier to take had I known that little boy minds are indeed quite spongy. They do soak it up, but it sort of all runs out when you squeeze. I wouldn't have squeezed so hard.

 

I don't really have any curriculum regrets. I've learned something from most things I've bought, even if I didn't use them as intended or used them at all. 

 

I'd have waited until third grade for formal spelling. The time and energy I have spent fretting about spelling has evolved now to the point where the boys are actually picking out their own spelling words and I'm happy as can be. I could have saved myself some torn out hair over spelling for sure if I hadn't gotten so worked up about it in first and second grade.

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I am glad that when my children were younger (Preschool, Pre-K, K, 1st) we....

  • stayed home a lot (my #1 positive reflection on this season) -- That is, they were not in numerous organized activities outside the home. We are ramping this up a bit now, and I'm glad we had that time at home when they were younger.
  • took naps almost daily (we're down to about 3x/week now)
  • went to the library weekly with a WAGON, filled up the wagon, and took the books home to read them
  • snuggled on the sofa and read those picture books from the library
  • invested in quality audiobooks (Jim Weiss, Your Story Hour, full-length ABs) and spent many happy hours listening (we still do this)
  • danced, marched, and sang to Wee Sing CDs, Cedarmont Kids CDs, and other happy music
  • had homemade costumes for playing fairy, princess, cowgirl [or all three at once], and encouraged pretend play and storytelling
  • focused on nursery rhymes, Bible stories, classic children's tales, fairy tales, folk tales, and tall tales -- I think it was good that we revisited these "old friends" again and again. My children were joyful in this, never bored. They enjoyed the repetition!
  • memorized poems, hymns, and Bible verses (I made up poetry books for each level -- Pre-K, K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and now 4th. We review all the poems from previous years, too)
  • read biographies (one year), did a fun and interesting "Trip Around the World" (one year), and studied American History (two years), instead of a four-year history cycle
  • played in the backyard, on the swing, in the sandbox, in the kiddie pool, and with the cat ;)
  • had PBJ picnics at local parks
  • visited our local historical farm
  • went a few times a week to visit grandparents
  • went to the zoo (yearly pass, one year), the aquarium (yearly pass, another year), the planetarium, on train rides, and to the beach
  • went to California, Virginia (2x), New Hampshire, Maine, and Pennsylvania (thanks to relatives with timeshares)
  • bought and played with math manipulatives (C-rods, PV blocks, rulers, scale, tiles, blocks, geometric stuff, fraction stuff, etc.)
  • stuck with Horizons Math, even when I wanted to hurl, shred, and burn the seemingly useless Teacher Manual (it isn't completely useless, actually, but there are times....)
  • mastered math facts (to the extent that they are currently mastered; I'm glad that this is a focus)
  • taught our children to complete simple chores and basic self-care routines
  • taught our children to have respectful attitudes, not whine or complain, and to follow directions (we're still working on these)

I wish that when my children were younger...

  • I had been more patient. I wasn't terrible, but I did let the pressure to "prove" the merits of homeschooling bother me more than I should have. I was determined to do this well! But it honestly was a better fit for our family when I learned to stop worrying about what other people (i.e., my parents, his parents, our friends) would think and just do what's best for our children and our family life. "School" doesn't have to be perfect -- perfectly planned, perfectly executed, perfectly checked off in every box. Only on a blog is homeschooling always smooth. ;) The longer we do this, the more I tend to think it's primarily about our children being with us, and not so much about "doing school at home." We do achieve in academics, but I'm thankful that we've grown in our relationships, not just skills and knowledge.
  • I had worked more on my own physical health, wellness, and energy level, instead of spending so much time on homeschooling. Really, I wish I had taken some of that time to exercise and grow stronger.

HTH. Have joy in your journey!

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[Numbers added, so I can easily comment]

  1. More handcrafts such as knitting and weaving and molding
  2. Less math for the gifted younger one
  3. More focus on handwriting as Farrar brought up, and that would include math handwriting practice
  4. I'd read aloud more and not be so rigid about what I did read
  5. Bedtime would be earlier
  6. The boys would learn to drink water

 

1. Yes, handicrafts! There is something mentally challenging and emotionally satisfying about these things. When I watch my children crocheting, I can see those wheels turn, LOL. It's interesting to note that, while I never learned to crochet, knit, or draw in school, many of my European friends learned to knit and/or crochet, and nearly all my Asian friends learned to draw. For them, it's a part of school. I can teach them to sew and embroider, but I wonder how to teach them things I don't know myself, like knitting or macrame? Remember macrame? ;)

3. I never thought about the "math handwriting" before, but that is a very good point! I think students need practice copying problems carefully, lining up numbers as to place value, lining up decimal points, etc. Good idea, we'll be doing this.

4. Yeah, isn't that the truth? I had this revelation last year, when I realized I was spending more time trying to "line up" reading than I was actually reading. Duh. This is so true.

5. Yes, earlier for everyone. ;) Mommy, too. :toetap05: I am guilty of staying up too late sometimes. :blushing:

6. Absolutely. I read once that everyone should drink water as soon as they wake up in the morning. I'm not sure why this is, but it seemed like good sense. We almost always drink a glass of water when we wake up, then play/work a bit, then eat breakfast. It's water all day around here, and we're hardly ever sick. Or constipated. LOL. I know so many people who never drink "just water." :blink:

 

 

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