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New to homeschool and all these curriculum options have my head spinning :)


lloomis
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Hello everyone!

 

Our family is new to homeschool and honestly I am bit overwhelmed at the moment.  Our oldest is going to start Kindergarten although I'd like to get started on the curriculum now.  The problem I'm facing is I am lost in the world of curriculum. It's been on my to do list for months to sit down and pick it but I'm terrified I'm making the wrong choice.  I was hoping someone out there could tell me what curriculum they chose and why they like it. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!

 

 

 

 

I am at a lost for words.  Thank you ALL so much for the outpour of support and wonderful information! I am humbled by all the incredible advice and encouragement.  I have some amazing ideas to ponder and I appreciate the questions that allowed me to look inward. I am still very moved by all the warmth and kindness you have all shown me.  Thank you again from the bottom of my heart! I feel at peace and I have all of you to thank.

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Since you are just starting K, I'd not get a curricula now.  Instead, I'd try to find samples, online lessons and printables or used books that are similar to curricula and methods you think you want and try them out.  Take the time to find out how your child learns and how you like to teach while you can.

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Okay I knew I was going to home school before I even met my husband. It took us 5 years to have our first take home baby so I had a LONG time to plan for it. I can tell you right now that even if you had ALL the time in the world, you may still not figure it out! That isn't to discourage you, but to let you know that you are not alone. 

 

One of the great things about homeschooling is you can make a "mistake" with curriculum and fix it. Yeah you may be out a bit of money (which I know isn't fun!), but with resale value of books the way they are, you may not even be out much of that! I thought I had it all figured out then I went to teach my son, only to discover that he didn't want to learn the way I wanted to teach. That is okay! That is what is great about homeschooling. You don't have to keep doing something that isn't working for your child. 

 

I would suggest that you look at what others are teaching for Kindergarden and see what grabs you. It will either work, or not work. Many schools say what they use, and I am sure you will get recommendations on here. 

 

Here are my 2 cents:

Reading - All About Reading (probably level 1)

Handwriting - Handwriting Without Tears or A Reason For Handwriting (if you wanted something religious)

Math - Shiller Math (this is more expensive then some math programs but I am using it now and I am totally in love!)

Science - Not needed and I am not sure here. When my baby gets to be this age, he will just learn with big brother.

History - Not needed and I am not sure here either. 

 

I would keep it simple. Next year more opens up to you and you can do a longer day. I would cater to what your child wants to do a lot at this age. 

 

Good luck!

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I really enjoyed reading The Ultimate Guide To Homeschooling and Cathy Duffy's Top Pics. There are probably 10,000 different curricula out there with 1,000 different philosophies. Those books will help narrow it down and give you a good idea of what's out there.

 

We are using Spell to Write & Read (phonics)

Education Unboxed (math)

Sonlight (fairy tales and other good books)

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I recommend focusing on how you want to teach reading. There are lots of choices to look at and you probably want to start with something that you are comfortable or happy to teach. Some programs include Progressive Phonics (print from online), OPGTR (Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading), plus a myriad others.

 

Once you are happy with that, turn your focus to math. Again, crazy number of choices available. Look for something that makes sense to you. Some popular ones to start with are MEP (print from online - Mathematics something something), Miquon, Math Mammoth, Singapore, etc.

 

Third, choose a handwriting program - if you want to use one.

 

That covers the basics. You can start them as you pick them, or start in the fall, whatever makes sense for you. After you've picked you can think about things like art, history, science, foreign language, as you move forward.

 

Small steps!

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When I started kindergarten all I had was math (which I'd bought during pre-school years) and handwriting.  Anything else was daily life!

Gradually, as I found things I thought were important, I added them in.  My oldest is now in Grade 2.  We started spelling this year--it might have been nice to start it in Grade 1, but starting it in January of Grade 2?  Eh, not a huge deal.

 

I think the idea of using samples is great.  And (unless you have to place one giant order for financial reasons) don't worry about just picking one or two basics to start with, and then adding in other things later!

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Sorry, I'll just keep posting here as if I know what I'm talking about. You should think about how you want to teach before you pick a curriculum. Some people here teach with textbooks and workbooks, like school at home. Some use unit studies. My Fathers World, Sonlight and others will tie Science, Bible, and History in together. Are you a Christian? Do you want a Christian curriculum? I'm not asking you to answer me, but those answers will come into play when you pick something. Don't be overwhelmed, you have time to figure this all out.

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This thread was started today.

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/547758-homeschool-parents-please-answer-my-question/

 

You'll note that a lot of the regrets people had in their homeschooling journey was starting too soon, doing too much too soon, and buying too much curriculum.

 

That's not to say you shouldn't dive in with enthusiasm and expectation...it just means that you have lots and lots of wiggle room to get a curriculum that you like. You don't need to go out and buy a ton of stuff to get started. According to the above thread, holding back on buying curric at first is a good thing.

 

I love the idea someone else posted about getting some samples of different things and playing around with them. You can spend the next couple of months trying on some samples and then buy something official for fall if you like.

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It can be so overwhelming trying to get started! I had so much trouble trying to read this forum when none of the abrieviations made any sense. Don't worry it gets easier and starts to make sense. I would definitely make reading the first priority. Another vote hear for All About Reading (AAR). I am also planning on using First Start Reading from Memoria Press which teaches reading with handwriting. I bought it from Rainbow Resources which is an amazing website with tons of curriculum and detailed descriptions for great prices.

 

I bought the Handwriting Without Tears book but I have to say I don't get why it gets such great reviews. Maybe it's better in later grades? It didn't seem any better to me than the Kumon books which seemed to have more practice.

 

For math we are using Mathematical Reasoning from Critical Thinking Press and then probably moving towards Singapore.

 

DS loves science so we do a lot of random books and projects.

 

Once reading is a little more solid I think I'm going to order TOG primer for history.

 

Good luck! And don't be afraid to ask questions. I've found just reading these threads and looking at signatures has really helped me figure out what's out there.

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I highly recommend that you borrow from your library Cathy Duffy's 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum (which used to be 101 Top Picks when I was starting out).   She helps you identify your student's learning style, your teaching style, educational approaches, and helps narrow down the options that will fit your situation and your students.   Don't even look at options for older students right now, because you'll easily become even more overwhelmed.   Just focus on identifying what you think would fit where you are right now, and re-evaluate each year.

 

I also agree with others that you really don't need a formal curriculum for kindergarten.   A great resource for this age is The Three R's by Ruth Beechick.  

 

If you can go to a local homeschool convention, it's a great opportunity to put your hands on curriculum and see what's out there.  But it's best to research ahead of time and go with a short list of vendors to focus on.   You WILL be overwhelmed at conventions for the first several years.   Don't try to go "cold turkey" and expect to make curriculum choices on the spot.   

 

It's also OK if you don't pick the "perfect" curriculum for your first year of homeschooling (or ANY year, for that matter).   There is no "perfect" curriculum.   You will get to know your kids better and they will grow and change.  What you think might work well, might in fact bomb.   But come February of each year, re-evaluate what works, what hasn't worked, and what approach might need to be changed or tweaked.   

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A big part of homeschooling is trial and error when it comes to curriculum. At least it has been for me. Personally, I like to take a minimalist approach to Kindergarten, allowing lots of time for free play and read-alouds. We concentrated mainly on reading, handwriting and math.

 

Things we liked....

 

Handwriting:

Handwriting Without Tears

 

Reading:

The Reading Lesson

Phonics Pathways

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Explode the Code

 

Math:

Rod and Staff

Math-U-See

 

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Welcome. :-)

 

I will disagree with those who say that you need to know how you want to teach before you start. Most of us don't know that, and *won't* know it for awhile. :-)

 

With a little person who is just five, all you need is something to teach beginning reading skills, and something for basic arithmetic. You'll figure out the rest as you go along.

 

Most of us here will recommend phonics, and as it turns out, there are quite a few excellent methods and materials that baby homeschoolers can use. :-) Phonics Pathways and the Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (OPGTR) are both very good and very easy to use, and they are inexpensive. If you use either of them for the next year or so, your dc will have a good start in reading. You might discover during the year that you don't care for either one, and that's ok. When your little person is 6, you can do something else, but you won't have spent the year spinning your wheels.

 

You can probably find something in your own town, at a local teacher supply store, for arithmetic. You don't need anything expensive or with lots of moving parts.

 

And then if you go to the library and check out good books to read aloud to your dc, you'll have it made, and by the end of the year you'll have a little better idea of what you'd like to do next.

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Welcome to homeschooling!

 

The single thing that helped me most at the very beginning was to read The Well Trained Mind. It is usually available at a library, but I found I needed my own copy for reference. It gives a solid framework for selecting programs that will work for you, and some expectations of timeframes for each year. Highly recommend it.

 

In K, I enjoyed using Five in a Row, Singapore Essentials, Miquon Math, and All About Reading/Spelling. 

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With reading, someone once gave the advice to start simple and then work your way to a more complex program if needed. So start with Bob Books or other similar readers when a child is ready for blending. If your child needs more help than a parent coaching, then get 100EZ or OPGTTR, either one of which is leads through all the levels and is very inexpensive. If that isn't enough, invest in something like All About Reading, which is a very robust reading program.

 

With math, I suggest getting something that you think you will enjoy teaching and that makes sense to you. If it makes sense to you, you will be more able to support your child if they struggle with a concept. I loved RightStart, so that's what I went with. It has worked well in part because I understand that style of teaching math and can adapt the lessons quickly and easily to fit my child.

 

I am not a minimalist when it comes to kindergarten, and we are wrapping up a very academic kindy year now. But I started out teaching DD just reading. When we had that as part of our routine, I added in math. Once that was routine, I added in the next thing, then the next, then the next, until we felt like we were "full".

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I agree with choosing one thing and doing that for awhile and then adding other things one at a time. I recently started using Foundations from Logic of English with my 4 year old and we are having lots of fun with it. (I started her a little early because she was begging for her own school) I used OPGTR with my first and it is good, but very dry compared to Foundations. It is very colorful with lots of fun suggestions. I used RightStart for math with my first and will use it again with dd. I really like how hands on it is. When my first was in K, we went for a walk every day and I just pointed out things to talk about. Leaves, seeds, rocks, water, etc. We covered an amazing amount of things that way!

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Welcome! You've got great advice above. My DS will be in K this fall, too, so I'm still trying to figure things out for us but just wanted to recommend a few references that were very helpful for me to sort things out when I first came here with no knowledge of homeschooling whatsoever. 

 

The Well-Train Mind, of course.

Cathy Duffy's 101 Top Picks

SecularHomeschool.com - if you're looking for secular curricula

Rebecca Rupp's Homeschool Year by Year 

What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know

Sonlight catalog, Five In A Row website, Honey For Child's Heart - for book lists

Pre-K/K Board on this forum

 

BTW, you really came to the right place for your journey. When you have a rough idea on what you want to do for the first year and more specific questions, the Hive will help you tons. Enjoy and good luck! :)

 

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Many people are attracted to curricula that focus on their own weaknesses instead of curricula that use their strengths. They often want to give their child a "better" education than they got. For some people learning along side their child and filling in all their gaps is exciting. For others it is overwhelming.

 

If you are finding yourself attracted to things that look hard and unfamiliar to teach, think long and hard if that's the road you want to take, instead of a more familiar road.

 

If you have read some of the TWTM and are attracted but intimidated, and really want to give it a go, take a look at Wayfarers. Wayfarers includes preschool.

http://barefootmeandering.com/site/wayfarers/

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/barefootragamuffins/info

 

Ambleside Online Year 0 can be a good place to spend a year, if you have been attracted to Charlotte Mason. The forum isn't a good fit for some people, though, as the owners are very clear that they are focusing on a pretty narrow audience.

https://www.amblesideonline.org/00.shtml

https://amblesideonline.org/forum/

 

I second reading Ruth Beechick's The Three R's, especially if you go the more do it yourself route. Really you don't need a curriculum to start. EDIT: I also second, What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know. Make sure to get the brand new revised and UPDATED version; it's more integrated than the revised edition. I'm partial to the old ORIGINAL edition in general, but it doesn't have a K book and you don't need to worry about my little quirks about that THIS year. :-)

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Welcome to the circus! Many of us have overspent and overplanned K-3, myself included. My fourth child is starting K this fall and I'm finally happy with our K sequence. Many people will have many recommendations (myself included), but it takes a bit of experimentation sometimes to find a good fit.

 

We use a good Bible storybook, Rod and Staff A-G preschool booklets, and CLE's KII. When CLE's KI is done we will use that. A stack of picture books and you are done. All you need to do in K is to gently introduce phonics, printing, and very simple math (counting and maybe simple adding).

 

Thirty minutes of bookwork is plenty, no matter what you choose to work with :). Let the rest be read alouds, Lego, outside time etc. Have fun!

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I'll PM you my new homeschooler packet. If I post it some people will complain about the length.

Do you have this online anywhere so that I could provide a link for people? I am our support group's secretary, and I get requests from new and prospective homeschoolers all the time. I'd love to have a basic new homeschooler page to which I could direct them.

 

OP, I would first start by checking the laws in your state. My state doesn't require kindergarten, so we have more flexibility there, in terms of what we need or don't need to cover. If your state requires kindergarten and has specific subjects noted, then you have at least a framework.

 

Other people have given you good ideas. If you can look at samples online, read these forums, check out as many books about homeschooling as you can, read some blogs, and maybe check out a local conference or curriculum fair, you'll start to see some repetition, and some things will naturally make you nod, while you'll find that other ideas turn you off.

 

If nothing else, my little people loved raising butterflies from a kit. That would be a great kindergarten science project because the changes are so distinct. (Raising ladybugs was cool too, but less distinct.)

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I just read the OP again. What have *I* used and WHY have *I* liked it? :lol: Okay, it's story time? :hurray:

 

I'm not sure if you are prepared for some of our  :biggrinjester:  stories and  :blink:  choices. I go back to the 90's. I think Ellie started in the 80's. Some of that stuff is just gone, and some even though it still has the same NAME is NOT the same as what WE used. I really despise some of the updates since Y2K.

 

One oldschool curriculum that I have used that hasn't been revised is Student of the Word.

http://www.sowcurriculum.com/sow/newpage1.htm

 

I like that it is K-12. I like that it uses the Bible as the main literature book and that many of the language arts lessons are based off of scripture. I'm a little odd that I am no longer a Christian, and have a grandmother that was a witch, but think the Bible is a great piece of literature.

 

Ellie and I have both used Writing Road to Reading 4th Edition. I won't use the current 6th edition :ack2: , but I'll let Ellie express her own opinions of the new edition. 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Writing-Road-Reading-Spalding/dp/0688100074/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1GAPBTBAQ6WST9GGWMF9

 

I also like all of Samuel Blumendfeld's phonics stuff and have used different versions at different times. See if your library has How to Tutor. If you like the book, we can talk pros and cons of his later revisions, that might be more open-and-go to actually use with the students. http://www.amazon.com/How-Tutor-Samuel-L-Blumenfeld/dp/0941995011/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428545535&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+tutor

 

I like the OLD very early 1990's hardcover spongepainted Doubleday What Your Grader Needs to Know series grades 1-6. I like that it was COMPLETE in 6 books and included everything an adult needed to know not to be a total social misfit. The revised series got stretched out from preschool to grade 8, but the publisher didn't bother to publish the grades 7 and 8 books.  :banghead:

 

I liked the OLD Saxon FIRST edition 54-calculus, but NOT the lower levels by another author, and I do not like like the revisions taking place in the series at all.

 

And of course I have used The Well Trained Mind. First edition of course. :lol: The current edition is the third.

 

Of course I've dabbled in all sorts of new stuff. And I've used lots of stuff way too advanced for K-3.

 

My boys are grown now. I'm divorced and living in a major city and tutor homeless and mentally ill women. Times have changed. but once a homeschooler always a homeschooler and I'm still here at TWTM after all these years. I like it here. It's home. :grouphug:

 

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I recommend going to a homeschool convention.  Most states have conventions for the next few months.  You can look at curriculum and ask questions.

 

 I had an idea of what I wanted to use for Kindergarten but then I went to my local convention and was amazed by all the different choices out there.

 

 I was able to spend time looking at curriculum and ask a lot of questions (to the people in the booths and other homeschoolers at the convention).  We wound up using Sonlight for Kindergarten.

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It can be so overwhelming trying to get started! I had so much trouble trying to read this forum when none of the abrieviations made any sense. Don't worry it gets easier and starts to make sense. I would definitely make reading the first priority. Another vote hear for All About Reading (AAR). I am also planning on using First Start Reading from Memoria Press which teaches reading with handwriting. I bought it from Rainbow Resources which is an amazing website with tons of curriculum and detailed descriptions for great prices.

 

I bought the Handwriting Without Tears book but I have to say I don't get why it gets such great reviews. Maybe it's better in later grades? It didn't seem any better to me than the Kumon books which seemed to have more practice.

 

For math we are using Mathematical Reasoning from Critical Thinking Press and then probably moving towards Singapore.

 

DS loves science so we do a lot of random books and projects.

 

Once reading is a little more solid I think I'm going to order TOG primer for history.

 

Good luck! And don't be afraid to ask questions. I've found just reading these threads and looking at signatures has really helped me figure out what's out there.

There is so much more to HWT than the workbook. The early grades of the program are the best part to me. They have so many hands-on activities in PK and K which is one of the reasons there may not seem to be a lot of practice. The teachers guide also gives additional activities/exercises to be completed including some done on paper. The other thing I like is the developmental order in which they present letters. Like letters are grouped together and if you get the CD each grouping has a cute little song.

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Well, I've used a whole bunch between my oldest three, and am writing my own stuff for #4.  I may not be much help.

 

 

That said...

 

Push curric catalogues aside for a bit to think through "What do I want our days to look like?" and "What are my goals for the end of Kindergarten?"  Until you answer those two questions, you will waste $ on currics that meet the needs of someone else's family.

 

 

 

For me:

 

My end goals (academic) for Kindy are basic.  Read CVC words; know some phonograms but it's OK if they aren't all solid yet.  Be comfy with letter (and number) formation.  It's OK to write slow and big, but the formation should be solid. Give me a 1st grader who can do these reading/writing skills, and I can take her through an awesome 1st grade year...and kindy is all about prepping for 1st grade, really.  In math, we need to write the numerals, count up and down, add and subtract easily within 10, be able to use manipulatives to figure stuff out that isn't automatic.  I want to see an eagerness to try hard problems, and an ease with the basic numbers.

 

 

Our days:  15min of reading lesson, 15min of handwriting, 15min of math, 2 hours of reading aloud spread throughout the day, at least 2 hours of unstructured play (preferably outside), cheerful helping with some simple chores.

 

 

So, I am not going to purchase a curric that takes 3 hours daily to complete just the reading/writing portion of our days.  It simply wouldn't fit.

 

 

My best advice, fwiw, is to only purchase curricula for those skills. Then READ.  Read to her, read HSing books for yourself, preread books you might want to give her in 1st-3rd grades. You will likely make some "Ooopsies!" but that is easier to swallow when it's a $25 mistake rather than a $250 mistake.  It's easier to switch a reading/writing primer out when it doesn't effect your math or read alouds....or to switch your math when it's not scheduled for you in an all-in-one.  Start slow.  Go ahead and focus on one thing, and start shopping, and try it out. When that takes it's spot in your daily routine, pick up another subject, and grow slowly into HSing this way. It's a lot less stress for both you and the child.

 

 

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The OP wrote this. I don't think we are doing a good job at all of answering this question.

I explained in an earlier post why I like HWT.

 

Here is the rest of what I used for K:

 

Math: Singapore Essential Math - easy to use, lots of hands-on activities. Book A is easy and you will likely fly through it. Book B will take more time, so don't judge it based on book A. We move from this to Singapore Primary Math which I love for the challenge as well as the level of understanding they achieve.

 

Reading: AAR is great for kids who like hands-on activities and for struggling readers. It may not be as good a fit for more natural readers because it progresses pretty slowly. My oldest was a very natural reader and AAR wasn't around when we started so she used AAS with the readers they had at the time. All of my kids moved or will move to MP Literature.

 

Art: Atelier - love that there are DVDs and that they are learning art - not just making crafts.

 

Read Alouds - I love the MP read aloud lists as well as Mater Amabilis, Ambleside and Sonlight

 

I love Memoria Press, but I have never used it before grade 3. I already had resources I liked for the early years and I saw no need to make the change. Many people rave about their PK-2nd grade curriculum so it's worth checking out. I use a lot of their materials starting in grade 3. I avoided MP at first because I didn't think I wanted workbooks. I gradually started using their materials and loved them, and now I purchase the better part of a core. I love how they are organized and I love the predictability. They are known for depth and not breadth, and they believe in teaching to mastery. They are a wonderful company to work with and will customize packages for you which is nice if your child ends up being ahead in some areas or behind in others. They are very

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This program looks so sweet and it's free. Wish I had a kindergartener.

 

http://weefolkart.com/content/homeschool-companion-guides

We have used this for Kindergarten and PreK3 this year and have loved it!  We haven't done many projects, but my boys have loved the books, poetry, and art.  This, plus MEP math, some printable activity sheets from the internet, watercolor painting and other free art, a few of the Burgess animal books, readaloud novels with the rest of the family, coming along for the ride with science experiments (the little boys don't care if they understand the scientific principles, but they love seeing things explode or bubble!), and various phonics/reading books (we have used some of 100 Easy Lessons, Batman phonics, and Dick and Jane), and that's been K for us.  I'd definitely recommend both Wee Folk Art and MEP math!

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 I was hoping someone out there could tell me what curriculum they chose and why they like it.

 

 

The OP wrote this. I don't think we are doing a good job at all of answering this question.

 

Oh, right.  Thanks Hunter!  Though I will say that I think explaining *why* we "didn't choose" at first is also relevant.

 

Anyway, as I said, we started with math and handwriting, and then chose others later.  I don't exactly remember the order, but I'll try.

 

Math:  Rightstart math.  It's expensive, unfortunately, because of the manipulatives, but it's VERY good.  It works well for kinesthetic learners, or visual, or auditory.  It won't work well for either children or teachers who just want a workbook.  It's very interactive.  It encourages the student to discover the concept themselves, but in a very carefully led way.  It works on a deep understanding of place value in the early levels, which is *very* useful for solidifying how addition and subtraction work.  

 

Handwriting:  Handwriting Without Tears.  I like it fine, and I think it works, but we didn't wind up doing most of the activities.  I'm not really sure that we needed it, and could maybe have just done a workbook.  I also HATE its later levels that introduce cursive, I don't like how their cursive looks, so we switched to something else for that.

 

I don't remember which came next.  Mostly, as I heard about an amazing curriculum I went and checked it out, and if I thought it was amazing too, then we added it.  I think some of that was during kindergarten...And, oh, I should point out that because of one of the ways that homeschooling can work in my area, I have funding each year to play with.  This means that I'm quite willing to buy some more expensive curriculum and rarely consider how much it costs as a primary concern unless it's *really* expensive.

 

Pretty sure the next two were Art and Science.

 

Art:  Artistic Pursuits.  I like that it includes some art appreciation, introduction of specific concepts, and then a project for those concepts.  I like that there are multiple media explored.  You don't just do tempera paint all year, but actually try pastels, and watercolour, and clay...

 

Science:  Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding.  I chose it because it is real science, it's integrated across several fields (biology, properties of matter, chemistry, so on) and it's good for a 3-year span.  However, much as I loved it, I wasn't the greatest at making it happen.  So this year, in Grade 2, I've also picked up Science in the Beginning, which is a bit more likely to get done.  It's a bit more open-and-go.  Not completely, but more so.  I like both.

 

I think after that we added Story of the World.  I like it because it's engaging and the children like listening, I like that the activity guide includes map work and other reading and other activities, and I like that it starts at the beginning and goes on to the end.  Or at least goes on to the current.  ;)

 

 

In Grade 2 we've added spelling.  I tried Spelling Workout, didn't care for it all that much, and have switched to All About Spelling.  Again, I chose it because it appeals to multiple learning styles, and is very interactive.

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I agree with Ellie that you do not need to have it all figured out beforehand. Homeschooling is one of those things you learn about as you go along. The academic needs for K-2 are really pretty minimal so don't feel intimidated! 

 

For Kindy, I third the recommendation for Wee Folk Art's program. 

 

For learning about curriculum and schooling in general, I agree with the recs for Duffy's 101 Top Picks and Ruth Beechick's The 3 R's.

 

ETA: Duffy now has an updated 102 Top Picks!

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Also, now that I have older children, I use a lot of picture books on the same history and science topics, so that the younger children get something too.  When my oldest was a kindergartener, she really liked the If You Lived series of history books, and I think those are great.

 

My children love the Burgess animal books (Adventures of So-and-So) too.

 

I don't allow a ton of screen time, but my current 6yo absolutely loves the Wild Kratts show.  He's forever spouting off facts about animals and seems very interested in them.  So when he's a fluent reader, I want to get him this book (we have others in the series, which the older children use, and they're pretty good), because I think he will utterly love being able to look up whatever he wants to know about whatever animal he wants: http://www.amazon.com/Kingfisher-Animal-Encyclopedia-Encyclopedias/dp/0753465809/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428596497&sr=8-1&keywords=kingfisher+animal+encyclopedia

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I know that overwhelming feeling too.  I had not planned on homeschooling, and did not realise it was a viable option until I read The Well Trained Mind. I started with a sample of the third edition downloaded to my kindle. Then I went through InterLibrary Loan and got the first edition.  My brother bought my third edition for me as a gift. Both first and third editions are a valuable resourse.

 

So after many hours reading and researching, finding this wonderful forum, gleaning knowledge from the boards, I chose Memoria Press. I felt I didn't have the experience to plan on my own. I also loved their philosophy, choice of books, and excellent customer service. Last year we used the Junior Kindergarten package. It is gentle and we enjoyed it.  This year we are using the kindergarten core curriculum, and we are loving it as well. 

 

Good luck, and ask questions. Many here have years of experience and are willing to share.:)

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The OP wrote this. I don't think we are doing a good job at all of answering this question.

 

I didn't explain why I liked my choices, either, so ...

 

TWTM, which is my favourite HS resource ever, encourages a gentle K year. Here's a quote from the Preschool section: "We feel that there's little point in following a formal, academic K-4 or K-5 curriculum at home. Rather, the first four or five years of a child's life should be spent in informal teaching -- preparing the child for first-grade work. In about thirty minutes per day, plus informal teaching as you go about your family life, you can easily teach your child beginning reading, writing, and math concepts, all without workbooks or teacher's manuals." (3rd Ed, p. 30)

 

I had an advanced learner who was chomping at the bit, and I was an eager mom who does better with a bit of structure, so I chose to use programs that gave us gentle structure while keeping it fun.

 

Five in a Row was a delightful way to explore literature, art, geography, and science. I *could* have done it myself: selecting good books and creating fun related activities based on those books, but FIAR made it easier. I did end up creating a FIAR-ish unit based on "The Hockey Sweater," but apart from that relied on the book choices and activities in the manual. My girls still talk about the books and the fun we had together. 

 

Miquon and Singapore Essentials gave us introductory math. Miquon used c-rods as manipulatives, making it perfect for my students (particularly my second). She was SO excited the day that she saw the rods lined up and realized that she could count to 10 both forwards AND backwards!  :001_smile: Another advantage to Miquon at that age was that a child could use rods or cards to represent numbers, rather than having to try to handwrite them. That was really important for one of my dds. Singapore had cute, fun worksheets that ramped up in challenge over time. I was pleased with both for the K year, and recommend both highly.

 

I started our girls out with Jolly Phonics for reading (around age 3 or 4), and then switched to AAS (All About Reading wasn't out then) in K5. For the one, it was because she was LA advanced and needed/wanted to begin spelling; for the other, it was because the phonics weren't solid for her after completing Jolly Phonics. The AAS tiles helped her cement those, just as the Miquon rods helped her figure out numbers. (I guess she likes to move things around to learn!) I liked the AAS approach and how it could be adapted to use for both reading and spelling. The related readers were exceptional. 

 

It can be overwhelming when you consider all of the options out there, but you'll quickly find what works for you!

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Returning to better answer the "what I chose and why I like it". I have an academically advanced kid. We were not using K materials in K, but I'll answer regarding the typical K materials we've used because I assume that's what you want to know.

 

RightStart Math: I love this program because it teaches using manipulatives and games, with little written work and no flash cards. Level A, the typical kindy level we were able to skip all the written work and still learn all the concepts. Because the manipulatives basically look like toys to a kid, DD never even knew we were using a "math program". I would read the TM ahead of time and was able to incorporate the math into her day.

 

Bob Books: Once DD knew her letter sounds and could blend letters, she learned reading with these. They were gentle and fun. I could easily adapt the pacing to include re-reading earlier books to work on fluency or moving into one of the "extra" sets like sight words between the standard sets. When she finished with Bob, she was able to move directly to library books. We never used a formal reading program. I loved the simplicity of doing this.

 

StartWrite software: I can set up handwriting sheets to include words she is interested in. I can adjust how big the font is and how many times she writes something. The downside is that I didn't really have any guidance on what to expect for output from DD.

 

New American Cursive: I mostly like that DD is excited to do it because she would prefer to learn cursive rather than print. The book is easy to teach from. I didn't want a handwriting "program" with pieces and lots of activities. I really wanted this to be straightforward.

 

BFSU: I love the conversations about science this has inspired, the book suggestions, and the topics covered. If someone would produce an open-and-go version with a kit, I'd love it even more, but it's the best I've got for now :)

 

Prehistory: I linked what I put together for this in my signature. It was one of my DD's favorite parts of kindergarten. I enjoyed watching the documentaries with her.

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Hi! Welcome to homeschooling!

 

Here's what I used and why I like it. This does not mean that it'll work for you..but I'll throw it out there anyway :)

 

Handwriting without Tears: This program is really great. I bought it used so it was cheap. You don't need all the bells and whistles. I'd get the chalkboard, the wood pieces, and that stamp and see board as well as the workbook that you can buy on Amazon. It made writing easy by using names like big curve, little curve, big line and little line to teach the kids the structure of how to form each letter. This was more activity, little actual writing with pencil. I love how developmentally appropriate it is. We never had tears lol. 

 

Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading: black and white, simple presentation but so so effective. I have two vastly different kids who are both very strong readers from this book. I'd write out the lessons from the book in bright dry erase markers on our board. They got to choose the color of the marker ;) so they were on board with reading. I'd sometimes split the lesson over multiple days. We plodded through the book. It gets a kid through every phonogram (unlike most others that just stop halfway through first grade level??) plopping them at a 4th grade reading level by the end of the book. Practice reading skills with some Bob books and readers at the library and reading is done!

 

Rightstart Math: manipulatives, card games, fun fun math program that is a gentle intro but deep math learning. Asian math...huge place value understanding. Such a great program. Youtube has great videos and their website is hugely helpful. 

 

 

Science and History with workbooks, library books, TV shows like Bill Nye or Magic School Bus. Easy peasy. 

 

You got this!! ;) 

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It looks like you have a lot of good advice already.

 

I would just say that curriculum is a tool to help you, the teacher, meet your goals. I think you need to make sure you know what those are before you get lost looking at flashy samples and listening to sales people at a convention. TWTM and Cathy Duffy's books are a good place to start. There is a blog, Simple Homeschool, that has some great articles on how to begin and what describes different approaches to education.

 

When you do not know how you want to approach school, it makes things more complicated. So decide those tough questions first, and then you can easily rule out a ton of curricula that does not fit your approach or goals or style of learning and teaching. I know that seems to make things harder because those are bigger decisions, but things will fall into place better when you have thought about those things. That will save you a lot of trouble buying the most popular curriculum that everyone says you must try only to find it doesn't serve you well at all.

 

Once you have an approach, which is a fancy way of saying things like...I like more schoolish stuff or a more classical approach or a more laid back approach, hands-on or Charlotte Mason type of thing, then you can eliminate so many that don't fit. Do I want more of a traditional math or a "newer" math style? Do I want Common Core or could I care less? Then you can evaluate those that fit into your approach for other things like learning style, visual appeal, teachers guide, etc.

 

As others mentioned, I would start with phonics and then focus on math. The other things will start to fall in place. Do you want more traditional phonics or whole word approach? Do you want something simple or with lots of fun colors and songs? Once you have narrowed that down, then You can look at samples more and see what you are drawn to and why?

 

I hope this helps. I know it can be daunting. But trial and error is a part of it too, and those changes help you grow more confident in what you want as well.

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Do you have this online anywhere so that I could provide a link for people? I am our support group's secretary, and I get requests from new and prospective homeschoolers all the time. I'd love to have a basic new homeschooler page to which I could direct them.

 

 

No, not yet.  I used to but not anymore-long story.   I really should get on that.  I sent you one.

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I didn't explain my choices well. One isn't used often but I like it so I will highlight that one. 

 

I like Shiller Math because it is completely customizable, scripted (for the teacher) and truly makes math fun. It is montessori based so they are using manipulatives often (at least in the early years, my son is only 6). You don't just drill one thing over and over all day when you use it too. My son hated that about Singapore. He felt like it was a chore to learn that way. This is WAY spiral based. There is songs and active movement in some of the lessons. So they are not just working with paper or a few manipulatives. Even my younger child gets into it! 

 

Each lesson is controlled by the child, not by me. So he can work and repeat the lesson as many times as he wants. If he hates a lesson, then we can go over it once, and then go back to it later (days later or even a week or after a test). However my son hasn't really hated a lesson. The lessons don't last a whole day either. I typically hit about 4 lessons in a 25 minute time period (time is based on the child's age, for my son at age 6 it is 25 minutes for Math, as he gets older it will be longer.). The lessons are not in the same subject area all the time either. So we could be working on columns and rows, then go to currency all in the same day. The reviews (tests) are not all book work or paper and pencil. They are gross motor, using manipulatives, and writing. When you are done with the review, you plug in the wrong answers online (this is on the free side of their website, you can even take an assessment for free) and they tell you what lessons you should repeat. Easy as can be!

 

It is an expensive program up front, but in the long run it is actually cheaper. You can print out the consumable pages as many times as needed in a 5 year period. This includes all children you may have. It also includes all your manipulatives. It is also 3 years worth all at once. My son had got to 2A in Singapore Math before I started this, and because of the nature of the program, I started him at book 1. He is doing well and often over thinks problems. I expect him to be at book 2 by the end of the year if not the end of the summer, however I would expect a child just starting out to need a year a program assuming they are a typical kid and not gifted. 

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