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Hi all. We are totally new to the idea of homeschooling (decision made June 1st).

Our decision to homeschool our 8yr old came after years of trying to find the right school fit for him. He has always struggled with behavior problems in the class but also does extremely well academically. We thought his problems were mainly due to boredom with the curriculum ( he already seemed to know the material they were teaching or mastered it quickly). His behavior, however, overshadowed everything else and that is all his teachers seemed to be able to focus on. This was extremely frustrating and emotionally draining for all of us, especially my son. 

We went ahead and tested for ADHD (which we were pretty sure he had based on his inability to sit still.....ever), giftedness and education testing (to see just where he is academically). Our plan was to take the results to the school in hopes that they would advance him to the grade he needed to be, not where his age dictated. Ha!!!

He was diagnosed with ADHD. Gifted in visual/spatial area, but not overall gifted when all areas were combined. The educational testing shows him to be advanced in the majority of subjects with some weaknesses in math calculations and the humanities.

Well, the school DID NOT want to advance him. Had all sorts of reasons why. We knew we had to homeschool when we were told what they are planning to do is give him "extensions" once he completes his 3rd grade classwork. That is the whole problem!!! He is already beyond that. He doesn't want to do the easy/non-challenging stuff and becomes a disruption to the class.

Now I am researching homeschooling and feel totally overwhelmed! Not sure what grade level to choose. Do I get a buy a whole curriculum or pick and choose from different ones? 

I would love advice as I do not know any parents who homeschool or have kiddos like mine. 

Thanks!

 

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Welcome to the homeschooling adventure!

Your kid sounds like some of mine--and like myself as a child. Classroom learning was mostly a lousy fit for me, that played a big part in my own decision to homeschool.

My first advice would be to not worry about grade levels and not to go with a grade level package. Figure out what his needs and interests are and choose methods and materials that fit them. You are not limited to a typical school system scope and sequence--those tend to be quite arbitrary anyway (my family moved a lot while I was growing up, I attended schools in five different countries and what was being learned and when it was being learned varied immensely). 

Math is one subject that does require a somewhat linear progression through the various strands of theory and application. Most math curricula have online samples, there are lots of solid options and you can pick based on what appeals to you and your student. For a bright kid who gets bored with repetition I would suggest you take a look at Beast Academy for starters; I like to pair that with Math Mammoth for topics that need a little more practice.

For science and social studies I think going with interest based is best in elementary, though I will recommend The Story of the World series for a nice history overview--there are even audio books that you can just put on for a child to listen to while they play with Legos or whatever.

Language arts is one area where I feel different children have very different needs. For third grade I think many kids would be fine with interest based reading, copywork, and some interest based writing. 

Edited by maize
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If a single grade level did not fit in PS, a single grade level will not fit in homeschooling either. Your best bet is to pick and choose materials and follow your child. Otherwise, enjoy the ride! 

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Welcome!  I would suggest reading The Well Trained Mind (the book).  Even if you decide to go with different materials or methods than the ones suggested, it’s great for getting an idea of where to start and how to plan, etc.

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I agree that reading TWTM is a great start. And you don't have to read it cover-to-cover - just look at the introductory material and then the parts that apply to your child's age. 

I also agree that you probably don't want an all-in-one, grade-level curriculum. What I do is to list out the subjects I want to do with the child, then tackle them one at a time. I search this forum for ideas. There are grade-level planning threads where people list what they plan to use for that grade next year - that could be a good place to start. Here's the 3rd grade thread for the upcoming school year. Even if you don't end up using things labeled "third grade," you can get an idea for what publishers are out there, then go to their websites and look at samples of what they offer. I end up with a bunch of browser tabs open to different samples, and then I narrow it down to 2-4 options and come back here to look for reviews of those particular ones before I make my final decision. 

Also, I can't tell for sure if you're asking about declaring an official grade level for him, but if so: that depends on where you're located. In my state (Florida), we have to report the child's date of birth when we notify the district of our intent to homeschool, but we don't have to assign the child a grade level. If your state (or umbrella school or whatever) DOES require it, I think the general recommendation is to go with the grade your child would be in if he were in public school unless there's a reason to "officially" change that. Your child can be a 3rd grader on paper and be doing work that's not typically done by 3rd graders. You can make grade level adjustments down the road if needed.

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Here’s this year’s planning thread for Accelerated Learners: 

That thread includes kids of all ages, and all all levels, but you’ll see some common themes in the approaches and materials chosen that might give you ideas what to look at.

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Another vote for not using a grade leveled curriculum.  I am also going to encourage you to forget about replicating school at home.  Homeschooling does not have to be textbooks, worksheets, tests.  I have been homeschooling for over 25 yrs and have graduated 5 of our kids (# 6 is a senior). My kids have rarely used textbooks (math, high school science, and some foreign language are the only textbooks we use.)  We read books, lots of books, on subjects that they are interested in.  They have gone on to excel in college/grad school, including majors/careers in things like chemE and physics.

For science, you can go to the library and let him check out books on whatever science topics he wants to read.  Same with history.  Writing assignments can be given across subjects, so writing a report for science IS their writing instruction, etc. (you can give them articles for researching additional topics based on what they are reading, etc.)

Taking that approach allows you to completely ignore grade levels.  YOu just let them pursue a broad range of subjects based on what they are interested in learning more about.

With my kids I assign a certain amt of reading time for various subjects.  For example, my dd was in 3rd grade last yr.  She would read science and history for 45 mins.  She would complete a math lesson.  Writing was actually a writing program I wrote that took about 10-25 mins per day.  Add in spelling, reading lit, and violin practice and that was it.  She was done in about 3 1/2 hrs. 

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You've gotten some very good suggestions.

Definitely start with the WTM, and think about the skills talked about in each section.  A lot of times public schools will gloss over those foundational skills and when you're coming from that situation, it can be disheartening to have your child struggle with something "at" or "below" grade level simply because it's a radically different approach or they're picking up skills taught in a different order.
And I like the suggestion to head over to Rainbow Resource.  I'd also throw in a plug for the free curriculum list in the General Discussion part of this board.  With my youngest, I went through some pricey buys before settling more firmly on a policy of looking through the free, then the used/what I could get cheap, and then honing in on the new.  Some subjects he did more than 1 level a year, others I found a bit of back and forth with it all.  And there's quite a bit available for next to nothing before diving in with the more expensive.  We've found gems that have definitely outlasted the 1-2 levels I thought they would.

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On ‎7‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 12:25 PM, dmmetler said:

If a single grade level did not fit in PS, a single grade level will not fit in homeschooling either. Your best bet is to pick and choose materials and follow your child. Otherwise, enjoy the ride! 

Good point about the single grade level! I need to get out of that mentality now that I can choose what to teach. Thanks!

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On ‎7‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 9:20 AM, maize said:

Welcome to the homeschooling adventure!

Your kid sounds like some of mine--and like myself as a child. Classroom learning was mostly a lousy fit for me, that played a big part in my own decision to homeschool.

My first advice would be to not worry about grade levels and not to go with a grade level package. Figure out what his needs and interests are and choose methods and materials that fit them. You are not limited to a typical school system scope and sequence--those tend to be quite arbitrary anyway (my family moved a lot while I was growing up, I attended schools in five different countries and what was being learned and when it was being learned varied immensely). 

Math is one subject that does require a somewhat linear progression through the various strands of theory and application. Most math curricula have online samples, there are lots of solid options and you can pick based on what appeals to you and your student. For a bright kid who gets bored with repetition I would suggest you take a look at Beast Academy for starters; I like to pair that with Math Mammoth for topics that need a little more practice.

For science and social studies I think going with interest based is best in elementary, though I will recommend The Story of the World series for a nice history overview--there are even audio books that you can just put on for a child to listen to while they play with Legos or whatever.

Language arts is one area where I feel different children have very different needs. For third grade I think many kids would be fine with interest based reading, copywork, and some interest based writing. 

Thanks for the great advice. I will definitely look into those suggestions. I am excited and nervous all at the same time!

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22 hours ago, Michelle Conde said:

Welcome!  I would suggest reading The Well Trained Mind (the book). 

Thanks, I just got it from the library!

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20 hours ago, purpleowl said:

I agree that reading TWTM is a great start. And you don't have to read it cover-to-cover - just look at the introductory material and then the parts that apply to your child's age. 

I also agree that you probably don't want an all-in-one, grade-level curriculum. What I do is to list out the subjects I want to do with the child, then tackle them one at a time. I search this forum for ideas. There are grade-level planning threads where people list what they plan to use for that grade next year - that could be a good place to start. Here's the 3rd grade thread for the upcoming school year. Even if you don't end up using things labeled "third grade," you can get an idea for what publishers are out there, then go to their websites and look at samples of what they offer. I end up with a bunch of browser tabs open to different samples, and then I narrow it down to 2-4 options and come back here to look for reviews of those particular ones before I make my final decision. 

Also, I can't tell for sure if you're asking about declaring an official grade level for him, but if so: that depends on where you're located. In my state (Florida), we have to report the child's date of birth when we notify the district of our intent to homeschool, but we don't have to assign the child a grade level. If your state (or umbrella school or whatever) DOES require it, I think the general recommendation is to go with the grade your child would be in if he were in public school unless there's a reason to "officially" change that. Your child can be a 3rd grader on paper and be doing work that's not typically done by 3rd graders. You can make grade level adjustments down the road if needed.

Thanks for the excellent info and advice! 

Concerning grade level, I am more wondering how homeschooling works once they reach high school levels and are thinking about colleges. Do grade levels and/or age matter? 

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4 hours ago, Jackie said:

Here’s this year’s planning thread for Accelerated Learners: 

 

Thanks so much, I will check it out!

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1 hour ago, HomeAgain said:

And I like the suggestion to head over to Rainbow Resource.  I'd also throw in a plug for the free curriculum list in the General Discussion part of this board.  With my youngest, I went through some pricey buys before settling more firmly on a policy of looking through the free, then the used/what I could get cheap, and then honing in on the new.  Some subjects he did more than 1 level a year, others I found a bit of back and forth with it all.  And there's quite a bit available for next to nothing before diving in with the more expensive.  We've found gems that have definitely outlasted the 1-2 levels I thought they would.

One of my fears is paying for a bunch of tings then finding out that they don't work for us. I was unaware that there are free curriculums out there. Thank you for letting me know!

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1 hour ago, LaurenZ said:

Thanks for the excellent info and advice! 

Concerning grade level, I am more wondering how homeschooling works once they reach high school levels and are thinking about colleges. Do grade levels and/or age matter? 

Some accelerated kids do go to college early; others take advantage of high school years to go deep into interests and begin college alongside their age peers. The latter allows more time to build a strong student resume if your child may be considering elite schools or scholarship opportunities.

In any case, this is likely not a decision you need to make when a child is age 8. You can accelerate subjects all you want--some kids are studying Algebra or high school level biology in 6th grade, there is no grade level limitation with homeschooling. I don't personally see much benefit to grade designation acceleration at this stage. Even when approaching high school there is often some flexibility--let's say a child is 8th grade by age but may want to graduate a year early, you or they haven't quite decided yet. You can still call that year 8th grade but keep records of high school level work so that as they get closer to graduation you could put it on a transcript as 9th grade if needed.

Psychologically, it is easier to bump up grade levels later if necessary than to go the other way and "retain" a kid for a year if that becomes advisable (after an early grade acceleration). So many things can come up that you just can't predict at this age and homeschool is not like brick and mortar school where if a child is a third grader they only have access to third grade curriculum.

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3 hours ago, LaurenZ said:

Concerning grade level, I am more wondering how homeschooling works once they reach high school levels and are thinking about colleges. Do grade levels and/or age matter? 

Our family is personally opposed to graduating early.  Our advanced kids have taken 1 of 2 approaches--just studied what they wanted at an advanced level at home or dual enrolled at the local U.( By far most U's welcome homeschoolers and accept homeschool transcripts.  I print mine off my home printer. 🙂 )

Our current college jr loved languages and literature and graduated from high school with 15 foreign language credits (she studied Latin, Russian, and French), taught herself to fluency in French, and represented the US in an international Russian competition.  She did almost everything at home (Russian she studied via Skype with a tutor.)  

Our ds who is currently a grad student studying physics dual enrolled in math and physics and did all other subjects at home with me.  He graduated from high school having completed multiple 200 and 300 level math and physics courses and took a  400 level physics course as a college freshman.

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16 hours ago, maize said:

 

Some accelerated kids do go to college early; others take advantage of high school years to go deep into interests and begin college alongside their age peers. The latter allows more time to build a strong student resume if your child may be considering elite schools or scholarship opportunities.

In any case, this is likely not a decision you need to make when a child is age 8. You can accelerate subjects all you want--some kids are studying Algebra or high school level biology in 6th grade, there is no grade level limitation with homeschooling. I don't personally see much benefit to grade designation acceleration at this stage. Even when approaching high school there is often some flexibility--let's say a child is 8th grade by age but may want to graduate a year early, you or they haven't quite decided yet. 

 I prefer the idea of college with his age peers but as you point out, that is a long way off. Lots of time to figure that out. The more I research, the more I realize how much flexibility there is with homeschooling. I am excited to see what adventures he takes us on!

When we first told family and friends our decision to homeschool, they were not very encouraging. They said things like " You're brave" or " Have you thought of this type of school or that type of school" and" That's going to be difficult". Just not very supportive. We see our decision as a necessity for him. Regular school was not a good fit. I know there will be some bumps along the way and adjustments we will need to make but I truly believe this to be the right choice. I have explained this to everyone and they seem to get it now....at least they are coming across as they do!

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22 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Taking that approach allows you to completely ignore grade levels.  YOu just let them pursue a broad range of subjects based on what they are interested in learning more about.

I need to break out of the whole "school" mentality. A hard habit to break. 

I asked him what he is interested in learning about this coming year. He was very excited about being asked that question. His "musts" are Latin and Chemistry. 

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14 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Our family is personally opposed to graduating early.  Our advanced kids have taken 1 of 2 approaches--just studied what they wanted at an advanced level at home or dual enrolled at the local U.( By far most U's welcome homeschoolers and accept homeschool transcripts.  I print mine off my home printer. 🙂 )

Our current college jr loved languages and literature and graduated from high school with 15 foreign language credits (she studied Latin, Russian, and French), taught herself to fluency in French, and represented the US in an international Russian competition.  She did almost everything at home (Russian she studied via Skype with a tutor.)  

Our ds who is currently a grad student studying physics dual enrolled in math and physics and did all other subjects at home with me.  He graduated from high school having completed multiple 200 and 300 level math and physics courses and took a  400 level physics course as a college freshman.

Wow! I am always amazed by what homeschooled kids do! 

It's good to know that U's welcome homeschoolers. Thanks, that was one of my concerns. 

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7 minutes ago, LaurenZ said:

Wow! I am always amazed by what homeschooled kids do! 

It's good to know that U's welcome homeschoolers. Thanks, that was one of my concerns. 

Be assured that homeschoolers are accepted to college, even competitive colleges like Stanford and MIT.  Our kids have a very small budget for college, so they pursue merit scholarships to keep our costs low.  Our dd that I referenced above didn't have any outside grades except from her Russian tutor (taught via Skype) and a dual enrollment class that she took spring of sr yr (so not even enrolled in when she applied in the fall of sr yr.)  She was accepted everywhere she applied and with multiple large competitive scholarship offers.  She is one of USC Columbia's 20 out-of-state Top Scholars for her yr.  Top Scholars  

Our ds whom I mentioned above was one of 40 students selected for RRS at Bama.  Randall Research Scholars (He attended Bama on full scholarship and is now a grad student studying theoretical cosmology at Berkeley.) 

Lots and lots of paths forward.  Ignore the skeptics.  Find your feet and let your ds thrive in his own way.  

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Don't forget there will be a lot of deschooling involved -- I pulled my twins out of school after 2nd and they really needed time to adjust their mentality from a class setting to a home setting. You won't get your footing immediately and that's ok.  

I also highly recommend reading the WTM.  It was what gave me the confidence I COULD homeschool, even though we ended up varying widely from those methods.  For grade school, we ended up doing about an hour a day for math, 2 hours a day reading out loud (we checked out TONS of engaging science and history read alouds, and read tons of fiction).  And we did a mish mash of writing and grammar.  We tried to keep a good flow to the day, focusing on routine rather than schedule.  

Good luck!

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In addition, even if you decide you need college classes earlier, it’s not an all or nothing. My DD audited her first class at age 8 and started attending conferences at age 9,  but didn’t start taking classes for real until age 12. She could have graduated high school by that point, but we had chosen not to list her coursework as high school. Right now, she thinks she wants to go away to college at about age 16 (most of the schools she’s interested in have a minimum age of 16 to live on campus). High school has been a time for broadening and exploring interests, and the local colleges (a community college campus super close to home and a local private school that is willing to let high school students do DE at the same tuition rate as the local CC, which we’re using for some higher level classes) are basically a salad bar to pick from. Some core classes, but mostly ones that she is interested in that also fit high school boxes (like African American literature as a English credit). She’s coupling that with serious work in her interest areas (is a delegate to an international conference, and will hopefully get to present her work there), including paid work and other activities. If she decides she wants more time, she can always take it and graduate “on schedule”. 

 

In elementary school, when she was going through multiple levels of material like lightning, I had no clue what I’d do. Even at age 11, I wasn’t sure what I’d do with this kid who was finishing up high school in many ways, but emotionally definitely wasn’t ready to go away. I’m still not sure when she’s going to be ready for that next step.  But so far, it has all worked out. 

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On 7/3/2019 at 2:48 PM, LaurenZ said:

Now I am researching homeschooling and feel totally overwhelmed! Not sure what grade level to choose. Do I get a buy a whole curriculum or pick and choose from different ones? 

I would love advice as I do not know any parents who homeschool or have kiddos like mine. 

I don't have time to read through all the response so hopefully I'm not being too repetitive.

Homeschooling does not have to be "school at home." You don't have to pick a grade level and your child does not have to be doing every subject at the same level. My advice would be to take some time to get to know your child as a student to figure out strengths, weaknesses, interests, etc... then decide on curriculum. You can look at samples for a lot of curriculum online or ask on this board what parents found to work best. Your library may have or be able to get you some materials to try or you can find some used curriculum online until you figure out what works best for your student. Definitely read TWTM because it will help move you out of the mindset of b&m school and into the possibilities of homeschooling....following your child's interests, hands on learning, cross-disciplinary learning, etc...

I wouldn't worry about high school and college at this point. As you figure out what you are doing, things will fall into place. There are many options for high school students such as AP courses, dual enrollment, and CLEP, but you can learn about those options as you get closer to needing them and you will know when your child is ready for them once he has exhausted everything else. You might try reading a book like The Teenage Liberation Handbook for ideas of how school could look when your child gets older. I can tell you from experience, any planning I might have done for high school for my dd when she was 8yo would not have come close to what is working best for her now. 

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