Saturday, June 19, 2010

Homeschooling Q & A ... Part 1

I love the questions! I love to talk homeschooling but I usually am not asked these sorts of questions in the right situation or with the time to deliberate and answer with care.

I think the best way to approach this is one bite at a time ... especially if I am aiming for consistency. And since brevity is not my gift, I think one question will more than take up precious time! Grab something caffeinated because I can feel the words multiplying.

Homeschooling girlfriends (or any of my girlfriends!) who want to chime in, please do so in the comments! It makes this whole process way more interesting and engaging :)

And be forewarned if you are new to my wordy blog. I get to the point, but I always go the long way ...

A young mom from our church, asked this question on Facebook about her daughter, who is almost three years old:

"How do I get started? Do I jump in and buy a preschool/kindergarten curriculum?"

Well first let me say, you've already jumped the biggest hurdle! Standing in the sea of indecision about whether to homeschool or not can be quite daunting. Being confident about how you will educate your children is crucial in moving forward towards the challenging but exciting part ... choosing curriculum!

Now that you are committed, the options are endless and overwhelming if you consider all that is available to homeschoolers today. I am not seasoned enough to tell anyone what the best method is but I would love to tell you what my method was.

I read.

I read books and blogs (still do) until my eyes crossed. I made consensus after consensus on the styles of homeschooling and within those styles the curriculum that followed. Because I had 3 children with a 4th on the way when we made this decision and my two oldest were 10 & 12, I had to prioritize according to the needs of my oldest two. Samuel was 4 years old and we did almost nothing that was structured academically for him that year.

Unless you count the days with him dressed as Mr. Incredible with a shovel, helping the men who built the addition to our house. I suppose that was some sort of vocational training, right?

If he was my only child or even my oldest child I am certain that I would have done things much differently. However, waiting until he was the traditional kindergarten age did not hinder him in the least bit. As a matter of fact, we started his first year of schooling at age 5 (two years ago) without the ability to recognize the complete alphabet. Last month he completed his 1st grade curriculum and is reading a couple grade levels higher than that.

No horn-tooting or back-patting here, just a reminder that the "when" is much less important than the "what". And by the "what" I mean coupling a good phonics program with an awesome amount of plain ol' reading. I have had friends use expensive programs like this and have failure and had other friends use this simple program with great success. I just have a hard time giving one particular method the thumbs up when I know that reading can be taught so many different ways.

Still, I love to talk curriculum and here is a list of what I've used over the last two years:

Sonlight - K (Language Arts)
Explode the Code
Kumon Workbooks (great for preschoolers!)
Pathway Readers
ClickN Read & ClickN Spell
(I do really love this program and the versatility of being at the computer)
Saxon Math - K
Saxon Math- 1st Grade
Handwriting Without Tears
Leading Little Ones to God
Draw to Learn - The Book of Proverbs
Draw to Learn - The Letters of Paul
*The Draw to Learn series are from the Notgrass Company

Of course I didn't use all of these at once. We are still working through the Draw to Learn books as part of our morning circle time together. We alternated Click n Kids with the Pathway Readers. I used the Kumon workbooks more during his preschool and Kindergarten years. Sonlight was my guide the first year and I really love their recommendations for reading but I have never bought the entire package.

This year we are adding the Answers in Genesis Science curriculum, Adventures in My Father's World 2nd grade (History, Music, Bible, Art, Science ... all in one!), Horizons Math (this is a change from Saxon) and Rod & Staff Grammar.

Now, if I felt like I was ready to teach a preschooler in a structured way, these are the resources where I would start:

Heart of Dakota - Little Hands to Heaven
My Father's World - Toddler & Preschool Package
Sonlight - Preschool 3/4 Core Package (even if you just looked at the book ideas and checked them out from the library)

Language and Thinking for Young Children has a lot of wonderful ideas for little folks that I wouldn't have thought of, even though they are very simple projects for all different age groups.

Find a support group in your area because the resources are plentiful and connecting with other homeschoolers is a great encouragement! I don't mind sending links to my favorite blogs but I hated to do that here and forget someone.

Stay tuned for more Q & A and please feel free to ask anything!


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1 comment:

gypsy@Hebrews11:13 said...

Oooo...I love some good homeschool curriculum talk:) For me, so far my favorites in 4 years of schooling are:
1.Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons- Engelmann
2. Beautiful Feet history
3. Story of the World History and Study Guides
4. Exploring Creation Science series- Fulbright (AWESOME!)
5. Saxon Math