*Disclaimer: Some of the curricula I recommend are Christian and others are not. Jewish, African American, Secular, single parents, grandparents, secular, Waldorf, Montessori, whatever, homeschoolers come in every shape and color. If you don’t like my recommendations, I encourage you to do your homework on this topic. Just tap ‘Homeschool Waldorf,’ in the search engine, and you’re on it.*
Good morning, Blog Buds! This new school year is crazy for everyone and there are several different options for dealing with it. Two of my four children are still school aged. Our son loves computers, my youngest daughter not so much. So, when the pandemic creeps into the school scene, my teenage son is fine with Distance Learning through the local public school. He misses extracurricular activities when that happens, but is otherwise okay. His friends are online too and can go do socially distanced activities with him, like bicycling. He developed his own daily schedule for all that.
The disruption of switching back and forth between full time, part time, total school at home on computers didn’t sound like fun to my youngest daughter. Nevertheless, at her age I thought it best if she decided. She’s Middle Grade. She’d already been thinking about Homeschooling because our local schools, though truly wonderful, are overcrowded. Since she’s a super creative type who thrives in one-on-one situations, an overcrowded classroom was not a happy place for her anyway. She decided to Homeschool, independent of the local school, so that she didn’t have to deal with computers. She’s a very hands-on, outdoorsy kind of girl. If all goes well, she’ll probably return to a regular school next year.
Since I need to put a lot of brain cells into Homeschooling this year, I thought I’d multi-task and share that with you all. As you can tell from the title of this post, I’m calling this series ‘Starts With A Good Book.’ I’ll link all of them into an easy to find way.
If my husband’s health takes a turn for the worse, my girl might have to go back to regular school. He has a chronic illness which makes him extra vulnerable to Covid-19. A lot of families have this issue right now. So be ready to switch gears on a dime, if needs be!
The first thing to do is figure out what kind of homeschoolers you are. There are many. Never-befores, preschoolers, always schooled now in high school, and even college at home and online.
My favorite Preschool and Kindergarten curriculum is Five In A Row, which really got me started on the Unit Study Method based on great books- https://fiveinarow.com/five-in-a-row/
Five In A Row also has a wonderful support system on their website!
I majored in History and minored in English in college. And if you’ve read this blog for a while, you know how I love reading. I started homeschooling my older children when they were preschoolers. I still remember my toddler son bringing me his coloring book to check because he’d seen his older sisters bring their workbooks to me to check. They were all early readers and one of my greatest joys, as a mother, was teaching them to read.
This is a good place to mention that it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your students for Special Needs and be ready and willing to seek help for them from the start! It can be really challenging to spot Special Needs sometimes, because they’re not always obvious. No matter how well-read you are on this topic, you may miss it simply because you have zero experience with Special Needs. This is why a great, in-person support system is really helpful.
I know Special Needs kids and their families are going to be exceptionally challenged this year! My heart goes out to you.
Anyway, I naturally took to the Charlotte Mason and Unit Study Methods with a lot of structural help from the Classical Method. A lot of kids enjoy these too, but some will not. My extremely mathematical son was not crazy about them. Suffice it to say, homeschooling is not for every family, child, and often not all the time. Be ready to adapt. Forgive yourself, if you mess up. We’re all human and we can only do our personal best.
Teaching math didn’t come natural for me. The mechanics of Language Arts can be tedious too. The trick is to choose curriculum which empowers or frees you from teaching these subjects. These are my recommendations for these two subjects:
Sorry, ‘Teaching Textbooks’ is excellent, but it’s difficult to tell whether its okay to copy and paste an image for you. Methinks their marketing needs work. Anyway, good stuff and you have options, like letting the computer program do most of the teaching.
This is your basic, bare bones workbook. We do one page every day. That’s a Charlotte Mason principal, short lessons every day, especially in skill areas, like grammar, and subjects you and/or your student don’t like.
You can also get someone to tutor your students in those subjects. If the other parent or an older family member can’t do that, homeschoolers often swap tutoring subjects. Check your local group, there are usually several different ones. Find yours and also check out the articles on styles and resources and such- https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/local-support/
Our style of homeschooling might not work for you. Maybe you’re a school-at-home kind of family. I’ve heard great things about the Calvert Curriculum- https://www.calverthomeschool.com/
Alpha Omega Publications has several different options for helping you to help your kids homeschool as independently as possible. I like the LifePacs, because I can pick and choose individual workbooks to stick into whatever gaps we have in our curriculum. https://www.aop.com/
Which reminds me, all states have different laws regarding Homeschooling. Some support a parent’s right to educate or have their children educated as they see fit, and some don’t. That’s all thrown into chaos now, because of the pandemic. Nevertheless, look up the laws for your state and be prepared to protect your family. Homeschool Legal Defense Association – https://hslda.org/
Like I said, we use a mash-up of methods. I suggest searching for these books in your local library first, so you’re not wasting money on something which won’t work for you. Along with Charlotte Mason (see link to book at top to get you started,) we also use the Unit Study Method- https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/unit-study-approach.html
And refer to the Classical Method for structure- https://welltrainedmind.com/?v=7516fd43adaa
If you find the Unit Study Method appealing, but you’re not confident or don’t have the time to create one yourself I recommend the following ones-
The Sonlight Curriculum
and Beautiful Feet Curriculum
Beautiful Feet Books https://www.bfbooks.com/
As you can see, curriculum can be bought direct from the authors, which helps them earn the most possible royalty for all their hard work. Or, you can buy from another source, most of the time, like Amazon or eBay. Another great place to buy curriculum is the Rainbow Resource Center- https://www.rainbowresource.com/
We’ve already started our homeschool year, of course. Our unit study is called Ancient History Rocks! More on that next time.
I’ll be talking about daily routines, priorities, and scheduling next time too. How do you squeeze it all in? Well, you can’t. If you like to keep your house perfectly clean, you’re in for a rude awakening, sister! Hey, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for decades now and I still get migraines trying to do it all. Without getting paid, very little encouragement, all while getting barfed on, literally and metaphorically. The fact is, you can’t. Get used to it. Remember, you can only do your personal best. And that’s okay.
Be Brave, Be Kind.