Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Starting Out Homeschooling

I've been talking to a couple of different people who want to start homeschooling. Of course it can seem so overwhelming to think about different curriculum and programs -especially when you are dealing with several ages/grades. So here's my advice for what to do first.
First think about all the times/subjects when you can combine some or all of the children to learn together.

Second, plan for times/subjects when students can work independently.

And finally determine which subjects your kids are going to need you hands on one-on-one. Now, when that list gets too extensive, determine what areas your older kids can help out with. I have in the past turned entire areas over to my oldest for teaching, but I struggled with not controlling everything! So, now I have 3-4 areas my 2 older children help with - and I alternate their teaching of it with me. For example -Daniel reads aloud to different people every day - occasionally even the dog. :)

For us we start the day with Bible/prayer time together. I use an Abeka Bible sets because it has these great large pictures to keep the younger ones interested, yet it follows a book of the Bible in order with some great applications for the olders. We alternate though - we do a devotional a couple days a week, a character values lapbook, verse memory, a country prayer guide another day. This is one subject I want lots of interest in - so I change it up a lot!

We usually do a morning meeting time for a quick game together (spelling bee, hyperdash) our math basics, charting weather, temperature, but I will usually excuse the 6th grader & sometimes one of the olders will lead the 1st grader without me.

Handwriting is a great time for kids to combine -they can both copy together - I have before expressed my LOVE of the Draw Write Now series.

Science and History are so great for combining kids! I LOVE using lapbooks. But this is one area where you should relax! Go with their interests and let them learn to LOVE learning. Both subjects repeat many times from K-12th grade -they are going to get what they need. If I kid is into rockets - let him spend 2 months on it. If he doesn't get to the food chain that year -it will be OKAY. There's no cut and dry timelines -every school and curriculum is different. But if you think back to your own education, it is those times when you did a project, went to a museum, or did something interesting that stuck in your brain. Very rarely will something that you read in a book really help on a SAT, but you'll be able to write a essay in college about westward expansion if you spend a week dressed like Daniel Boone. I'm serious! And really realize one leisurely day on a nature trail with a notebook and pocket nature guide will help more with college entrance scores than a week in a classroom! So much of what we do is making learning a great way of life, interesting, and desirable -these are the things that make smart adults -not grades and worksheets.

My favorite site for free lapbooks of all kinds - WONDERFUL STUFF!

Here's a neat site with some cool printables. I love these geography printables:

I use calendars like these for daily journal entries -print each month and put into their notebooks

If I had to start all over at homeschooling day 1 knowing what I know now, I might've gone with My Father's World curriculum http://www.mfwbooks.com/ because it so well combines subjects and grade levels -all you add is math and language arts - everything else is the same for all age levels. It makes it very easy on you. I have a friend who has 4 kids 1-6th and Father's World makes it SO much easier for her. I have been so impressed with Abeka Math, spelling and language. I've always had cheap and easy access to Abeka stuff - financially it was a much better deal for us, and now at this point, I can keep passing down stuff I've used before to the next kid -it's just reasonable for me to stay with it. Plus, resources for geography, history, and science are so readily available through the library and computer for free -I just never could justify the expense.

Hope all that helps! Don't worry!


ragamuffinbeauties said...

Thanks for posting these sites, great stuff!

Rebecca said...

Lovin the links! We are in our first year of homeschooling.