Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Homeschooling 101

I don't want to turn this blog into a homeschooling blog, but every so often the topic will creep in.  I'll warn you first so you can avert your eyes if you want to avoid reading about it.

So, here's the disclaimer: This is about homeschooling.

Whew.  That wasn't so bad.

Still with me?  Good!

I've had many conversations, some with families who have been homeschooling for a while and others with families who are just starting out on this fun family adventure. As I typed out a message to another friend earlier this week, with some of the advice I've gathered, I thought that it was great info to share with others.  So, if you're new to homeschooling, what follows are some things I've learned.

1.  Take some time to look at your family
Don't jump into decision-making mode right away, and don't stress yourself out over the decisions you're currently making.  You've already made a monumental decision, the decision to homeschool.  Take some time to figure out how you want to proceed.  In the meantime, get to know your kids and what they're interested in (if you don't already).  The more time you spend together, the more you will know what's best for them.

2.  Start small
My homeschooling friends have all said that it's better to start small when making curriculum purchases than to buy everything all at once.  Get what you consider to be the essentials and then add in more later if you find you're ready for it.  It's less stressful to start this with a few books instead of 10 different books.

3.  Consult others
Even after reading Cathy Duffy's book, 100 Top Picks For Homeschool Curriculum, I still felt overwhelmed at all the choices.  I didn't really know what would work for my family until I sat down with some veteran homeschoolers and looked at what they used (past and present) and asked what worked, what didn't work, and why.  Since their families are different from mine, some of the products that worked for them would not work for us, and vice versa.  But I felt like I had enough info to make an informed decision.  Going to a curriculum fair at a homeschooling convention also helped.  It probably gave me more for my future wish list, but I at least had a chance to see what is out there.

4.  Price it out
It's best to know what you're spending right up front, so as you look at your curriculum, it's good to start pricing it out.  I've already decided that the cheapest way to do this is to buy a copier so that I can use "consumables" (workbooks that will get printed in) for all three of my kids instead of just one.  I'll save at least $50-$70 in the first year by doing this.  Beyond that, I've decided which subjects are priorities for us, so I'm spending money on the curriculum that I think will suit our family best for those subjects.

Should I let these guys choose our curriculum?

This is what we've chosen for our family for this year.  We may change our minds and buy something else if we realize that something really isn't working.  But for now, this is what we're going to use:

(Prices are listed in US dollars and do not include shipping)

For overall planning, to help me see what we're doing and what other kids are learning:
Classical Conversations: Foundations - Curriculum Guide - $60 for a 3 year guide

Math-U-See - $74 x 3 kids (highly recommended by many)

Apologia Press: Jump In - $40 (could purchase two more notebooks for $30 each, but will photocopy instead)

Young Explorer Series: Astronomy - $63 (again, I'll photocopy the notebook for the other two)  I may choose a different topic, but this looks like a great science series to start with.

Mystery of History - $70 (plus extras if we choose)  This series starts at the beginning and goes through history chronologically.  It looks like it takes four years to go through the history of the world.

I'd love to hear what others are using and how different books have worked (or haven't worked) for your families.  Please pass along any favourites and helpful hints to us newbies!

1 comment:

  1. Obviously I won't be doing any homeschooling, but isn't it fabulous how one can find things like this out by simply searching online.
    I'm thankful for you & the family on being able to find what you need at a reasonable cost for the coming school year.
    - Aunt Bernice