Newbie needs help

Discuss the pros and cons of various curriculums, or get help on which to choose!

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Newbie needs help

Postby ~Patty~ » Sun May 31, 2009 4:39 pm

I am considering home schooling next year. I really have not enjoyed the public school experience for many reasons. I am a little overwhelmed with where to start. My DS is 7 (turns 8 in September) and would be entering the 2nd grade. He is a very smart kid (as I am sure all of your kids are:D) and I need some advice.

First, how do I go about choosing a curriculum, and do I buy the whole set from one place or do I pick and choose? How do I know what will be the best option? How do I know what grade level to purchase? :confused: There seems to be so many options! What subjects need to be included in the curriculum to make it a complete experience?

Thanks for any advice!

Oh, I also have a 3 year old that I would probably need some help for as well!

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Postby Lily » Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:39 am

Welcome! Homeschooling is a lot of fun!

First things first - get educated. Find out about learning styles, different methods, philosophies...your library should have a lot on education, but if not there's plenty of devoted hs'ing sites online! Definitely look up deschooling and try to tack that on at the end of summer before you start formally educating.

Once you figure out what you and your son gravitate to, then it's time to tackle your questions:

First, how do I go about choosing a curriculum, and do I buy the whole set from one place or do I pick and choose?

If you decide to use a curriculum (some people don't), you can buy 'school in a box' or pick and choose. They both have their advantages:

School in a box

One price, one order and you're done.
Everything that you need is there.
Orderly progression from one year to the next.

Pick and choose
A tailored fit, good for the child that's ahead in some subjects, needs more help in others.
Lets you decide what is the best method for each subject.
Can be cheaper than school in a box.
Lets you pick from companies devoted to one subject each so they know their products inside and out.

And they both have their disadvantages, too.

How do I know what will be the best option?
It depends on what you need. Just remember, just because you start with one method doesn't mean you have to continue it. Many of us switch over the years to different companies/styles based on what our children need at that time.

How do I know what grade level to purchase?
Well, as you look deeper into the curriculum options, you'll start to see less grade levels and more grade/age spans, if that makes sense. Since homeschoolers have the option to take as much time as they need to the grade levels don't make sense. Those are for public school, where a ranking system is needed.
Most companies will have samples on their site or placement tests or let you know what is covered/needed to be covered beforehand at each level. Match your child up to the level he/she is at and go from there.

What subjects need to be included in the curriculum to make it a complete experience?
That depends on your philosophy. At home, we cover math, language arts, science, history/geography (it's all in one), and Latin. We're classically driven, so ours is in an orderly progression for each subject. This year, for the first time we're doing formal art lessons as a weekly subject. Music is through someone else, and sports cover the p.e. aspect.

Good luck on your journey! There's lots of information out there!
"The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist."
- M. Montessori
Proud non-member of the HSLDA

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Lorelei Sieja
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Getting REady to Homeschool

Postby Lorelei Sieja » Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:55 pm

I'd say, first step, define your philosophy of education and your goals for you child/children. Once you decide this, all your other decisions will be easier.

Philosophy is different from goals. Philosophy would be more like educational style, and you might need to do a little reading and study about this, unless you plan to do "public school at home" and use their style. I mean, there is "unschooling", and there is classical education, and more. Do you want to have a "real" school, with official start/stop times, a calendar and a clock, desks that the child must use, etc. Or do you want to have a looser schedule, maybe not even buy a desk? Spend more time outdoors? Until you know this, don't even think about buying books! (Just my opinion, of course)

Goals, then, are different from philosophy. You might want your child to have a great education, to get scholarships, and go to college, yet still prefer the "unschooling" form of education. That's how goals are different. Goals are specific, philosophy is the frame-work for achieving goals.

Goals might include: develop musical or artistic creativity. Academic excellence. Read well and at grade level. The more specific your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. You should have long term ultimate goals, and shorter term 5 year or 1 year goals. Long term goals might be to become resourceful, responsible, respectful adults. Immediate goals might be more like reading at grade level. Or sleeping through the night - I mean, we're talking about the "whole child" here, and notjust public school stuff.

Once you know your goals, you can make intelligent decisions to achieve them. Without goals you might get side-tracked. For instance, when I was homeschooling my four children years ago, some parents said their goal was to raise godly children, but then went on to push them for academic excellence with bragging rights. One mother actually put her first grader in a fifth grade math book. (It did take her several years to finish it) If your goal really is to raise Godly children, then Bible study, and community service projects should be far more important in your homeschool than how many grade levels ahead your child is in Math. <G>

The first year we homeschooled, we did KONOS. I chose that, because the only other woman I knew who homeschooled did KONOS, and we thought we'd do some projects together. KONOS is complete- everything you need, except for math, and in the beginning years you need a reading/phonics program. You can do KONOS all the way through highschool, IF you have a lot of energy, and you live near a good library. It is especially good for boys. It is very activity oriented, with NO fill-in-the-blank worksheets. I'd recommend that you at least look into this program. Another benefit is that your entire family can do KONOS together. Your little 3 yr old can participate now, and when he's kindergarten or 1st grade, and your other child is older, they can still be in the same unit. The older one just has more difficult assignments. This is really wonderful for families with multiple children.

I had mostly girls, who tend to be quite happy filling in the blanks of boring workbooks. And I'm not a high energy person, and when we moved away from my KONOS buddy, I had to switch to something else.

How is your 7 yr old doing now? Is he ahead in some subjects, behind in others? Totally on grade level in everythign? Perhaps above grade level and therefore bored? That will all make a difference in what you chose to do.

I have lots of other curriculum suggestions - I homeschooled four children from kindergarten through senior high school. Three of them went to college, and one went into business. One went to Rome to meet the Pope. One went to Milan to be an Au Paire. One was an eagle scout, and served in the army for five years. They're really nice kids,a nd I'm so proud of them!

Congratulations on your decision to home school!

Lorelei Sieja
Nurturing Creative Young Minds and Wiggly Bodies

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Postby mschickie » Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:57 am


I know choosing a curriculum can be overwhelming. One of the first things I would look at is how you feel comfortable teaching and how he best learns. Some people really need a traditional textbook while others create their own unit studies. Niether way is better it is just what works for you.

I know someone has suggested Konos (too many projects for me) which is really good but I like Sonlight's approach a little better (literature based). There is alot of reading and reading aloud. The one nice thing is that you can do the read alouds to both your children at the same time. You will be amazed at what your little one picks up. For Math at 2nd grade I suggest looking at Horizons. It is very well laid out and easy to follow.

The other thing you need to check out is your State requirements. Most are fairly broad for elementary so it is pretty easy to meet requirements.. You can check out I would also recommend joining hslda too.

Hope this helps.

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Postby Jill » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:05 am

Welcome Patty,
Asking questions is a good place to start. :)
I would suggest reading The 3 R's by Ruth Beechick. It's actually 3 very short books - A Home Start in Reading, An Easy Start in Arithmetic,A Strong Start in Language. Your son is still young and most of the information would still apply to him. Depending on where you live, your library may carry them, or check into inter library loan.
Best wishes!

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Postby erin » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:06 pm

this was the same thing we had to deal with. which way to go? My husband has a BA in psychology and a lot of time spent with kids. his suggestion was to pick and choose instead of going for the 'box set'. each child learns differently...some learn from sound, other learn visually, some from a combination of both. And some kids learn from doing things from the 'hands on' approach. God love our son, but he and his dad have the same attention span...which is not very much unless its something they are truly interested in. So we have tailored to his interests while still having the mandatory 'boring stuff' as he calls it.

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Postby janaleigh » Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:00 pm

Wow! So many moms have given great advice!

All I will add is a book suggestion. So You're Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Whelchel. This book will help you see the different ways to Homeschool so that you can get a feel for what will be a good fit for your family.

We personally love Sonlight :)
Jana marriend to Mike 20 Years
2 Sons, ages 15 and 17
Homeschooling 7+ years

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