It’s that time of year – when parents take a look at their schooling options and some consider homeschooling.
And then they cal their crazy homeschool friends and ask lots of questions.
And they find their homeschool friends a little, tiny bit less crazy.
This has happened to me a few times recently. I take it as a HUGE compliment that anyone would ask my opinion on anything, much less something as important as homeschooling! This afternoon a friend and her husband (or a friend and his wife – since they’re both friends, LOL!!) came over to talk about homeschooling their preK and elementary aged kids.
Before they came, I sat down for a while this morning and brainstormed thing I would want to share with them. I broke it down to a few categories, and decided afterward that I’d share my lists on line. My friends and I talked for a couple of hours, though I know when I started homeschooling I didn’t have someone I could talk to, or I felt too weird to ask.
So, I’m sharing here in hopes that this might help someone who is considering homeschooling for the first time.
And this will be my first series on my blog!! Wahooo!!
In the end I hope will cover :
and I think a general thing called:
Stuff I Want to Share
Today’s Topic – Curriculum!!
1. There seem to be about a million options for everything from phonics to Calculus. And, the more you research the more opinions you’ll find bot hot and cold. Some will LOVE and imply your child would be a genius within a year of use, while others will HATE it and swear you’re child will lose 3 grade levels if you use it. Here’s the deal. Read. Research some. Ask questions of friends who’ve used it. Touch it if at all possible. Then ask yourself – CAN I TEACH THIS? You can kill yourself trying to find a perfect curriculum tailor made to your kid – but if you can’t teach it you won’t use it.
And the bottom line is this: THE BEST CURRICULUM IS THE ONE YOU USE.
Not the perfect one on the shelf that you hate that has 10,000 moving parts. You know the one – you loathe taking it off the shelf… Not a specific program for each kid to meet each strength and address each weakness. But the one you actually use every day. It may not be cool. And shiny. And new. It may be a phonics book, that you pull out every day. But you actually pull it out. And you use it. Then THAT is perfect for you.
2. Give curriculum at least a month, and use it as advertised, before you decide you hate it. Sometimes you need to grow into something. You need to see WHY a curriculum does something a certain way. It may annoy you at first, and if you quit too fast you might miss the genius, or where you can tweak it to make it YOU. Curriculum hopping is expensive, and creates holes, so as much as you can, stick with it for at least a month.
3. MORE DOESN’T MEAN BETTER, and it’s corollary, MORE IS SOMETIMES JUST MORE. Your First Grader doesn’t need 8 approaches to grammar. Or math. Not everything needs to be supplemented. Pick a math. Do it every day. Decided later if they need some reinforcement. But 2 full maths (and I’ve seen 3… or more) is usually not better. Usually it’s just more. Pick a language arts. Do it. Every day. Not 3 language arts. [By this I mean 3 different grammar workbooks or 2 spelling curriculums – not one that covers handwriting, spelling, and grammar.] Make solid picks that meet your goals, and do them. Spend the time you use researching curriculum to do them – or go bake something. Let it go.
4. CONSISTENCY IS KEY. Doing one lesson a day every day, is so much better than doing 2 lessons every other day – or alternating 2 different math curriculum. Pick one. Do it. Every day. Monday through Friday. [My exception here is reading. Read every day, especially with an emerging reader. EVERY day.] What you choose to teach with is less critical than you using it consistently.
5. Not everything has to be a challenge. Sometimes kids are bright and they need to be challenged in a good way – but that doesn’t mean we push them to the brink of their capability and frustrate them – everyday – in every subject. It’s OK to rock at math. It’s good. It’s awesome! That doesn’t mean we push a kid beyond where they are capable or penalize them for being smart. Some things are just developmental and we need to recognize that. Kids normally can read well before they can write. That’s fine. Don’t push writing then, yet. Read. A lot. Then write. Because a “4th” grade kid can do “6th” grade math, it doesn’t mean they can write like a 6th grader – or handle 6th grade science. That’s OK. Pick what’s appropriate for your kid, where they are now. And it’s OK to get a 100. Yes, push them, expect a lot, but let them be a smart kid, too.
6. AS BEST AS YOU CAN, avoid the Grass is Greener Syndrome. Your best friend uses A, so you should change math… You read a blog and the lady swears by Y, so you should supplement language arts with that… You were on a message board and everyone was raving about Z, so you think that would be good for history. Now, really. Be discerning. Make your choices. And then TRUST YOURSELF!! Decide on times to reevaluate, yes, but let the stuff you bough be used. See if it fits YOUR kids. Study, yes, but don’t make switching curricula a habit. It’s a comparison trap and it’s hard to break out of it. Let it go.
7. In curricula there is TIME or MONEY. You pick. Some big boxes are expensive (Sonlight, BJU online with books, Veritas Press Omnibus online with all the books). WIth the box – you buy convenience. With Sonlight I get the books, the schedule, the discussion questions, etc…. Or, I can buy it piecemeal used. That works well, if I can get the full set and get it all together. Or, I can go middle of the road and buy a set used – less than new, but still more than piecing a set myself. Other curricula requires less $ – but more time. Some curricula make better use of the library – which is great if you have the time, inclination, and a good library. The point here is – look at your budget of both time and money. You’ll have to spend one. You’ll have to pick. But, please don’t think you can “homeschool for free” without a HUGE time commitment. You can’t. But – be frugal, watch deals, look at used sites,