Thursday, July 19, 2012

Adventures in Homeschooling

It's that time of year again...  

Funny how, although we homeschool and are managers of our own school year, we still seem to get caught up in the hype of "back to school".  For some, it's a choice to follow a specific schedule, including holidays and breaks.  For others, it's just a goal to keep up.

Last year, we started schooling year round.  The twins 2.0 were born in February, meaning I needed a few weeks off, and we ended our season in late August.  It worked for me.  Summer is unbearable here in the deep south, and we spend all of our time outdoors in the spring and fall months.  So, schooling through the summer is a great option for us.

What curriculum do I use?

First, let me say, every family is different, and every child is different.  I don't think there is one perfect curriculum, but I will share what has worked for us.

ABeka - I love their phonics program for Kindergarten and 1st grade.
Rod & Staff - I use R&S for English, Bible, and Spelling, for grades 2 through 8.
Saxon - Saxon math beginning in 3rd grade.
Science - I have been through many science books, workbooks, hands-on experiments, and nature
journals.  Science is very simple when your children are young.  Have fun, and play, experiment, or go on a nature walk.  Don't overload them with scientific jargon.  Wait until their older for that!
History - We use living books for history.  Many times we take a trip to the library and choose a historic person or time period to study on.  Just be careful that your choices don't reflect a pagan opinion, or misrepresentation of history.
Reading - That's pretty easy, we use ABeka readers, CLP, many of the classics, and any other books I come across that are deemed good, character building books.

I buy a lot of my curriculum used.  We are blessed to have a homeschool store here in our area, and they carry a massive amount of new and used books.  Also, many vendors at homeschool fairs and conferences run specials at their booth.  Even homeschool groups host used book fairs once a year.  Ebay is another great place to find used curriculum, as well as Homeschool Classifieds.

We also take a lot of nature walks and work outside.  Some days we do our schoolwork outside, some days we explore God's creation, some days we work the soil and learn how to keep the land.  The benefits to keeping a garden and watching the Lord's miraculous design are endless.

We have several fun, learning games we add to our schooling.  The best place to find them is Timberdoodle. One of my favorite online resources.  There are numerous preschool games that my children have all loved through the years.  Two of our most popular are Catch the Match and Sherlock.  I'm not sure how many times you can get beaten by a pre-schooler before it becomes downright embarrassing...

If you're just starting out, don't be overwhelmed.  I know there is a lot of curriculum out there, creating a lot of options, but don't stress!  Talk to people, gather information, go to homeschool conferences, join a homeschool group in your area, find other moms who can share their experiences in homeschooling.  And pray.  Pray for wisdom over your schooling and your children.

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."  James 1:5

As you know, I was homeschooled, my parents used strictly ABeka with us, as there weren't too many other options at the time.  When I began homeschooling my oldest child, I was confronted with a myriad of curriculum choices and couldn't make up my mind which was the best for us.  So, I quickly decided to start with ABeka, I was comfortable with it, and during that first year of teaching, I decided what I did and didn't like about it, and started researching other options for the negatives of my child's learning style.  It was far less overwhelming to take it slow, and she was only in kindergarten, there wasn't much I could get wrong!

Over the years, I have changed our choices time and time again, and none of my children have suffered from the changes.  I encourage you to seek out your options, but don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed in the process.  Take your time.  Since we homeschool, one of the many advantages is, we have the right to change our mind, make up for lost time, or focus entirely on a problem subject in order that our child gains full understanding.

If anyone has any other advice, please feel free to share!  I am still and always in a learning process and open to any new adventure in homeschooling.

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