We Have Decided to Homeschool…Now what?

After much thought and deliberation, in the fall of 2016 we decided to homeschool our children starting in the fall of 2017.  We opted for a cooling off period of one year to provide ourselves time to research and develop a plan on how we wanted to proceed rather than diving right in.  This time also allowed us the opportunity to observe the learning styles of our children while they were in the public-school system.

Starting to research homeschooling was actually quite fun.  It was encouraging to see the different methods that people use to educate their children.  There are mainstream methods and unique and personal methods, all of which are easy to discover via a web search.  It is not my intention to explain all of these methods in detail, rather I would like to explain what we decided to do.

While researching homeschooling methods, we realized that there were elements from several that we connected with and thought would work for us. Therefore, we chose to take an eclectic approach.  We are planning to use a more traditional style when it comes to the core subjects of language arts, reading and math.  Due to the age of our children and the travel plans that we have, we will focus on an experience-based learning style when it comes to the topics of science and history.  This method is sometimes referred to as unschooling.  We are going to use the interests of our children to create unit studies that also have an influence on our travel plans.  Unit studies focus on a specific topic and then ties that topic into subject areas such as math, reading, spelling, geography, science, art, music and history.  For example, if you have a child who is interested in ancient Egypt, you would learn the history of Egypt, read books about Egypt, write stories about Egypt, do art projects about pyramids, and learn about Egyptian artifacts or mapping skills to map out a catacomb.  Along with the main subjects, we are also going to be covering learning to play an instrument, typing and learning how to code.  One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the fact that we can be at both ends of the traditional vs. untraditional spectrum while teaching our children.

Once we determined our approach, our next step was to figure out what we were going to use to teach with.  The growth of technology and the increasing amount of families homeschooling provides one with a vast selection of curriculum.  To be totally honest, it is quite overwhelming.  Based on a referral, I discovered Erica Arndt.  She has a great book that acts as a guide to getting started and also a wonderful website.  www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com.

I created a spreadsheet of curriculum choices based on Erica’s recommendations and also some of the research that I did.  On the spreadsheet, I had the pros and cons of each curriculum along with the cost.  Due to the fact that both of my children learn differently and were at different grade levels, I realized that the same curriculum may not work for both and decided to make a different spreadsheet for each.  By having my notes all in one spot I was able to narrow down my choices and determine what would work best for each of my children.  The cost of buying all of the curricula to run your own school can add up.  We had a budget in mind, but we also didn’t want the cost of a curriculum to determine whether or not we would use it. We were really going into this blind and unaware of what the curriculum would cost, so the best we could do was pick a number we could afford and work from there.

After determining what curriculum we wanted to use, the next step was to figure out where the best place to purchase was and also what we needed to buy new and what we could get used.  I discovered that if you attend a homeschool convention or material display you can usually get a discount and free shipping.  When it comes to getting books delivered, free shipping is important.  The majority of curriculum comes with a teacher book and a student book.  When considering purchasing new versus used there are a few factors to consider; most student books are workbooks and will need to be purchased new, when considering using a used teacher book with a new student book it is important to be aware of when updates to the teacher’s books happened as this affects whether or not it matches up with the student book.  It really depends on what kind of sources you have available for used material.  For the majority of the curriculum I chose, I didn’t see enough of a price difference to justify buying used.

After much deliberation and consideration, I came up with what I think is an obtainable and practical plan. Below is the curriculum I have chosen to use to teach each child.  I am still working on developing our unit studies and will touch on those in a future post.  We are also open to the idea of starting a foreign language and looking into our options to do that.

Red – 4th Grade:

A few notes on Red’s curriculum…during her 3rd grade year, she was placed in the gifted and talented program for math.  She loved doing the mathematical reasoning and problem-solving worksheets.  I wanted her to continue doing those so I made sure to add in extra supplemental material for that.  The local public-school system allows homeschooled children the opportunity to participate in the orchestra program.  Red has elected to attend that and play the bass.  Hopefully, it fits into our car…

Fred – 1st Grade:

  • Language Arts (Reading, Spelling, Vocabulary, Poetry, etc.) – Abeka
  • Handwriting/Typing – Handwriting Without Tears
  • Math – Math U See “Alpha”
  • Math – Kumon Workbooks & Ready Set Learn Workbooks (Money & Telling Time)
  • Musical Instrument (Piano) – “Piano is Easy
  • Geography – Down to Earth Geography & Beginning Geography
  • Physical Education – Karate & Swimming