I remember how scared I was my first year of homeschooling. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be the reason that my kids would fail. What if I didn’t do it right? What if I chose the wrong curriculum? What if I messed them up for life?
If there is one thing that I have learned in these past four years, it is this; it isn’t about me. I am not homeschooling alone. I have a great BIG STRONG God who is with me every step of the way. I have to remember to get over myself, get over my fear and trust in Him.
When my children succeed in life (and by succeed I don’t mean have a great career and a lot of money) it will be because there was Someone walking with me every step of the way, Someone guiding me. Someone connecting me with other’s who are like minded in raising and educating our children.
Successful children for me means children who want to follow Jesus, who want to be His disciples. That is it. Sure, I would love it if they found love and enjoyed their careers, but more than anything I want them to find joy. And I believe the only way to finding TRUE joy is by following Jesus.
Before I even begin to decide what to teach the kids for the year, Joey and I talk about our goals for each child. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What are the areas we need to focus and work on throughout the year and what strengths should we focus on developing even more? How does each child best learn based upon their personalities and these strengths? It isn’t about grade levels and ages, it’s about their abilities and their passions.
I can so easily get too focused on our curriculum. I have to remind myself that homeschooling is so much more than the subjects we will touch. More than the books we use to teach. For our family, it is about molding them into the likeness of Christ. He permeates every subject. We have chosen to homeschool under a private umbrella school. The wonderful lady who ran the umbrella school we were using decided a few years ago that it was time for her to retire, so my teacher husband, along with two of his teacher friends, decided to open up a private umbrella school. If you are looking for a private umbrella school in California, you can visit their site at alloiiacademy.com. If you sign up with them, tell them I sent you. I get a kiss for every family who signs up. 🙂
I am blessed with wonderful friends in my life who have similar homeschooling philosophies. They are far enough ahead of me that they are able to offer advice, and yet they are alongside of me as well, offering support and encouragement. You know who you are my friends, and I am so grateful. I don’t feel alone in my journey. Many of the books that I will be sharing today, come from their recommendations.
I get excited when it’s time to plan for school. I was born a planner, but I have found that I am a bit different when it comes to homeschooling. So many have detailed plans for the whole year but I have yet to be able to plan like that. I have only a general idea of what I would like to accomplish, but so far I only plan a week at a time, if that. Maybe next year, I’ll be better at planning. But for now, a spontaneous approach to homeschooling works very well for us. We have never lacked for something to learn.
I try to choose a curriculum that makes it less about “school” and more about learning. I know there are wonderful curricula out there, and for many people they are a lifesaver by planning and guiding every day’s learning. But for me, at this stage in our life, I tend to shy away from the cookie cutter curricula so that I am able to personalize each child’s education. My kids are still young and I don’t yet feel the stress of needing a more strict schedule. That day may come, but not today.
For now, I have a Kindergartner, a second grader, and a fourth grader and I am going to eeeeek out one more year of relaxed homeschooling.
But I’m rambling so let me move on…
I don’t pretend to know it all. I’m on my fifth year of homeschooling and still have so much to learn. But I have learned that you must choose curriculum not only for your students, but also for yourself as the teacher. It’s important to choose a curriculum that works well with not only your child’s personality but with yours as well. For those of you new to homeschooling looking for ideas, here are some of the curriculum choices and books that we will be using this year:
I typically order from Amazon, Rainbow Resource, Abebooks.com and SimplyCharlottemason.com. Prices vary between Amazon and Rainbow Resource and Abebooks so I encourage you to compare prices before buying. Don’t feel like you have to buy everything the first year. We buy a few more books each year and add to our collection. There are free resources on the internet for many of the subjects and a library card works very well for so many subjects.
Bible: We read out of the Bible and The Child’s Story Bible and work through memorizing a list of Bible texts that Joey and I would like for them to memorize throughout the year. Caleb (10), Sophia (8) and I write in our thankful journal and the younger ones draw pictures of what they are thankful for.
Handwriting: My friend this year recommended handwriting books by Getty Dubay. I am excited to try them. Obviously, the kids at are varying stages so I ordered books accordingly. For my Kindergartner, Andrew, I ordered Italic Handwriting Series Book A, for Sophia (my second grader) I ordered the Italic Handwriting Series Book B, and for Caleb (my fourth grader) I ordered Getty Dubay’s Presidents workseets and the Getty Dubay Scripture and Character worksheets.
Phonics: We use Sing Spell Read and Write. This program works well for me since I have one child who learns well with songs and another by playing games. I’m not big on workbooks, but I have a girl who LOVES to do them, so she is the only one who uses them. I am a big fan of the research compiled by Raymond Moore, so I try to hold off teaching my kids how to read until they are eight (unless they teach themselves before). If you are interested in his research, try reading Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education.
History: We teach history using living books. Turning back the pages of time: An American history library book list has an amazing book list to read through on the different time periods of American history. This year, we are studying early explorers and the American revolution. A friend told me about some books that her children love by Genevieve Foster, so I ordered all of her books on Rainbow Resource. Amazon sells them as well. We are so excited to read George Washington’s World.
Geography: Geography is always a fun subject. I usually pick a few states to study more in depth and move our way through them. We plan on going on a road trip next summer, so we’ll study the states we plan on visiting on our trip. Here are the list of books we use for geography.
We also subscribe to World Magazine. For someone who tries to bury her head in the sand by not watching or listening to the news, this magazine is Christian-based and keeps our family informed with the happenings of the world.
Art: I love art. There is so much to learn; art, music, poetry. We choose a couple of artists, musicians, and poets per year to study in depth. Our favorite authors for studying artists and musicians are Laurence Anholt and Opal Wheeler. Each year, I buy a few more of their books. Here is a sample of the books we will be using: Van Gogh and the Sunflowers , Katie and the Starry Night, Sebastian Bach, The Boy from Thuringia. I have also ordered a few picture prints of the artists we will be covering this year as well.
Spotify is a free app that will allow you to select a specific artist to play. We are able to listen to the artist we are studying so the kids learn to recognize each artist’s style of music.
For hymn study, I enjoy the books written by Joni Eareckson Tada; Hymns for a Kid’s Heart, Vol. 1. We use spotify or youtube.com to learn the songs well.
Math: I have to admit that teaching math is where I clam up. I’m scared of the curriculum I bought. It’s so overwhelming with all of it’s manipulatives and such. So this year, I will invite a friend over to help me with my Right Start Math. We will also be using Khan Academy. I may have to do a little lesson planning in this area to brush up on my own math skills. I’ve heard good things about Math-U-See, but I’m not willing to spend more money on another program when I haven’t given the one I own a chance. But if Right Start Math and I cannot get along, then I will buy Math-U-See.
Science: Science is another one of our favorite subjects. I cannot begin to list all of the books we use here so I will list a few of our favorites: Natural Science Through the Seasons, The Way We Work, The New Way Things Work, Science In Your Own Backyard. We garden, nature journal, go on hikes, do science experiments that we find on Pinterest… I leave this subject pretty open. If we are having a thunderstorm (which is rare is So Cal), then we study about the weather and if we find snails outside, we make a snailery. I love leaving room here to be spontaneous.
Ok. So there it is. I’m sure I’ve missed something, but this is the bulk of it. Again, don’t feel like you have to buy everything the first year. These are books that I’ve been collecting for over five years. Just start slow and have fun.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically… Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education” (Martin Luther King Jr.).