Today, I’m sharing our story and what I personally love and what has worked with my style. There’s a lot of good stuff out there. Now more than ever. Be realistic with your time, your style, your personality. Talk with friends. You do you.
We are accidental homeschoolers. I was grew up in the public schools and taught in the public schools for 10 years. I love schools. So why do we homeschool? For us, it boils down to time. Our time with our children are a short 18 years! I want the time to teach, to build character, to adventure, and to play! It is my privilege and joy to do it. There is no better way to spend my days. Do we have bad days? YES! Do sparks fly? YES! Do I get impatient? YES! It is character building for all of us.
It began with us sending our oldest to preschool and when it came time to send him to kindergarten, I wanted more time with him. “I can do Kinder and then he’ll be off to 1st grade next year!” I said. Ha… I’ve been saying that every year for the last 10 years. He is now starting 9th grade! I wouldn’t trade my messy house, pajama wearing school days for anything!
I started off first grade feeling over confident. I set up my cute classroom in our playroom and boy was I wrong! I didn’t have structure, accountability, or help! No teacher’s aid, no parent volunteers, no colleagues across the hall to plan with. I was trying to recreate school at home and it didn’t work! Plus, I had a house that was getting messier by the minutes and even less time to maintain it. How is this going to work?! We played a lot in first grade, I managed to teach my son how to read and worked our way through our core subjects like math, reading, and writing… but I needed accountability.
I found Classical Conversations and I’ve done it every year since. Classical Conversations is a classical, Christian, learning community. They have groups all over the US and in several other countries as well. We meet once a week in community with a set curriculum and guide. Through the program, we cover history, english, math, science, latin and geography. It has served as the spine of our homeschooling. We learn new material together and continue the practice at home, until we meet together the next week. The resources, the community, the relationships have been the core of our homeschooling curriculum.
For math, we have used Math U See. It is a simple, structured, video based math program.
For Writing, we have used and loved IEW resources. IEW stands for Institute for Excellence in Writing. I really love this curriculum. It is logical, clear and systematic. Perfect for building the confidence and tools for young writers.
For current events, we use CNN10. It is a short 10 minute overview of the worlds’ top stories.
For reading, I try to find novels related to our history topics. Sonlight is a great resource for finding grade level novel sets. And the simplest way to grow strong readers? Read to them! For teaching reading, I’ve used this book and will continue to use it. It’s easy and effective.
For choosing curriculum, my advice would be to be realistic and honest about your needs and your time. For example, I’m in a season where I need open and go materials. I love creativity and open ended activities, but i can’t do those right now. I don’t want books that I need to copy and that have small pieces that I need to store and manage. What we use now, fits our season and the personality of our family. Don’t compare. You know your family best.
Sarah McKenzie, same author of Teaching from Rest, has a great book called Read Aloud Revival. You can look her up on facebook and instagram. She is passionate about reading with your children and has a ton of insight, advice and resources.
I’m sure this won’t be the only time I talk about homeschool curriculum and resources. Again, this just skims the surface. But hopefully, this will fill in the gaps and point you in the right direction as you prepare to homeschool, distance learning, online school or whatever combination 2020 throws your way! Please comment if you have specific questions and I’m happy to answer them.
More tips and resources to come the rest of the week!