Thursday, March 27, 2008

Homeschool helps- getting started...

I recently spoke with a friend who will be starting to homeschool her son this coming fall. He is going to be in kindergarten. I'm sure many of y'all that homeschool have not forgotten the fear and worry that you felt when you first began- What in the world do I do? Where do I start? What do I use? WILL I MESS UP MY CHILD FOREVER???????

So, I was wondering if y'all could help. Would y'all share what helped you when you first started homeschooling? What curriculum did you use and did you love it or hate it and why? What are your suggestions for a family that is going to be just starting off homeschooling?

I SO appreciate all of y'all's help (can I wrote "y'all's" that way?????). I am so blessed to be able to learn from all of you!!!


Cyndi Lewis said...

I found Alpha-Omega's Horizons curriculum for Kindergarten very helpful. It is just math and Language Arts. The work book pages are colorful and fun and the reading stories start simple and gradually get more difficult. I also found having a set of alphabet flashcards helpful. For math having some colorful buttons or other counting objects on hand can help. I think the most important thing to remember is... it's only Kindergarten... you don't have to produce a rocket scientist by the end of the year. Also remember that the child will have to learn how to sit and learn. Sitting still and doing the work does not come naturally. You will have to sit with them and keep them on task. This was the most frustrating thing for me. I couldn't just read the instructions and have them do it. I had to stay and coach and encourage. By the end of grade one this gets much better. Grade two still needs some coaching.
By grade 3 they pretty much work on their own. Homeschooling is a challenge but it is so rewarding. Have fun with it.

Anonymous said...

I am by no means an expert on this. I have homeschooled a first grader, 2nd, 5th, and K, although the last three were a university model classical school so they did get 2 days of regular classroom instruction from certified teachers (and I didn't have to lesson plan!). Next year I begin the adventure again with full time homeschool for a first grader. I love the Abeka curriculum for the little ones. I think it makes for very strong readers, which is a big goal that I have for my kids.

My best advice for any parent who wants to homeschool is to believe in their ability! You don't have to justify to others why you are "qualified" to teach your child. You are the very best teacher they will ever have, so embrace that role of homeschool teacher with CONFIDENCE if God has called you to it.
Tanya Fifer
Bentonville, AR

The Parson's Wife said...

Unit Study! Five in a Row is such an awesome family time event...I found that my heart always desired to embrace this type of education. Our dc are now 16,13 and 12...and we still have grand memories of sitting together reading and in study with language arts unit studies. I also say, be ready for unexpected changes in your schedule...have fun, enjoy the TIME, it goes by so fast... Shawn <><

Anonymous said...

Read this and see if it helps:

Not trying to self promote, but I have really tried to redirect Mustard Seeds and make it more of a 'homeschool blog'. Check it out! One the side bar, you'll find a little bit about everything.
I hope that this helps!!!

In Him,

Anonymous said...

I say, believe in yourself first. God will speak to you on what is right for the kiddos. I found that the beauty of homeschooling is what works for your family--in your families schedule. I prayed for God to open my eyes to "why I am homeschooling" in other words, Lord what is it you want me to teach these beautiful children. I have 4 daughters, and for me, it was teaching them to be virteous young women for the Lord. My main teaching tool was "The Prairie Primer" based on the Little House series. This Primer incorperated everything for me, and I just added things here and there to supplement. But, this was so good for me and my girls.
Many prayers for the other homeschooling families here.
MRS U--thank you for the sweet comments on my blog!!!

mommy24treasures said...

For me the biggest blessing of homeschooling is tailoring a plan to fit them and not your average bear. Right now we are concentrating on reading and math. I love finding stories and books that I think they will enjoy reading. I want them to look forward to learning, not dread or think its a bore. I want them to have a desire, a motivation, a hunger for learning.
Another reason I love homeschooling in my particular situation is the bond that mine will have as they grow and learn together.
I love going to the Five in A Row message boards and read the Three R's for ideas.

April said...

I don't have any experience with being the mom/teacher, but I was a student of homeschooling for two short years. I can say without a doubt those were my best years in school. I loved being homeschooled. My mom finally put me back in school due to the authorities pounding on our door over and over and finally having to get an attorney. Don't worry this was back in the early 80's in California when they frowned upon homeschooling. We used the Abeka curriculum and when I went into a prep school after being homeschooled they also used Abeka. I plan of homeschooling our children and LOVE the Abeka curriculum. I have had many opportunities over the last 10 years or so to help friends who are homeschooling and they have used Abeka also and they love the curriculum. It is more expensive than a lot of others and a bit harder, but so worth it for an excellent education.

Marie said...

First, I decided what I wanted to teach for Kindergarten:

Phonics, Handwriting, Art, Math, Science.

Then I got the cheapest comprehensive curriculum I could find, which happened to be Christian Liberty Academy at the time. They provided:

Christian Liberty Academy Phonics, a set of phonics flashcards, Christian Liberty Academy set of 4 primers, Modern Curriculum Press Math book Level A, A Beka's Kindergarten Science book, and I forget what art.

It worked just fine for the first kid, so I just stuck with it. For Art, though, I get A Beka's kindergarten art.

It wasn't very hard. Kindergarten rarely took more than 45 minutes.

Additionally, I signed them up for sports, dance, and swimming for PE.

My Blessings From Above said...

I second Before Five In A Row and Five In A Row. Unit studies are so fun. That is what we do. You really can't mess up kindergarten. My advice is read, read, read lots of good books. Do lots of hands on activities,counting with beads or buttons, dump some rice in a big plastic container, let them meausre and dump and pour, go outside lots of nature walks, cook and bake together and just have fun. I was pretty relaxed about kindergarten. I didn't push Justin at all, we just had fun and read stories and made sure we had alot of great hands on things around. We did not do phonics or math. Only applied math that came along with our Five In A Row studies.
Another great site for unit studies is

Jen said...

One thing that has really helped DH and I is to spend a lot of time in prayer and in the Word before starting the school year. We really tried to identify what the Lord wanted us to accomplish through homeschooling. For each family, it will be different specifics, but there are some universal goals that apply to every Christian home, whether you homeschool or not. Most importantly, we are to train our children in righteousness. That's no small task, so each thing we choose for our homeschool has to fit into learning and being trained in righteousness.
I am a planner and an organizer, so I always have WAY more planned than we need--this means I have to let God correct my expectations of myself and my girls. If, on the other had, you are NOT a planner etc, it would be a good idea to figure out a method for accountability, especially if your state expects specifice benchmarks to be met.
Although I would agree that kindergarten is a more relaxed year, I would use that year to work out the kinks in your own style. It took us almost half of the first year to figure out what curriculum was actually working as well as a schedule that we could consistently stick to. Also, your child will model their own attitude towards school after your own attitude. If you are laid back and don't consistently make time to accomplish school, they will learn to not take school seriously. If you get hyper and focus intensively, your child will be afraid of failing and be stressed as well. It isn't always super fun, but it can always be glorifying to the Lord and leading you as a family deeper into relationship with Him.

Paula said...

The key in the early years is to make learning FUN!

With my kindergarteners I have used Before Five In A Row/Five In A Row and A Beka. I like A Beka's phonics approach to reading in the yearly years.

Usually after a year or two a mom will find her "groove" and adjust the curricula and methods to those that work best for her and her child.

I'm so thankful for the opportunity I have to homeschool my children. It is hard work, but very rewarding work. :)

Anonymous said...

I wanted to leave a note of thanks to Mrs. U for posting my question and for all that responded to the request. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, encouragement, and expertise in the area of homeschooling. Our family is excited to start this new endeavor and our research in these early stages is paying off. THANK YOU again for being a part to help us get started! Sincerely, Gretchen

Dee said...

If I had it all to do over again, I would spend my first year reading and playing!
I would spend that time figuring out:
- my educational philosophy
- my teaching style
- my children's learning styles
- my children's God given natural gifts and passions
Above curriculum, above schedules, above all else I think those 4 things are the most important things to know. I could have saved lots of time, energy, money, and frustration if I figured that out a lot earlier!
I would also not be without my favorite homeschool resource - The Elijah Compnay's resource guide. I don't sell it - as a matter of fact, I believe that it is such a help to newbies and experienced homeschoolers that I buy a bunch ($1.00 each) and give them away. I wrote more about it on my blog:

Dee said...

If I had it all to do over again, I would spend my first year reading and playing!
I would spend that time figuring out:
- my educational philosophy
- my teaching style
- my children's learning styles
- my children's God given natural gifts and passions
Above curriculum, above schedules, above all else I think those 4 things are the most important things to know. I could have saved lots of time, energy, money, and frustration if I figured that out a lot earlier!
I would also not be without my favorite homeschool resource - The Elijah Compnay's resource guide. I don't sell it - as a matter of fact, I believe that it is such a help to newbies and experienced homeschoolers that I buy a bunch ($1.00 each) and give them away. I wrote more about it on my blog:

Anonymous said...

I really, really love A Beka Book. I have both learned and taught from their curriculum, and they are the best in the world! It's like a homeschooling wonderland.

Anonymous said...

This may be a no-brainer but it's good to sit down with hubby and figure out WHY you are homeschooling. What are the advantages of this choice? What will you give your children that no one else will? Then make your decisions from there. Plus, having this agreement on paper will be a good to refer back to on those days when you are not feeling so sure about your choice to homeschool. We need something to refer back to! Let's face it!

I also think a lot of choosing well with homeschooling is knowing yourself and your children. If a mom's stresses are few or her personality is one that is good with structure and handling the many tasks of mom, homeschool teacher, housekeeper, wife/lover, then take on a more complex curriculum.

I took on The Well Trained Mind (Saxon Math, Rod and Staff for Language, The Story of the World for History, Handwriting without Tears, Spelling Workout and supplemental trips to the library for reading and science ideas) for my son's first year. He was reading at 4 years old and I mean reading at an 8th grade level. So, I knew we could bite off a lot together and I knew that the classical method is something that his mind appreciates (not too many colored pictures and things). Even with a toddler and an infant also needing Mom's attention, we could do this. We have since pared it down and made other choices. But have kept our choices complex because he's the sort of kid that would die in public school because he would not be challenged.

For my second, I knew that she needed more color and fun. We chose ABeka on DVD and we have loved it! She has the input of her DVD teacher, my help and the color and fun she loves. It's also been a tremendous relief for her Mom, who was transitioning to a newly adopted toddler and is not the kind of person she describes in the second paragraph.

In other words, it's good to think of the whole family and your purpose and then choose for the year. All the stuff I have mentioned is STELLAR!

:) Leigh

Pixel Fairy Princess said...

First - thank you for visiting my blog :D I just popped over to say hello!

I saw this post and had to chime in! I think homeschool is wonderful! I was a teacher and then we homeschooled our son, and will do our daughter. We did put him in school this year and he was way ahead - especially in math. I attribute that to the Saxon Math program. I would not use anything else. I have taught Abeka, been trained at PCC, and think that they have one of the best early learning reading programs. One of the issues I had as someone who is an educator , was language. For us, there was not a good language program that provided a good balance of creative writing and grammar. We actually found in third grade that Bob Jones offered a good language program. One thing I will suggest Wordly Wise 3000.

Some folks think that you have to do Social Studies and Science and all that. In elementary school I would recommend a magazine called Kids Discover and reading books on American history and weather, geography etc - and this is coming from a high school geography and government teacher :D I find from talking to other HS moms that they get really frustrated with these, and I recommend a holistic approach and when my 5th grader tested, he test in the top 95% for Social Studies and the top 92% for science.

Last - I would recommend an outside learning program. My son went two days to "school" for five hours and took "classes" the place I sent him offered everything from Lego Robotics to Classical Latin. That is another place where he got Social Studies and Science. Next year he is coming back home and can't wait - I cannot tell you how much he didn't learn at the private school we sent him too :D

Good luck!
Ladybug hugs,

Anonymous said...

Just foumd your blog and would recommend as it is very thorough. We did private school k-3 with abeka and saxon math and 4-6 homeschooling with calvert. Abeka is good to teach reading but Calvert is the way to go for the higher grades. They have teacher support so if I need help or have a question we can call and talk to a teacher. Denise

Anonymous said...

When I first started home schooling my son in grade 2/3 I was using a combination of things. I have found that I really like singapore math. It is colorful and exciting and yet challenging. My son has whizzed right through it. I was using Bob Jones University because it laid everything out for me. But I have poor time management and that takes a lot of time to walk through each subject. It is wonderful for semi advanced. My son is pushing ahead because he gets things easier than most. He is reading at a 4/5 grade level in grade 2/3 and keeps going. This year my son wants to try something a little different. His cousin that I will also be homeschooling this year is working through ACE and Alpha and Omega (AOP). AOP has placement testing online if you want to see what grade level to start you kiddo at.

My best suggestion would be to talk to your local christian book store and see if you have a local school book supply store. Mine has been and still is a invaluable asset in my home schooling process. They are knowledgeable in most all of the options that they sell and are real person not a computer or telephone answering your questions about only one style of cirriculum.

I will give you one piece of advice. If you find yourself with a child that is breezing through the subjects too quickly or easily expand sideways. Find things on the same level or one up from his/her natural level. It will help you when you do the standard testing in grades 3... etc. With my son, I use the same grade mixed with the grade above in his strong subjects. And if he is still needing more I look to the internet for supplemental material.

As far as are you going to totally mess up your child. No, you can find local resources on the internet that have other homeschoolers in your area. You can socialize them that way as well as church, sports, scouts, etc. Honestly my son is flurishing now that he is not being ignored by his teacher that is having to deal with the struggling kids. You are the one who knows your kid the best. I would suggest if you do bookwork like AOP or ACE that you get only a couple of units of each and see how that goes before spending hundreds to find out it doesnt work for your family. I will agree K-2 will be challenging and maddening and there will be times you will ask yourself repededly why am I doing this. However, I would not trade this time I have spent with my son for anything in this world. We have grown together and our bond is that much stronger for this.

If you keep things in the right order meaning God is the #1 priority in your life everything else will fall into place. Pray and ask for help with the chalenges and remember to thank him for them too. You are going to learn and grow from them but your kids will too.


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