Monday, April 21, 2014

Mapping out your Homeschool needs

No one starts the homeschool journey in the same place,so its hard to give specific directions. The amount of variables per family are as numerous as the choices available. So while it is good to get advice from others to narrow it down, the only way to find what works is trial and error. This may seem daunting but it can be enjoyable. Homeschooling to me has become a journey not a destination. You don't need to have it all perfectly laid out planned to get started,...chances are a week in you will change it up anyway.
             Learning Style
  A great blog I found to help understand learning styles is   http://dirtbetweenyourtoes.blogspot.com/ look under getting started. Once you understand different learning styles you can start to classify your child or families needs. It may even be a mix. Ours is a mix of Charlotte Mason, Montessori, and we even use computer, and Tv a lot too. I DVR PBS shows and them plug them in when the theme fits. We like unit studies, and my kids enjoy crafting so lapbooking has been fun. Just about any curriculum can be tweaked to fit different styles of learning as needed per child or subject.
           Curriculum
  I suggest getting catalogs from a few places. Sonlight, (love this for science)My Fathers World, Heart of Dakota, Winter promise, GeoMatters, Timberdoodle(currently using gallop the globe for world geo) Tapestry of grace, These are unit study or themed type programs that blend history, science, literature, sometimes geography and art. These can be used with multiple age groups. One of the reasons they make my tops list. The other reason these stood out is they cycle through history themes chronologically. Meaning your children will go back through each usually three times if you start using from early1st or K. Each time at a different level. I have heard this called bus stop approach when teaching multiple ages. As a child goes through for the second and third time the material that is duplicated for them would be a review while intro or intermediate for younger siblings. The older child would then continue with assignments that dig a little deeper. Usually the upper grades are working much more on their own and a lot more reading and writing involved.  I  also use these catalogs often for book lists and then just get books at the library. While you cruise through these catalogs keep in mind one box does not fit all, a little here a bit from there is just fine. Ebay, Abe books, Amazon and homeschool share can save you a lot if buying used. I have found rainbow resources to be the most competitive and well rounded when purchasing new.
           The Basics
  You usually will need to add in math and phonics when doing unit studies and really these are the basic required skills. I have found Abeka, and Horizons to be popular choices and they come with teachers manuals if you need support. We did use Abeka in early K but found as a box (meaning 6 subjects) just to much seat work. Very thorough and not a bad place to start if you need to be coached through in the beginning.       
  What has worked best so for my family was workbooks from schoolzone, no teachers manuals and no real instruction. Just basic worksheets for basic skills. Full color matte paper, easy to erase but engaging. The "big" books they carry cover multiple levels and come with a Cd rom for computer games. I found this a great reward tool. 
  For math we use place value blocks and other manipulatives like they you in "math you see". You can always use beans, cars, coins, skittles, or cereal. I have found edible props in math get some attention.
 When it come to phonics/reading and getting hands on I have found a few games at Oriental t
Trading C.O. that have worked well. they are a great source of classroom type goodies. A lot of things are sold in bulk so if you cab find a buying buddy even greater savings. Scholastic has a huge selection of word family books. You can make word wheels, or slides on your own as well.
   I have found with my children the more senses you can involve the better they retain info. Anytime you can get bodies moving, food involved, crafts, or little outings really brings lessons alive. This is one of the great freedoms in home school. You don't have to be at home. Even a blanket in the yard or tent in a room can add excitement for a child.

                  No Commitment
    I love print as you go. Lapbooks, worksheets, cut and paste, Montessori cards, and color pages. I tend to find freebies on various websites just by searching topic + free printable. (I will have a website/blog list of favorites soon and will update here then) I also value T.P.T. (teachers pay teachers) and Curr-click both sites offer downloadable PDF's to cover almost anything, some freebies and great sales if you sign up for newsletters and follow sellers. It is useful to have an external memory box, (about 30 bucks) A good printer and a laminator. These tools come in just behind a library card on my must have list.

                               Little Hands
   For children that are not ready for a "curriculum" per say. Child who may not read or write or just not show interested in sitting still with a pencil. It is never to early to start. Learning is often found in the most simple daily tasks. While involving children may make this task less simple LOL. Ask anyone who has baked with a three year old! Involving children in things helps not only prepare them for the real world, but establishes an early foundation in the parent as teacher role. If you are short on ideas here or need some spark Williamson publishing has a great books. LittleHands  ( This is an Amazon affiliate link to a book list. If you order anything from Amazon by using this link I will earn credits. Please consider changing your current Amazon bookmark to this page above. It is a simple way to help a Mom out. I have another Mom's affiliate bookmarked for my shopping as well. :)

                 Legal
    Legal requirements can be found per state at http://www.hslda.org/ There are many support groups online and you may be lucky to find a good local group.

             Attitude is Everything
    Support is a great start. Patience and forgiveness for yourself, friends and family, not just your kids but other family members who might just not get it. Everyone has different reasons for this adventure. You can, but do not need to explain yourself to everyone. Wear your badge with pride even if you are still in sweats and have not seen makeup in a week,..or month.
  We will all hit hard times and go seeking the nearest bus stop to send them away. Things are not going to be perfect, what did your last pintrest project REALLY look like? No amount of space, books, technology, degrees or even desire will do it alone if your attitude is not there. You and your child are both entering a new world. Together you will have ups and downs. Its called learning not knowing. Enjoy the journey!! 
   I would love to hear about your successes, failures (they can be quite funny in retrospect) and help you find answers to questions you may have. Thanks for stopping in and be sure to sign up for email alerts. I will be doing several giveaways this summer, just another way to pay it forward.