Hey guys! So in case you didn’t already know (from reading this post), I homeschool my children. As such, one question I get asked a lot of is, “How do you choose your curriculum?”
I typically tend to laugh and say, “I have no idea!” Because, really, I don’t know. While a lot of homeschoolers talk about their “style of schooling” (such as Charlotte Mason, unschooling, classical education, Waldorf, and others), I don’t even know what I am. I guess I’m just me.
That being said, we are still new at homeschooling (this will only be my second year) so I guess I have some time to figure out. But I did want to make a post outlining our curriculum (or lack thereof in some areas) and general plan for this upcoming school year.
Year Long Plan
We “school” year round four days a week so we can have a day in the middle of each week to catch up on housework or any schoolwork that got missed.
This also allows us the ability to take a week off here or there as we need to visit family, go on vacation, or celebrate some special holidays and birthdays (no one in our family does schoolwork on birthdays.)
While having a philosophy isn’t necessary to be a homeschooler, I developed one before we ever started school. I decided I wanted my kids to learn to love to learn. Does that make any sense? Let me explain.
Learning is a lifelong process. I learn new things every day. In fact, today I learned that when kids paint the table with butter, it is really hard to clean up. Anyways, back on topic. If my kids learn to love learning, their potential is limitless.
The other side of the philosophy is that I want them to learn how to think, not what to think. That was crucial for me in terms of a homeschool curriculum. I immediately crossed anything off of my list that gave primarily multiple choices questions.
Curriculum that offered open ended discussions is definitely my way to go as we homeschool.
I will have two littles in school this year. Charity will be in “first grade” while Kirsten is in “Kindergarten.” I put the grades in quotations because in all honestly, we don’t “do grades”. I meet my kids where they are.
While Charity may be doing second grade spelling, she is doing third grade mathematics. Kirsten is already capable of reading and writing on a first grade level, and loves her first grade math book that she’s halfway finished with. If she finishes it in before the year end, we’ll just move her to the next book.
Learning is a process. As long as they are improving, we don’t worry about an end to it. It just continues and gets more in depth as time goes on. But I also don’t rush them ahead to a level they aren’t ready for, just because the public school system says that is where they should be.
Kirsten, being younger, has the lighter load. About a year before we started homeschooling I decided that until my kids are fluent readers, reading will be the number one priority. Kirsten prefers math, so I do put that in there a little too.
Charity, who can read on a fourth grade level, is being a bit more challenged. She is going to be doing the following subjects: Language, mathematics, science, social studies, and piano.
So, how do I fit this all in? Well, I’m not sure yet. But I can tell you how I’m hoping my plan will go.
We will wait until the younger two kids take their naps right after lunch and clean up. Then Charity and I will sit at the table to read either science or social studies. We will alternate each day and Kirsten will be welcome (but not required) to join us.
When we finish, Charity will do her language lesson independently while Kirsten and I do her reading together. Then Kirsten will do her computer school alone while Charity and I work on her math.
Next, Charity will do her independent reading while I help Kirsten with her math for the day. After this time, Kirsten will be free to play quietly.
At that point, if there is still time in our allotted school day, Charity will have a choice to do her “computer school” or her piano lessons.
The cool thing is, however, both of my kids are highly motivated to learn. As a result, there is a good chance I will actually find them doing some of these things on their own during their free time simply because they enjoy it.
The Chosen Homeschool Curriculum
Math Lessons For A Living Education – Masterbooks
This is the first curriculum I chose pretty early on. It is fairly new, but I loved the concept from the moment I heard about it. Rather than arbitrary math problems, this series takes elementary school kids on a journey with Charlie and Charlotte and their baby sister Ella into the world of homeschooling.
Charity has completed the first two levels, while Kirsten is about halfway through level one. They have both enjoyed them so much at times they have completed a full week’s worth in one sitting just because they like to!
This year, Charity will be tackling level three which seems to be a bit more challenging than the first two levels. Still, I am sure she is going to love it!
Language Lessons For A Living Education – Masterbooks
After we fell in love with the math curriculum from Masterbooks, how could we possibly not jump when we saw the language one? Actually, I didn’t. I was afraid of the new curriculum, and honestly, wasn’t sure about spending the money.
So I searched and looked for the perfect curriculum. While I found a few decent ones, I couldn’t find one I really liked. Then I looked at the samples on Masterbooks website and realized this was the one.
This will be our first year and we are starting out with level two, but it looks so perfect and I am very excited to get started! Here are the levels that have been published thus far. Currently, level one is still being written.
Science and Social Studies
This one has plagued me for a while because, while I definitely believe they are important, I could not find a curriculum I love that was also affordable. I mean, Story of the World and Mystery of History both look awesome, but I just can’t hand over that money.
Other curriculum options saddened me with inaccuracies that I just couldn’t promote to my children. Things like the Civil War being all about slavery just made me cross them off the list.
As we ran into some financial difficulty, and money was tight, I started looking for some used books and ended up choosing a Science book from Scott Foresman publishing that was copyrighted in 1999.
Next, I found a first grade social studies book from the same publisher, 3 years later.
Are these the best options out there? No. I’m sure they’re not. But they introduce children into some awesome concepts that I will then have the ability to expand upon with field trips, related reading, and educational videos.
Charity has expressed interest in learning how to play the piano, so I signed her up for Hoffman Academy. It is designed for kids and has a great method of teaching (in my opinion). I actually went through the courses myself and learned quite a bit.
Obviously, having an actual piano teacher is a much better alternative if you are able to come by one, but because of my driving abilities and financial woes, Mr. Hoffman will work just fine for this year.
I do want to note here that I am not an affiliate of Hoffman Academy. I am just so impressed with what you can get for free, and even more impressed with their paid program that I had to provide a link to it.
I want my kids to love to read. I also want my kids to be able to read good quality, educational materials as well as pleasure reading.
Kirsten will continue working through Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons. Charity completed this book about a year and a half ago and it was a great start! Kirsten absolutely loves it!
I do want to include a tip here that someone gave to me for the days when the reading seems tedious and focus is hard to come by. I simply tell Kirsten I am not going to be her teacher today. Rather, I hold up a random stuffed animal or baby doll.
To make them “teach” I simply use a silly voice and move them around the page. The “teacher” will then sometimes remind her that if they don’t listen, they will have to go and get Mommy!
I love this book for a lot of reasons. First of all, it’s very affordable. In addition, it literally tells you step by step what to say to teach your kid to read. Now, that being said, since this is the second time around, we do things our way a little, but nevertheless having that guidance is great!
As Charity has come so far along this past year in her reading, I am going to be trying to get her to read independently. I have made up a list of 15 books I would like for her to read. She will get to choose one of them to start off with.
After she reads one book from my list and I am satisfied she comprehends it, Charity will then get to pick her own book from either our downstairs library, or from the great collection of free e-books online.
Once it is finished, she gets to choose another book from my list. This cycle will continue until hopefully by next September my list will be completed and I will be ready to create another one.
My kids call “computer school” work they do online. We use a variety of resources on the Internet to supplement their primary education. Here are our favorites.
Looking For Your Own Curriculum?
While I have purchased curriculum from various sites, I have to say one of the easiest places I have found to research and purchase is from the The Homeschool Buyer Co-op. It is a free homeschooling organization for both new and veteran homeschoolers. Co-op membership is 100% free and confidential, and entitles homeschooling families to GroupBuy discounts on high-quality curriculum. On the site you’ll find lots of free information, including databases of free curriculum, field trips, and educational contests and scholarships. So if you’re looking for some great deals on materials, click here for more information.