There are as many ways to homeschool as there are recipes for bread.
People keep asking me what curriculum I’m using, now that I’ve started to homeschool. There are way more resources and ideas than time!
For those who doubt their abilities but want to homeschool I would say to trust yourself. Freed from the governmental schools’ mandates that force teachers to spend precious academic time teaching programs like the anti-bullying, anti-drug awareness, going to assemblies and events that may or may not be a wise academic use of time, you will have so much time to teach that you can hardly avoid doing a great job. You are doing a one one one, customized education and you know your child better than anyone.
Research shows that even parents with low education levels turn out students with better educations than their public school counterparts. This is probably a combination of the customization of that child’s learning, the one-on-one tutoring, the attention, the bond, the love. https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/himmelstrands-speech-to-swedish-parliament-let-families-be-secure/
Here comes a list of homeschooling directions I’ve taken that are working, as I’ve gone from after-school supplementing (for the past two months) to fulltime homeschooling for my fourth grade son.
(Some people like free resources from government school systems, but I don’t trust them. I would not take a “free” curriculum from the government schools, personally, because much of it will tend toward “progressive” thinking and “sustainable” education, which is “progressing” learners away from the Constitutional, godly, independent vision of our Founding Fathers. I use time-tested classic, traditional methods. Not trendy “new” reforms no matter how good they sound; I sense that they cheat students of old-fashioned excellence and solid formulas and knowledge. Also, keep in mind that if you don’t want your child’s abilities and personal information tracked, you don’t want to be in online state systems that track the kids via SLDS and P-20 alliances.)
1. MATH: Using the free placement test on the Saxon math site, I tested my son and then purchased a used copy of a Saxon text book from Amazon. Love it. He’s soaring fast. http://www.learningthings.com/samples/SAX/SAX_Middle-Grades-Math.pdf
2. HISTORY AND SCIENCE Using the Core Knowledge Colorado website (not to be confused with Common Core!) I have found wonderful worksheets on, for example, the circulatory system, the respiratory system, American history, etc. This goes along with the book “What Your Fourth Grader Needs To Know” -which we read from as well, almost every day. http://www.ckcolorado.org/lessons/4thgrade.asp I also enjoy http://www.weatherwizkids.com/ for science, where children can learn what things are and then create easy experiments.
3. GEOGRAPHY I’m using the CIA World Fact Book to have my son look up facts about countries. I asked him to draw South America and label each country and capital, for example. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ar.html
4. SCRIPTURES We read scriptures every day. Sometimes, we watch the scripture stories on the computer http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/new-testament-storiesor read from Picture The Scriptures http://picturethescriptures.blogspot.com/. Most days, we write a verse in cursive right after we read, to practice our cursive writing.
5. SOCIAL STUDIES After we learned about the main handful of mountain ranges in the world, we decided to start to study one area at a time. We learned that Machu Picchu is in the Andes, and then we watched the National Geographic special (4 part) about Machu Picchu. He was fascinated.
6. SWEDISH Because we’re a bilingual family, I’m using Swedish fairy tales, Swedish Astrid Lindgren books, and making little vocabulary worksheets for my son, as well as having him practice his cursive in Swedish when we do cursive.
I also love the Swedish YouTube videos, and would recommend Karlsson på Taket, Nicke Nyfiken, Alfons Åberg, Anke och Pytte, Hopphatten, Draktränaren, Ronja Rövardotter, etc. Sample:
7. CULTURE A friend just introduced me to these sites and I will try them this week: http://www.zionvision.com/movies/ziontube/category/classification/presentation/ and http://josephsmithacademy.org/inspira/maps/v2/#zoom=3&markerid=null&geocode=null&type=null
8. GRAMMAR AND WRITING: We write essays. Complete sentences, a full page– or very close to it. We also do short mini-lessons to review everything from where commas go, to what a semicolon is, to parts of speech games (“I say ‘noodle’ and you say ‘noun’. I say ‘tall’ and you say ‘adjective'”), to diagramming sentences, learning subject-verb agreement, learning 1st 2nd 3rd person, etc. I keep these short but do them often. I also like http://www.folger.edu/template.cfm?cid=588 –And I use the UVU curriculum that I used when I taught remedial English. I also use schoolhouse rock YouTube videos to make it fun:
9. TECHNOLOGY I have my son make powerpoint presentations with sentences and pictures. He did one on zombies, one on Legos, one on Disney. He chooses the topic so far. I plan to have him do one on a patriot, a prophet, a hero, an explorer or an inventor later.
10. FIELD TRIPS We do field trips and virtual field trips. We study outdoors, in the car on the way to the park, at the park, at the kitchen table, on the living room couch. We begin by 9:00 and end by 2:00, usually. We are flexible. We go the extra mile. When the 2 year old is being difficult and trying to sit on the math book, we move homeschool to the bathroom. We study on stools next to the bathtub while the 2 year old plays in the tub for an hour or two. It works!
This week, we’re going to Brigham Young University’s free chemistry “magic show” for one field trip, and to the Museum of Art for another. We also went to play basketball at the recreation center this week. When we drive, we talk. We don’t let the radio take over. We might practice multiplication tables while we drive, or discuss interesting things and learn/teach that way. I might tell him the plot of a great novel he’s too young to read. I might tell him what it was like to do all the different jobs I’ve ever worked. I might tell him genealogy stories about his ancestors. I might tell him stories about World War II or the Revolutionary War or what the differences are between Obama and Romney. We communicate nonstop. We really don’t waste any time.
A few virtual field trips we enjoyed this week: http://www.areavibes.com/library/online-field-trips-for-students/
Remember– prayer, parental instinct and a sense of joy about learning with a determination to achieve great things are the real key. –Not a certain curriculum. Not a common core.