My Tools 4 Wisdom 2020-2021 calendar arrived yesterday and reminded me that this holding cell we have all been trapped in doesn’t mean time stood still. Instead, it has sped up – the months now ticking by as we slow our lives drastically down. But, there is a huge stampede heading for everyone in just a few weeks: a new school year.
I have had my e-mail flooded with questions from families considering keeping their children at home and opting out of any in-person or virtual schooling offered by their school systems. The emails generally read as follows:
“Please help; I’m overwhelmed with where to begin. I don’t know how to teach! We aren’t structured enough to do this, but I just can’t send them back. I’m scared. How will I know they are learning? What if they hate it! What if I hate it? Do your kids fight a lot? What about curriculum – how do you even choose one? How do I transition to homeschooling?”
Instead of answering every email and message, I thought I’d share some advice here on the blog.
I cannot tell you if homeschooling is the right fit for your family, but I can tell you that I understand why you are considering it. Know that you have the ability to re-enroll in the school system at any time, so why not just throw caution to the wind and join the homeschooling community!
Is it hard? Only if you make it hard.
Is there fighting? Only if you and your children are on different pages.
Will you be overwhelmed? Yes. You are a parent. You are always overwhelmed.
However, you can do this. The transition is the hardest, as you need to take a few months to just be with your kids – without curriculum or expectations. Read together (at every age), play together, explore, and build. Give them freedom to explore and play without you, too. This time is to adjust to being together and filling the hours of the day without stress. Once you all can spend a week doing ‘not much’ without major complaints or 8 hours of screen time, you know you are ready to bring in some curriculum!
I’ll share our curriculum choices in a moment, but first understand that homeschooling does not take 7-8 hours of time sitting at a desk. Homeschooling is completed quickly (depending on your child’s internal motivation, of course). My 1st grader finishes his entire day within 45 minutes most days! My 4th and 6th graders take longer, one finishing in about 1.5 hours and the other taking 3 hours, depending on the subjects/assignments of the day (but she is a very slow worker-ha!) The rest of the day is spent outside playing, doing legos, creating things, watching science videos, playing games, or whatever else they want to do!
As for curriculums – the selection is very overwhelming. You do need to decide if this journey will be short and you will be re-enrolling as soon as you feel it is appropriate, or if you will be sticking with this for a longer period of time. I say this because our math program does not exactly line with each grade level, as it is foundational and builds upon itself instead of introducing 15 new concepts a year and then reviewing them every year. But there are fantastic programs that allow for a more seamless transition back to school!
Our choices may or may not fit with your family, but they may make a great starting point. I would recommend ordering ASAP because we expect there to be a great shortage with the number of families wanting to educate at home this year.
Preschool Level: (I have an almost 3 year old and a 4 year old)
Keep it very very simple and utilize learning videos with phonics and fun characters.
Great curriculums to look at:
Abeka: They have great options across the board, but we utilize their spelling, language, reading, writing for first grade – and their history and geography for middle school.
Math-U-See or Saxon for math of all levels
HAKE – Writing and Grammar
Science and Reading Detective – we start these in third grade.
All About Reading – Great to start around kindergarten!
Bob Books – Wonderful filler books for brand new readers.
The Reading Lesson – This book takes 5 minutes or less a day and really helps the child’s fluency.
Evan Moore – Great workbooks, we use their spelling series currently (but may switch to abeka in the future!)
180 Days of Workbooks – These are easy workbooks for all grade levels. They read a short passage and answer questions. If you choose these, you’ll want to check out some library books to really get deeper with the topics.
Handwriting Without Tears – We love these little workbooks!
My First Reading Library (Usborne) – Great books the kids will work their way up with.
Brain Quest – These are great for road trips or dinner conversation!
Gakken Workbooks – For the little kids – cut, trace, count, etc.
Gifted Learning CogAT flashcards – Again, great for a quick 5 minute lesson or fun learning moment.
Duolingo – Free language learning (Scarlett does French here)
Dave Ramsey Programs – You can get a great deal right now. Kids are never too young to understand the value of money.
GenerationGenius.com – This is our science program. You purchase for a year at a time and have access to lesson plans, experiments, videos, etc!
BrainPop – A fun and educational app that let’s you grant guilt-free screen time.
MathPlayground – Another great app!
outschool.com – You pay by the class and can find a class on any and every subject you can imagine. The kids log into zoom and have a blast!
typing.com – A free typing website that tracks progress.
I’m sure there is more, and I’ll add it as I think about it! But this should be enough to help you start exploring. Look for any coops in your area, too – although ours were all cancelled, put online, or opening with very strict regulations this year, so we opted out and decided to just get together 1-2x a week with other like-minded friends!