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  1. #1

    Default Hello!!! First year homeschooler in desperate need of a little guidance. :)

    Hello to all!

    I am a mother of four beautiful and rambunctious people, all of whom will be starting their first year of homeschool this year. Yes, this means I'm a total newbie.

    We have sold all of our assets and are hitting the road - for various reasons - and we're attempting to get this homeschooling journey kicked off without too many hitches.

    I'm so glad I found this forum! I will be ever so diligently searching through every vessel of this site for answers, but until then, if anyone is kind enough to offer any advice on curriculums, sanity, or anything else, I am eternally yours and grateful.

    I have a 13-year old (8th grade advanced), a 9-year old (4th grade), an 8-year old (3rd grade), and a smallish one we call our dictator. He is 19 months (apprentice in world domination).

    I am overwhelmed by EVERYTHING. We are in the deschooling process now, which has been and continues to be absolutely amazing. I am LOVING getting to know my children so much more intimately than I ever did before, and I can honestly say the pride I feel in the individuals they are is probably disgustingly egotistical and delusional, but these guys are truly wonderful people. I'm looking forward to homeschooling them for the simple fact that I've missed out on so much of "them" through our hectic lives wrapped completely in school and work and money. I am so relieved to be laying the Joneses to rest and giving our family a chance to operate truly as a unit. But most of all, allowing them to opportunistically and creatively learn and experience outside of brick and mortar feels like the "right" thing to do.

    But now I'm faced with giving the school a copy of our curriculum. I have the gist, but I haven't decided on everything yet. Part of me just wants to make a list and hand it over for the sake of lip service, but I know I really need to make concrete decisions to get us started. The Aquarian in me has a hard time with this. I've researched until I'm blue in the face, but I have made no real commitments.

    If anyone has any advice on how to put a wonderful curriculum together (I know you do), I would love to hear it.

    Again, I'm going on a search mission through the forums, but I've got my pen and pad handy if anyone wants to chime into this thread!

    Thank you from the deepest depths of my cockles!!

    Love,
    Fruitcake

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Arrived TFZ's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure paying lip service is the step directly after deschooling so you're on the right track!

    Things that have helped me - Cathy Duffy's book and online guide to curricula, downloading samples and trials, and just thinking about what I want our days to look like - how long on the computer, how much voice do I have for read alouds, how many crafts and experiments can I tolerate, lol.

    Whatever you choose, don't feel like you have to go line by line. Do what works and leave the rest. FWIW, curriculum threads around here start in February. Even lots of the veteran homeschoolers have been looking through and picking stuff out for months before they use it. Don't stress.

    Glad you're enjoying your kids. Sounds like you guys are off to a good start
    I'm a homeschooling enthusiast excited to start an epic 1st grade-ish year with DD4 and DD2 tagging along. My homeschool superpower is ferreting out secular science resources.

    My site is somerandomlady.com and these are curriculum choices..

  4. #3

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    First of all, welcome to the forum and to homeschooling!

    You have a pretty good spread of ages there, on the cusp of high school, nearing middle school and a toddler. I've been there, done that lol. I have 6 kids ranging in age from 19 - 4.5 yo.

    I would start with your eighth grader, get them squared away and then work on down. Now is a great time to get a four year plan going to make a smooth journey through high school. Have you talked with your eighth grader about their plans and goals for high school and beyond? Do they want to go to college? Apprenticeship? Do they know what they want to do when they are done with school or are they still still exploring options? Will attending community college for some of their high school classes be an option for them? I know you said you will be hitting the road but many community colleges offer online classes. They can get their general education credits out of the way while they are still in high school and be ready to dive in to their major when they graduate.

    For your younger two school aged kids, there is such a wide variety of curricula out there it's hard to make any recommendations without knowing more about what kind of education you want to give them. Classical, Charlotte Mason, school-at-home, unschool, unit studies, something else? Do they have any subjects that are difficult for them? Subjects they love? Do you have a subject that you feel uncomfortable teaching and would like the maximum amount of hand holding and scripting for? Do you want to supervise them as they complete assignments mostly on their own or do you want to do the actual teaching and complete lessons and assignments together?

    Your younger two school aged kids are close enough in age that you could reduce your workload by combining them for content areas. You could even get away with teaching to your eighth grader and then differentiating the assignments according to their abilities. For example, say your eighth grader is learning about the Civil War. You read aloud to everyone from a novel (or listen to an audiobook together) about the Civil War. Your eighth grader researches and writes a 5 page essay on a Civil War related topic or a literary analysis of the novel if they are ready for that. Your 4th grader writes a 1 - 3 page report (length will be dictated by their ability) on Civil War itself while learning how to research for writing a paper. Your third grader completes a lapbook or notebook page on what they learned about the Civil War and you read a Civil War related picture book together (such as "Follow the Drinking Gourd"). Everyone is learning about the same topic but the assignments are geared toward their particular skill levels. You can do this for most content subjects (history, science, literature, art, music, health, P.E., etc) It so much easier to teach a group of kids when everyone is studying the same topics just on different levels but they will all still need to study skill areas (reading/phonics, spelling, math, the skill areas of English etc) at their own ability level and pace.

    Also be prepared for your littlest one to want to "do school" too. Have a box of materials just for them that only comes out while you are working with the other kids. If everyone else is writing, have some paper and crayons for the little one or some coloring pages or worksheets from the internet for them to "complete". Busy bags for toddlers and preschoolers are another great way to let them feel like they are doing school too.

  5. #4

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    TFZ, thank you! I have a huge guilt that sets in when contemplating just handing over a bogus curriculum, but my whole goal here was to personalize their experiences to the best of our abilities. Even more guilt would ensue if I just ordered a bunch of resources and forced them to adhere to those instead of allowing them take part in what works for them.

    Thank you so much for the advice! I will head over and see what I can find! And it's good to know when the parents start talking.

    I see you take a keen interest in honing in on secular science curricula! This has been a huge focus in my own sifting through. I was SHOCKED by how difficult it is to find a straight secular program. Do you happen to have an elementary favorite and an 8th grade favorite? My eighth grader is in advanced classes at the public school (the equivalent of 9th for most subjects), so I'm not sure whether to kick her off as a freshmen with a program that has a strong spiral, or start her off in eighth and just move her up accordingly. She's much more hesitatant and questioning when it comes to homeschool, so I definitely do not want her to feel bored or unchallenged, and she's a bit sassy (in an etiquettely favorable way, thank goodness), so I know I'll get mild sarcasm and a lack of confidence in what we're doing if we are covering info she's already mastered. Lol.

  6. #5

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    @MapleHillAcademy, thank you so much for all of the wonderful advice!

    Ideally, I would LOVE to teach the lessons in person. I'm not sure if we will always have the best access to Internet, as we'll spend a bit of time in national parks. So I'm gearing towards human-taught and video lessons. Of course, I'm hoping we'll have better access than my worst-case-scenario vision here, but I can imagine we'll have issues don't want to be reliant on the internet.

    Shared lessons are my goal in subjects such as Spanish, Music, Art (to an extent), History, Geography, Science (to an extent), etc., but I definitely want to make sure it's tailored to their individual needs.

    Math and science are where I want to make sure there is guidance from professionals. This is where I want to "sink the money," so to speak, and do my best to make sure every resource they need (other than me) is available to them. Although I'm fairly strong in both areas, I'm not entirely confident I can teach them proficiently.

    My youngest struggles a bit with math, so I was thinking Math-U-See for her, starting from the ground up, supplemented with Khan academy and lots of games. My 9-year-old son does not really have any "subject" he struggles with, so I might start him with Saxon and supplement with Math-U-See, Khan, etc. My 13-year-old is very math interested, although it is the subject she struggles the most in. She loves it, but I believe it takes her a bit of work to master, and while she manages to pass with B's, she's always left a bit confused and disappointed in herself. I would like to find her a mastery program that allows her to start where she is but also spirals into what she's already been through to give her a more solid foundation.

    My oldest "wants" to be a Marine Biologist. We are heading to the Keys so that she can be part of their volunteer program at an aquatic center a school a Junior Biologist, and we are definitely leaning towards college courses for her in science.

    Speaking of science for the lot of them, I've spent so much time researching the various programs that I'm just completely lost. It all looks like a fuzzy blob to me now.

    I have full confidence I can teach them language arts, social studies, etc., so I'm not too worried about those.

    And yes! I will definitely make the baby his own school box! That is wonderful advice!

    Thanks again!!

  7. #6

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    I wouldn't worry about bogus, I handed in a curriculum with every intention of it being "the" curriculum, but everything changed. I never let the school know, they didn't care and all was well.
    Beth
    DS14 with ASD, DD11 and DS8

  8. #7
    Senior Member Enlightened Artmama's Avatar
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    In NYC we have to submit an IHIP (individualized home instruction plan)- the best advice I have been given is to remember that P stands for Plan and that not everything goes according to plan. As learning style, interests, life evolves your homeschool plans will too.

  9. #8

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    Thank you all so much! Upon going to the school to un-enroll and file for intent to homeschool, I've discovered that they only give me two lines to fill in curricula. So I suppose we'll "plan" to use Oak Meadow until further notice (i.e., my shipment of actual curricula, which is much too long for a two line list, arrives).

  10. #9

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    On the plus side, I feel immense relief now that that little (and I mean LITTLE) process is over. That was so much easier than I expected! I was told Texas is lenient; geez louise, they weren't kidding, were they?

    I mean, I suppose it's a bit counter-intuitive and I am certainly grateful, but I figured they'd want more details. :/

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Hello!!!  First year homeschooler in desperate need of a little guidance.  :)