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  1. #1

    Default New in New Mexico


    My name is Diana and I am brand new to homeschooling. My husband and I decided to homeschool our 3yo daughter, our only, and I thought I had plenty of time to research curriculum and styles of homeschooling. Recently, my 12yo nephew came to stay with us, and now I'm scrambling to come up with what we're going to do. The trouble is, I don't know very much about his learning style.

    What I do know about him: up until this past year, he was a straight A student in public school. As his home life became more chaotic, his grades dropped dramatically, partially due to the fact that his teacher discouraged him from participating. Since he always knew the answer, the other students in his class didn't want to try. He's very social, an advanced reader, and has coded some computer games.

    Since we're on a budget, I was thinking of beginning with a classical approach and building it as we go along, but this seems like so much work! There is a large Charlotte Mason community in our town, which I'm introducing him to this upcoming week. I don't know as much about CM, but if it is a good fit, I'm willing to try it.

    With my daughter, I'm using a Montessori approach, and she's blossoming. Elizabeth Hainstock's book has been a big help! If I had to buy all the materials, I'd have to go back to work!

    Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. Luckily, I have a few months while he's deschooling to get my ducks in a row.

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  3. #2


    Welcome! With all the changes going on in your nephews life, homeschooling is probably the easiest route to regaining normality.

    Since you like CM, you might consider one of the secular programs that are inspired by it. BuildYourLibrary has a few stand-alone curriculum for the middle school age (not continuations of 4-year history cycle). Level 7 is world geography, level 8 is World History through Science. It is literature, “living book” based, and covers language arts and social studies, if not science. BYL has a lot of different types of activities included, it may help zero in on the way he learns best.

    If he is gregariously social, he may find your baby’s company not enough social companionship. An activity or club could work out well for getting him a chance to mix with other kids in a safe environment. Making new friends is tough for kids, and it sounds like your nephew has a lot going on.

    Have patience! Sometimes it is hard to tell what part of homeschooling isnt working - curriculum, child, or instructor! Ask when you need help, and if you go a literature-based route, read the books, too! Do the mapwork yourself, so you are learning the same things he is, so that you know the workload you are expecting, so you can have deep philosophical discussions and share the same jokes.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3


    Some things to consider before you dive into homeschooling with your nephew... do you have guardianship of him? If not, does NM allow you to homeschool children that are not legally your children? I'm not familiar with NM homeschool law but some states do not allow you to homeschool other people's children, even if you have their parents' blessing to do so, unless you are a certified teacher. If his life is already being upended, I wouldn't want to possibly invite more problems if the law does not allow you to homeschool children that are not legally or biologically your children. I don't mean to rain on your parade, and you certainly do not have to answer anything here on a public forum, but I would definitely look into all the legalities if you have not already done so.

    Even if NM will not allow you to legally homeschool him, you can certainly supplement his education with afterschooling. It sounds like he could really benefit from someone who allows him to dive deep into a topic and help him not let his schooling get in the way of his education. He may be resistant at first, it sounds like school has always been easy for him so just be prepared that he may resist when you step it up a notch for him at home but if you keep it fun and interest led at home, you may be able to help him see that challenge is a good thing.

    Does he have a computer language he particularly likes? Get him a book on that language or other languages he is interested in learning. Programming requires logic, critical thinking, problem solving, math, spelling (one mistake and the whole progam crashes, I'm a compsci nerd too ;-)) and many other skills. If he's skilled enough, he could look for open source projects he could participate in on Github or other online coding communities. If he does this, have him keep track of what he does for these projects. It will look excellent on a college application or resume when he is older and it doesn't matter that he's only 12. If his code was good enough to be accepted into the project, then it is worth including on applications and resumes no matter his age when he did it.

  5. #4


    Here is the NM requirements page:

    It does say parent or legal guardian. If that isnt the case in your situation, you may want to talk to a competent legal advisor, your nephew’s caseworker, or his parents. The intent of the law is that education is the parent’s legal responsibility, not that they do the work themselves. (Many homeschoolers outsource instruction to co-ops, private lessons, and community colleges... that part isnt the issue.)

    Unless school was his refuge, his place of sanity in his otherwise crazy life, I think home would be a safer place for him to heal. Give him some time to get his confidence and enjoyment of learning back!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #5


    His grandmother is currently the legal guardian, and I had been concerned about this. She approached me to see if I would be willing to teach him, and of course I said yes. Our concern is that our schools are the lowest performing in the nation and not a healthy social environment. One thing I was considering is registering as a private school to satisfy the legal side. Up until a few years ago I was a certified teacher, albeit in another state. Tomorrow we will be going to a CM event where I can speak with some of the more experienced homeschoolers. With luck, some of them will know where I can begin. I remember reading that this was common practice in other states.

  7. #6


    I think if grandma is taking responsibility for it, and you are just administering it, you arent going to have problems. Does Grandma live with you too? If so, I wouldnt worry at all about it.

    Granted I am in another state where homeschooling is common, but in the 8 years I have been doing it, no busybodies have harrassed me about what my kids were doing “out of school”. The closest Ive come was when a busybody neighbor reported my son for going for a walk in the neighborhood during school hours. (I told sherriff that he was taking his exercise - sherriff went on his way. He didnt ask for proof of homeschooling, and that wouldve been where I would imagining it happening, if it was going to.)

    I hope you get good info at the CM conference - just be prepared for highly religious people. Religious or not, though, theyre likely to have a good feel for how things go.

    One of our regular contributors here (RTB) is from NM, she might have some links for you regarding groups and resources to check out.

    Keep in touch! We will do our best to help you get on your feet with homeschooling.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  8. #7


    Thank you. And thanks for the recommendation of BYL. That one is new to me, but it looks like something that could work for us.

    I also had a question about math placement. Many of the math curriculum options have placement testing, but this is the age group where it breaks off into pre-algebra. I have no idea how much of 6th grade math he absorbed last year. What resources have you used that would indicate gaps in learning?

  9. #8


    If he was asked to keep quiet in class and is in general a bright kid, I would just start him whereever the placement tests indicate he should start. Any gaps in knowledge can usually be filled on the fly with a bright student. Having him take several placement tests for different curricula you are considering should give you a good idea of whether or not he has any gaps significant enough to worry about. Do you have some curricula in mind or do you want some suggestions?

  10. #9


    Suggestions would be most welcome! The homeschool families who have befriended me so far either are unschooling their high schoolers or are in the elementary years. They are using Math Mammoth and Math-U-See, but I'd love to have other options to review.

  11. #10


    Well, for the middle school/junior high student, I wouldn't do Math-U-See. If he hasn't been doing it from the beginning, it might be difficult to jump in in the middle as it were with MUS.

    Math Mammoth might be a good choice especially if he wants to work independently and just come to you with questions.

    The Art of Problem Solving has a wonderful and challenging pre-algebra/algebra program that is usually best for students who like a challenge or are excellent problem solvers. They also have a 2nd - 5th grade program called Beast Academy which could be a fun gap filler program for him. It is written comic book style and is also meant for advanced students, covering many pre-algebra concepts long before other math programs do. Many homeschoolers who have students who are average at math use BA a grade level or two behind as a fun math supplement.

    Saxon math is a very traditional, drill and kill, style math program. If he just wants a "get it done and get it over with" program, this might be a good one for him. It is heavy on rote memorization but used in many schools across the country as well as by homeschoolers. I would recommend assigning only the evens or only the odds or other such means of reducing the number of practice problems. There is no need to do all the problems in a problem set if he absolutely gets it.

    Those are the programs I have experience with but some other popular choices among homeschoolers for this level of math are

    Jacob's Math

    Teaching Textbooks


    Life of Fred (a small amount of religious content and many need some extra practice but could be a good topical review or gap filler. I lent my copy of LOF: Fractions to a new homeschooler who needed help with fractions before she started pre-algebra and it worked well for her)

    Keys to... series (another good topical gap filler)


    Jousting Armadillos

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New in New Mexico