View Full Version : any suggestions/advice for a soon-to-begin homeschooling mom?

09-24-2012, 05:35 PM
My eldest child has been recently diagnosed ADD (primarily inattentive) with dysgraphia (shows as bad handwriting -- a problem with eye input and hand output). She is currently in 5th grade in a small private school that ends at 6th grade. We were looking into homeschooling as an option for junior high -- we have now decided that we will start homeschooling her next school year, in 6th grade (we are financially committed to the school for this school year).

Can anyone please advise me on curricula that they like for (please tell me what you like about it, and anything you don't like or that concerns you about it):
English grammar and composition
spelling and vocabulary
history/social sciences/geography

Our first year of homeschooling will be a big learning curve for all of us (I will be homeschooling both of my kids, starting in 6th and 4th grades), so I first want to focus on the basics and learning how homeschooling works for us. However, once we get comfortable I will look for ways to incorporate in art, music, home skills (including personal and family finances and record-keeping), fashion design (my eldest's long-standing interest), and other enrichment subjects. I already have plans for PE -- a personal trainer (already working with our kids), more swimming lessons, and horseback riding (and requests from the kids will be considered for workability). Reading will blend in with everything else, and the recreational reading they both enjoy (both by themselves and with me reading aloud).

Basically mainstream school just isn't working for my eldest, and so we need to change. I end up reteaching much of the material in a different fashion just to get her through her homework. Since I am working hours a day on this anyway I figure we can give homeschooling a try.


09-24-2012, 07:20 PM
Well, there is a section of this website where there is an exhaustive list of secular curriculum options. If you tell us about what she does and doesnt like, how she learns best, if you like straight textbook type stuff, art-focused, whatever, that might help with specific recommendations.

My middle child spent some time in the gifted program at his school, and I had to come home an hour early to tutor him because he could not absorb it the way they taught it at school. thats how i knew i could do it!

09-24-2012, 08:37 PM
Yeah, you can start by clicking on the Secular Homeschooling Resources link at the top of the page. That list is fairly comprehensive, I think.

Also, people can probably help you better if you give us some narrowing factors. For example, what type of learners are your kids? What type of teacher are you? What are your goals? What's your philosophy? Do you want curricula that are more open ended and full of resources, or do you want curricula that are scripted and set? Do you want more all in one resources or more separate resources?

It can also be useful to see what others use, of course. But it may or may not be what works for you.

09-25-2012, 01:57 PM
Thank you both, dbmamaz & farrarwilliams!

Let's see -- S (eldest girl) is very creative and imaginative. In fact, the PhD who tested her stated she is quite "internally distractable" because her imagination is so entertaining. She hates calculating but gets high-level math concepts quite easily (it was because of this that we sought testing - thought she had a math learning disability). She loves stories and word play, but hates composing actual written reports and prose. She comes up with plays on the spot, spins impromptu story lines to go with the action when the cousins all play Little Big Planet together, and loves haiku (because it's short and a puzzle - 17 syllables exactly). She loves puzzles and mazes. She loves to sing, and can't help herself at times -- her control over "mindless" humming and singing has been hard-won (very like her mother (me) there). She loves music, so piano, guitar, and choir will be in our plan. She wants to become a fashion designer, and this goal has persisted for 2-3 years now, so I think it's sticking. My goal for S is to help her learn the knowledge and skills to go on to whatever college or other education she desires, and to allow her to discover her own path. S loves having friends, but is somewhat socially awkward, and so has a bit of trouble making new friends. S prefers having some time each day to choose her own activities and work on her own. She prefers visual, interactive learning, making her own discoveries, typing over handwriting, and anything where her unique perspective is considered a talent instead of "odd". She loves to take things apart to see what they are made of, though she often doesn't consider first whether or not they can be reassembled. Music and design seem to be her main approach to life.

M (youngest girl) is very vocal in her processing. She thinks everything through out loud (again, like me) and in excruciating detail. She gets along much better in your typical mainstream classroom, and makes friends quite easily. Until this year she would work more readily on her own, but has moved quite a lot towards being a high-maintenance kid where homework is concerned. This might be because being the "easy" kid got her less attention time-wise in the past. I am working to remedy that, working in more one-on-one time with each girl. M loves stories and anything living (or anything that can be given a personality - great when she was little and we needed to get her to eat). She prefers group activities and cooperation, and wants company upstairs if sent there to get cleaned up or to put her clothes away. She gets great grades in school, and seems to adapt well to lots of different teaching styles, as long as the teachers are actively engaged. She LOVES brain-teasers, stories, intricate work (like weaving). She enjoys music and arts, too, though not to the all-pervasive degree as her sister.

Both girls are scary-intelligent (scary because I haven't figured out how to help them learn to manage it yet). S, due to her problems in school and the negative messages she's had to face over several years, has less confidence than M. S also has some physical awkwardness that we are addressing (personal trainer with kinesiology background). Both girls have extraordinary vocabulary, though spelling is an issue at times (but always phonetic when misspelled). Both have strong wills, and an insatiable curiosity they have been forced to rein in at times (too much for my taste).

As for me, my purpose on earth is to learn and to try to understand, and now my kids' learning styles is a big topic (for me to learn and understand). I was always a good classroom learner, but have at times in the past tried to find less usual ways to explain stuff to a friend having trouble. I guess I try to become familiar with the material and then present it in a variety of ways to see what seems to click with the person I'm trying to help. I'm utterly new to homeschooling, and trying to figure out how to put together a workable plan for the first year (we can change and adapt as need be once we get started). I want to find out what curricula are out there that people have tried, and what did or did not work for them (and what they liked and didn't like about them). I also know that being in Texas we aren't required to keep much in the way of records, but that's a state thing. Colleges are another matter. I need to find out what colleges will want to see from homeschoolers so we can be sure to cover all of those requirements, too, over the years. And I want to get a workable plan for next school year in place before the end of December, so we can decline to re-enroll with confidence when re-enrollment time comes up in January.

Oh, and we want to go secular in our homeschooling for a while. We are teaching our kids to be respectful of all people's religions and customs, though they've been getting basic Christianity for a bit. It is time to expand upon that. My "religion" is anthropology -- I see value and short-comings in all religions, and feel that religion must be a personal INFORMED choice, and not foisted upon one. I plan to teach my kids to learn about customs, religions, and personal viewpoints and perspectives without judgement.

But, as Flylady says, babysteps. So, first step: figure out how to choose curricula for basic topics. Step 1A: gather information. Thanks for mentioning the curricula list on this site -- I've made a note to check it out when I can (my time on the computer is fleeting and tends to be interrupted frequently). What have you all tried? And what approaches are there to homeschooling?

Stella M
09-25-2012, 02:26 PM
I like to approach things in small chunks, so what I would do in your situation is look at the girls' curriculum step by step.

You can either start with 'most important', 'most difficult' or 'easiest'.

If you went with easiest, perhaps you might look for a LA program for one and and art/design/textiles for the other.

Or you might choose their math program first. Or maybe science is your priority. You can deschool while you are researching.

There are so many styles of hs and so many resources! Narrowing your research down to one thing at a time helps.

For example, I could say to you - check out Brave writer for writing. Look at samples, read reviews. There will be some trial and error as you work out what suits the girls.

Moving Beyond the Page, and Michael Clay Thompson are two other LA/unit studies, both skewed towards gifted, you might like to check out.


09-25-2012, 02:39 PM
Seconding the Bravewriter suggestion. That's what we use. :) BW suggests having a routine for language arts. Ours is basically Monday: copywork/dictation, Tuesday: writing projects, Wednesday: poetry teas and grammar, Thursday: narrations, Friday: freewriting. Spelling is part of copywork and dictation as well as something we work on during writing projects or occasionally with grammar or with games. But that may or may not be for you... MCT is a program many people like and is very creative. IEW is a program many people use that is much more traditional. There are numerous spelling and grammar programs that are workbook based if you'd like that - though it sounds like that's not your style. There are also lots of writing workbooks, but... well yeah.

For math, one of mine does Math Mammoth. It's inexpensive and very good. You could also look at Singapore Math or MEP Math, which is free. The age your kids are is an age that a lot of math programs change over. MM and Primary Math only go through 6th grade, for example. If you're interested in pre-algebra, there are lots of programs for that. And there are plenty of supplemental resources.

We put together our own science and history. You could look at the Pandia Press programs for both... Or consider something else. Is there a topic you're interested in?

09-25-2012, 04:19 PM
When i put together my first year's plan, first I read "The Well Trained Mind' cover to cover - it has a road-map of how to create a rigorous classical education for your children. Classical is not a good fit for my boys, but I still found the structure of how she set up each year to be helpful.

next I went to the curriculum standards of my school district (you could also look at your state standards or the common core - tho I find the common core to be written in such an obtuse fashion that I have no idea what it means). You could also check out the World Book typical course of study, or something like that - a lot of ppl recommend that.

Then I made a spreadsheet for each kid listing what TWTM recommends for each subject for their grade, what the school district suggests to cover, and then what I plan to use. I found breaking it down like that, subject by subject, and thinking about what was recommended by various sources, that helped me figure out what I was looking for.

Our style is definitely ecclectic. At first, I wanted to use the most unusual sources for each subject, but found that my older son really likes more school-y textbooks. My younger one seems unable to handle any organized curriculum. So they do totally different things.

But someone once said all you have to do is look at your child, figure out what that child needs, and pick something. If it doesnt work, try something else. Its kind of true. there is always a lot of trial and error, but the great part of it is that you learn so much about your children, you learn more than you thought you would about how they learn, how they see the world