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  1. #1

    Default Considering homeschooling one or more of my children

    Hi all!
    I'm new here. I have four children. They currently attend public school are going into 6th, 3rd, 1st and PreK. Since overseeing their schooling for the past few months, I have some concerns, particularly about my 6 year old boy.

    I don't know for sure that homeschooling him or any of them is really the answer, but I would like to explore it so I have begun to do some research. (Actually a couple of years ago I really considered it. Now after COVID we have another incentive.)

    I'm confused about curriculum though. I am drawn to unit studies, literature-based, and curriculum that work well for big families (current ages range from 4-10). My husband would want to make sure math and science are covered really well. I would be happy to mix and match or buy one big curriculum off the shelf.

    Does anyone have any guidance as to where I might begin? I've been searching online and now I'm afraid I'm even more confused. :-/ Thank you so much for sharing your expertise.

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  3. #2

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    Welcome!
    You will probably NOT want a box curriculum!
    Try to imagine how you want the days to go. Do you fantasize about having them all working together, the olders patiently helping their younger siblings, everyone piled around the kitchen table for experiments, or building a stage in the backyard to perform their rendition of Othello for you? Or maybe leg shackles, each one chained to one corner of the kitchen table while they silently complete worksheets? (Kidding about the shackles, really!)

    I think you have the right sort of idea, and the most practical one, of trying to do things as unit studies with them. Decide on what the whole family will learn about, and tailor the learning up and down to meet each kid’s ability. Your sixth grader reads a novel about a boy in Pharoah days Egypt, while the littlest ones color a picture of King Tut. And your 3rd grader makes a lapbook section on how to translate hieroglyphics. Meanwhile, the whole family mummifies a chicken, and eats Egyptian food for dinner.
    You can find a plethora of unit studies all over the internet, often inexpensively because they are mostly just compilations of sources that you need to go gather anyways. Look for free things!
    I did an “Around the World” with my Kindergartener and 6th grader using BuildYourLibrary’s Grade 7 and K curricula as my resource guides. (The order of continents studied was in a different order for the two levels, so I went off the 7th grade one, pulling the relevant sources from the other level for my little one.)
    It covered Geography, Social Studies, Literature, and some “nature” science (just for the little one).
    Youre going to need to make time for one on one with your littles for reading instruction. You may want to have your oldest “teaching” or otherwise spending productive time with the others. Productive in that youre able to pay attention to the kid that needs it, not that youre going to see work getting done by the others. (There is a direct inverse correlation between distance from you and amount of work your kids will do.)

    And if Dad ever expresses concern that youre not doing enough in either math or science, or any other aspect, offer to hook him up with whatever materials he feels are appropriate, and thank him for freeing up some of your day to do other things. Dad, or grandparents, or nosy relatives, or anyone else giving you a hard time.

    You will be busy, for sure! But it should be a happy busy, giving you and the kids all sorts of happy memories and ‘in jokes’ between you. Well, unless you go the leg shackle route.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

    Default

    You have a large age range so all encompassing unit studies will be harder but not impossible.

    Let's start with what will have to be separate first.

    Everyone will need a separate math curriculum except your 4yo. Unless you can tell your little one is really really advanced in math, I wouldn't worry about a curriculum right now for pre-k.

    Language arts, the third and sixth grader need their own complete language arts program (whether you use a combination of programs or one that is already complete is up to you) Your first grader will need to work on learning to read if he has not already and if he has he just needs more practice for now. You can work on reading with a gentle reading program with your 4yo for 5 - 10 minutes a day if you want to.

    Now, your unit studies. I did this for a long time with my kids and it really is a very efficient way to teach a large age spread. I would go with something at least a little bit ready made for you your first year. Build Your Library would be a good choice. Use one level of BYL, either targeted at your 6th grader or your third grader. If you target your 6th grader and just let everyone else listen in, that's one way to do it. Or you can target your third grader, let the younger two just listen in and make any assignments just a little harder for your sixth grader. The books used in BYL are meaty enough that it shouldn't be a problem using them with your older child and just expect a little more output from them because they are older.

  5. #4

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    You have received some terrific advice so far. One more recommendation to save your sanity: you DO NOT have to select all the curriculum/approaches at once. For example, pick math, look at your options, and start there--especially as your husband is concerned about it. Then pick a unit study topic.

    Also, involve the kids when appropriate. Letting them have choices in their education really gets them invested in doing the work/studying, especially for your older kids.

    If you do this long term, be aware that what works now may not work later. Or what works for one kid may not work for another. Be flexible. That is the best reason to homeschool, and the one I gave most often to people who asked why.

    Regarding your husband's concern about science: Any facts they learn now they will they most likely forget over time. What you want them to learn are how to make good observations, classify, explore. Keep learning logs of science activities and things they see on nature walks. I'm a physics teacher by training. By the time students reach high school, you want them to be excited about science. They can always relearn the details and facts.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University graduate: BS in Computer Science, minor in math, geology, anthropology, and history

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Considering homeschooling one or more of my children