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  1. #1

    Default our first year of homeschooling is about to start ...where do we even start?

    hello all:
    my daughter is 12 and just finished 6th grade at a public classical charter school in maryland.
    we enrolled her in a homeschool co-op for the fall. we are still so lost however on what online programs to choose from, and what curiculum to follow.
    if an umbrella group is necessary and why?
    also keeping the online education costs lower is necessary as well.
    any an all advice or info will be very helpful
    thanks so much
    corinne magnus

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  3. #2



    There is what the law requires and then there is what you want to do. I am not sure of the laws in Maryland so you will need to figure that out, but if you are homeschooling and not going through the school districts online learning, you will have the ability to construct your own schedule and pick your own curriculum.

    On what curriculum to follow? That is very individual. Some people are very structured and some are more loose with the schooling.

    So your daughter will be in 7th grade. Do you want a comprehensive curriculum. There is Build Your Library, Global Village School, and Moving Beyond the Page are 3 differant secular programs with different levels of guidance.

    Bu there are lots of questions to consider. What does she like? What are her strengths and weaknesses? What are the concerns in her learning? What are her goals for the future? These questions will determine what you might plan on doing.
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 11-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.

  4. #3


    In Maryland, an umbrella saves you from having to review with the district. Some umbrellas have good, supportive staff who get homeschooling (as former or current homeschoolers themselves usually) and can give good help sometimes and make reviews a much less stressful thing. In some counties, the district can just be jerks about reviews and can be threatening over things that aren't even in COMAR (the homeschool law). However, many districts are pretty chill. PG County is definitely very chill, for example. Most of my friends in MoCo feel like it's not worth the cost of doing an umbrella. They're not really helping you constantly or anything - the primary purpose of the umbrella is to get you out of reviews with the district.

    Online options:
    Weeeelll... there are lots of things out there. Depends on what you want. Are you totally set on an online program? Why did you choose that? Some homeschoolers don't do any online programs at all. We did not use anything online as part of our core homeschooling throughout middle school.

    "Online" can mean a program where computer software is doing the teaching - Teaching Textbooks is a math program like that. Or Khan Academy is a free program like that. There are a lot of those around now for very little now sometimes. Most people feel the instruction is pretty basic. But others feel it's basic but gets the job done. There are also whole online schools and classes. Some of them are "asynchronous" meaning you can do them whenever but the teacher will give feedback, etc. Others mean you have to be in front of the computer at a specific time for a live discussion and lesson. Some of those are really fun and light, others are rigorous. They can get expensive fast.

    I second looking at some offline resources. Build Your Library's 7th and 8th grade programs are really great. Moving Beyond the Page is another option. Many of us put together stuff from all different companies though. And you don't have to have some official "curriculum" - you can also just read books and watch documentaries and do stuff.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?

  5. #4


    My daughter just finished 6th grade (homeschool) also. We've used many combinations of curriculum, including only computer-based to almost all book-based. We even spent 3/4 of a school year (5th and 2nd grade for the 2 school aged kids) in a public K12 virtual charter when I had a newborn and didn't want to plan. We most recently have used a blend of online and books/workbooks/projects. I can't speak to umbrella schools, because Wisconsin is low regulation, and it isn't needed here. You need to research the homeschooling laws for your state and try to find a homeschool advocacy group if there is one.

    For a complete online curriculum, Time4Learning (T4L) is a great value, $20/mo., while also delivering higher quality than others we've tried. It is compatible with Common Core due to its use in public schools. The lessons are fun videos and animation. This is not a school, just a curriculum to be used. We tried Plato, which is also used in public schools, and it was soooo boring. Every year since my daughter was in 1st grade we use T4L to make sure we've covered the grade level, and then we supplement with other subjects and materials for the other half of the year. My daughter did almost only T4L for grades 1-4 and the last quarter of 5th grade. We used it to mostly complete 6th grade (and 3rd grade for my son) over last summer and fall. We will use it for the 2nd half of 7th grade (and 4th grade for my son). I plan to use the T4L high school for the main high school classes. If you use just T4L, I recommend supplementing with spelling, vocabulary, writing, and depending on your states requirements or your preferences, world languages and health. T4L offers Vocabulary Spelling City subscription for $25/yr. Time4Writing courses and Rosetta Stone languages are listed as "extra education" options through your account for additional fees.

    If cost is a huge issue, there are a couple of totally free options online. Discovery K12 and Easy Peasy are free. If you stay away from the bible class on Easy Peasy, it is secular. Discovery K12 is secular. Both have a full curriculum for K-12. To keep cost down, we buy books used on Amazon or Abe Books and use Homeschool Buyers Co-op for some subscriptions.

    Homeschooling gets as complicated or as simple as you want to make it, or may have to be complicated depending on your state. A lot depends on your kids and their preferences. But T4L is a good place to start, even if you don't end up with it, because it is paid monthly without obligation (easy to put on hold or cancel). It keeps track if their work and duration automatically for your records. It is easy for the kids to be independent. They log in and have all the material needed for a day of learning even while you research other options and plan for other items as necessary.

    For an idea of what else we tend to do: (we use loop and block scheduling, so not all items are studied at the same time!) We use Vocabulary Spelling City for ...vocab & spelling... along with notebooking Latin and Greek roots and Word Roots Beginnings workbook, Core Skills spelling and Frequently Misspelled Words workbook. We attend the homeschool co-op nearby for a writing course and others. We also used the 1st half of Cover Story for writing for 6th grade, to be completed next year. (We also used a mildly religious language arts curriculum called The Good and the Beautiful, because it was free to download level 5 and wasn't very offensive even though we are atheist.) My daughter likes Thinkwell for math and did their 7th grade last year, but is also doing the T4L middle school honors Algebra. She will do Thinkwell 8th grade math this year and also dabbles in Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) for some challenge. We probably will stick to Thinkwell for high school, but at some point she may switch completely to AoPS. My son prefers CTC Math currently. We use Xtra Math for math fact mastery (free). We've used Rosetta Stone for Latin and Spanish, and Duolingo (free) for Bokmal Norwegian, Japanese, and Spanish. We have Visual Latin now. We also supplement the history with books (The History of US Concise version, History of Science, and The Human Odyssey are some favorites), notebooking, geography, and timelines with figures and science with interactive notebooks and labs. My daughter attends the public school for orchestra class only (our state allows homeschoolers to take up to 2 classes at any public school). We keep a subscription to BrainPop so the kids can browse videos about whatever seems interesting to them. I assign them to read on Newsela (free) and we discuss current events.

    Sorry it's long, hope it helps.

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our first year of homeschooling is about  to start ...where do we even start?