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  1. #1

    Default New to homeschooling - 4 young children - Advice needed


    My name is Amber & I am new to the world of homeschooling. I have a daughter who just turned 6, another daughter age 4, a son who is 2 and a newborn daughter. For the past couple of years I have informally schooled my eldest daughter. She turned 6 this month and now it is time for us to get into a routine. I have a great homeschooling space, lots of materials, am organized and ready to roll. However, I find planning to be incredibly intimidating. Not only do I not have a ton of time to sit and write up lessons, outlines, etc. I also find it hard to be bound to a daily schedule...especially with a newborn and such small kids. I find it to be super overwhelming and don't know where to start. I lack confidence and worry I won't be able to have the time or be able to structure everything correctly. I keep seeing blog posts to that recommend keeping things simple and relaxed with such kids so young. Any advice would be appreciated. It would be helpful if anyone could direct me to checklists by grades, so I can loosely keep up with age appropriate learning. My kiddos have a rich life full of art, music, outdoor exploration, life skills, etc. but I need to figure out the best way to tackle reading, writing, etc. in a more formal way. We read aloud daily, we write, we do workbooks...but it is only about 30 mins a day. I worry this is not enough time. Basically I am just worried about everything ha ha ha. I want the best for my kids and I am eager to have any insight on how to manage a large family, full of small kids as well as their education. Any resources, tips, tricks, etc. would be wonderful!

    Thanks in advance!

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  3. #2



    I know how overwhelming it can be to try to figure out a plan.

    I have linked to two sites that provide a basic outline of what kids generally learn when, in a formal setting.

    This can give you a general idea, but I wouldn't worry about it too much. Especially at this age.

    You say that you have all the materials. What are you using? That might help with the advise on how to organize.

    Welcome to the forums!
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 12-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


    These links are fantastic thank you!

    Right now, curriculum wise, I have a variety of items...not one set plan. I have everything from counting bears, to the pattern tiles, and about a million other hands on activities as well as workbooks for phonics, spelling, writing, reading, math, etc. They are a mix of stuff from amazon, Kumon books, etc. I went to buy a complete curriculum from Rainbow last week and realized I already have most of it pieced together myself for her age. I think it will be easier once we get through what we have (which is a lot! I have about 15 workbooks) and I can get an all-in-one set or perhaps I'll have my sea legs by then and not be so worried

  5. #4


    Hi Amber!
    I'm homeschooling my 4 kids too. Now they are 10, 8, 6, and nearly 4 so I've been where you are now. First.....Relax! I know, easier said than done. Simple, relaxed and fun really is the way to go. Also, what has already been working for you? Perhaps you can build on that.
    I totally hear you about not having the time or energy to write up lessons, outlines, or be bound to a daily schedule and here's the great news- you don't have to! During the baby days we worked according to the baby's schedule- nap time was school time, and we often broke it up throughout the day, perhaps doing our reading and writing during the morning nap and science later in the day when baby was awake but happy. Even now I often have something for the youngest ones to do while I focus on something with the older ones. Also we do a "morning" time which isa lot like what the podcast "your morning basket" talks about.
    As for the lessons I get the scope and sequence from online or from various curriculum I piece together. Does your state have any requirements? I'm in VT and we have to cover reading, writing and literature, math, science, history, or and health and fine arts. So for our first year we did Letterland for reading and writing (this is a year long phonics curriculum with each day already broken down and takes 20 minutes a day except Monday which is 30. For math we did a lot of activities using manipulatives covering the topics from investigations scope and sequence. Science we did experiments from the book mudpies and more and in more recent years we've used elemental sciences intro to science. For history we do geography read various history related books ( we also read books related to science and health and studied the illustrations in the books.) We also did various art projects throughout the year using various materials.
    Really tho we prioritized getting reading (learning how) and math and reading aloud everyday. Two and three days a week (alternating) we did history or science. Health, PE and fine arts happen pretty easy throughout the year.
    It sounds like you already are doing pretty great. The older my kids get the more I realize I should have stressed way less especially in the early years. Keeping it interesting and fun goes a long ways too. Also accepting that with kids those ages some days aren't going to go well and stopping rather than pushing through is ok. I hope this isn't all way too much detail....
    Oh and while it's not actually education related it really helps me to figure out dinner ahead of time (planning a week is best but at least getting everything ready in the morning so I don't find myself with no plan and frozen meat or missing ingredients at the end of the day. And I've gotten rid of a ton of stuff so I have less to pick up and deal with and so I can spend an hour in the morning and get the house in order (dishes, laundry, stuff picked up, "room of the day" ( i.e. Bathroom on Thursday) and while our house isn't spotless it stays within reason and makes life less stressful which helps me stay sane and get the School day done.

  6. #5


    30 minutes for reading sounds about right. My daughter just missed the cut off for kinder, and they wouldn't let me appeal. So I taught her to read like her friends. We used "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." It takes about 20 minutes a day, with about 10 of writing (about 4 lines of letters that you just discussed.) It really was easy, as it was well scripted.

    I did find scripted things to be easier for me as there was no planning, outlining and such. Lets see, in the first years of homeschooling...100 Easy Lessons or if you want, Funnix, which is by the same people and about $40 and goes a little higher and includes writing as well. RightStart math is well scripted...but maybe too well for some as it would have driven my daughter nuts.....she wanted the concept explained and then let her practice it. My youngest son is dyslexic, he needed the extra hands on games and things she hated.

    Mostly....I would chronical what you are doing for nature and art study. And anything that might be social studies or geography. Find a math and a phonics you like. (Progressive Phonics is online and free and fun, just doesn't work well with kids with dyslexia.) Find a time when it works to do school. I personally insisted on nap or "reading" time until age 5, but if the 4 year old can sit through the lessons, do it with the 4 year old. Can't hurt and the 4 year old might pick it up if ready. If the best time to school is when Dad is home in the evening and can entertain the other that. Mostly, try to do something every day for math and phonics....and if life happens...well that is okay too. Play Starfall, get some fun reading and math might be kind of shocked at what she picks up on her own on the days when you just don't have time due to doctor appointments and such.

  7. #6


    What i found that works with this age is to have a list of activities for the week, and tuck them into my day where they fit, checking them off as theyre done.
    Its a lovely fantasy to have a daily routine of having read aloud time, folloed by craft time , moving on to handwriting time, then snack and free play, then some math practice..... but with each distraction (and you have three attention-intensive distractions!) that gets less and less feasible.
    Go with flexibility, and use times in your day where your spouse is around to finish up or give lessons. (eg: Dad reads bedtime story every night, but just before that, 6yo reads Bob book to Dad. Tuck in the reading practice there!)

    Honestly, theres not a lot of lesson prep to do at this age, other than having library books and craft supplies gathered.

    If youd like checklists by grade, you can look at for math (and language arts, though their list is sort of strange). Mariam mentioned the core knowledge - his series "What your X grader needs to know" was helpful when I started out.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  8. #7


    If you look at the Scandinavian countries that are leading in education, they don't start formal academic instruction until age 8. Before that, it's all about improving spacial awareness, hand eye coordination, small motor function, observation skills, and following direction. If you are reading to them every day, have lots of hand on, and physical play, and spend as much time outside as you can, all you have to so is ask questions. Get their opinions on everything you read, see, do. Helping you measure out ingredients while cooking, or taking inventory before shopping will get her ready to start math. Getting the family organized by labeling where everything goes will help get her ready for reading. Just keep thing simple and fun, so she wants to do it. The best thing about home schooling is that it doesn't have to be anything like public school.

  9. #8
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    Feb 2012


    Seconding what kmcentire said.

    Sounds like you have good bones to your day already!

    My two cents. . . Is your oldest showing signs of wanting to learn how to read? If she is, helping her learn might be the biggest bang for your buck. In time, she would have one more tool to entertain herself if you need to attend to other things, or to entertain her siblings by reading to them.

    I personally wouldn't do anymore than that for a month or so. See how it goes. If it is causing stress and disharmony, I'd bag it.
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

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New to homeschooling - 4 young children - Advice needed