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  1. #1

    Default New, feeling equally excited and frightened, and of course overwhelmed

    Hello,

    I'm brand new here. My daughters, age 11 & 13, are in public school but my wife and I have just begun seriously researching homeschool options. I stumbled upon this site while looking for reviews of Connections Academy, which a friend has used. I found some great information and realize that Connections won't work for us. We're looking at everything from public homeschool to unschooling and everything in-between. I'm interested to know what has worked for you, what hasn't, what's your journey been like, any tips and/or cautionary tales?

    A little about myself and my family; I've been a stay at home dad for over 13 years. My wife is a child psychiatrist. We've been living in Oregon for almost 12 years. We have two daughters. Our 13 year old is a great student at our public middle school. She's self motivated and gets excellent grades. She's had some minor social issues, but that doesn't seem to be a big priority for her. She is passionate about soccer and would love more time during the day to practice. Our 11 year old has ADHD and has had some big ups and downs in public school. Everything was looking up last year in 5th grade for her but middle school has really thrown her for a loop. She's bright and wants to do well but the organization aspect of middle school is incredibly challenging for her. I could see her thriving in homeschool. Both girls started out at a Montessori school until 2nd/3rd grade when they started public. We like the child interest led learning approach but our youngest clearly needed some more structure. Public school is clearly too structured.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this intro. If you care to respond I would greatly enjoy hearing from you.

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  3. #2

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    Hey eviepennydad. Welcome to the forum.
    Yeah, it can definitely be overwhelming when you first start to homeschool.
    We're accidental homeschoolers; we left our local district due to bullying and social problems. Homeschooling wasn't on my radar in any way, but our local district is an epic fail, so here we are. We left a decade ago and there was just an attempted suicide due to bullying in May of 2018. So nothing has changed.
    What's worked for us: After about two and a half years, I converted one of our bedrooms into a homeschool room due to me having ADD and experiencing a curriculum addiction for a few years. So now I can keep better track of everything. My daughter likes structure (suspected Aspie) so she does her school work in there about 75% of the time; sometimes she does go to her room.
    As far as materials, I get the majority of our curriculum from Rainbow Resource Center (RRC--they sell Christian and secular materials). She does best with an incremental spiral for mathematics (Saxon--she loves Art Reed videos), we use Holt materials for science and history, she's learning Spanish using Breaking the Barrier, etc. We've used many different things for English: Essentials In Writing, MCT (Michael Clay Thompson) for grammar, various books for Literature Analysis coupled with guides, etc. Too many to list. There are places to buy used: Ebay, Amazon for used books, or Abe books, I believe people on here sell used materials, etc.
    I've kicked around using Connections Academy or k12, but I've read so many horror stories that I could never bring myself to pull the trigger. If you do your own thing, you can be so much more relaxed.
    Know your state's homeschool laws. Knowledge is definitely power.
    Feel free to ask any and all questions. All the parents on here have been right where you're at.
    Last edited by outskirtsofbs; 01-13-2020 at 11:18 PM. Reason: added thoughts
    --Kelly--Atheist/Accidental/Alternative Homeschool Mom to one great daughter in southern Iowa since 3/1/10. Tenth Grade: Saxon Algebra-2, Holt Geography, Holt Biology, myPerspectives-10/Creative Writing, Spanish-2, and Computer Science.

  4. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by outskirtsofbs View Post
    Hey eviepennydad. Welcome to the forum.
    Yeah, it can definitely be overwhelming when you first start to homeschool.
    We're accidental homeschoolers; we left our local district due to bullying and social problems. Homeschooling wasn't on my radar in any way, but our local district is an epic fail, so here we are. We left a decade ago and there was just an attempted suicide due to bullying in May of 2018. So nothing has changed.
    What's worked for us: After about two and a half years, I converted one of our bedrooms into a homeschool room due to me having ADD and experiencing a curriculum addiction for a few years. So now I can keep better track of everything. My daughter likes structure (suspected Aspie) so she does her school work in there about 75% of the time; sometimes she does go to her room.
    As far as materials, I get the majority of our curriculum from Rainbow Resource Center (RRC--they sell Christian and secular materials). She does best with an incremental spiral for mathematics (Saxon--she loves Art Reed videos), we use Holt materials for science and history, she's learning Spanish using Breaking the Barrier, etc. We've used many different things for English: Essentials In Writing, MCT (Michael Clay Thompson) for grammar, various books for Literature Analysis coupled with guides, etc. Too many to list. There are places to buy used: Ebay, Amazon for used books, or Abe books, I believe people on here sell used materials, etc.
    I've kicked around using Connections Academy or k12, but I've read so many horror stories that I could never bring myself to pull the trigger. If you do your own thing, you can be so much more relaxed.
    Know your state's homeschool laws. Knowledge is definitely power.
    Feel free to ask any and all questions. All the parents on here have been right where you're at.
    Well, first of all, it makes me happy that your avatar is Angus Young. Secondly, I appreciate the insight. My girls, thankfully, haven't been subjected to bullying at their schools. I was mercilessly bullied at my middle school, which actually turned things around for me in a positive way, though I would never wish that experience on my own kids.
    At this point I'm sure that Connections Academy won't be the right fit for us. My youngest, who has ADHD, needs to take things at her own pace. I'll definitely look into Rainbow Resource Center as well as some of the other materials and curriculum you suggested. Any insight helps.

    Cheers.

  5. #4

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    Hi, welcome. It is great that you are exploring and open to all the options.

    My daughters are 11 and 6, and I started homeschooling my oldest when she was 8. My youngest homeschooled for 6 months, then wanted to try school, so she went for a year. Now she is starting homeschooling again. We have settled on a child-led/structured blend.

    When I first started, I thought I would not have time to homeschool my daughter as I also work part-time, so we did an online school for one term (10 weeks). We stopped that as I found it a lot of work as I was always having to explain things to my daughter more and adjust the projects for her. I also did not like that absolutely all of it was online (reading, writing, research etc.).

    After that, we tried Build Your Library, which has lists of books for most subject areas and a daily schedule of reading, writing, and activities. You add in math, and for some levels I think you also add in science? We did that for about 6 months I think, but it did not fit us well either as I could not find all the required books at our local library so was having to substitute a lot. DD did not like the daily schedule for reading (little bits of two books at the same time over a number of weeks; she just wanted to read them one by one and much faster). So we were condensing the writing/activities for about 4 weeks down into 1–2 weeks to fit her reading, and it just ended up not being worthwhile.

    Next we went on to just doing our own thing. we kept up with the math we had been using while doing Build Your Library, and then did topics DD selected for history and tried a purchased curriculum for science (from Real Science Odyssey). For reading, I came up with a list of books using various resources and we use resources from Bravewriter for writing projects and various things for grammar, spelling, etc. On the side for optional subjects we did art with some project books I found that give an introduction to a famous artist and then I project in their style, foreign language with online and paper resources, and music (history and DD plays cello and ukulele).

    We eventually dropped the purchased science curriculum and started doing interest-based as the purchased one was not very inspiring.

    My tips would be:
    —Take time to experiment until you find something that fits.
    —To start, pick a subject that is your priority to get sorted. For us, it was math. Then decide on a few different possibilities for that and print off any free resources for it that you can, such as placement tests and samples. Try them out. See what fits your kids and if you want to purchase it, and then go from there.
    —Sit down with each child and come up with a list of things they would like to learn about or things that have sparked their curiosity, and use this to come up with some topic and subject ideas for things like history, science, art, and foreign language.
    —Come up with a list of books that they and you would like them to read for the year. Try use your library as much as possible so that you do not have to purchase things. If you want extra support with language arts, you can look at curricula from places like Bravewriter (I just purchased Faltering Ownership for my 11 year old), Build Your Library, and the Critical Thinking Company (I just purchased Editor in Chief and Building Writing Skills for my 11 year old). I don't have a lot of tips on curricula for your older one, but others will, a relatively new resource that I like the look of is Global Perspective Studies.

    For us, we do child-led by:
    —the kids have input into what topics they want to study for science and history and what optional subjects they want to do over our core ones (math, language arts, science, history)
    —they get to choose what they do for writing each day (from a list of activities that cover a broad range of skills)
    —they get to choose when during the week they do each of their optional subjects (e.g., art, foreign language) that are not done every day
    —they get to choose something they want to try for the year like volunteering/community service or a special topic (this year DD11 wants to start making a recipe box for when she is older of good basics and things she has enjoyed making from previous history/cultural studies that we always finish off with her making a meal for that country/region/period)
    And we do structure by:
    –having a daily routine
    —having set curricula for some things (e.g., math)
    –having an expectation for how much of the core subjects are completed per day/week/or term.

    We also go through phases of stopping our regular daily routine for a while and just have a math week or a science week or focus on a special topic and explore that in all ways we can using all sorts of resources.

    It took us about 2 years of playing around and tweaking different things until we really felt comfortable. So we had about a year and a half of feeling quite settled in what we were doing. Now it is all changing as DD11 is moving on to more middle grade stuff and we have reached the end of the math curriculum we were using. So we are back to exploring and trying things out.
    Last edited by NZ_Mama; 01-14-2020 at 02:28 AM.
    New Zealand-based. DD 11 (year 6 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 6 (year 1 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

    That's a kea (NZ parrot) in my avatar. You can learn about them on Beak & Brain - Genius Birds from Down Under on Netflix.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by eviepennydad View Post
    Well, first of all, it makes me happy that your avatar is Angus Young. Secondly, I appreciate the insight. My girls, thankfully, haven't been subjected to bullying at their schools. I was mercilessly bullied at my middle school, which actually turned things around for me in a positive way, though I would never wish that experience on my own kids.
    At this point I'm sure that Connections Academy won't be the right fit for us. My youngest, who has ADHD, needs to take things at her own pace. I'll definitely look into Rainbow Resource Center as well as some of the other materials and curriculum you suggested. Any insight helps.

    Cheers.
    Morning, eviepennydad.
    I did want to add there is no right way or wrong way to homeschool. It's really all about what **you** need it to be at any given time.
    Yes, if you do it yourself, as opposed to CA, then you can be relaxed and not have to deal with all of their requirements. It's a lot of screen time, busy work, etc.
    You might also check out homeschoolbuyerscoop.com. They have various materials. There are also free online sites: khan academy, MEP (Mathematics Enhancement Programme-British), the Math is Fun site, etc.
    Yeah, Let There Be Rock is my wakeup call. LOL Angus always brings a smile to my face. Too bad Malcom is gone now.
    I meant to add, sorry to hear you were bullied, but glad it worked out for you. Three dogs barking and one is a diabetic on a strict feeding schedule so had to go.
    You'll do fine; just remember that your kids won't be academically scarred from being homeschooled. Children are sponges and constantly learning.
    Due to my daughter being homeschooled, I now know more grammar and higher maths. I never learned Algebra in ps and am now beginning Algebra 2.
    The one mistake I made when we first began almost a decade ago: Always feeling like we had to do more. Because I was so nervous and green, I thought we weren't doing enough, weren't schooling enough hours a day, etc. Total BS.
    Have a great week.
    Last edited by outskirtsofbs; 01-15-2020 at 03:50 PM. Reason: added thoughts, not enough coffee, ADD-Mom
    --Kelly--Atheist/Accidental/Alternative Homeschool Mom to one great daughter in southern Iowa since 3/1/10. Tenth Grade: Saxon Algebra-2, Holt Geography, Holt Biology, myPerspectives-10/Creative Writing, Spanish-2, and Computer Science.

  7. #6

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    Everyone will have different experiences but for us, unschooling was our preferred approach. I wanted my girls to choose what to learn and so we just followed their leads. It turned to be very successful. Our oldest was interested in theatre from a very young age and she just graduated with her Masters in Musical Theatre. When she was deciding on colleges she said in no uncertain terms that she would not go anywhere unless all the courses in the program had to do with theatre. It really is amazing to let them decide for themselves.
    Janet LoSole, Author of Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America
    https://www.adventurebychickenbus.com/

  8. #7

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    NZ_Mama, thanks for the wealth of info! I imagine we will do something similar to what you've ended up with. My 11 yo w/ ADHD definitely needs something to grab her interest or she will take forever getting through assignments and in the end not learn much. I'll be looking into some of the specific recommendations you've listed. Thank you.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by outskirtsofbs View Post
    Morning, eviepennydad.
    I did want to add there is no right way or wrong way to homeschool. It's really all about what **you** need it to be at any given time.
    Yes, if you do it yourself, as opposed to CA, then you can be relaxed and not have to deal with all of their requirements. It's a lot of screen time, busy work, etc.
    You might also check out homeschoolbuyerscoop.com. They have various materials. There are also free online sites: khan academy, MEP (Mathematics Enhancement Programme-British), the Math is Fun site, etc.
    Yeah, Let There Be Rock is my wakeup call. LOL Angus always brings a smile to my face. Too bad Malcom is gone now.
    I meant to add, sorry to hear you were bullied, but glad it worked out for you. Three dogs barking and one is a diabetic on a strict feeding schedule so had to go.
    You'll do fine; just remember that your kids won't be academically scarred from being homeschooled. Children are sponges and constantly learning.
    Due to my daughter being homeschooled, I now know more grammar and higher maths. I never learned Algebra in ps and am now beginning Algebra 2.
    The one mistake I made when we first began almost a decade ago: Always feeling like we had to do more. Because I was so nervous and green, I thought we weren't doing enough, weren't schooling enough hours a day, etc. Total BS.
    Have a great week.
    My 11 yo w/ ADHD asked for my help with her math homework and I couldn't do it. She was doing some algebra stuff with decimals and (I think) the communicative property. I despised math in school and retained very little. She complains about it all the time asking "why do I need to know this stuff? I'll never use it in real life!". I had the same attitude at her age.

    And yeah, Let There Be Rock is an excellent choice to wake up to!

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by eviepennydad View Post
    My 11 yo w/ ADHD asked for my help with her math homework and I couldn't do it. She was doing some algebra stuff with decimals and (I think) the communicative property. I despised math in school and retained very little. She complains about it all the time asking "why do I need to know this stuff? I'll never use it in real life!". I had the same attitude at her age.

    And yeah, Let There Be Rock is an excellent choice to wake up to!
    I actually had mathphobia from being in public school. Honestly, I think I would have done much better if I would have had a math tutor. I definitely needed one-on-one help with mathematics but never got it. The algebra teacher suggested I transfer out at the semester with a D+.
    As soon as I removed my daughter from ps, I began re-educating myself, especially in math. You only have to stay one day ahead of them. LOL And I discovered that I like math and consider it very important. My daughter isn't a STEM student; she's more of a Lit kid. But I want her to do well in math due to future job opportunities.
    Last edited by outskirtsofbs; 01-15-2020 at 09:52 PM.
    --Kelly--Atheist/Accidental/Alternative Homeschool Mom to one great daughter in southern Iowa since 3/1/10. Tenth Grade: Saxon Algebra-2, Holt Geography, Holt Biology, myPerspectives-10/Creative Writing, Spanish-2, and Computer Science.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by outskirtsofbs View Post
    I actually had mathphobia from being in public school. Honestly, I think I would have done much better if I would have had a math tutor. I definitely needed one-on-one help with mathematics but never got it. The algebra teacher suggested I transfer out at the semester with a D+.
    As soon as I removed my daughter from ps, I began re-educating myself, especially in math. You only have to stay one day ahead of them. LOL And I discovered that I like math and consider it very important. My daughter isn't a STEM student; she's more of a Lit kid. But I want her to do well in math due to future job opportunities.
    Yeah, I agree. I just hope, like you, I end up enjoying math as well.

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New, feeling equally excited and frightened, and of course overwhelmed