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  1. #1
    Junior Member Newbie brentgarland's Avatar
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    Jul 2020

    Default First-time Homeschooling!

    Hi, everyone!

    I'm a first-time homeschooling Dad to a highly-active, highly kinesthetic 7 y.o. rising 2d grader. She had a very difficult time last quarter with the online-learning offered by our local school district in response to the pandemic. Due to high-risk members of the family, going back to school next year is not an option for us, so I am jumping into homeschooling with both feet!

    I've taught a little previously at the college level, so I have a vague sense of how to put together a lesson plan, and I am learning as fast as I can about how homeschooling is radically different than the 6-hour-a-day school model that is the norm in the US (Thank goodness!). That said, I am badly out of my depth and trying to bring myself up to speed as best I can.

    I am totally open to any advice, suggestions, support, or horrible warnings you can share with me. I look forward to learning more and am grateful to have found this community.

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  3. #2



    Homeschooling at this age is mostly about working with her through topics and in her case, projects!
    How is her reading / phonics coming along? You may want to find a reading program to help her along. We can offer suggestions, probably based more on what your needs are. In addition, try some gentle literature - reading to and with her, and maybe check out Bravewriter for language arts ideas (Poetry Tea has been a hit with everyone I know who has tried it!). Bravewriter has products for sale, but you can glean a lot of ideas from her blogs and podcasts.
    How is her handwriting? I would suggest looking at Handwriting Without Tears - their letter style is more natural than “ball and stick”, and their workbooks are relatively inexpensive. If she likes drawing, or you want to incorporate that with handwriting, DrawWriteNow might be of interest to you.

    Do you need help with a math program?
    Do you have ideas for what you and she would like to learn about for social studies and science? You can just tentatively plan out a scope and sequence, play it by ear based on her interest and how well it suits you. You can also so things more based on going out into nature, provided you have parks that arent crowded with maskless people. Theres a book called “The Nature Connection” by Clare Waler Leslie which has year round general purpose nature activities, with ties in to learning activities. (It does assume you have seasons and snow and more wildlife than some of us get.) Not that this book is what you SHOULD get, but it might give you ideas for how you want to approach it.
    Other than that, share a little about what you are envisioning!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3
    Junior Member Newbie brentgarland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020


    Thank you so much for the warm welcome!

    We are pretty fortunate in that her reading and handwriting are both pretty strong (Spelling, OTOH....). She can read most texts and is adept at sounding out words--and pretty patient at that. We can usually convince her to read a story to us--something age/grade appropriate--and we read some chapter books to her. Thank you for your suggestions as to possible places to look for materials! (I love the name Poetry Tea!)

    We have mostly practiced handwriting by writing letters/cards to grandparents and friends, so any kind of materials or projects for handwriting are definitely needed. I am really just beginning to look at materials and curricula, so all suggestions, experiences, and hard-earned wisdom is appreciated!

    We are still in the process of trying to rough out what our goals are for the year. (Maryland requires ongoing instruction in English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Health, and Phys Ed.) We are trying to prevent ourselves from recreating the traditional classroom experience!

    We will probably be doing some chemistry and astronomy (both of which she has expressed interest in), some philosophy (mostly critical thinking and "what if" skills), and packing as many manipulatives as possible into learning math concepts! (She's already counting on baking cakes and cookies for her math work!)

    I'm excited to start this journey and mostly on top of my anxiety for the moment!


  5. #4


    Great ideas from alexsmom.
    You could always check out Home Learning Year by Year (Rebecca Rupp). She gives some really good recs pertaining to living books for science and history for the younger crowd. Possibly your local library has more recent offerings as well.
    Welcome to the forum.
    Last edited by outskirtsofbs; 07-16-2020 at 09:01 PM. Reason: added thoughts
    --Kelly--Atheist/Accidental/Alternative Homeschool Mom to one great daughter in southern Iowa since 3/1/10. Tenth Grade: TT Algebra 2, Holt World Geography, Holt Biology, myPerspectives-10/Creative Writing, BtB Spanish, and Computer Science.

  6. #5


    Bravewriter does have a lot of writing fun activities.... the “Jot it Down” phase is where she would probably be at. (And Poetry tea = take turns reading poetry aloud while having a tea party - snacks, drinks, as much pomp as you enjoy.)

    Pandia Press makes secular science... including an early grades Astronomy course. Theyre pretty much kitchen science - not going to ask you to buy anything you cant find at the local megamart. And, you can sample the first section of any of their “books” for free to see if it will work for you.
    * Note - Be dubious of anyone who doesnt show you sample pages! * Its made for homeschoolers, so there is a large list of additional resources to explore for each topic as well.

    You may be comfortable skipping spelling with the hope that a lot of exposure to words will suffice. I did that with my older son, with mixed results. My younger has language processing issues, so Ive started a spelling program with him, and he thrives learning all the esoteric rules and patterns (like double the last consonant when adding a vowel suffix to a single syllable word with one vowel and one consonant at the end). We are using All About Spelling, and its expensive, very fiddley, and very school-at-home. (But it is thorough.) I would probably not recommend it unless you feel you need that level of explanation.
    If youre not sure how to show the state of Maryland that youre teaching “English Language Arts”, you could supplement your poetry teas and letters to Grandma with something like the Language Smarts workbook from Critical Thinking Company. Theyre a little pricey as well, but their workbooks are better than most, and sometimes its nice just having paperwork to show for your efforts. (Im required to show tangible evidence of schooling monthly.)

    I hope that helps some!

    For math, we werent ever into manipulatives, but I know there are a lot of suggestions in the archives.
    RightStart I think is heavy on manipulatives, but as it wasnt for us, I havent paid attention to those threads.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  7. #6



    I'm also a first-timer courtesy of coronavirus/distance learning difficulties/risk, so I get where you're coming from. I get the feeling we're in good company this year...

    Just wanted to second the suggestion for Handwriting Without Tears. My son used that for a while, and it is a well-planned program that really does wonders, even for kids with fine motor delays. I can't recommend it highly enough if you want your daughter to work on handwriting.

    Beyond that, I wish you luck figuring out what works best for you and your daughter this year!

  8. #7


    Welcome, and have fun learning with your daughter

    Great suggestions from AM, we have loved Handwriting Without Tears, Draw Write Now, workbooks from The Critical Thinking Company, and Poetry Teatime.

    I think Right Start does use lots of math manipulatives. We have not used the full curriculum but do use their math card games book (and card sets) and abacus book (and abacus app on the iPad). I think the MEP Math (Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching - MEP(Primary)), which is free (you just have to pay to print it out) also has lots of hands-on stuff for learning? Or Math U See? You would need to search for old threads on these or start one in the curriculum section as I am not 100% sure and we have never used any of them (beyond the Right Start card/abacus resources). There is also Natural Math ( We have done their multiplication explorers course and another one on symmetry and it is a lot of hands-on/making stuff type learning. I have not tried their books.

    We personally did not like Pandia Press science. I would highly suggest printing out the samples as AM suggested and seeing if you like it. We just found the links between learning and experiments a bit tenuous sometimes (worst in the chemistry curriculum) and some of it a bit boring and required getting too many little bits and pieces. Out of all the ones we tried (chem, physics, and bio), we liked physics the best. This is coming from someone who has a PhD in chemistry and loves playing with science. What both myself and my kids have liked the best is using fun books from the library, like the "...Lab for Kids" books (think Kitchen Science Lab for Kids etc., you can search for them on Amazon to get the titles and then see if your local library has them) and Edible Science, and doing the activities in them.

    Would your daughter like playing something like Scrabble or another word game like that (we also have a cube spelling game thing called Twizmo Words), or would that frustrate her? My natural speller (now age 12) has always loved such games, but my more creative speller (now age 7) does too. With my more creative speller I have always just made talking about words something that we do a lot and made sure she knows that language is flexible (over time) and things have changed over time so her spelling is not necessarily wrong it is just not what is the decided version in the dictionary. At school it tended to turn into she did not want to write because of the "wrong" spelling. So this way avoids the frustration and still allows for her to compose things. She is more just a creative speller though than having any particular difficulties with learning correct spelling. Then on the other end of the scale, my brother is dyslexic and has never learned how to spell well because of that. As you teach her over time you will be able to see if it is something she really needs more input with and others on this forum will be able to give you suggestions of what to use.
    Last edited by NZ_Mama; 07-17-2020 at 09:58 PM.
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

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