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  1. #1

    Default Excited to Homeschool - Not Sure Where to Begin

    Hello all! Like many families, the pandemic was the tipping point that led us to finally pursue homeschooling our 11-yr. old daughter. Even before the pandemic we noticed she wasn't thriving academically at school. In the last two years she went from being a bright and engaged student in the gifted program to withdrawn and falling behind. She has ADHD and despite having a 504 plan in place she was not getting the support she needed to succeed. I spent countless hours messaging, emailing, calling and meeting with teachers, counselors and principles to find out how we could help her. All I got were platitudes. When I took matters into my own hands and began teaching her off the materials sent home, all her hard work was undone because the teacher would put her down for not always following Common Core steps causing further confusion and frustration for my daughter. Once schools closed and switched to remote learning last spring, it was a total disaster. That was the final straw for us. We feel that we can provide her with more consistency and a better education through homeschooling. My only regret is that we didn’t start sooner. I've been doing "summer camps" using the Unit method (didn't know it was called that!) for the past few years. But now that we're doing this full time, I am truly overwhelmed. There are so many choices and curriculum to choose from that I don't know where to begin! There are aspects of many methods I like, but I'm not sure how to combine them. Is the Classical method too intense to start with? And if we intend to re-enroll her in the public high school should we instead get a complete curriculum such as Bookshark or Moving Beyond the Page to keep her on par with her peers? She has done well with the Unit method over the summer, but is it too unstructured for a full year curriculum? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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  3. #2


    Welcome and hugs!
    Easiest things first, DO NOT get a complete box curriculum. (and booskshark is a ‘scrubbed’ version of Sonlight, where they just took out some of the jesus bits so it could get past public school funding requirements. By what it leaves out, its not secular.) Classical is another alert word for “nonsecular”, and is usually based on WellTrainedMind. (I abbreviate it as WTF. To me its “chain your kid to a chair, teach her to recite the names of the Pharaohs so you can impress the kind of people who are impressed by that sort of thing. Dante and Shakespeare in second grade, really!) Marketing gloss makes it seem a little different than it is. You can try reading Susan Wise Bauers condescending book (I did, before I started homeschooling 9 years ago), but since youre already in rhe happy world of unit studies, Id stick with that eclectic style.
    She will be able to rejoin public school for high school no problem.

    Middle school age is still a free for all, where your daughter can be exploring her interests and her world with low stakes.
    There is an overwhelming amount of stuff out there for middle schoolers, and if you dont even know what you need, its hard! Do you need a grammar book? (no). What math should you do (shes done with arithmetic not ready for algebra)? What should we be reading as literature? What aciences and history should she be learning? Why dont these products say whether theyre for a 6th or 7th or 8th grader?
    My advice would be to keep doing unit studies, pulling in all four core subjects as you can (language arts, math, science, social studies). Ive never gotten math integrated to a significant amount (except when we were studying probability using blackjack).
    I know thats not a lot of help for narrowing down your search.
    What sort of thing would she be interested in studying this year?

    You can get separate science, history, language arts things, and intersperse highly interesting unit studies throughout the year. Buying all the components separately gives you a lot more flexibility than something that wants you do to all the work, all the time!

    You have an advantage already that you know the possibilities, you have experience making enjoyable summer camp learning experiences. Now you can do that year round, and not have her suffer from the negativity of not doing things according to the institutionalized way of doing it.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by AngelMom View Post
    Is the Classical method too intense to start with?
    No, Classical is not too intense to start with as long as you take it in baby steps just as you would any other method. What is it that attracts you to the classical method? Start with the things you like and skip the things that you do not like about classical homeschooling. I've used bits and pieces of the classical style for years in a secular manner and don't regret it at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by AngelMom View Post
    And if we intend to re-enroll her in the public high school should we instead get a complete curriculum such as Bookshark or Moving Beyond the Page to keep her on par with her peers?
    No you don't need a complete curriculum to keep her on par with her peers. She will be able to enroll in public high school no matter what you do now while you homeschool her. So don't worry about it too much yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by AngelMom View Post
    She has done well with the Unit method over the summer, but is it too unstructured for a full year curriculum? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    If she likes unit studies, keep going with it! It is plenty and a few of my kids really thrived with that method all the way to high school! It is definitely not too unstructured if done thoughtfully. I would definitely do a math program separate from your unit study. And make sure you are working on writing skills through your study. Content subject wise, have fun! Pick subjects and content that she will enjoy and follow those rabbit trails. She will be more than prepared for high school using a unit study approach.

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    Thank you so much for the replies! I think we'll be sticking with what we know and continue the Unit method adding components of other styles as we go along. I guess I'm still in public school mode thinking I have to stick to a schedule similar to a traditional school year. Alexsmom, thank you so much for the humorous and honest breakdown of literally all my fears LOL! She's really excited that she gets to pick topics she's interested in. I'm sure we'll have good days and bad as we get started, but the freedom after so much structure is a little daunting for both of us. MapleHillAcademy, thank you for breaking down your response. I'm glad I don't have to get a complete curriculum, both the cost and quality of content were a concern. I'd like to pull in aspects of the Classical method because I like the idea of diving into literature to promote logical thinking and open-minded debates. I don't know that we would start with Ulysses, but I do want to foster a love of literature and new ideas. Thank you again, I'm breathing a little easier today

  6. #5


    If youre interested in literature-based, you could also look at things like BuildYourLibrary (which is natively secular and has unit studies), and secular charlotte mason sites (secular homeschool parents who love the approach have made their versions).

    But if you and your daughter are both accustomed to unit studies format for learning, keep with it until it doesnt work! Dont worry about not covering every subject every day... if you have a “year’s worth” of work to do, it will likely all get done. (I made “Science Week”s from PandiaPress’s curriculum... where Science was all we did for the whole week, covered about a month or two of work in that time... for no other reason than I hated making special trips to the megamart for experiment ingredients that werent stocked at my local grocer. My son didnt forget how to multiply numbers or to end sentences with a period for not having language arts or math those weeks.)

    Enjoy this time with her! She will remember being the bright eager learner she was before bad schooling experiences.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  7. #6


    Wow. I'm sorry to hear that your daughter was so poorly served by the public school system. There is so much variety in how things are handled, even when they're mandated by federal law (like the ADA/504 plan). It's shameful that they offered platitudes instead of the supports your daughter needed.

    My son is 11 and also has ADHD. We were lucky that his school handled things better, for the most part. (His former case manager at the school was awful, I was thrilled when he moved from an IEP to a 504 plan because it meant she handed his case off to someone else. But his teachers have been almost uniformly wonderful, thanks to a principal who got to know my kid and really tried her best each year to match my son with the teacher who fit his needs best.) Sometimes I forget how lucky we were...

    We're also starting homeschool for the first time, thanks to the pandemic.

    It sounds like you're already on a good track with your summer "camp" units - you already have experience with the process, which is so helpful! Seems like you might have a good sense of where to begin, after all! Have you purchased those unit studies? Or created them yourself? I wound up cherry-picking units mostly from Build Your Library and Moving Beyond the Page to pull together my son's curriculum for this year. (Plus a full-year math program from Math Mammoth.) While you can gather a bunch of units together into a theme (that's what Moving Beyond the Page does for their full curriculum), if you think about it, a lot of what's taught in schools is just unit studies strung together. Sometimes there's a rhyme or reason for what "goes together" but sometimes the reason really is, well, it's what we do. It covers the standards. Etc. Don't be afraid to stick with what you and your daughter have had success with, and from there, follow her interests and strengths.

    Good luck!

  8. #7


    Alexsmom, thank you for the suggestions! I've heard of the Charlotte Mason method, it sounds interesting but I haven't fully explored it yet and I've also heard of BuildYourLibrary. I'm kind of relieved that I have some idea of what to do, at least to start with. My husband on the other hand would prefer something more structured. He sees my "camps" as fun summer excursions to keep her busy. He's still a little skeptical that it can be a valid form of education
    Heatheremme, we have been lucky for the most part with our school district. Our daughter is our third and youngest child. Both of our older children (22&17) went through the school district with very little issue. But ever since the school board changed from being parent-led to political it's been a mess. I haven't purchased any of the units yet, we're still in the learning/research phase. I was looking at Math Mammoth, I like how complete the programs seems to be and how much material is offered for a great price. I like the idea and freedom of the unit study approach, at lease to start. Now I just need to convince the hubby LOL!

  9. #8


    I think the easiest way to avoid confrontation with Hubby about homeschooling styling / curriculum is to thank him for taking such an interest, ask him when in the day would be convenient for him to teach her, and offer to help find the materials he wants to use. Youre grateful that you will get a little niche of self-care time.
    Sadly, Ive yet to hear of a husband taking a homeschool mom up on that offer. If he feels what youre doing is too looseygoosey, fun and games, he can see how well him being the authoritarian, ruler-snapping school-at-home dictator will get him.

    As long as youre covering material, making consistent progress, and giving your DD educational time regularly, youre doing your homeschooling job. If he complains that she doesnt seem to be spending much time at homeschooling, you can always reply that you marvel that DD used to spend all day at school, then come back with homework, eating up so much of her life, when you can accomplish more learning before lunch. DD now has time to pursue her interests!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

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Excited to Homeschool - Not Sure Where to Begin