So you’ve decided to homeschool. Now what?
Due to the unexpected nature of 2020 and all of the changes brought on by COVID-19, many families are making the decision to homeschool their children. In Part 1 of this mini-series on homeschooling tips, I shared my feelings of hesitancy as I was deciding to homeschool for the first time. I also shared my disappointment about not being able to send my kids to public school this year.
In this post, I will cover some of our favorite resources, curricula, and some of our tried and true methods. I have a rising 3rd grader, kindergartener, and a toddler named Verona. We have lovingly nicknamed Verona “V-Rex” for her loud and destructive (albeit joyful) ways. I have not yet chosen a curriculum for my oldest this year, but there are several resources, websites, and workbooks I will be revisiting in year three of our homeschooling journey.
A co-op is a cooperative learning group that typically meets once to twice per week to teach children in a community. This past year, we participated in Classical Conversations (CC), which uses the classical method of education to teach the subjects.
CC is wonderful because they provide the curriculum and teachers, and you just show up once a week as a helper/parent participant while your child gains classroom experience and learns the topics for the week. The other four days a week, parents review the core topics with their students and may supplement with additional material (math and language arts) depending on the ages of the children. If it weren’t for my job and the unpredictable nature of this pandemic, I would be joining a local CC chapter again.
At some point in my journey of being a mom to school-aged kids, I want to join a homeschool hybrid program. A few of my girlfriends raved about their experiences with Capitol Hill Learning Group, where the students attend school a few days a week and then spend the other days completing their work at home. I have always loved this combination of being in the classroom and giving kids the time and space to move at their own pace. This model is becoming more popular nationwide, and I believe it is the future of education for many families.
This is the main thing folks are asking me about. Keep in mind that my experience is limited to two years and two sets of curricula. Please add your homeschooling tips in the comments so we can see what is working for other moms! Here are a few options that have worked for us:
Curricula I Have Used
- Five in a Row: Literature-based curriculum ideal for ages 4-11. Teaches subjects through stories by reading one award-winning children’s classic per week. *This is my personal favorite and I will be using it for my kindergartener this year. I highly recommend it for kids who struggle with or really enjoy reading. The program was designed to foster a love of learning and books!
- Classical Conversations: See description above. Possible to do individually but it’s most effective in a co-op environment.
- Horizons Math: Used this for my second grader. Gives two pages of work for every day of the school year. Short, sweet, and to the point.
- Spectrum Language Arts: Grammar and writing practice
- Handwriting Without Tears: Great for kids learning to print/excellent supplement for teaching literacy and phonics
Curricula Recommended by Friends
- Kitchen Science Lab: Provides real-world examples for math and science using cooking!
- Busy Toddler: Easy curriculum for preschoolers with lots of hands-on activities
- Life of Fred: Story-based math
Other Resources We Use and Love
- KidsPost: The Washington Post has excellent articles, contests, and writing activities for kids.
- Tumble Books: Available in most virtual libraries. Includes E-readers and online chapter books
- Khan Academy: Free, online resource for kids and teens to learn and review new concepts in a variety of subjects. Students work online and most lessons have a tutorial and review for activities. (We do a lot of our online learning on Fridays.)
- BrainsOn!: Science podcast for kids. Great for the car or quiet time!
A wonderful homeschooling tip is to check out the local library as a great resource. Every week we take a trip to the library in the morning and spend a few hours in the stacks choosing books based on our topics for the week. Then we come home, dump all of the books on the floor, and create a list of things we are curious about and questions we hope to answer while reading.
My kids LOVE to read and depending on the school day, sometimes simply going to the library is all we do. When they are there, they learn basic library skills like asking adults for help, using the computer to search for a book, and navigating different types of resources.
The Great Outdoors
The world is truly the best learning tool for our students, especially when they are bored or overwhelmed with work. As a homeschooling mom, we treasure the simplicities and complexities of outdoor play. A trip to the creek or a walk through the neighborhood can teach us science, social studies, and geography in just a few short minutes!
I am a firm believer that much of our learning takes place when we are in the world, so I try to look at every grocery trip, interaction with a neighbor, or new dinner recipe as an opportunity for my children to learn. And sometimes it’s just good for everyone’s sanity to get outside. In our family, there is often a coffee trip built into these adventures.
You will be amazed when you are home every day with your kids and are forced to be creative. Cooking, bed-making, gardening, the importance of tidying and dental health, sharing, kindness, economics, art … the list goes on. If this is the year you try homeschooling, you may be surprised by the resources you already have. At times I have wondered if I am doing my kids a disservice by choosing to educate them differently. But I am encouraged by the things they learn as we do life together and get curious about our surroundings.
I hope these homeschooling tips are encouraging as you begin planning your homeschool year. I could go on for days! Please drop a comment below if you have more questions. I would be happy to chat with you.