I receive many questions from mothers who want to home school their children but don't know where to start. I would recommend moms to find other mothers in their community that are homeschooling. I would consider myself to still be somewhat of a novice even though I have completed 3 years of homeschooling with my kids.
I belong to a charter school. The kids receive their funds from public schooling and we have vendors that we are able to select programs, books and so forth from.
We meet with an Educational Specialist every month. This is when I turn in work samples, lesson plans, attendance and grades. I also consult with her to find more resources and options that could better suit our needs.
My children are still required to complete the same testing as public school children do. In California it is STAR testing. The children meet every spring at a public location and the tests are set up the same as traditional school. In addition, my children are accessed at the beginning and end of the school year with an online test called Scantron just to see their starting point and their growth at the end of the year.
My son has always needed the assistance of speech therapy. So he is receiving that through the school as a free service. I am also enrolling in LARP (Language Arts and Reading Program) for parents to learn more effective ways of working with their children's learning styles.
1st Year Curriculum ( 3rd and 5th grade)
Our first year of homeschooling, the kids attended half day enrichment classes two days a week just for social interaction and to be a bridge between public school and home school. I had no clue how to home school so I did a box kit curriculum with Varsity books. Basically it was set up as a normal teacher teaching public school. I downloaded the class lessons and conducted class just like a normal school setting. It was quite a challenge considering I was teaching two different grades. I was separating my son and daughters curriculum and doubling up on the work load. Honestly, the first year was really tough and we struggled to maintain a system that was generic and didn't meet our lifestyle.
2nd & 3rd year Curriculum (4th & 6th grade)
I kept the language arts and math curriculum separate, but combined all the other subjects like science, history, life skills, art and PE. My children selected their own special interest. This system was much simpler and we found ourselves enjoying the learning process together whereas before we struggled to do everything "by the book". Along the way, I found it much easier to start writing our own lesson plans based on our lifestyle. Here is what we did last year:
READ a book that they enjoyed (I would pull books from the required reading of public schools for their grade level, but found the kids took more interest in the books they selected themselves)
WRITE a page a day especially in their journals (encouraging gratitude, creating) or stories
Spelling & vocabulary- Latin based- Red Hot Root Words
Grammar- Daily Grams
Story of the World series
Life Science (7th grade)
Kits- Solar Science, Edible Landscaping, Square Foot Gardening, Human Body
computer skills, typing (roller typing program), blogging
personal & family responsibilities
raw food recipes
guitar lessons, horseback riding lessons
art- painting, drawing
Now I am approaching our 4th year of home school and I feel like it is time for another change. My kids are a bit older and are expressing career directions. I observe what they do during their independent time and I am looking to nurture their interests and habits. It seems that we are less and less concerned with standardized testing and learning skills that are not applicable to them at this time. I am not too sure how this is going to be received by our wonderful ES, but I am sure she will show us how to incorporate it all into the typical subjects.
I feel as a mother it is important to honor their direction and support them. I need to remember that learning is supposed to be fun. It is pointless to waste their time if the brain is not activated. I watch to see their natural inclinations and curiosity. I do not act like I know all the answers, since I know I don't, but rather just express a love for learning all through life.
Knowing & supporting their end result
Nurture their nature & passion
Have fun & keep their minds curious
Prepare them to be self reliant
My kids are entering 6th and 8th grade next month. Here is what I have set up so far.
Reading- whatever they enjoy (Alex enjoys reading the Harry Potter series, Eragon series, Twilight series)
Write- in their gratitude & create journals & writing projects pertaining to other subjects
Grammar- Daily Grams book
Story of the World
However, public school focuses on US history for my kids grades. However, I much prefer a chronological global view.
Money generation and management
Teaching Textbooks (typical class)
Sustainable Living: health & environment
Earth Science (typical class)
computer skills, typing, blogging, social media
horse vaulting (gymnastics on a horse)
Alex expresses a desire to excel in sports (currently in wrestling) and music(taking guitar) , computers. I would love to find a course he could take to learn about programming and just overall computer knowledge.
Mehgan expresses an artistic desire to be in the fashion world of modeling, creating her own clothing and jewelry line, singing and performing arts. She loves interacting with animals. She is working on selling her jewelry online from her blog and Etsys. I need to enroll her into a performing arts program.
Finding What Works
Everyone has their own approach. I am not even sure that I am doing things right. All I know is that most of the stuff I learned in school is information that I do not apply in my life. I want to make sure that what they are learning and doing they are enjoying. I want them to retain and apply their knowledge versus memorizing and regurgitating.