Welcome! Now that you’re officially a homeschooling parent, let us first assure you of two things: one, that we’ve all been where you are (i.e.: overwhelmed and stressed out), and two, it does get easier.
Before we dive into curriculum, let’s look at methods.
What are methods?
Basically, this refers to the philosophy or guiding principles you subscribe to regarding education. There are many different schools of thought about how and why kids should learn, or how they learn best. There are just as many opinions on teaching as well. So how do you choose what’s best for you and your child(ren)?
First, it’s a good idea to get an overview of some of the major styles of homeschooling. From there, you can find more specific authors or materials that follow that method.
Some common things you may hear in the homeschooling world are:
- unschooling (John Holt)
- classical education (The Well Trained Mind / Thomas Jefferson)
- Charlotte Mason
- Sudbury (There’s a new Sudbury style cooperative, democratic school in SETX called Monarch Village School)
- eclectic homeschooling / relaxed homeschooling
- virtual academy/online school (which is very different from actual homeschooling)
- ‘school at home’
Some of these are classroom models that have been adapted to homeschooling, but all are fairly common.
One of the coolest things about homeschooling is that you have time – time to read, time to research, time to experiment, and most importantly, time to spend with your children. That’s probably the most important factor to consider: what works best for your family.
Some other things to consider as you’re getting started:
In some cases, choosing one method over another will, to some degree, dictate your materials. In many cases, there is a guide or book specific to that method that you can use. In other methods, you have to put it together for yourself.
If you choose classical education, you can pick up a copy of The Well Trained Mind, and use the resources they recommend. If you choose Charlotte Mason, you can use a resource like Ambleside Online, or Simply Charlotte Mason’s Curriculum Planning Guide. Waldorf and Montessori have similar guides.
Some parents will choose to use a workbook, like AEP’s Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills series, or other similar workbooks from Brain Quest, Flash Kids Harcourt Family Learning, or individual grade/subject workbooks from Spectrum. Some parents may feel like those resources are incomplete, and supplement as needed with additional workbooks, textbooks or online resources.
Other parents may opt for a boxed, or ‘all in one’ curriculum that you can buy. Calvert is one option that is secular. Most of these types of curriculum are faith-based, but some, like Sonlight, offer their ‘core’ which can be secularized. Abeka, Classical Conversations, and Winter Promise are ‘boxed curriculum’.
Another option is online-based, like Time4Learning, or Moving Beyond the Page. Other online sources offer guides that you can use to base your homeschooling on, like Easy-Peasy, Lesson Pathways and Discovery K12.
If you choose a more relaxed method, you may find it helpful to join a homeschooling support group, like our chat group, TH Secular Homeschool Chat, to find out what other parents recommend or use. If you have special needs children, or a child with a learning disability, it’s even more helpful.
Some of our favorite resources include:
- Life of Fred (math)
- REAL Science Odyssey
- Story of the World (history)
- First Language Lessons (grammar)
- Grammar Island/Town/Voyage
- Reading Eggs
- All About Spelling
- Saxon math
- Handwriting Without Tears
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Some parents choose to keep their student close to what they would be learning if they were in public school, while others abandon that guideline entirely and do their own thing. Either way is fine, based on what you think fits your needs best. If you choose to follow the public school’s guide, you can refer to the TEA’s website for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills by Grade Level. Other parents may find that the ‘What your X Grader Needs to Know‘ series of books fill that same role.
Putting it All Together
Now that you have all this information, what’s next?
Basically, you just start. It’s okay to take things slow. For the first few weeks, or months, it’s okay to take a break and de-school, or of jumping right in is more your style, that’s fine, too. Don’t succumb to the pressure of doing everything at once. Pick a couple of subjects that you feel are either most important, or know that your child needs to catch up in, and start there. If you are compelled to keep track of things, a simple notebook and writing down what you did that day is sufficient at this point.
Once you’re ready to get more organized, check out Homeschooling 103: Scheduling & Record Keeping.