Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Homeschool Curriculum Ideas - Getting Started

Warning:  I'm on a bit of a rant today.  I hope you will hear my heart behind my words. we go!

First of all, to those who say, "Oh, I could never be like you and homeschool!  I just don't have the _________ (list excuse here such as patience, time, money...)", YES YOU CAN.

I believe that if you want something bad enough, you are an intelligent person and you can figure it out  If getting or keeping your child out of the public school system is a priority to you, you will make it work. I've know families where both parents work and still homeschool.   So time really isn't the problem...  It's how people choose to use their time is the key.

Am I coming on a bit strong?  Maybe so.  But I REALLY hate people comparing me to themselves.  Homeschool moms (and dads) are not saints that you could never be.  That's an excuse not to try in my book.  Instead, we are real people doing our best for our kids, sometimes taking it one day at a time, making mistakes and learning along the way.

Now that we've covered that, have you ever thought that you would like to homeschool your child(ren) but just don't know where to start? 

If you are new to homeschooling, I would encourage you to get a "boxed" curriculum and just get going.  If researching curriculum and fretting over what to purchase and how to do it is going to hold you back from getting or keeping your kids out of the public school system, this is a great place to start.  That's what I did.  You can start planning for next year in your spare time.  But trust me, there is always a bigger, better idea out there and everyone that is selling curriculum has the "best" ideas.  So my recommendation is to just get started.  During your school year, pay attention to what works and what doesn't and make adjustment(s) for the following year.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  For those of you who are using your public school's curriculum and/or are receiving a stipend from your school district, I've got some news for you.  You aren't really homeschooling. On top of that, you are doing nothing to help those that choose not be affiliated in that manner with the school district.  So, what's wrong with free money, you might ask?  By taking the school district's assistance, you are actually "enrolling" your child in that school.  This allows the district to monitor what you teach your children and can limit what you teach your child (like Bible or choosing a Bible-based area of study).  Because your child is "enrolled", the district is able to receive state and federal funding based on that enrollment.  What makes this so bad for the rest of us is that the definition of homeschooling in the state's eyes becomes muddled and the rights of "traditional" homeschoolers erodes.  So please, keep that in mind when they start dangling money in front of you.  One of the reasons many of us homeschool is we want to keep the government OUT of our school. 

*Phew!*  Glad we got that out of the way...Now let's move on.

Two "boxed" curriculum I have used in the past that I've been very happy with:
  • Christian Liberty - (25% off Christian Liberty Press books thru 05-07-12!) I love, love, love this organization!  The staff are helpful and their prices are extremely reasonable.  When I first started homeschooling, I did use their CLASS plan.  It's great if you want or need accountability.  You do mail in completed workbooks and tests and receive report cards for your records.  I found for us that by giving the kids an annual CAT (California Achievement Test) that I was able to purchase from Christian Liberty, I didn't feel like I needed a report card for the kids.  Plus for us, I wanted a little more flexibility.  But it was a great place to start for us.  My sister-in-law has used their curriculum from K-12 for our nephew who is just graduating this year and he is one extremely smart dude.
  • Alpha-Omega Life Pac - (20% off & free shipping in April!) We really enjoyed using Life Pac, but felt that all the workbooks were a bit cumbersome for us.  This Christian-based curriculum is great if you have students who are self-starters and require a minimum of parental time.  When I was working full-time, this was great and was definitely something that I needed in a curriculum.  Also if your kids have to take their school work places with them, the little booklets for each subject make them easy and light to carry.
Another "boxed" curriculum that I have heard wonderful things about:
  • Sonlight.  Sonlight, like Christian Liberty and Alpha-Omega, is a Christ-based curriculum that is "literature rich" (definition: lots and lots of books).  If you look at this and think that this is the curriculum for you but money is tight, most if not all of the reading books may be found at your local library.  As a tax paying citizen, I feel like why should I buy the book twice, you know?
Tomorrow I'm going to start sharing books and resources I've found, so stay tuned!

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