Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On homeschooling...

So, my wife and I have decided that we are going to attempt homeschooling our oldest daughter, who turns 5 years old in a week. This decision has come after much prayer and discussion. We will try for her Kindergarten year and reevaluate after that.

Now, you may not realize this, but there are several different types of home-educating. Some parents choose to do "school-at-home," some do unschooling, some use Charlotte Mason, some use Unit Studies, some use an online school. Some use a Waldorf method, some Montessori, some eclectic homeschooling, or some use the Thomas Jefferson method. Some explanations can be found here and here.

On top of the different philosophies for homeschooling, there are a plethora of curricula to choose from. You could choose an all-in-one boxed set, such as Horizons, or PACE, or Bob Jones, or A Beka. You could use a company that compiles the different books for you, such as Tapestry of Grace, or Sonlight. Or you could create your own. This would probably be the case if you chose to use a living books method of educating.

After doing much online and library research (which I LOVE to do) I became a fan of the Classical method as explained in the book The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer. The thing about that is she doesn't really recommend starting formal education until the child is in First Grade or so. Until then, the important things are developing a love for learning and learning to read. Lucky, our almost-five-year old loves to learn.

She loves to watch movies and TV shows. We have Netflix Instant, and my two girls like to watch the normal kid shows that are on there, such as Dora the Explorer, and Diego. They often default to Spanish (well, Spanglish, really)when they are very tired or needing help. ¡Ay├║dame! is often heard when one sister is squishing the other one, or if they are stuck. Recently we have discovered a show called WordWorld. The girls LOVE this show. Ever since they started watching it, our oldest has been blending letters and reading and writing all kinds of words. So, I know she learns auditory/visually, at least.

We have decided to create our own curriculum instead of using a boxed set, or an expensive program that packages all the "best" books for each subject together. I don't think one size fits all when it comes to educating children. We wanted stuff that was fairly easy to teach, in order to ease all of us into it. Something "scripted" sounded good to us! We also wanted something academically challenging, while allowing us to have realistic expectations of what she will be able to learn. We also sought curriculum that would be interesting for my daughter. The following is a list of what we have decided on.

Phonics/Reading - The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching is written by the co-author of The Well-Trained Mind, Jessie Wise. According to my research, it is usually effective, and generally easy to teach. It is very scripted. It includes a little more than 200 lessons that should take 10-15 minutes to teach. The first 26 or so go over the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they each make, so we will most likely skip those lessons since dd already knows those very well. By the time all the lessons are complete, she should be reading at about a fourth-grade reading level or so. She also has the first set of BOB Books. She can read the first seven or eight of these easy reader books by herself. As she progresses, we will probably purchase the second and third set of BOB Books as well. And I imagine she will continue to watch WordWorld.

Writing - A Reason for Handwriting: Manuscript A. This is actually the second level (so, first grade) for this writing course. Our younger daughter is going to work on the K book. The oldest can write her letters pretty well, but has trouble neatly combining them into words and the words into sentences. The K level just focuses on individual letter formation. The A level does a review of all the letters, then starts into words and sentences.

Math - Math Mammoth Grade 1-A. The two basic types of math curriculum are mastery based, and spiral based. Math Mammoth is mastery-based, and gets rave reviews from other homeschoolers. It has been favorably compared to Singapore Math, while being easier to teach. It is a worktext, which means she will work the problems on the same pages that she will learn it from. Also, we got it as a download. Whenever our youngest is ready for school, we can just print out the pages again! We decided on the first grade level, since she already could do everything Math Mammoth expects a Kindergarten graduate to know. She has been doing this for a few days now and LOVES to do math!

Science - Magic School Bus DVDs. I felt science and history, while important, are not crucial for her to learn quite yet. However, with these DVDs, my wife will get a much needed break during the day, either for herself or to spend some time with the newborn. At the same time, I hope the seeds of a love for science may be planted within the girls. Science is a subject I struggled with at times in school, and I know learning something you enjoy is generally easier. There are pre-built science kits that correspond to the DVDs that we will probably purchase if there is a science subject she particularly enjoys learning about, such as space, or sound, or water, or bugs.

Bible - Big Truths for Little Kids. Big Truths for Little Kids goes through a children's catechism via stories to help teach solid theology at a level even 3-5 year olds can understand. The only concern that we do have is that it does have one lesson that teaches infant baptism. We are creedobaptists as opposed to paedobaptists, so we will either skip that particular lesson, or use it as an opportunity to teach the girls about Believer's Baptism. Otherwise, every lesson includes the catechism questions, questions about the story that was read, a Bible verse, and prayer suggestions. We will combine this with regular readings from The Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as continuing in AWANA for Scripture memorization.

We are all excited for this upcoming school year! We received our shipment from Amazon today, and we have looked through the books we ordered. We will be starting our oldest daughter's formal education very soon, and then we will probably take a bit of a break while my wife is settling back in after the birth of our third daughter in July. Please keep us in your prayers. We need continued peace, encouragement, patience, and joy. For both the teacher/parents and the little students.


  1. welcome to homeschooling! You have some great picks in there, we loved the Bob books. One resource I never regretted with my little ones was Five in a Row- it's gentle, you read a great picture book, usually from the library- like "Make way for Ducklings" and then explore it for 5 days through an art lesson, a social studies lesson, using a map, etc. I always recommend this to parents with young children. Enjoying a good book is magic.

    see you around the hive boards :)

  2. Welcome to the journey! You have chosen some great materials. This will be our 10th year homeschooling coming up. It is amazing how fast it goes by. I wish you joy.
    See you around the Hive.

  3. Wow that sounds awesome! I love when someone actually researches and really wants to do homeschooling right. Let me know if you need any local homeshooling help. One of my friends has a masters in elem edu and homeschools her granddaughter.

  4. That's really cool! I would LOVE to homeschool.. it sounds so exciting! You know they're gonna be some really smart girls. :)

  5. Looks like a great start. My kids learned so much from watching Magic School Bus.

  6. You will not be sorry. Homeschooling brings blessings upon blessings. In years to come you will see this. I know we have. Having had 5 children graduate our homeschool with 7 more to go we have been seeing blessings from our decision to homeschool come again and again. God speed in your journey.


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