Methods and curriculum:
- There are a lot of different ways of doing homeschool. We are quite relaxed about it and we do different things at different times.
- I never spent much money on curriculum. I was worried that I would spend a whole lot of money and then I wouldn’t like it anyway. And for the curriculum that I did use, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. I never followed one system for very long, and that was fine.
- I really did like the Go Math book (they use those in public schools as well, and I love how they teach math now–it’s so much better). The first year, I did some Core Knowledge Language Arts that you can download for free, but my kids weren’t interested in them the second year. Handwriting Without Tears was a big success and we finished those workbooks. We also did the language arts section from Completely Curriculum books. We had Brain Quest books and some other language arts and writing books. We also enjoyed Crash Course videos, Mystery Science, Typing.com, Code.org, ABCYA, PBS Kids, and Khan Academy. And we did Waterford Upstart for preschool.
- We wrote in journals regularly as well, and found random educational games on the computer, and the kids sometimes just did their own thing.
- I also recently made up my own spelling/writing/reading program based on another curriculum that was way too expensive. We read a short poem or paragraph, find patterns, copy it, write it down from dictation, and then write our own story based on what we read (this is over a few different days). It’s pretty relaxed and the kids like it.
- But the best way we learned was reading books and through direct instruction and discussion.
- I like to just sit down and explain things to my kids. That’s my favorite way to learn through homeschool. We learn math really quickly that way. And other random things, like grammar and phonics. I’m pretty confident in my own knowledge and my ability to explain things, and it’s good to be there to answer questions and not get caught up in busy work.
- Spelling is hard, but I think my kids are getting better at it somehow. We never did spelling lists. I had them write and corrected things or they would ask me how to spell. And they read a lot.
- I use secular curriculum, while doing religious instruction on the side. I feel like it’s better to learn science in the context of science and religion in the context of religion.
- My kids play outside a lot, especially when the weather is nice.
- My kids have learned little by little and I didn’t even realize it.
- Homeschool never worked well when I forced my kids to do things that they didn’t really want to do.
- Sometimes we do little bits at a time. Sometimes we work harder for longer. We need flexibility. And sometimes we like having quite a lot of structure too, but not for long.
- I do believe homeschooling helps with playing more and having more creativity and independence.
- But homeschooling doesn’t help my kids learn how to work with other people their own age and how to follow social norms. And we have struggled to learn to focus and work hard, since it’s too easy to get distracted and do whatever.
- My kids seem to play with their friends and interact with others quite well. But they are with me so often that I’m not sure what it’s like when I’m not there.
- Homeschooling is lonely. And it can be boring and frustrating.
- My older son learned to read when he was four and he learned times tables when we was six, so homeschooling has helped him live up to his potential. But he also fights with me the very most when I tell him to do things.
- My oldest daughter really wants to have more people around and she learns better when is learning with other people, because she is generally quite connected to others.
- Often, we are trying to work on school and my toddler wants my attention and my preschooler is playing loudly and my other son is literally swinging around and jumping off things and my daughter is distracted and it doesn’t work.
I am not homeschooling for forever. But I don’t regret that we have done it. I’ve learned a whole lot about myself. I’ve spent hours worrying and trying to figure out how to teach my kids better. Sometimes I don’t care much. And other times, I am crying because I don’t know if I am doing enough.
It’s emotionally exhausting. And the hardest thing is being a mom and being a teacher are very different things. Teachers teach specific information and how to do certain tasks while building understanding and creativity. Parents love and support, let kids grow, and teach them how make their own right decisions. And it would be nice if I didn’t have to play both roles all the time. Frankly, I’m not an elementary school teacher. They are better at their jobs than I am because they are actually trained to do it. And I wish the kids had more perspectives than just me.
But we have so much fun. The independence and the ability to do whatever we like is really nice. We aren’t busy. We have so much time together, which I think is setting a good foundation for my kids so that they will be able to choose good things.
So it is a good experience. But there is not one right solution. We’ll keep making it up as we go.