Before I begin the WHAT and HOW of homeschooling my way, let me introduce you to WHO I’m homeschooling.
Hayden is now in his first year of high school. 9th grade, BABY! Carson is in 7th, Bailey is in 6th, and Parker is officially in Kindergarten. The tally is:
High School: 1
Middle School: 2
Elementary School: 1
It’s a fun life!
Here we are a couple months ago, teacher and students:
Glancing back at a few of my previous posts on homeschooling I notice this one fact: Homeschooling is very fluid. It changes all the time. What I do now will look different from what I will be doing in six months.
I really want potential homeschooling moms to know this one fact: You do not need to have the perfect curriculum for every subject picked out before you start homeschooling. I dare say, even if you think you have the perfect everything picked out, you will find after a while that something isn’t quite so perfect. A few of the things I raved about in the past two posts like this are things I really no longer recommend.
Before I go too far, though I want to say this up front. I believe homeschooling can be done at a bare-bones cost. I do not believe you have to spend a lot of money to do it well. There are so many resources out there that can make homeschooling a reality on any budget so please know that before I tell you about anything we’re using. Here’s a really good place to start researching if you’re on a tight budget. The author is a real-life friend of mine!
I have a very casual method of teaching at this stage. We spend thirty minutes to an hour in real one-on-one education each day. His subjects include:
- Handwriting – Handwriting Without Tears
- Math – Saxon Levels K & 1 in this first year.
- Learning to Read – How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (If I find that he needs more in-depth reading education I’ll use All About Spelling and All About Reading. I won’t use those unless necessary because they are more time-intensive on the part of the teacher and frankly, my first two readers excelled without it. My third reader definitely needed it.)
- Games – Yes, we play a game every day. Usually Go Fish or Dominoes. This is a way I get my Parker-time in and he gets his mom-time.
- Reading – Someone reads a book to Parker each day. Just for fun.
- Keyboarding – Keyboarding Without Tears – teaching finger placement on the iPad before moving the keyboard.
- Keyboarding – Keyboarding Without Tears
- Spanish – We go to a Spanish class once a week with a Spanish speaking homeschooling mom; Hayden is using Rosetta Stone because this will grade him objectively; Carson and Bailey are using DuoLingo (which is a free program you can use on a computer or a smart phone). I am also using it and currently have a 104 day streak I’m protecting at all costs!
- PE – Soccer, skateboarding; I have very active boys so physical education is never an issue
- Math – When Parker came along I needed a way to give up some of my teaching responsibilities and Math was the subject to do that with. We have loved Teaching Textbooks ever since so, even when we were trying to get out of debt, this is where we spent money. We chose to do the other subjects on the cheap.
- Bible, History, Writing, Grammar, Language Arts, Literature – Sonlight.
- Hayden: Core 100
- Carson and Bailey: Core F that we found used and purchased at a great price. If we hadn’t found it at a great price, we would have stuck with Story of the World and library books as a supplement.
- Science – Apologia: it was recommended along with Sonlight.
- More Bible: My kids STILL love Adventures in Odyssey!
Up until now I have never used a set curriculum before in large part because of the cost. We homeschooled throughout our get-out-of-debt journey and we prioritized what we wanted to spend money on. When our oldest was in the 7th grade we started thinking about what his high school years would look like. The result of my research was that Sonlight teaches children the way I want to teach them! In fact, it teaches them the way I have been teaching them. The creators spent time putting the best literature together and writing lesson plans… it matches my philosophy of teaching perfectly! My ultimate philosophy of education is that kids can learn anything from books. I want them to love reading and to love learning.
So after discussing it, we decided to purchase our first Core of Sonlight ever. Our first boxed curriculum! (And in case you didn’t know this, there is a Sonlight tradition called “Box Day!” It’s the day each year when the family receives their boxes and the kids get to dive right on in! SUCH a fun day! My blog post about our Box Day 2015 was featured on their blog! You can see us at Sonlight.com by clicking here.)
If I could give you a basic crash course in SonLight it might sound like this:
Grades (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) aren’t placed on the levels, but each level is given either a letter or a number. Younger grades are labeled with letters starting with A and they progress to H. The higher levels are numbered 100-500. The reason grades aren’t assigned is because each level (or Core) is designed to be used for a span of ages, which is simply awesome for families who want to save money by using the same core for several students in a similar age category.
There are three odd Core labels: B+C; D+E, and W. All three of these take two cores (B and C, for example) and smash them into one full year. So someone who purchases Core B+C will get half of B and half of C, and an Instructor Guide. Same with D+C and W. W is a combination of G+H. Sonlight has World History in two cores, covered in two years, Cores G and H. Since we were jumping on the Sonlight train late, we did Core W, which covers all World History in one year, taking half of G and half of H. Our reason for starting with W is because that would put Hayden at using Core 100 in the 9th grade.
Here is an example of how to use a Core with a variety of ages: last year bigs used Core W at the same time but in varying degrees. Hayden, being in 8th grade at the time, had to do all the assignments. Carson (6th) had to do some, while Bailey (5th) had only a few to do.
I mentioned that Sonlight pulls together high quality literature and uses great novels to teach history and language arts. Here is an example of that from Core F: for history I am reading to them Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze and Eric Liddell while in literature they reading (independently) Mission to Cathay. While these books are set in different time periods, they are all set in China. The creators have tied everything together with study questions and writing assignments, covering everything from history to grammar using the same literature. We are learning so very much about Chinese history and culture from what we’re reading.
So, this covers what we are doing now.
Because we’re using Sonlight I can much more easily answer the question, “What curriculum do you use?” Just remember: you can homeschool without buying a set curriculum and you can do so on a tight budget. If you are interested in Sonlight, check out their money back guarantee.
Until I update you again…