Okay, so for those of you that have asked for the specifics on how to start homeschooling (or in our case “beach schooling” haha!), here it is.
I did already post about WHY I decided to homeschool, so I will not get in to those details here, but if that is what you are curious about, you can click here and it'll take you straight to that post. That is where I explain all the whys. This post, however, is going to be simple and straight forward just explaining the HOW-TO.
And surprisingly, starting homeschool is not hard to do at all. It is fairly easy, actually, and I was very surprised by the process and just how easy it really was to start. So here goes:
First of all, you should know that there are two routes that you can take with homeschooling. You can do home-based private homeschooling or you can do charter school homeschooling. I ended up going with home-based private homeschooling because 1) I pulled my kids out of school in the middle of the school year 2) we wanted more freedom in scheduling (specifically freedom to travel) and 3) it was too late for me to enroll the kids in a charter school, even if I wanted to.
However, I am planning on going the charter school route after this year. I don't know everything there is to know about it yet, so I'm not 100% sure if I'm going to do that yet, but I do have the contact information of the person in charge of it in our area, as well as the website information on how to apply and enroll for it. I did hear that the program gives money for you to order your books and supplies with (even supplies such as a computer or other electronics of your choice) and that the kids meet up with a teacher and the other homeschool kids in the area once a week. I also heard that there is a little bit more structure to this style of homeschooling. So depending on you and your families needs this type of homeschooling might sound or be better for you.
I know one of my friends prefers having complete control over her schedule and really likes not having to answer to anyone, so the style that she prefers is home-based private homeschooling, whereas my other friend loves doing it the charter school way. She likes all the free stuff aka money to help with school supplies and extra-curricular activities, that they still get social interaction with other kids, that she still has some kind of structure to follow, and that there are other people involved to help check in on them. So it all depends on you, your specific situation, and what you want.
If going the charter school route is something you might be interested in, check out this website and read up on it. The program is called Harmony Educational Services or Harmony Ed. However, if doing more of a home-based program sounds interesting to you then read on, as I share how I went about doing that.
First, I got a few recommendations on homeschool curriculums from my friend. There are actually a ton out there so you could probably spend hours and hours (or even a couple of days) doing research to find the right one, but the curriculum I went with for Language Arts and Literature was The Good and the Beautiful and the curriculum I went with for Math was Math U See.
I first did research on these curriculums to see what they are all about and to see what their approach to teaching young children was and I happened to really like them. I did go back and forth on two different math programs for quite a while though, but ended up going with Math U See, as I mentioned above.
Lets start with The Good and The Beautiful first. This particular curriculum is good for so many reasons, but lets start off with why it was created. It was created to "teach advanced academics while connecting children to the good and the beautiful in life and in learning: God, high moral character, and the wonders and beauty of nature and human life." I personally love that this curriculum focuses on teaching high moral principles (with an emphasis on faith, family, nature, and high moral character) while still remaining academically strong and thorough. Of course any religious person would like that in a curriculum, but the beauty of this one is that although it was created by an LDS woman, it remains non-denominational with a Christian worldview. It was even read, reviewed, and approved by people of different religions, so I love that this could be for anyone--religious or non-religious. Really any child could benefit from wholesome, clean literature.
I also like how they point out that learning materials today are largely disconnected from God and high character, so I love that this one isn't. They really were able to find a way to connect morality to learning about the English language and I found how they did that so clever. I've been pleasantly surprised by how they've been able to incorporate it in an obscure way.
Next, I love that there is no prep work for this. I can literally open the book and have the child follow along with me as I teach. This curriculum was designed for you to have little to no prep work and it's true! The book just tells you what to say and what to have the child do as you go along. It really is such an easy lesson plan to follow. Essential for a busy working Mom such as myself.
Next, this one Language Arts & Literature curriculum combines 6-7 courses within it, so you don't have to go out and purchase all of those courses separately, you can get them all in one! Can I say SCORE?!! I mean seriously, that is such a steal and it was a huge defining factor for me. One curriculum, seven topics. End of story. SOLD.
And lastly, the cost. You cannot go wrong with this practically FREE homeschool program. In fact, the first 5 lessons ARE free! You can download them on their website and print them yourself if you want. However, I opted to just buy the workbooks. The small price I had to pay to save me time and energy in a library printing and binding books was nothing! All the hours and effort that would've taken up wouldn't have even been worth it to me, but hey, if you are one of those looking for a freebie then you won't find it anywhere else but HERE! But honestly, the workbooks are so affordable, I'd recommend just buying them pre-made like I did. :) They even have pre-made laminated phonics cards, which is a game changer! Why print, laminate and cut it yourself if someone else can do it for you? Haha!
No, but on a serious note, this one really is affordable. They did a price comparison for a Level 3 course level and their price was only $68 compared to $431 for another program out there. So if cost is an issue for you, then you hands down need to go with this one because all of the courses are so cheap! In fact, that's part of the reason why the creators started this curriculum; they wanted to make homeschooling more affordable. Why? Because they truly want to strengthen children and families and they hope this curriculum will make it more feasible for families to be able to homeschool with a faith-based curriculum.
So if you aren't convinced yet, just go to the website and check it out yourself. There are other blog posts written about it, as well as many reviews.
Okay, moving on to the next curriculum, Math U See. Now the reason why I like Math U See is that it too requires little to no preparation. It does come with a teachers hard cover book that you can easily go through right before each lesson (they are really short and usually just 2-3 pages with examples) OR you can watch a short video clip of him teaching other children that lesson. I think they want you to do both, but I've gotten away with just doing one or the other. In fact, as time went on, I just started letting the kids watch the videos themselves and then go straight in to their workbook without me having to do anything. Seriously so easy! They can easily do this on their own with you just supervising on the side and correcting their work book as they go along. On the other hand, if we were out and about or on a trip and I didn't have the cd or a computer for them to learn from then I'd easily flip through those few pages of the book and teach them myself before they would do the workbook. Love the many different options. :) (They even have a digital pack which allows you to watch the videos from online.)
Besides the no preparation perk, I also like that the workbook includes many worksheets for them to do. Each lesson is numbered and lettered like this for example: 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1F, 1G. However, they only need to do as many as needed. I noticed for the first few lessons, Hina only needed to do 1A and 1B then was able to take the lesson test. She was able to do that for a lot of the first lessons (because it was all review for her), but once she got down to the harder lessons she would have to do more before taking the test. In fact, for the majority of her lessons, I had her do A-G before taking a test. I figured the more practice, the better. But I also wanted her to have each lesson mastered before testing on it. So I like that we have the flexibility to adjust each lesson to our child's needs, but equally loved that there were many opportunities for her to practice each concept and really get it down before testing and moving on to the next chapter. Also love that there is a test after each lesson, a unit test after each unit (4 units total) and then a final test covering the entire course book. Each lesson also had review pages reviewing past material to make sure they wouldn't completely forget about something they learned prior. This keeps the information fresh always. So good!
As a side note: if they still don't get the concept by the time they've gone through A-G in the workbook, you can create more worksheets online for them to do. There is even a drills section on the website that can time them as they do number problems. The opportunities for learning are endless. Another great perk of this curriculum. :)
Lastly, it comes with learning blocks for the kids to learn with (an integer block kit). Having these hands on blocks that they can visualize with while learning a concept is seriously a game changer. They start off learning a concept with it and start each chapter using it, but as they internalize the concept and really get it down they eventually stop using the blocks and can do the rest of the lessons from memory. It really is a cool process to see.
So with The Good and The Beautiful covering reading, writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation, literature, geography, and art and with Math U See covering math, you're good! That is all that is needed.
But this is just what I did. If you like that then you can go ahead and do the same. However, if you feel like you want more emphasis on a certain subject area, then you might want to go with a different program that has the subjects separated a little more. Again, feel free to do your own research to find what is going to work for you and your standards of learning.
So basically once you find the curriculum you want to use, you just have your children do the online assessments provided by that specific program (so you make sure you place them in the right level) and then you order. AND THAT'S IT!
The only thing after that is going to the school to get the paperwork from the office to fill out and sign. I just simply told them that I'm going to withdraw my kids from school and that I'm going to homeschool them, then they gave me the paperwork. I took it home, filled it out, turned it back in the next day and that was it! It really was quite simple. No explaining necessary. No questions asked.
So for anyone considering homeschooling, I hope you look at all of the options and choose what will work best for you and your family. There are so many ways to go about doing this and many people that are willing to help you along the way. I really hope that I was able to help any of you that are interested in this process and how to go about doing it. If you have any questions for me please don't hesitate to ask. I'm more than willing to help in any way that I can.
Until then.... Xoxo!