Homeschooling Thoughts (&Questions)

We started our homeschooling year early because of how busy we knew fall was going to be, so we are already a few months in. We’ve been using the Bob Jones curriculum that’s on DVD, and there are a lot of things I really like about it. The videos (for the most part) are really interesting and the kids like them. Here are a couple of the downsides and then I’m going to ask for your advice/experience.

The DVD’s were really expensive. Like, way more than we have ever spent before on homeschooling stuff, so I feel a need to salvage it. The way it was in our heads, in case there were days that we were traveling there would still be consistency as far as their lessons and we could bring it on the road with us. I imagined them being able to do it in the hotel, on the bus, car, or whatever. That sounded good but it isn’t really working out the way we pictured it (that’s never happened to you, has it?)  It’s also hard because they are in the third (A&E) and first (K) grades and with the baby I thought it would be easier to have them in two rooms doing their own thing and I could go back and forth and check in, but if I wasn’t available they wouldn’t get behind.

Here’s the thing, though. They aren’t really able to do it as independently as I was hoping, and what I think was supposed to be a 4 hour school day actually turns out to be much (MUCH) longer, because Todd and I are having to stay with them the whole time and really process things. We take turns on who we are with but neither side is able to get very far without us present. It’s gotten frustrating for all of us and I’m trying to figure out a new game plan for the rest of the year.

We bought the stuff and I don’t want it to go to waste, but I think the bottom line is that it isn’t as literature based as I would like for it to be and my kids just aren’t at a point where they can do it without quite a bit of help. And that’s fine. But if we are going to be putting in that kind of time I would much rather do a curriculum that I feel like is more “us.” For the record, there isn’t a thing wrong with the actual curriculum-I think in a few years mine would absolutely love it. Like any other, I think it just depends on the way you teach and the way your kids learn and I’m not 100% sure this is a fit with our lifestyle.

I’m not really sure what I’m asking, but I would love some thoughts from you home-schoolers out there. I have never “piecemealed” curriculum because I’m so stinking paranoid that I might be missing something they need to be learning, but I really feel like this isn’t working. Right now I’m tempted to let them keep watching some of the videos and then supplement. Has anyone out there done anything like that?

I know there are lots of other home-schoolers who have these same questions because I get them all the time in my email, so please share any thoughts here from what you have learned about curriculum. What has worked for your family? Do you switch it up every year? Do you have “non-negotiables” that you always go back to? Does it depend completely on the kid? HOW DO YOU KEEP A 16 MONTH OLD BUSY FOR THAT LONG?!?!?!

Today we spent the day on blankets outside and I feel like we got a lot done, but most of it was off the cuff and not really driven by any book or text. I know lots of people do this but I want to feel freedom and also know I’m keeping them on track. So just jump in and tell us what has worked/not worked for your family throughout the years.

PLEASE feel free to link to your blog if this is something you have addressed so that we can just click over and you won’t have to re-write anything here. I promise I’m not going to sit by the computer and await your comments.

That last part was a lie.

:)

A


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  • Elizabeth

    Wow, I must have clicked this as soon as you posted it!  I am actually a college grad who did these videos (it was live at the time) most of the way through high school.  Since I’ve graduated from University, I guess it was successful.  :-)  No, kidding, but that being said, all of my younger siblings did them as well.  Most started very young.  It does take a long time, but (and I was an overseer almost daily) I don’t remember having to have as much input/oversight when they watched the videos – they made things much more independent for the kids and freed up time for Mom – but they still required a great amount oversight.  The videos were great to not have to be supplemented, ie. 5 of 9 of us are college grads now, the youngest 4 are in college.  If I learned nothing else from being a participant in my siblings’ schooling, it was that the children who learned in the most random way became the best engineers (in our case).  I’m not sure what the specific issues are that you’re facing with the videos, but maybe this comment will give you hope/sight for the future!  :-)  All of that being said, homeschooling is HARD.  People love to give their opinions about it, and it can make you feel like a bad parent or that you’re not doing enough because so many people have great stories and their kids sound like superstars.  Don’t listen to these tales (even if they are true).  I overheard my mom get many well-meaning comments over the years and sometimes she just had to block out everyone else’s vision.  At the end of the day, I would say that she found her way to make it a success.  

    • Anonymous

      elizabeth, i confess my undying love to you.
      :)

      thank you!!!!!!! beautiful wisdom from the other side of all this, and it goes a long way with this mama!
      xoxo
      a

      • V. B.

        Elizabeth, Portia and Angie… YES!  It is amazing how many people give their well meaning ‘advice’ to those of us who homeschool (even when we haven’t asked for it).  It does remind me constantly to think about why my husband and I do homeschool.  It is a lot of extra work, whether it’s planning for lessons, teaching, going over the work and making sure corrections are done and then all the times that you are taking the kids to homeschooing programs.  

        That’s a lot of extra when most parents are already so busy.  But, at the end of the day, we are doing what we are feeling called to do and we get to spend so much time with our children, which is such an incredible blessing.Angie, I’ve homeschooled my 12 year old since JK and there are STILL days when I wonder if I’ve covered everything, or if she’s up to par with the kids in a regular school system.  Many of the moms I talk to who homeschool struggle with the same thoughts and concerns.  Most of the people who have posted have really good suggestions, about websites and checking with your State.  I’ve used Abeka for Math and English and often ‘piece mealed’ to supplement things like Geography, History and Science.  Plus, I regularly meet with other homeschooling families.   I’ve found that the friendships I’ve made with-in  the homeschooling community have given me the encouragement to keep doing it from year to year!  Some of the members have years of experience, advice about what works and what doesn’t work etc.  So, if you have a homeschooling group in your community, that might help.  Also, with my daughter, it took me about two years before I started feeling like I was ‘getting’ it (the routine, the ability to get lessons done), so that will come.

        Hang in there :)

        Prayers and hugs to your beautiful family!

        V.

        • Jackie Penn

          Oops! I thought I was replying to Angie! Sorry, I placed my reply in the wrong place.

          Angie, I understand your situation. I have some great curriculum sitting in the box, basically unused, because I thought it would be just what we needed. And I agree with it not being cheap. I wish I had my money back, too! 

          We are on the go lots so I looked for a curriculum that could go with us and also one that I wouldn’t have to drag around. We finally settled on an online resource. We use Time4Learning as our core. We supplement with Teaching Textbooks, VocabularySpellingCity.com and Vocabulary Fun (http://www.vocabulary.co.il/). The last two are totally free to use and are awesome. We add in anything my DD shows an interest in learning more about. It works for us. 

          Not sure about the little one since my DD is 14.

          Joyfully,Jackie
          http://www.quaintscribbles.wordpress.com

    • Portia

      thank you for those amazing words of encouragement.  It is amazing how many people have decided I want their opinion and it makes this journey so hard sometimes.  I so appreciate you taking time to comment and encourage Angie, because I benefitted as well.  Thank you Elizabeth.

  • Marney

    I’m a teacher in Christian school and we use many different curriculums, but have chosen BJ’s reading in third grade.  I like it.  I think it has good comprehension as well as interesting and well written stories.  
    Also, every teacher, in traditional school or at home, should supplement their curriculum.  I always have and I think it is very common to do so.  One of the advantages you have schooling at home is you can individualize what is best for your girls.
    Hang in there.  It is hard, but the kids I know who have been home-schooled are, for the most part, the most well rounded, and solid believers of the kids that are the same ages as mine.
    God bless you.

  • Carey

    This is only our 2nd year, so not a lot of wisdom here. We use a complete curriculum (MFW) for our 2nd grader and K. Zoe is 16 months and we start school right after breakfast when she’s still happy. Sometimes still in her chair at the table. When she gets fussy she gets down and we try to keep on until she’s too disruptive. Most of the time she has to nap then, but I don’t like that because then all my free time goes out the window. We’re still learning, so I’ll be curious to read the comments for tips. So far, though, we’ve been finished by lunch almost everyday.

    • Rachelmarquezphotography

      Carey,
      i have a boy and we just started kinder..what do you mean by (mwf)?

      • Amanda

        MFW would be My Father’s World – complete curriculum.

  • Nancy

    I am a 4th year homeschool mom. I have a 1st grader, third grader and 6th grader. We use a mixture of things. I use things that have been recommended or have met our needs for a certain subject. I have switched in midyear before when something wasn’t working. It is disappointing to feel like you are “wasting ” your money. But it is not worth trudging through something that is just not working as you hoped. Maybe you can resell it ? We enjoy Sonlight for history and readers. Apologia for science, singapore for math. Also love shurley grammar and Wordly wise for vocabulary. Just bought Ann Voskamps geography book, but haven’t officially started it yet! There is so much great stuff out there. It really is just a matter of what fits your family at this time of your life. My two cents ;)

  • Casey

    We’re very new to homeschooling (our first year and we have our 6th grader home) and we went with Calvert.  I wouldn’t recommend it and we are actually looking to switch to the BJU English 6, but not the other classes through BJU.  Sonlight is very literature based if that’s what you’re looking for and you don’t have to stick to as strict a schedule.  After nearly 5 weeks of the wrong curriculum we’re moving things around and will go with Teaching Textbooks for Math, BJU for English 6 and then everything else is pieced together.  History Odyssey is good, and you can use it for more than one child because it covers a range of grades and we might go with that.  For Science we’re going to look at what the standards say he needs to learn over the course of the year and make a list and then just pick things off to learn about like weather systems and plant cells and so on.  Good luck.  I’m sure this isn’t much help, I’m very new to this, but I know choosing the wrong program can make you nuts.  

    I also love Elizabeth, it sounds like her parents did a fabulous job.

  • Sarah

    I’m a teacher and I think that the best thing that you could do in order to make sure that the girls aren’t missing anything major in the curriculum is to go to the educational website for your state and click on grade level standards for the grades that your children are in. This will tell you the big ideas and concepts that are being mastered at public school in your state. From there just make sure that you hit on every topic with your homeschool lessons. 

  • http://www.dominicandkristin.blogspot.com kasmith03

    Ang
      I don’t homeschool myself so I can’t offer any advice of my own but just today I was reading on a blog somewhere….for the life of me I can’t remember where (sorry!!!) but they were talking about how much they loved their “My Father’s World” cirriculum. It is Christian based from what I understood. I just have to commend you though for being open to trying new things and I am sure that your girls will all be very successful. I mean seriously – look at the devoted and faithful parent’s they have! :) I will be praying that you find the “just right” for your family!
    Hugs, Kristin

  • Stephanie Dyer

    I have homeschooled for going on 5 years now ~ but this by no means makes me an expert, lol!  We have used lots of ‘stuff’ and I always feel that by simply being with my children (ages 9, 7, 5 and 7 mo) they are learning so much through daily life.  This being said, I am one of those HS mama’s that also drop things in a curriculum that I don’t like, because I don’t always have time to do a science exp. when I am changing or nursing a baby.  I also throughly believe that in elementary levels no child really benefits from more than 2-4 hours of school a day (depending on age, attention span, etc.)

    We used My Father’s World for the first 4 years.  I liked how it gave me the confidence to teach my new readers and how it was easily done within 2 hours at most.  But, my kids started wanting to be read to more and I asked many of my homeschooling friends who have done LOTS of years of this, and I found that Sonlight is a strong lit. and classical curriculum.  So, we have begun that (level D, for all my kids) today.  I have Abeka workbooks for math, and they love to do those independently (asking for help when needed) and then I fill in the rest. 

    But honestly, being that you know your kids and your life better than anyone else, I really REALLY think that you will find your way.  I remember hearing somewhere (at a conf.) that those children who have the benefit of HSing are already ahead those who are not, simply do to parental involvement during the day. . . so hey, your doing great.

    I also think that ‘life’ is the best teacher.  I too have lost a daughter (and went through pregnancy knowing Amelia would not live) in March 2011.  During this last 3 years,  we have relocated across the country for my hubby’s job, we received Amelia’s fatal diagnosis during my pregnancy, and dealt with 20 months of unemployment from the ‘job’ we relocated for.  I have to say that we took lots of time off just to process, grieve, and live life with the goal being that my children’s emotional health came first.  Dealing with that grief, with another pregnancy after Amelia and all that followed ~ I was sure that my kids would be at LEAST  a year behind.  But they aren’t. 

    Kids are amazing and smart and resilient, so I mention this because I imagine your life is crazy like ours.  You are most likely doing such a great job and not giving yourself credit!  Hang in there!

  • Angela

    I would keep the baby busy by giving her “her school work” too :-)  Really, at that age there’s not that much you can do: give the baby school work, snack, play with her a bit to tire her out.

    I would really pray, Angie.  I know you know this, but I would lay my heart open to the Lord, our family schedule and my children’s bents.

    I’ve had to “ditch” Bob Jones and I loved it and the “idea” that I had in mind for it.  It worked swell for my friend and her family, but I too, found it to be very time consuming and my children didn’t care for it at all!  It broke my heart.

    Have you ever considered schooling year round?  I do that so that we can be off more during the “regular school time.”  I’ve tried it all.  Can you believe that my children liked it best when I was at the white board teaching?!  It ended up being okay because when I taught it was very in depth.  Our break was never really a break.  During “our breaks” I would have them read a lot, and I would read to them.  Maybe we would study language, English rules, history, science or what have you.

    God has really allowed me to make our homeschooling personal and individual just for our family and now my mother comes up and she works with the younger kids while I teach the older.

    Also for the times when you guys will be busy you may consider getting books and other things that the children can listen to on tape and just bring their writing books.

    I would just encourage you to pray…even fast and let the Lord show you just what He has specifically tailored for your family :-)

    My very best to you!

  • http://www.brainintrainin.com brainintrainin

    Miss Angie, with all respect…your children are getting an amazing education just by the traveling they are doing and the journey they see you and your husband taking.  God has ordained this season for your ENTIRE family…savor it.  I would think some cuddling and reading classic literature and story books, some writing, and a little math would all you would need to supplement the traveling, especially for the K’er.  Maybe even incorporate where you are traveling if time allows???
    God is bigger than our fear of “gaps”…

  • Ckschafer99

    Hi there!  I have been homeschooling for 7 years.  I have used just about every kind of curriculum under the sun!  When they were smaller, I used Abeka Readers and the Handbook, My Father’s World, Wordly Wise, Explode the Code (for spelling) and Critical Thinking stuff.  Now that one has graduated and one is 13, I use mostly the Critical Thinking Curriculum, Time4Learning (online), other cdroms, and Kay Arthur for bible.  M-W-F are computer days, with T-Th being all book work.  Spelling Zoo is his spelling, which is every day.  We have used video’s and literature based programs, too.  My son is an independent worker.  He knows what he is to do and turns it in to me when he has completed it.  I grade it and let him know what he needs to do to fix it.   Honestly, the best piece of advice is that it really is ok if they don’t learn everything right now.  It will happen.  Most of us don’t remember what we learned in 3rd grade.  Plus, it’s your first year.  It does get easier.  I really mean that.  If you have someone that can help, that’s always nice too.  I had a great support group when my kiddos were younger.  There’s also some great information at GreenLeaf Press.  They have been homeschooling for years!  Oh, and when they are a little older, The Lamplighter books are amazing!  Happy homeschooling!!  

  • http://itwasbroughtonbylove.blogspot.com Southern Gal

    I so understand where you’re coming from, Angie.  We used BJU HomeSat when my older two were in 8th and 6th.  I planned it that way because there was a new baby in the house.   It worked for us, but I regret having them sequestered away in their rooms for that long each day.  Since they were older they were able to work independently for the most part.  

    Now that I’m only schooling one we use Sonlight.  If you want literature based it’s a good curriculum choice and you would be able to use it with all three girls.   

    Let me assure you they are picking up way more than you think they are.  If you’re  paranoid about teaching them the “right” things in the “right”  grade then use “What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know”  or a scope and sequence from BJU or A Beka.  That will give you an outline and may make you feel better.   History and science vary so much from curriculum to curriculum.  Just go with what they are interested in for the elementary grades.  We love Apologia sciences.  Or you could use Ambleside Online – a Charlotte Mason literature based curriculum online.  “A Charlotte Mason Companion”  is a great book if you’re interested in a relaxed homeschool approach. 

    My boys have used Easy Grammar and Daily Grams with great results.  Spelling is harder for them so I’ve used about everything under the sun.  Spell check and pocket dictionaries are great things!    

    A lot of my friends use Math-U-See, but we’ve always used Saxon and love it.   (Except for my daughter who loved A Beka everything until we switched to BJU.)

    I hope you realize you are doing a great job. It may not feel like it every single day, but you are.  Don’t get discouraged.  We all have our bad days.  Switch it up if you need to.  We’ve all purchased something that we ended up not using (to the chagrin of some husbands).   Sorry for the super long comment.  :) 

  • Denise Grove

    I feel like there are many times over the last 12 years of homeschooling that I could have written your exact post…..so rest assured your questions are normal, what you feel is normal, and I promise your kids will turn out:) 

    With that said, I have prayed each year and each year looked very different.  There were years that I had 2 middle school girls that we just adopted and then there were the years that I had 3 babies in 4 years while schooling the older 4 children.  I have graduated 3 of them.  They survived.  I survived.  We have used “box” curriculum, unit studies, cyber school and co-ops.  Every year was different.  Every child was different.  This year I have a junior in high school, a 6th grader, a 4th grader, and a 2nd grader.

    I felt God calling me this year to really focus on serving and so our curriculum looks very different.  I use BJU math and Houghton Mifflin Reading for the younger 2.  I use calvert math and a character based literature program for my 6th grader.  I am using the coolest history from Homeschool in the Woods called Time Travelers History.  We are reading and drawing the book of Proverbs this year.  We are looking for opportunities to serve and doing a ton of reading about those less fortunate than us.  This is the year I want their world to expand beyond our front door.  I want their hearts to start opening up to the things that break God’s heart.

    It is ok to experiment and find out what works for your family.  It is ok to use part of a curriculum and to supplement.  It is ok to trash a curriculum a month after you start it.  If it doesn’t work the first month what makes us think it will work the rest of the year????  We need to get beyond the idea that we bought so we have to use it all and just use what works.  We need to discern what is working and move on if its not.

    We feel A LOT of pressure to “keep up” with everyone round us.  Satan loves to taunt us by having us focus on others success and our own failures.  One thing that has helped me tremendously has been to make a list of what I want my child to learn and when I am tempted to feel panic I go back to that list.  It looks something like this:

    1.  Love God
    2.  Serve Him
    3.  Love others
    4.  Serve them
    5.  Know His Word
    6.  Be able to balance checkbook, handle money, and not go into debt
    7.  Know basic life skills….cooking, cleaning, etc.”

    This isn’t the whole list but you get the idea.  Very little to do with actual curriculum.   Beth Moore just said in her simulcast this weekend “If you have a heart to do God’s will He is not going to hide it from you”.  He won’t hide it from our kids.  He gifted them and has specific work for them. The best thing we can do is remind them of this daily and pray the heavens down over them.

    I am not saying that academics is not important.  It is.  Especially if it has something to do with what God calls them to.  I have just learned over the years of having self doubt and bawling my eyes out regularly that I am just not big enough to mess God up:)

    Wow…..that was a long comment.  Probably more than you bargained for:) I hope I helped and didn’t confuse the topic even more for you!  Hang on because it is a wild ride but it is a fast ride.  You might not feel that way most days but the next thing you know you wake up and that child is grown.  Be blessed.  I will pray for you:)

    • Portia

      Wow, I couldn’t have said that any better and I haven’t been homeschooling nearly as long as you have.  I am year number 6 and I have just finally reached the point of peace.  You have said this so well, I really really wish I knew you in real life so you could be the voice of reason that I have needed so often.  Thank you for this post, because it truly was a confirmation for me and what I needed to hear.  Thank you so much. 

      I come from a long line of teachers and college professors and the pressure has been so great to live up to some standard that I am not even sure was there.  That said I am finally learning to let go and live in the place that God has called me.

  • the4morans

    Hi Angie, this is our second year homeschooling. Last year, we enrolled our bys (3rd and 5th) in the Virtual School. This year we have decided it has become all about testing and district assessments, so I have spent the last two weeks scouring the internet for curriculum ideas. I have found a gem of a website called Timberdoodle. The people there are very friendly and incredibly helpful. I really wanted a Science and History program we could do together, regardless of grade level. They recommended several options. We are also trying Teaching Textbooks for Math. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new materials. I am so scared, as a parent during this transition, that they are missing some needed element. I truly believe this is  a leap of faith, that will pay us back by leaps and bounds in the future. No amount of time spent with our children is ever wasted :)

    Melissa

  • Denise Grove

    Oops…forgot to leave my blog.  choosingtoday.blogspot.com  Occasionally I talk homeschooling stuff on there:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angela-Richter/1632533801 Angela Richter

    I had a friend that had the same exact problem you did, she switched to a computer program Switched on Schoolhouse, and she didn’t have a problem with it but realized it took her as much time (actually more) then the literature based she used to do because her kids couldn’t work on it independent.  And she also missed the literature based aproach but because of her scheudule she didn’t think she could do it.  We use MFW and I work from home.  I can only tell you what really helped me (I don’t travel too much)I have helped families locally who want to do a literature approach that is boxed but not sure you do.  She sold her stuff on ebay and made  a lot of her money back.

    The workbox system works beautifully, honestly I have never loved something so much.  I don’t do it all fancy like some (I try to stay simple, I need to get school done so I can work each day)  I go through the TG and I fill each childs buckets, if you do it the way Sue suggest with her shoeracks it literally takes minutes to fill the boxes, I always start with the youngest first (for a toddler I would fill it with puzzles, tot toys,etc)  My school day starts at 830 and ends by 1230, actually my youngest are usually done before then and sometimes my oldest who is 12 finishes by 1 with a lunch break in there.  If you want to talk to me about it, feel free to email me.  I have helped several families locally that want to do a literature based but don’t have all day.  I have several tips that help me.  Can’t promise anything but you never know,my friend calls me the homeschool whisperer blush, but I know it comes from the LORD, I have a real passion to help women who want to homeschool, and to actually help them with their day,not just support of Hs’ing.  I always pray that God uses me to help a mom say “wow, what I learned from Angela actually made my hs day better. 

  • jackterpstra

    Angie, 
    I am a former homeschool mom of 5 kids who are now in their late high school and college years. I used Five in a Row for all of them and they have mentioned more than once that this literature based curriculum helped them develop a long lived love for learning. 
     They have also mentioned that it taught them how to learn. Gaps are normal for everyone and I was able to, with God’s help, show them how to go about looking  to find answers to their questions, how to figure out what they loved and also instill a love for reading that has been so valuable. 
    I agree with the comment that mentioned how much your kids are learning through you and your husband as you serve the Lord.  You could use FIAR  and any local library as you travel,  to teach your children. 
    I would be more than happy to let you borrow any of my manuals if you are interested :)
    http://www.fiarhq.com/

    I am not in sales;) just love the curriculum.

    In Him and with understanding, 
    Anita Terpstra

  • Ourpacefamily

    I just started homeschooling my four kiddos this year (6th, 4th, 2nd and Kinder) after teaching at a classical school for several years.  I found my greatest struggle is managing my time between my three younger kids who need more attention from me.  My 6th grader is able to take instruction and then proceed on his own pretty well, but the younger 3 need a lot more of my time. 

    One thing that I have found is using one History and one Science for all three of my younger kids.  I use Story of the World which is AMAZING for history and it works really well.  I read one History story aloud and then we discuss together and then do various activities, all appropriate for their level.  Susan Wise Bauer also includes a giant list of literature and further history reading on the subject just studied, so I pick up a couple of books for each of my kids on their level and they can take what we have learned a little further.  This has worked perfectly for us! I have loved the stories so much and my kids soak it up.  It also helps to have all the kids there to have a discussion.Along the same lines, I use Apologia Science for these same 3 kids and again we teach all together.  All 3 keep a journal, but what they are required differs, and we do activities all together. Obviously my 4th grader is “getting” more than my kindergartener, but he is still along for the ride and is able to glean some as well.  We do Science 2-3 days a week.I also just switched both my 4th and 6th graders over to the Rod and Staff nested Bible Readers.  My 2nd grader was using it and I loved that the Bible is combined with reading and basic phonic, reading comprehension, vocabulary and writing skills. It looks “old” because it has Mennonite roots, but it is solid and we are loving it.  It is wonderfully self-sufficient.My last hurdle is the time challenge of the read aloud.  This takes the majority of my time and I haven’t worked out those kinks yet.  It has helped to have an older child read with a younger child, but like I said, still working it out.  

    The one thing I have learned in this new adventure, is finding what works for my family is going to be completely different than other families.  Thankfully there are a lot of wonderful options so we can keep looking until we find what works.  

  • The Hill Hangout

    Angie, third grade was a tough year for us, as my daughter still needed lots of my attention, but I had a toddler as well. I spent the year feeling like I was constantly trying to catch up with my older one, while my little one didn’t get her own time with me. It was hard, and yet I am now able to see that it was only for a short time, and we made it. Perhaps it was not as robust a year as my perfectionistic self would have liked, but that’s where I just asked God to cover my short-comings with His grace. This year my girls are both a little more independent and it has made all the difference in the world.

    I’m going to post a couple of links here that tell about our curriculum choices. http://thehillhangout.com/?p=356 (for 2010 when my daughter was in 3rd grade). http://thehillhangout.com/?p=735 (for 2011, includes my thoughts about what we’d chosen in 2010). I prefer a piecemeal approach because I feel like any curriculum we chose would have gaps (as would public school, as would private school) There is NO WAY we can cover everything there is to know. We live in the information age and there is simply too much information to be known for us to know it all. That being said, I feel like I have done enough research on these choices that I am comfortable with my choices. For our family, I feel like I have minimized the gaps as much as possible. Others may disagree, and that’s where the beauty of homeschooling lies. What is right and good for us might not be the best choices for everyone.

    We too enjoy an active lifestyle (not doing book tours or concerts, mind you), and we enjoy schooling on the road, in the library, at the dance studio, on the soccer sidelines, or wherever we happen to be. And I also push a literature- and history-rich style of learning. I enjoy reading/discussion time with my girls on these subjects, and wouldn’t want to miss that for anything. We have had a ball reading the classics together and discussing the events of world history. I love weaving the two together and seeing the light come on in my girl’s mind when we discuss.

    Hang in there, even if the entire year ends up being one of your more challenging ones. Each year has its own personality, and perhaps next year will be more settled. Hope this helps!

  • Joymweaver

    Hi Angie,
    I am a 3rd grade teacher in a Christian school.   We use Bob Jones for English, and Her. Studies.  I really like it for English, but not so much for Her. Studies.  I also have taught 4th grade BJU reading.  I really did like the stories in the reader.
    Have you ever visited the blog: Freely Educate?   They have many suggestions for free for homeschoolers.  I know you have already spent alot on the BJU stuff, but maybe you could supplement occationally with free material.
    I do a two week study of Little House in the Big Woods that my students love.  They do a lapbook that goes along with the reading.  I found it free online.
    I also do a supplemental Civil War project when we get to that Her. Studies unit.  I use an Evan-Moor product called history pockets.
    You are their teacher.   As long as they end up where they need to be for 4th grade, you can get there anyway that interests your girls.  Maybe a mixture-BJU for some subjects, units for others.
    You can do it.  You are a great mom.  Just hang in there.
    Joy Weaver
    (I met you last weekend at WOF in Philly.  I showed  you the pic of my little girl from China.   You can follow our next journey for another daughter from China at http://www.theweaversworld.blogspot.com)

  • http://twitter.com/dailydwelling dailydwelling

    This is my second year homeschooling and I think our children are similar ages. I have two first graders, a preschooler and a fifteen month old. When I started this journey, I was in love with one certain curriculum and I knew for sure that I would use it the entire way through. But as I used it, I began to see gaps in it and was able to recognize some of its weaknesses. This year, I decided to supplement and it was a hard decision because I was so *sold* on this one certain curriculum. While, I still like what this curriculum has to offer, I have come to recognize that it is okay to make changes. We’re our children’s mothers and teachers and we ultimately have to make decisions based on what is going to work for them and for us as a family. It doesn’t sound like the curriculum you’ve chosen is really working for you right now. I’m sure you can continue to use whatever parts of it are and supplement where you need to.

    As for managing the sixteen month old…I’m right there with you with my fifteen month old who is in the middle of every thing that we are doing! She just dropped her morning nap and that really threw a kink into my plans. But we are changing and adjusting as best we can. Currently, I’m teaching the things I need to do one-on-one while she’s awake in the morning and saving lessons for her nap time when I can focus.

  • http://notesfromamama.blogspot.com/ Kristy

    We are very much piece mealed.  I’ve spent a lot of time making sure I’ve covered everything…a very common fear, I’m sure.  Here is my main curriculum, we’re in first grade and preschool, with a toddler along with us: http://notesfromamama.blogspot.com/2011/08/curriculum-first-grade.html  Some things I really wanted–I was very set on Story of the World and I love the idea of moving through science in sequence (biology, geography/astronomy, chemistry, and physics).  It took me awhile to find the text I thought would teach it thoroughly and simplistically enough for 1st grade.  We really don’t use it all the time, but it is great to teach some of the basics.

    As for my little guy (he is 21 months), we break our day up into morning and afternoon sessions.  We do table work first thing…math, writing, spelling, etc.  For that time, he plays with his sister (she’s 3) or he comes and steals erasers. :) Then we sit together, the girls read to me, I read to them all, and he gets to join us for that.  In the afternoon, we take time when he is napping to do any more involved projects.  Some of the time he colors with us on scrap paper.  He has definitely made homeschooling a bit different than I would have approached it, but it works.

    I hope you all find the right solution for your family and your precious girls!

  • Coby

    I’m just starting to homeschool my almost 5 year old twin boys (they’re young, but they REALLY want to know how to read, so – prayerfully! – we’re going for it!) I have a two year-old, and I read a great analogy that really helped me laugh and relax a bit:  trying to do homeschool with a toddler around is a lot like trying to contain a rabid monkey while baking a merengue pie.  I’m not calling your 16 month-old a rabid monkey…I’m calling my 2 year old a rabid monkey!  ;-)   (And how I love that monkey!)  I try to keep a bunch of manipulatives around for him, special things that he only does when I’m working with the older boys. 

    I do Before Five in a Row, and a bit of My Father’s World kindergarten curriculum.  I also use Spell to Write and Read for phonics, and I know that I REALLY want to use Beautiful Feet when we get to history (it’s literature based, and the books get me all giddy!).  There’s also a great website called Homeschool Share; they’ve got tons of literature based units for all ages and free lapbooks and printables. 

    As a new homeschooling mom, that’s about all I have to offer.  That, and if you decide to purge the curriculum, there’s a great website called vegsource.com where homeschoolers sell their stuff!  ;-)  

  • Mamadevore3

    My daughter is currently in 7th grade and although she opted to give public school a try this year (please pray for her, OK more for me than her! ) I have homeschooled her her entire life. We tried a few different curriculums but it seemed the best for her by far was ABeka. You can either do ALL self taught curriculum or you can do the online curriculum. We did both and she really preferred the text book curriculum. It really just depends on your child. I, like you, was fearful that I’d forget to teach her something or leave something out and so I never could just self learn and piece curriculum together. I’ve paid for 3 sets of braces so I really can’t afford therapy too! So I stick with pre packaged curriculum. Hope this helps! By the way I saw you for the first time last month in Indianapolis and you are so gifted and annointed:) My 7th graders name by the way, Audrey:) God Bless you and your family! You have such a heart for Jesus and it shows:)

  • http://allabunchofmomsense.blogspot.com/ TaxMegan

    Angie,
    I don’t homeschool, but am actively involved in the educational process for our public school system in a parent role. I saw Sarah’s comment about finding your state standards, and I think that would give you a good outline, but I wanted to add to that a bit. Tennessee adopted the National Common Core State Standards in July of 2010, and you can find those here: http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards. The next thing you need to know is that the standards can be a HUGE list. (I attended an educational conference recently that said that if the standards were taught, in their entirety, 52 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, it would take about 23 years to teach them all.) You have to prioritize the ones that you feel are the most important, and let those be the focus. Pick the ones with “endurance”  - reading comprehension should trump memorization, for example. 
    Others have said it, but I can only reaffirm it – you are teaching your girls more than you realize when you travel and spend time together. Read together, encouraging them to read to you. Talk about what you’ve read. Congratulations – that’s working on that reading comprehension! Discuss where you’re traveling to, find it in an atlas. Geography. Read together about the history of that area. Yup, history. 
    From Page 81 of this little paperback I picked up at Women of Faith in Indy… “God, remind us daily that You are the only way to true success, and our failures happen only when we lose sight of this.” Focus on His plan for your family, and let Him guide your path! 

  • Angela Mcmichael

    Angie, I’m limited to text right now so I will just say this for now: you are enough. You aren’t going to do this “wrong” or ruin your children’s futures. It’s so hard as a homeschooler to resist the temptation to compare yourself to other homeschoolers, but “resist the devil and he must flee”. Lol. People homeschool the way they family, so to speak — and what’s best for you and your kids is what’s best. After eleven years at it, those are the gems I’ve learned the hard way. More to add, but I wanted to at least put my oars in long enough to tell you that you are enough, because Christ made it so. He will not guide you anywhere His grace can’t keep you.

    Hugs,
    Angela

  • Jan

    I haven’t taken the time to read through all of the comments so I may be repeating what someone else has said.  I apologize if that is the case.  I just wanted to mention My Father’s World.  I have used that with my youngest (2nd gr.).  I wish that my children were closer in age so that I could do it with both.  My oldest is 6th gr.  I think it is designed for multi-age/multi-level children.  I like the way it is layed out and I think it is thorough. 

    Also, give yourself grace! God is more than able to fill in any gaps; at least I’m trusting in that! Blessings! 

  • kps

    Hey there, I’m a a 3rd grade teacher at a public school in SC. Third grade is a huge transition year. They’ll grow so much this year- going from needing a lot of help to being quite independent. Give it time :) And I’m so jealous that you get to work outside on blankets!! –kps 

  • rubberbacon

    I don’t home school yet but my daughter just turned 3 and I’m looking for direction, this post and related comments have been incredibly inspiring!  Thanks to all who have shared so many wonderful ideas.

  • http://twitter.com/lauranoelle88 Laura Noelle

    Angie, I was homeschooled from pre-k to 12th grade and I have to say that the best part of homeschooling was not the standard curriculum, but the family time and hands-on learning it gave me. My sister, who was two years older than me, and I often had “classes” together–our mom would combine curriculums (she usually pieced different kinds together) and we did projects together, and by ourselves on our individual levels. We read literature together, we went on field-trips, we enjoyed time together. Yes, the basics are important, and you won’t get it “wrong” if you put it together yourself. Also, while video curriculums are good for some, you may find that the standard textbooks work better for your kids and provide more of a literature basis. It’s a learning process that you alone have to figure out along the way! I remember doing new kinds every year all the way through. We find we liked some, and others just didn’t work. It’s about the flexibility. Also, on the note of your kids working by themselves–my mom taught us independence early. She would go through a lesson with us, then assign us a certain thing to do, and she would leave (or go work with the other kids). We learned to be accountable for finishing our work on time (and this was an ever-going process!) It’s easy to get distracted, so don’t worry if they’re not powering through it all right away. Blessings!

  • Amanda Corley

    I Homeschool a kindergartner & a 2nd grader. I also have a 3 yr old (much easier than a 16mo old to keep busy). She works on colors, shapes, numbers, blocks, simple puzzles. Most of the time she gets bored with us & leaves to go watch Dora.
    I used all the same curriculum last yr (my 1st yr) & it didn’t work out for us because it was completely fill in the blank.
    So during the summer I did a lot of research & just picked a mixture of what I thought would work best. I teach Bible from a fundamental workbook I picked up at LifeWay & we use the memory verses that they get in SS every week. They get a treat if they can recite it the next Sunday.
    I choose Math U See for their math & it’s going okay. It’s not a strong subject for my oldest but is for my middle so I’m trying to keep a delicate balance. They are ALWAYS in competition!
    Language I chose Abecka for the 2nd grader b/c it’s very throrugh. That package included spelling, handwriting, poetry, phonics, & a TON of readers. For my K, I chose Hooked on Phonics. He is starting to read & works very well with the ladder blends.
    Science we chose Sonlight. I love, love, love this curriculum!! I just can’t say enough about it. The lesson plans are written out for you. The text books are bright and full color, it’s life application! They even give you notes in the lesson plan that helps you put a Christian viewpoint on secular thoughts. We’re studying the Animal Kingdom right now, so evolution always seems to come up.
    History/geography we are using Road Trip USA by Erica from Confessions of a Homeschooler dot com. My children are LOVING this (& I’m learning a ton too). Very neat way of going through the 50 states; by region, learning statehood, flowers, birds, flags, famous people, food (complete with recipes) nicknames…you name it, It’s in there. Even all presidents & where they’re from & a few crafts! So fun!!
    Hope you find you groove very soon. ;)

    Also, looking forward to seeing you weekend after next in Birmingham!

  • Springfield1

    I’m homeschooling my five year old (first grade) and we are using a piecemeal approach…and loving it.  I LOVED parts of certain curriculum, but I didn’t feel comfortable with  everything in any bundle I could buy.  One of my best friends encouraged me to piecemeal and it’s working well, so far.  If I see a book or curriculum that I think looks interesting I can work it into what were already doing or maybe do it for a few weeks while we take a break from something else.  Recognizing that what you’ve chosen isn’t working and then doing something about it is so important.

  • Abigail Heath

    Though I am currently finishing nursing school, I am another homeschool “graduate,” with public school experience mixed in.  I have also spent the last 2 years living with a homeschooling family of 7.  I will attest to what was said about there just being great value in being TOGETHER as a family…honestly, though I also feel like I received a fantastic educational foundation through my time homeschooling, the most important foundation laid was the spiritual one.  I think some of my most meaningful homeschool experiences were those that had little to do with “curriculum”: memorizing scripture with my dad and my grandmother who lived with us, going on “field trips” (mostly just visiting local businesses and learning about different careers), listening to my mom read to us during lunch, serving in the community, coloring and writing stories to go with those pictures, interacting with people of ALL ages and generations (to this day, some of my closest friends are generations older than I am…an incredible gift I attribute to my homeschooling background), even playing outside and talking about different kinds of trees and animals.  None of these things came from specific curriculum choices…most likely they just came from the spur of the moment, from my parents being devoted to us and our growth not only as students, but as individuals who have unique gifts to contribute to the world!  As others have mentioned, your family is experiencing things that are unique to you…I would just say, seize the moment!  Sometimes I think everyday life is the best teacher!  That being said, I have a hard time believing you will “miss anything important.”  The fact that you are concerned about doing so says a lot about the kind of mom and teacher you are!  I will say that, if I could keep only ONE thing from my grade school education, it would be the writing skills I attained.  My mom had us writing stories and essays and poems and journals from the time I was a little girl, and then when I went to a public middle school, I had an incredible English teacher who forced us to write probably a bagillion 5 paragraph essays.  Clearly you have a writing gift…I would encourage you to use it with your girls!  In my mind, writing is one skill that is absolutely INVALUABLE in this world, and because you possess talent in that area, you probably don’t even need a curriculum to teach it, necessarily.  All that to say, if your home is a place where curiosity is encouraged and open conversation is held, combine that with intentional Christian parenting and your girls will be fantastically prepared to thrive in this world…at least, that is my experience as a former homeschooler and as one who has peered in on many a homeschooling family.  As far as curriculum goes, we used a smattering of a lot of what was mentioned here, although our primary subjects were always Abeka.  The family I live with uses the Abeka video series (they have a 9th, 7th, 4th, two 1st graders, and 2 little ones not yet schooling).  The oldest three (including the 4th grader) pretty much do EVERYTHING on their own, except for maybe the occasional word of guidance from mom.  The 1st graders get a little more help.  Fostering independence is another great life skill that your girls will carry with them into their future!  God bless…I know you’ll do great = )

  • Megan

    Hi Angie,
    I can relate to so much of this post. Every summer, I agonize over curriculum! Should I stick with what we know? Should I try something different that might be THE ONE that is right for us? (probably no such thing) What if I mess things up? I have a fear of “missing something” too! I can’t piece meal, it’s just not in my nature. I have to go with the whole she-bang. Plus I like how it’s all kind of woven together when you get the whole package, ya know? Anyway, I hesitate to throw one more thing in here, because it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with choices and feel like you are doing everything wrong…..or maybe that’s just me? My oldest daughter is in the 3rd grade this year (and I have a preschooler and a 7 month old) and we have used A Beka for the past two years, but I’ve struggled with it. (Don’t get me wrong, and nobody attack me – it’s a GREAT curriculum, just wanted to try something different that might be more “fun” since it’s very textbook-like). So this  year, we switched to Winter Promise. It’s a literature based curriculum but it isn’t just reading all the time, there are a lot of hands on activities, journaling, nature walking, etc. It’s been really fun and my kids have loved it (I love that I was able to combine learning with my 3rd grader and preschooler, and it also is a 4 day a week program, another perk). Don’t get me wrong, sometimes learning is just learning, so we still talk about declarative sentences and memorize addition facts and practice handwriting, but overall it has been a very different learning experience, and we have really enjoyed it. My kids think it’s great that we can see how old trees are and study bugs with our magnifying glasses, all in the name of school. Just my two cents!

    Now, if I could just figure out what to do with my 7 month old! She is not a great napper, and it’s been a struggle for me this year. But, I know His mercies are new every day, and it’s just a season that will pass all too quickly. That’s what I have to tell myself to get through some days anyway. ;)

    My only other idea is since we live so close, we could just swap teaching and watching the younger kiddos. Wouldn’t that be fun? ;)

    Ahhhh, well. I’ll keep dreaming of my ideal homeschool world, and you, keep writing fabulous books. I’m on chapter 4 in What Women Fear – loving it!

    Blessings to you!

  • http://ogremom.wordpress.com/ Lara

    Having traveled to my parents’ during the school year, I know how important portability is.  We do end up taking a stack of books, but a lot of them can be found online or Nook, so you can just download them to your e-reader or laptop.  We use amblesideonline.org.  It’s Charlotte Mason-based, and my daughter loves it for the most part.  There’s tons of literature, all you do is add in your math, foreign language and any extras you want to tackle.  It’s all planned for you with booklists and scheduling – you just get your books or downloads and go.  Best part — all the amblesideonline advice and their planning – is FREE!  Much lower cost than a boxed curriculum.  I love AO!

    And although I don’t have little ones, I would imagine that the readings could be done while holding the baby and at bedtimes.

  • http://www.7sistershomeschool.com Sabrina Justison

    I have 3 kids who have graduated from our homeschool and one starting high school at home this year.  Two are in college and doing just fine.  The other is working in a licensed trade to support himself as he pursues music.  From that vantage point, if I look back at our elementary years, I know that the main thing I wish I had done differently was to truly believe that they WERE learning as much as they seemed to be…but I didn’t trust myself, our homeschool, or God enough back then to just relax and let it be!

    I piecemealed curriculum for my homeschool all the way through, but kept in contact with lots of other homeschoolers along the way to keep an eye out for major holes.  One of the wisest things an older h/s mom ever said to me was, “Did any of US graduate from high school with NO holes in our education?”  I was public-schooled all the way myself, did very well, was considered a brainy kid, was well-rounded, and still had holes that I filled in on my own when I was finished with high school and moving on into adulthood.

    When God gives us children, He gives us wisdom to raise them.  That applies to choosing curriculum as well as all the rest of parenting.  If the DVD’s will work for you in a different format (eg. letting the kids watch but not worrying about covering all of it as mapped out by BJU), then trust your gut and try it.  And if they just aren’t a good fit at all, ditch ‘em and try something different.  My older kids tell me they are thankful for the way we took a lot of different approaches as we homeschooled.  Once they were out on their own, they were able to adapt to a variety of learning environments in college and in the workplace, because they had learned flexibility as they were growing up.

    My website has blogs aimed more specifically at homeschooling high school, but there are lots of posts of general encouragement and humor for homeschoolers, too.  Enjoy!

    http://www.7sistershomeschool.com

  • Angela Mcmichael

    Ok, now I’m at a computer.  ;)  

    Here is basically what I wanted to add:  take it one year at a time, one child at a time.  By this, I simply mean don’t feel like you have to know what you’re doing at the beginning — or that you have to stick to anything you decide.  When you find something that works, don’t try to reinvent the wheel.  If something isn’t working (and it’s not a character issue that needs tweaking as opposed to a curriculum issue), allow yourself to explore — it’s one of the many perks of homeschooling.  What works for one child may not work for another, and that is normal and okay and even GREAT!  You also need what works for YOU, or there is just no point.  And, like I said before — families homeschool the way they family, and we all do it differently because WE are all different, as are our children, our gifts, their gifts, our callings, etc.  (By the way, there is a great, fun read called “Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe”.  Read it.)(If you want.  lol)  I have a friend who is a chemist, and she’s married to a chemist, and their homeschool looks waaaaaaaay different than ours because they are academics.  Well, we are not academics.  We are people-people.  We are disciplers, and drama queens, and we are kinda chaotic.  Now that my oldest is a junior in high school, I am breathing a little easier as I’m seeing that it really is still turning out okay.  Do we talk about the Periodic Table of Elements at dinner?  Uh, no — we quote movies and talk about things that, um, probably don’t belong at the table, and we are as random as random gets.  And it’s okay.  Homeschooling offers the gift of “trial and error”, and I just encourage you to embrace the exploration available to you.  You are NOT going to screw this up;  you love your babies fiercely, and that right there makes you as motivated as humanly possible to do right by them.  ”Train up a child in the way THEY should go …” — and you know exactly Who to go to for help with that one;  Kyrios.  (Yes, I was in Philly this weekend, and listening.)

    I have piecemealed, and I have loved that.  Again, that’s us, though.  We are a piecemeal family if there ever was one, lol.  I have used (loosely) Sonlight, because I love to read and I wanted my kids to learn to love to read — and they have.  We have loved their literature, and their history.  I don’t do well myself with the strict structure of all-inclusive curriculums, or the inflexibility of cybers — I needed to be able to have flexibility, and to follow my kids’ learning styles and gifts and passions.  I do not look back on any of my years of homeschooling with regret, and I am seeing now for myself some of the long-term benefits.  Train them up in the way THEY should go, and you will not regret a moment.  

    Breathe.  A lot.  And deeply.  Play.  Cuddle every time you feel like it.  Go on those spontaneous field trips when opportunity knocks, and indulge yourself and your kids in those “school on a picnic blanket at the park” as often as you have the urge;  you’ll never regret doing so.  You will regret not doing so.  We used to go do school over donuts and chocolate milk at a local bakery, and then move to the library afterwards in the winter when we needed a change of pace.  We still do things like that, and I don’t regret a single one of those choices or times.  Just last week, we woke up one morning to a very lousy and rainy day, and our attitudes matched, and I knew in my heart it was going to make for a rough day of school — starting with ME!  So, I invited them to crawl in bed with me and watch a movie.  School waited, as did my work, and our messy house, and our day went much more smoothly and pleasantly because we took 90 minutes for what we really needed;  togetherness, and to relax.  When you feel like you need to regroup, do so.  When you feel like you are having to choose between their education and your relationships, go for the relationships.  

    Every once in a while, if you do this all the way through, you’ll have a tough year.  It’s normal.  Don’t lose heart.  My rule for those years?  No making decisions about school in April.  No printing off admission apps for the local Christian school, and no building a bonfire with the current curriculum choices.  

    Write down why you are homeschooling.  Right down what drew you to it, and what made you decide to follow this path.  Right down what you love about it, and what benefits you already derive from it.  Put this in the front of your Bible, or in your nightstand, or wherever it will best serve you on the days where you think you must’ve been slipped a mind-altering drug to have made such a loopy life choice.  Your words and dreams and goals in your own writing will remind and refresh you, and give you permission to clean the slate and just fall in love with it all over again.  

    And then go get a chocolate bar.

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.”  Prov 3:5,6     Angie, He knows you, and he knows each of your children.  He will be delighted to guide all of you on this journey so that you can each be/become who HE created each of you to be.  

    • http://our4kiddos.blogspot.com Lisa

      Angela,  your post was such an inspiration to me!  Thanks so much for such a beautiful post.

      • Antoinettebrown1

        I am in tears!!!  I so needed to hear this today . . . the day I was wondering who slipped me the mind-altering drug :)   thanks for sharing!  Homeschooling is def. a long-term effort before the reward. Mine are 8, 6, and 4 and sometimes I wish I could just see how this will all end up and THEN I’d be abl to relax and enjoy the now.  But that doesn’t require much faith does it. . . and isn’t that what this is all about . . . learning how to lean and trust  in our Savior over and over again!!! Thanks for the encouragement~!

        • Angela Mcmichael

          I have so been where you are.  When my babies were younger (and sometimes now, with two teens and a tween — who are really just toddlers with a WAY better vocabulary and the ability to drive the car), I bumped into that wall more times than I care to admit.  Most of what made me miserable was actually the pressure I had put on myself to do it as “right” as it can be done.  Good luck with that!  lol   Take heart, dear one.  Love really does cover a multitude, and God really does know your heart and those of your children, and He’ll help you navigate it as long as you keep asking.  Like I said to Lisa — I don’t know how to connect from here but PLEASE feel free to!  Hugs <3

          • http://our4kiddos.blogspot.com Lisa

            I just tried looking for you on FB and couldn’t find you.  I even cut and paste your name exactly.  :-(   I’m Lisa Jacobucci Boyle.  Maybe you would have better luck than me?

        • Angela Mcmichael

          Actually, here’s the easy way — I’m on Facebook — Angela Alderfer McMichael in Philadelphia.

      • Angela Mcmichael

        You’re so welcome!  Not sure how to connect from here but if you know how, lol, please feel free to connect!

      • Angela Mcmichael

        Actually, here’s the easy way — I’m on Facebook — Angela Alderfer McMichael in Philadelphia.

    • Melissa Irwin

      Bravo Angela Mc – this was SUCH a blessing and encouragement to me.  I am a first year homeschooling mom of one stubborn glorious 1st grade B.O.Y.  I am hoping to homeschool my pre-k’r too after this year.  He has Down syndrome…and so I’m probably insane.  But the good kind of insane.  We shall see.  Thank you for this inspiring post.

      • Angela Mcmichael

        Awww — it’s an honor.  I’m happy to connect with you beyond here if you want.  Regardless, you absolutely can do this, and He’ll fill in the parts you can’t.  True story.  Hugs

    • Emily M

      Wow Angela!! Thank you for this!! Such a simple reminder, yet so inspiring. I’m in my first year homeschooling and I’m loving it. Thanks again!!

      • Angela Mcmichael

        I’d love to connect with you!

  • Kayla Becker

    Hi Angie,
    I don’t comment often but have read your blog for quite awhile.  My degree is in early childhood education.  (birth-age 8) specifically.  I work for a private christian school.  However, we piece together our curriculum so that part if familiar for me.  The thing about feeling like your missing something is this… As long as you are hitting on all of the basic components in a way that is relevant and age appropriate, you are probably doing okay.  What is most age appropriate for children birth-age eight is play-based, experiential learning.  I recommend you get yourself a subscription to “The Mailbox” magazine.  They have different age categories (preschool, kindergarten, grade 1,2,3) etc.  In the magazine are monthly math, literacy, science, art, etc. activities that are age appropriate and build upon each other around themes.   These would be wonderful “pieces” to add to what you are doing.  It also helps to give you themes and to build upon what you are learning and to coordinate all of your activities together. 

    Another thing I recommend is getting an age appropriate book list!  Your art, science, language, and comprehension activities can all stem from this. 

    As far as your 16 month old… I share your errrr.. joy! ;) Mine is 15 months and BUSY!!!  My best advice is to buy some type of indoor large muscle equipment (climber, slide, tumbling mat) and a sensory table (which can be a Rubbermaid container on the floor).  Lots of outdoor learning.

    My passion is education.  I love teaching and I have a lot of ideas, especially if you simply need “pieces” to build on what you are already doing.  Please feel free to email me: kayla.becker@hotmail:disqus .com

  • Sbc62vols

    As a public school teacher I would have to say that it is unrealistic to expect 1st and 3rd graders to learn totally independently. You will have to put the time in to get the results.

    • Tammy

      I disagree.  They can learn independently. :) My first grade girl is doing just that. :)  

  • Jan Stowell

    I follow Pioneer Woman’s blog (http://pioneerwoman.com), and she has a homeschooling section on her blog that I think you might like to read.  Much of it is written by guest contributors, and they cover a lot of useful information—plus you can get  ideas from the commenters.  I’m a retired public school teacher; I would have loved to homeschool my own two children, but that wasn’t an option for me.  Instead I ministered in the classroom.  I believe that the  two most important values in any educational experience are to foster a love of reading and a love of learning.

  • Sara

    We use Math U See for math for my 2nd and Kinder. This is our 3rd year with it and love it. We just started Rod and Staff for 2nd grade reading, grammar, English and science…we LOVE it so far- its great because its completely bible based and they are all stories from the Bible!  Its SOOOO much better than reading about arbitrary characters who mean nothing to us. Its so nice and laid out and very self explanatory for me the teacher. We also just started the Mystery of History- we are not sure how we feel about it yet, but it has come highly recommended. I looked up common read alouds for 2nd grade and we read those together and try to find small projects or side things to learn that go along with them- right now we are doing Charlottes Web- and learning about spiders and insects at the same time. We check out lots of books from the library that go along with what we want to learn. You can ask your girls what they want to learn. Just a couple of tips, hope it helps and good luck!

  • Gwajmills

    I really love the free curriculum guide at http://www.simplycharlottemason.com  It is such a nice pace, and the family works together on so many subjects. 

  • Gwajmills

    How could I forget?  I love Five in a Row with the younger kiddos!
    Blessings,
    Amanda

  • Kathi Waddle

    Former elementary school teacher here!! I can recommend some great stuff. And if you have some of that stuff I gave you back in 2009 use it. I used the spelling stuff for my spelling curriculum since my school did not have one. But please please if you need help with school stuff I can help you.  Like Saxon Math is great for math. And Christianbook.com sells it.  Houghton Mifflin is great for language arts and social studies. I do not think there is anything wrong with piecemealing together home school curriculum. That is what they do in school districts and private schools. One of the things teachers get to sit through every year is textbook adoptions so that is how I know they do not use on curriculum publisher for all of it. And like I said if you need any help or suggestions please let me know.

    On a side note – pray my boil continues to get better. I am afraid to do that Monvee thing because I have a feeling that my character is going to be Job……

  • Ashleyu

    We just started kindergarten and preschool with my 2 oldest boys (5 & 3) and we have my 20-month-old daughter in the mix too! I know what you mean about keeping those tiny tots happy! It’s a challenge but we find it works best for us to get the majority of school work done while Baby Girl is napping & then when she wakes up, I bribe her with stickers and coloring books and marshmallows! ;) It won’t be long before your sweet youngest is able to entertain herself more easily, hang in there. Next year will be even better!

    We travel in our motorhome for business for up to 3 months at a time, so I’ve got a system down with keeping everything contained in portable file box. Organization is key for us since we are limited on space sometimes. My Father’s World is working wonderfully for us for now because it’s pretty complete for our current needs. Also, we are big on literature so lots of books and lots of snuggly reading time is a great way to keep everyone happy & learning at the same time. Of course, the Bible is our main curriculum & The Children’s Storybook Bible is a touching version for kiddos when my NIV gets too complicated! You are already doing such an outstanding job, this I know from reading your blog for several years.

    I think God allows some of us homeschooling families to feel those moments of angst and frustration because it reminds us to run into His everlasting arms. Keep chasing hard after Him. Teaching your girls about His love, grace, and truth will be the single MOST important thing they ever learn. I know you already know that, but  we can all use some extra encouragement sometimes. :)

    Bless your homeschool year & may He speak boldly to your family in the coming days as you sort through these temporary trials. 

    Much love from Colorado!

  • Carrie

    Angie,

    Love you–have followed your blog for awhile and had the opportunity to hear you speak last year in Arkansas, as I also follow the Kelly’s Korner blog.

    To begin, I have not homeschooled, nor am I familiar with the curriculum you spoke about.  However, I am a former elementary teacher and have my masters degree in K-12 literacy.  I am currently an educational consultant and train in school districts on the latest reading research and effective instructional practices.  I am not knowledgeable on homeschooling curriculums (yet–still contemplating this approach, but my daughter is just 19 months old right now). 

    First, I would recommend looking at the Common Core Standards.  Most states have adopted these standards, so you know if you’re hitting these standards, you are ensuring that your children are receiving the foundation of what they need for their specific grade level.  However, many of the standards are quite broad, so you need to look at them carefully to determine what skills you will need to teach your children to meet those standards.

    Second, for beginning reading, you certainly want to make sure you’re exposing your children to good, quality literature–and this doesn’t mean that your children have to be independently reading all of the literature at this point.  Children’s listening comprehension is much, much higher than their independent reading comprehension, so make sure you are providing lots of quality read aloud time.  Take a look at Dialogic Reading for how to make your read alouds more interactive and to promote higher level thinking while you read.  This approach is well-documented in the research.  Lots of information available on this if you google it.  A few sites that simplify the process and make it user friendly for parents  include http://www.reachoutandread.org/parents/readingaloud/dialogic.aspx and http://www.familyliteracyexpertise.org/Training/ebull/DialogicReading.pdf

    From there, you do want to make sure you also provide good “beginning reader” material–meaning that the text is age appropriate and also developmentally appropriate, ie., phonics-based.  This also helps tremendously with spelling, as when it is done well, it teaches the orthographic patterns of English.  I’m not sure what level of readers your children are at this point, but a great beginning book is “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” by Englemann.  It has a script for the parent and the lessons are only about 15 minutes.  Not great “reading material” here–meaning that the text for the child is quite controlled, according to the sounds that have just been taught in the lesson, but that is the point.  I have found children don’t care, because they are reading accurately and successfully, so it really builds their confidence.  And if you pair this with good literature, you’ve covered your bases.  Some other amazing reading material that reinforces decoding and phonics are Flyleaf Books–great books that really are well written, but are “leveled” so that you can pair the books with where the child is at.  http://www.flyleafpublishing.com/

    Wow, this is turning into a long post.  Sorry.  The last thing I’ll recommend is Saxon Math.  It is scripted for the parent as well, and the A side of the worksheet is meant to be done with the teacher or parent guiding, and then the B side of the worksheet is meant to be done independently, which helps to build that independence you’re talking about.

    And girl….I think I already said this, but I have a 19-month-old. And she is BUSY.  And please, know that it is normal for children to not be total “independent” learners, particularly the age your children are at right now, whether you have a DVD curriculum or not.  They need guidance and direct instruction before they do something independently.  I know this from the classroom.

    Hang in there and know you’re doing a great job.  Hope this post didn’t totally overwhelm you, ha. :)

    • Vosslers

      I have 5 children and my oldest is 12. We have always homeschooled. I really wanted to “like” this post, because a lot of people will tell you to just fly by the seat of your pants, because there is no such thing as “no gaps”. And that is true. After all, a hammock has a lot of holes and supports an amazing amount of weight. However, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to invent the standards. I use the Common Core Standards to “fill holes” for my students, as well. We actually use a mix of Ambleside Online/Sonlight/Classical Conversations/miscellaneous curriculum. We don’t use one particular program, but we make sure to get something for each subject.

      We also try, with multiple children, to find some subjects that can be done by everyone or at the same time as everyone with minimal help. For our own family, we have done the Elementary Apologia science series together. Everyone can read together and do notebook pages and experiments at the same time, on their own level. We do nature journaling at the same time (and nature hikes). We listen to Story of the World for history. The older children will read other history books and do more, but that at least gives some time all together and keeps them in the same era. We signed up for Classical Conversations, giving them a day with someone else tutoring them and them all learning the same thing on their own level. This allows them to work on multiple subjects throughout the week together (on their own level) as well. This really frees me up to clearly spend time with individual children on needed and separate items, such as spelling/reading lessons (we have dyslexia and it requires a lot of separate remediation/help), math, ….

      Children do require the most time with an instructor when younger. Independence comes slowly/later.

      As for keeping little occupied, heavens, that can be hard. The first thing (sadly!) is naptime. :) The second is schooling next to the bathtub. Put that little in shallow water and hang out right there with another doing work. Another is the playpen for little periods of time. (every child needs to be a little limited to cause them to focus). Another is to school outside while toddler runs freely around the yard. Another is to have toys that are only for school time. Each child is different, but some will actually  sit still with a pegboard or a simple puzzle or some books or other small toys.

  • Christine

    First of all you should be so proud of yourself for recognizing what isn’t working and finding a solution, rather than just continuing on.  I have 3 girls I am homeschooling – one in 2nd grade, one in Kinder, and an 18 month old, so mine are in a similar age range as your kiddos.  I have found that no one curriculum gives me everything that I want.  So the advice I was given is to find a great math program that stands on its own, and read, read, read!!!  We read during the day for history, science, art, etc.  We read devotions and Bible verses.  And I have found some great free online websites where kids read the Bible verses (www.dailyaudiobible.com).  We go to the library and check out books on CD as well….because guess what….that counts too!  My girls beg me to listen to the next chapter of The Chronicles of Narnia or Taming of the Shrew.  And we lay on the floor and read all kinds of books at bedtime like the Winnie the Pooh series or Beatrix Potter.  We play classical music or worship music and paint.  There are SO MANY amazing books out there.  And me reading to them is just as important as them reading.

    For history we are beginning to learn about some of our founding fathers and colonial America – all from library books and online resources.  And my girls are so proud of what they are learning!  There is a great resource – “Turning Back the Pages of Time” by Kathy Keller.  I found it for about $8 on abebooks.com.  It gives a list by time period (explorers, pilgrims, revolutionary war, civil war, etc) of the great books you can check out at the library, by age group, that will teach them about history.  We just started the Felicity American girl series and there are all kinds online resources and even American Girl curriculum to go with each time period that has some amazing ways to dig in and have it stick.  I am seeing the fruits of my girls who have a love for learning that I pray will be with them for their lives.

    Most of all I just have to remember that I am preparing my girls for Heaven, not for Harvard.  It is hard to let go of control sometimes, but I know that God is taking care of their education.  He has it all under control.  So if I can be in prayer over what we are learning, then I can feel confident that it all will work itself out.  

    As far as teaching with a baby goes…boy do I know how hard that can be!  I can only imagine trying to do it in a hotel room.  But it is do-able.  Some days are better than others.  With my older girls, some of their work is independent.  They both can do their handwriting/cursive practice, journal entries, independent reading, and Bible verse practice on their own.  When it is time for me to work with them (math, phonics, grammar, etc), I try to keep it short and sweet and I have a small supply of “special toys” that she can only play with while I am teaching.  Sometimes I will just dump out her toybox or give her a bunch of books to look through.  But if it is a longer lesson I have to wait for naptime.  Really my girls can finish their worksheets in about an hour.  But we read and explore and that is all stuff that the baby can do with us.  Trying to complete 4 hours of worksheets is quite a lot for all of you.  I say you should cut yourself some slack.  You are an amazing woman of God and you are teaching them all day when you pray with them and you talk with them.  I know you will have some amazing feedback and I hope that this will help.  

    • Coby

      Oh, this so helped me as new, type-A homeschooling mom:  I am preparing my kids for Heaven, not for Harvard!  Thank you for this gem of truth!

  • Carleen Maurer

    Hi Angie! I just started homeschooling my three girls this year, but this is my ninth year as a credentialed teacher. My best recommendation for curriculum is  “My father’s world” – interactive, fun, family friendly (you can use the same curriculum for different age groups), and great Christian world view. Sonlight is good too! Good luck!

  • Melody

    Hi Angie! I just wanted to weigh in here, though I’m sure you’re getting TONS of different opinions that probably make your head spin. Or at least that’s what happens to me when I ask for homeschool advice. ;)

    Last year we started using a curriculum called “Five in a Row.” I had never heard of it before but it came at the recommendation of a friend that has ten kids that she has homeschooled from the beginning. So I really valued her opinion. :) Anyway, we love it. It is COMPLETELY literature-based (as in sitting on my couch with both my kids- 4th & 2nd grades- reading and discussing wonderful children’s books that we may have never found otherwise, learning about different cultures and time periods). I love it. I would love to share more info with you if you’re at all interested. Aside from Five in a Row, the only other things we use are math (yuck) and Apologia science- which I believe I heard about from you last year.

    Anyway, this is working really well for our family!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=673111206 Ann Morton Voskamp

    Oh, girl… I hear you! :)

    You have some beautiful, thoughtful friends here with good,sage words… so not to be redundant? A mixture of Ambleside Online and Veritas Press  have been used of God for rich things in our lives here. Perhaps Ambleside may be the more portable of the two, with the option of books on e-readers? Veritas has always offered us a solid history spine. We’re trying this too, with our two youngest (6 and 8), and you could try the 30 day free trial to see it it’s a fit at all?  http://resource2.veritaspress.com/Resources/Scholars_Online/Scholars_Online_New_Self-Paced.html

    If you ever want to talk books & homeschooling, friend… :)  

    Just know I love your heart, Angie — and I’m *right* there with you… God’s faithful to complete that which He’s called us to… Hanging on to Him with you, sister.

    • Carolinesalehi

      Angie. Ann. Thank you for sharing your lives, SO thankful x

  • http://glimmmers.wordpress.com/ Christy

    So this isn’t about a particular curriculum but what I have found to be true about homeschooling is, find a method and curriculum that will make them to LOVE learning! Start that fire of loving to learn and it’s not hard to keep feeding it. So you are wise to think, maybe this DVD is not right. Extended school days doesn’t make anyone love “school”. I’m all about mixing and matching curriculum, if you’re worried about missing something you can always get a guide from the public school to see what they learn what year and keep your mind at ease. 

  • Kelly

    Hi Angie-
    We have been homeschooling from day one, this is our 9th year. (8th grade) (twins). First, I want to say, I remember when my kids were your kids’ age, and it is just a time that they need quite a bit of 1 on 1.  It used to frustrate me, because I thought they should be able to work alone more, but they just were not able to all that much. It gets better at about 5th grade. And now in 8th grade, they are 100% on their own, other than me answering questions once in awhile and correcting work.

    We have always used a mix of books and it works well for us. But, for my sanity, I generally use the same mix every year. It is too hard to change all the time (on the kids and the mom) and get use to all the new stuff. Here is what I use:
    Spelling Power
    Saxon Math (have never switched- we have always used this)
    Abeka for History
    Apologia for Science (love the elementary science books)
    Easy Grammar
    Abeka for reading and lit.

    Then I might find a few extra things to suppliment, and these may change year to year, but my core subject books never change.

    Grass is always greener on the other side……and I know people who change curric. constantly, it gets really expensive and stressful to do that. I have found that my sticking with what you have (unless it is really bad and not working for you) is the best way. :)
    Kelly in Michigan
    sitesx6@aol.com

  • shelley

    i don’t homeschool my children because teaching 7 kids is just a little too much for me….lol….but i have seen this idea that im about to give you…..WORK!!!!!…..they use abeka, with the mom teaching unil 6th grade then they go to dvd’s and then the senior year they go under Abeka directly so that the kids have a diploma….and all three kids have went to college with awesome grades, one is a nurse, one is a xray tech and the last one is going into nursing too……it is very impressive!!!!….hope this helps you!!!!…..i have seen abeka work over and over again!!!!…..our kids were in abeka while they were in a christian day school and it is a wonderful way to go!!!…..

    shelley

  • http://ofdandelionsanddaffodils.blogspot.com Sarah

    How do you keep a 16 month old busy??? Packing peanuts and a few containers to put them in and pour them out. They work wonders! ;)

  • http://ofdandelionsanddaffodils.blogspot.com Sarah

    PS. I was homeschooled all the way through (all 5 children in my family are/were) and loved everything about it. Now that I’ve graduated, I understand and appreciate more all the work my mom put into it for us. I know you’re a great mom and a great teacher! 

  • http://owlhaven.net Mary from Owlhaven.net

    Hi Angie,
    One thing that I remind myself on difficult days is that EVERY curriculum in every school leaves people with some gaps.  Nothing’s perfect, and most thriving grownups have at some point in their lives gone back to investigate something on a deeper basis when it turns out it be needed in their lives.  Just one tiny example: I got a nursing degree, then learned about writing by reading and doing.
    The important thing is to help kids learn to love reading, and to give them the tools to investigate their passions, whatever those passions might end up being in the future.  Also remember that we aren’t called to live in fear.  God is ABLE to do immeasurably more than we can ever hope or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.
    All the best,
    Mary, momma to 10 (3 graduated, homeschooling 7 this year)
    PS– I just put up a homeschooling past over at my place!

  • Mary Henry

    A friend asked me to comment.  My husband and I have traveled and home schooled over the years being missionaries.  When we traveled it was a sacrifice of suitcase space to bring the books but…  I would only take parts of the curriculum with me.  The parts that were easiest to accomplish while on the road.  I would unbind texts and take portions.  Then while home would focus on what we didn’t get to.  Like you, we would school when others didn’t in order to accommodate our lifestyle. 

    We used sonlight because of the wonderful literature.  I followed their guide for history, reading, science.  I did my own math, language arts and spelling.  I didn’t do every single history assignment or I alter it to fit us.

    When I could do more I did more.  In high school we did foreign language online or with Rosetta stone.  The kids were pretty independent by 8th grade.  Even earlier for parts of their schooling.  But they still needed help with certain aspects of school.

    I would use books on CD.  Once in while even a book that was make into a movie.  Shocking, I know! :)

    Field trips, field trips, field trips.  They are learning so much seeing you serve.  They have opportunity to serve beside you esp as the get older.

    There are re-sale opportunities for curriculum, I don’t think you would have to hard a time getting some money back if you make changes.

    I have two boys in college that made it through homeschooling with me, gaps and all.  The older one is a senior at a private school who stayed on the Dean’s list all four years.  No thanks to me I am sure.  He went to a school that had a similar program, during his first two years, LOTS of literature!  Our second son is in an art school.  Our third is still in highschool.

    Both our boys did a gap year.  They served with Youth With A Mission.  What a college prep. that was!  God will guide.  As you follow Him He won’t forsake your children or their education.

  • Mollykater

    I don’t  homeschool but I follow a blog of a woman who homeschools her 9 children (soon to be 10) and her youngest are 2 . I am going to put a link of just  one of her posts but she is really a fount of knowledge, so you should really look through her blog.
    Best of luck,
    Molly
    http://ordinary-time.blogspot.com/2011/08/homeschool-schedules.html

  • http://www.steadfast1558.blogspot.com Jodi

    Hi Angie,

    I home schooled my 4 daughters all through their school years.  I used the Abeka curriculum and never strayed.  I loved how Abeka helped me as the teacher.  They told me exactly what to do.  I needed that.  

    It was very textbook oriented.  My girls enjoyed that.  When we had time off during the summer, they were so very excited to start back up again.  They would beg to open the boxes as soon as they arrived.  

    My daughters are currently 23, 22, 22, and 21.  They all scored in the 95th percentile on their SAT.  We prepared them all for college but didn’t encourage them to necessarily seek a career.  But, however God led them, we wanted them to be ready.

    I schooled the girls separately but then had some together time.  For instance, we all did the oldest child’s Bible time together every morning.  Then I would help the oldest.  My oldest used the video’s from 2nd grade on.  So we watched our Bible time on her video’s.  I worked with her and then would work with the younger ones.  The younger ones started the videos in 7th grade.  This was mostly because I got very ill.  They enjoyed it.  

    When my youngest was in 7th grade, I allowed her to skip 8th grade and join in with the next oldest.  She stood up to the challenge.  Of course, I made exceptions for her in certain areas mostly in writing paragraph answers to questions until she learned that as well. 

    My oldest was a great asset in helping the younger.  

    I didn’t have them do some of the work requested.  We didn’t do all the science stuff.  The experiments we did but not all the science research and board preparation stuff.  Bummer, I can’t remember what it was called.  I also didn’t make them do the huge, long research reports.  They didn’t seem to suffer from it.

    I also allowed them to not read some of the literature assignments if they felt it bothered their conscience.  Abeka was very good at not having the students read things that was unnecessary to prove a point and expose but some Edgar Allen Poe stuff they chose to not read.  I was ok with that as I wanted to protect their sensitive side as well.  You know, the “whatsoever things are  noble, pure, just…think on these things”.

    We traveled in a motor home often.  They did school and it seemed to work out well for them.  We had family devotions every evening and I was always reading to them.  We studied missionaries and such and I would read to them.  They would beg for one more chapter and of course, they had to wait until the next night.  

    That is our story.  

    Today the oldest graduated summa cum laude and is starting medical school
    One of the twins is married has a 1 year old daughter and is pregnant with #2
    Our youngest and one of the twins still live with us.  They have been nannies for the past 4 years.  We just recently moved to another state…the girls idea.  Their lives are spent serving currently and helping their sister who has been having some medical issues.

    I have an incredible relationship with each of my daughters.  I attribute it to our home schooling years.  I had no idea how it would all turn out.  As the girls got older they would wonder as well.  I don’t think any of them regret home schooling or feel as though they missed something.  They are still eager to learn and do.  

    Jodi

    I am new to blogging. I don’t know how to link you over to our (my daughters and me) blog.  There isn’t much home schooling info on there.  I did do a 5 part series on mothering, though. And you will be able to see my daughter’s hearts in some of the posts.    
    http://www.steadfast1558.blogspot.com

  • Barbara

    Angie,
    I was introduced to Charlotte Mason when my son was 6 years old, he’s almost 12 and it’s really taken 6 years for the philosophy to sink in.  So many times I’ve questioned if I’m on target, if I’m missing anything.  Charlotte Mason puts it simply that ideas are what learning is all about…..book choices differ widely, but simply give them living ideas to feed their minds.  That is the key to success.

     Sonlight and Ambleside have great book suggestions.  It’s hard to travel with a library so invest in a few e-readers.  And use narration to help them remember.  It sounds so simple yet it is very effective.

    I’ve been reading “When Children Love to Learn:  A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today” by Elaine Cooper…it’s a wonderful guide and motivator for putting into practice her philosophy.

    The toddler stage is terribly trying.  My suggestion, work on subjects that need more one-on-one attention early in the day when your babe is fresh and energetic and usually able to self-entertain.  Even if it’s in 10 minute increments.  That’s how our day is sometimes, a little lesson here, baby time, more lesson time, baby time.  Charlotte Mason was so wise in encouraging parents to keep the lessons short.

    Or get your baby up extra early before the others so she will take a nap earlier and you can work with your children in quietness.

    I also combine history, science, art, music subjects with my two oldest.  Waiting a year or two to teach certain subjects isn’t a bad thing at all.  After all, they’re not going to go out and fend for themselves for a while!

    I know the feeling that you want to make sure you are getting the right things done in the right way.  But really there is no perfect formula for success.  This has been so hard for someone like me who likes a detailed plan set before them.

    They are learning all the time by simply being with you and with each other (learning to get along is the hardest lesson of all in our home!).

    Bless you,
    Barbara

  • Cfhinson3

    Thank you! I started home schooling my girls this year and am having the same problem! I wish I had advice but I am just so thankful I am not alone in those feelings!

  • Miller 6

    Hi Angie…I’m sure you are going to get TONS of advice on curriculums….so I’ll add mine :)   I have homeschooled around 14 years – 2 of my 6 children have graduated.  When they were young I used Sonlight….we chose 1 level like World History and did everything together (History, Science, Read-alouds)…the only thing they did on their specific grade level was math.  This worked great for years.  As they got to middle school I started doing more grade separate things such as writing and still math.  We loved doing unit studies from time to time.  One word of advice….pick a curriculum for one year.  Every year for us looked different….we might have used the same curriculum but we had moved or did some Co-op classes.  It was so freeing to only concentrate on one year and so much fun to reevaluate whether to change curriculums, add outside classes or stay the same for the next year.  If I had added a few children that year (adopting) we’d just cut back on schooling.  The next year we’d go crazy and school, school school.  It has all worked out and all my worrying over the years about their education was a waste of time….my children are doing great…even my special needs ones with HUGE learning disabilities.  I found some of my kids did great from textbooks and some hated them.  So evaluate how each learns (when they are young it’s harder to tell) and evaluate how you want to teach and how your life is that year.  Each year I’d choose a character quality I like to work on and we’d work on that during the year.  Some years I’d have one for all the kids…some years each one had a different one.  We focused on learning chores around the house.  My 12 year old special needs daughter this year is learning how to bake….my waist line seems to be getting a tad bigger with this project :)   So be open to change….some years might be textbooks and some years might be unit studies while you are traveling tons.  One curriculum I’d love to do if I had young children again would be Heart of Dakota http://www.heartofdakota.com/ Friend of mine used it and loved it.  Franklin and Brentwood have some great co-ops and homeschool schools.  My youngest two are doing Arts Alive at Fellowship Bible (art class and drama class every Friday)…fantastic program for young children…..they also have a cute dance program during the day.  A good co-op is Shanan http://www.shanan.org/ this one is at The People’s Church.  Hang is there!

  • Janna Cooley

    We are starting our fifth year homeschooling and in all the previous years used My Father’s World.  This is the first year I’m “piecemealing” it. ;o)  I have a 4th grader, a 2nd grader, and kinder (and a four year old and a 20 month old).  I made myself a grid, similar to MFW so I can keep myself on track for the week.  We are using the Mystery of History for our history and Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology–our first year trying out either and I LOVE them, as well as a mix of other things.  But those two texts I consider the “spine” of our year.  My girls (4th and 2nd) have even commented on how much they enjoy school this year.  Here is a link to where I blogged about curriculum for the year if you’re interested http://asteadfastlife.blogspot.com/2011/08/curriculum-for-2011-2012.html Everything has felt very doable at this point.  I struggle with my youngest and his need to be in the midst of everything.  I got a bunch of $1 workbooks at Target this year and that helps (sometimes) giving him the impression he is doing school too. ;o)

  • Anonymous

    Hey Angie.  Finding your way on the homeschool journey can be challenging at times.  And you will find that there are seasons in homeschooling just like the rest of life.  What works with one child might not work with the others, what works for years as a whole, might suddenly need to be tossed aside or tweaked.  However, some people use the same curriculum throughtout their entire homeschooling years with all 12 of their children :) Either way there is not a “right” or a “wrong.” 
    When looking into curriculum I would highly recommend finding your “style”  – Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unit Studies, Workbooks, etc.  – Beginning with reading books on homeschooling is very helpful (after 5 years, I still find myself re-reading).  I would suggest: Educating the WholeHearted Child, So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, & Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.
    Finding a curriculum that matches your teaching style, children’s learning style & family life style (traveling, etc.) isn’t always easy.  Don’t be hard on yourself – it takes trail & error & lot’s of prayer :)

    As a homeschooling mom with 4 boys (& a princess on the way) I try to teach as many subjects together as possible.  This usually includes history, science, character, read alouds, memory work, & Bible.  I will beef it up a bit with extra work for my oldest at times, but have found a curriculum that does that for me now.  Independently or 1:1 with me are the core subjects:  math, phonics/reading, & language arts (grammar, writing, spelling).

    As a group curriculum, I use Winter Promise & LOVE IT!!  (*they do too) Simlar curriculums you may consider would be My Father’s World or Sonlight or Living Books curriculum.

    For science we love Apologia & the notebooking journals are fabulous!!  God’s Design is also a great one.

    Generations of Virtue offer a GREAT character studies.

    Math: we love Math U See & Teaching Textbooks

    Grammar:  we use First Language Lessons (I would also recommend Queen Homeschooling or Easy Grammar).

    Writing:  Write Shop & IEW for older children.

    Spelling/Phonics:  All About Spelling & All About Reading are AMAZING!!

    Handwriting:  A Reason For Handwriting

    As far as when you are on the road or traveling – don’t be afraid to take advantage of books on audio (the Elsie Dinsmore books are wonderful for girls), music  – scripture songs, memory songs that pertain to subjects – math memory, geography songs, character stories (Your Story Hour or Adventures in Odyssey, etc), & even the TV – Schoolhouse Rock videos, Nest Family, even old series like Little House on the Prairie (did you know there is a Little House Curriculum? – The Prairie Primer!).  Often your curriclum will suggest educational videos that correlate to what you’re studying. 

    Please keep us updated.

  • Coby

    Hi Angie!  I already commented, but was perusing one of my favorite homeschooling blogs and came across this post she did on how she keeps her teeny tot engaged/busy while doing school with her older three, and I thought of you!  She’s got some great stuff on her blog, from practical ideas to printables, recipes, etc. 

    It’s Confessions of a Homeschooler.  http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2010/01/teeny-tiny-tot-school-2.html

    I also just wanted to add that one thing I’m trying to keep in mind is that my children are learning most just by being with me and my husband – living life together, helping around the house, sharing experiences and building a history and a treasury of memories together…and I think you and Todd do a great job of that with your girls!

    Blessings!

  • Lisa Miller

    Hello!
    As a former teacher and a homeschooling stay at home mom, the way I calmed my own nerves about leaving something out was to print out a list of the state benchmarks and academic content standards for the grade level. I did a patchwork curriculum this year to try a bunch and see what fits us best. By checking with the state standards I made sure I covered what the state requires of public schools and then I found pieces and lessons to supplement the places my curriculum was lacking. Now I have been able to relax and to follow the interests of my children without fear that I have left something major out.
    Blessings to you!

  • Miraclemama

    The most important thing…Grace.
     
    Give it to yourself.  Your kids.  Your hubby.  AND YOUR HOMESCHOOLING. 
     
    Ok.
     
    Go with your ‘gut’.  Listen to the small voice.  If it says that what your doing isn’t working…listen to it.  Pray for discernment on whether its not working…or not wanting to follow through.  And if it isn’t working, chuck it out tha door!  :)   Pray for wisdom to choose the Lord’s absolute best for YOUR homeschool.
     
    And that’s not gonna look like anyone else’s you know.  More grace!
     
    sooo..
     
    From the sound of your voice here…I would imagine choosing a math curriculum…and something handwriting…and maybe some phonics would give you the foundation you need to feel safe. 
     
    And then hang out on your blanket or couch or park bench or bus or hotel room and read.  read.  and read some more.  Guess what?  You aren’t gonna cover every objective in the public school teacher’s repertoire.  But guess what else?  They aren’t gonna cover all your subjects either.  No school looks the same.  No grade looks the same.  And furthermore…they aren’t the plumb line in the first place.  :)
     
    I used to FREAK OUT!!! about all the things I wasn’t covering, was missing, aaaaaaaahhhhh!!!  And slowly, ever so slowly, I’m learning that what they are learning is vital to what God wants them to learn.  We live with books.  On every subject.  And there are days when I’m like…oh great they don’t know this thing over here that this set of friends do. (note to self:  you know what the Lord says on Comparing remember?)  And then we will be somewhere and they will start talking of something that we’ve read about and there rememberance of it is ASTOUNDING!!!  and I hear my Father remind me that He is handling it, He is leading it, He is giving them what they need for all that He sees that they are going to need all the way through their whole lives
     
    I don’t mention our curriculm picks here.  Simply because every single person I know LOVES a different one.   
     
    I will mention a nifty lil book called All Through the Ages by Christine Miller.   If you want to do reading and you want to feel safer about not missing things.  This a fabulouso resource.  It lists books from all the major publishers (Sonlight, Greenleaf, Beautiful Feet, etc.)  by time period, and then sorted into reading level.  So if your reading about the colonial period you open it up and bam you have a list of books to look at for the age level you need…and good literature to boot.  ;)
     
    Not so much concrete, do this and you to shall be the best homeschool mother on the face of the earth. hehe.  But more of…you are the best homeschooling mother ever to those darling children…not because of a curriculum choice…but because God CHOSE YOU TO BE THEIR MOTHER.   Your a great homeschool mom.  God says so.
     

  • Rose Atwater

    Well, you’ve already been given a wealth of information, so I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.  I’ve been homeschooling my kids for 10 years.  I have ages 14, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 7 months.  I’ve tried lots and LOTS of curricula but this year I started with My Father’s World with all 4 school aged kids and I love, love, LOVE it!

    It’s focus is on God, missions and a classical education.  The kids do lots of reading and it does take lots of time that I have to be involved, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I really slacked on their education the past 2 years (hard pregnancy, new job, new city, moving, etc.) and it feels great to be back into it,  using material that is awesome!

    As for the younger one… I anxiously await all the advice you’ll get.  Even with 6 kids I still haven’t figured out how to entertain the kids that are younger than school age for a span of time that allows me to focus with my olders.  My 7  month old is my biggest distraction right now… albeit a good distraction, it’s a distraction nevertheless!

  • Mimi

    I think that everyone has given such great insight and advice. I’m a bit exhausted at the moment, but still wanted to share a couple of things. Forgive me if it’s a hodge podge.  If you are trying to stream line and need to find curr. that would be close to open and go…..I would suggest Christian Light Education for math(or Teaching Textbooks, Math U See). CLE math is made up of tiny workbooks that your kids complete each month(or per your schedule). It really comes down to which math suits you and your children best. We are loving Easy Grammar, Handwriting Without Tears, Soaring With Spelling and Vocab(www.growingwithgrammar.com). For science and history….maybe you could just find great readers/read alouds. The Let’s-Read-Find-Out About science series is great at your dc’s ages. For the most part, we enjoyed  A Living History of Our World by Angela Odell for history(there were some dry days). We recently went through a move and I found the curr. above to  get the job done without being too mundane. You might want to also check out the Harcourt Flash kids series of workbooks(Barnes&Noble). They are complete, and very comparable to some popular homeschool curriculum out there. If anything, when time is precious they get the job done. I personally prefer a literature based curriculum, but somedays my inner box checker comes out. I’ve found the books I mentioned to be a good balance. I am encouraged that you are homeschooling and look forward to hearing about your journey!!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for posting your homeschooling thoughts and questions.  I have gained so much information and encouragement from just reading the comments.  What I have discovered is homeschooling is really just a series of days.  There will be days that you hit the Staples button and say, “that was easy”.  There are days when you feel like if you have to use that certain book one more time you will throw up.  There are days when you marvel at the creativity of your children.  There are days when you wonder if they will ever get their math lesson done.  Some days you find yourself in a never ending pile of laundry and dishes.  There are days you question if this is the best choice for my kids and our family.  Then there are those beautiful days when you watch in awe as your children are lost in worship as they praise our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Then more days come as their faces light up when something finally clicks and they truly understand what you have been teaching them.

    How truly blessed we are that God has granted us these days with our families.  We all need friends and fellow homeschooling families all along the way to inspire us, encourage us, pray for us, and sometimes let us know that “this too shall pass”.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Angie!  I know you have had so many comments and great advice, so I will try to say it simply :) .  I have 4th grade, 2nd grade, K, and then a 2 yr old.  Yeah it is overwhelming ;) .  This year I really tried to simplify and so far it has worked beautifully!! (I used to want all one set bc I felt I might miss something, but this year I pieced it together.) I looove The Story of the World for History (I do it with all 3 at the same time- so much better to consolidate).  I looove Real Science 4 Kids (I do it with all 3 at the same time!).  We also use Language Lessons and Writing With Ease (for English/Language), and Saxon for math.  We also have Spelling Workout and Handwriting.  As far as the 2yr old, I have found little blocks and math manipulatives to work well to keep her occupied, but you never know..just depends on the day ;) . Honestly though we just get up and get the work done first thing in the morning and we are all set within a couple of hours….and it every day isn’t the same that is OK..that is the beauty of homeschooling!  We can take a deep breath and know what didn’t get done today, well hopefully we can do it tomorrow :) .  Praying you find a great fit for your family as you search for the right curriculum.

  • Hollythompson04

    I am just starting homeschooling with my kindergartener and I’m really appreciating your post, Angie, and all these wonderful comments!  I’m not sure what we’re going to end up doing– we are just homeschooling now because our house is on the market and we are moving states once it sells.   I was kind of against the idea of homeschooling at first but once I got our curriculum I got really excited about doing it.  We may end up doing it for all three of our kids (the oldest is the kindergartener) but of course, I freak out about whether they will learn enough from me or whether they will end up “not normal.”  It has helped to read comments from those of you who were homeschooled or who have been homeschooling for awhile and hearing that you/your kids ended up just fine!

    Angie, I thought you said at one time you read a great book about homeschooling that made you want to do it– what was that book?

    Also, I’m having a bit of trouble figuring how to set up “school” in our house (it being on the market doesn’t help).  We have a 2 1/2 year old and a busy (crazy) 11-month-old, so it’s a bit of a challenge figuring out where to put everybody so they can learn/be occupied.  Is there any way some of you can attach pictures of your school rooms?  How is it set up?  Does it work best to have a special room where you do everything or do you just the dining room table and living room couch?

    Thanks so much.
    Holly

    • Emily M

      Hi Holly,
      I have a kindergartener, an almost 3 year old and baby on the way :) We are also in the process of selling our house.  We are blessed to have an office on our main floor dedicated to homeschool. We have a table with chairs and that is where most of our school work takes place. I’ve also tried to place books all over the house so we are always reading. My 3 year old likes to do everything like her big sister so I make some extra copies and try to include her with my kindergartener’s work. I’ve seen my 3 year old’s attention span grow just because I include her and encourage her to finish her work (very minimal!) and she loves it! Maybe you can find a larget cabinet with doors that can house your school stuff and things can be easily put away when it comes to house showings. Blessings to you! ~Emily

      • Hollythompson04

        Great idea, Emily!  We are currently using the dining room table for school- I’m going to clear out the buffet so we can use it for school stuff so it’ll be easier when people come see our house!

        Good luck with the sale of your house– it’s definitely not easy to have your house on the market with small children!  Especially while pregnant! :)

        -Holly
         

  • JamieandLisa

    It’s funny, I always look to your site to gain homeschooling info and insights and here I am giving you mine! :)   I have twin boys in 3rd grade and a little girl in 1st grade.  I have found that it is much easier for me to have them all together at the same table doing the same subject at the same time.  The key is that I scale the work to their grade level.  For example, for journal time, my boys must write at least 7-8 sentences but Jayda only has to write 3.  The same goes with Math and Spelling.  They each have their own grade level curriculum but they are all doing the same subject at the same time.  We do Science, Geography and History using a lot of good books for read alouds and do drawings/ coloring to accompany.  Art activities are always of interest here.

    At your recommendation last year we looked into My Father’s World.  Because of the cost I was unable to purchase the big lot of materials but I did get the supplemental material of Primary Language Lessons (which my 3rd grade twin boys love because there is variety in the activities.  The book is good for 2 years too, you divide it up, so that was cool) and Singapore Math (I love the lesson plans that MFW does for this).

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Sally Clarkson of ITakeJoy.  Her book Educating the Wholehearted Child is AWESOME!!  Feeling a bit overwhelmed last week I took her book and headed out for coffee and some me time.  Amazing how her wise words flooded my soul with peace, encouragement, inspiration, and calm.  I highly, highly recommend it.  You definitely won’t regret it.  She makes things so simple and reminds me of what really, truly is important.

    I also recommend The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos.  It is amazing.  We read it aloud together every day.  The NIrV Adventure Bible is also great.  We use it to look up Bible verses and passages.  This year I started something new where each child has their own Bible Comp book and each week we memorize a new verse. On Monday,  they write the verse down in their book (Handwriting) and we discuss it.  I also write it up on our chalkboard so we can see it all week.  On Fridays, we recite the memorized verse.

    I have also found it very helpful to combine subjects.  I realized that when we are learning about Animal Habitats for Science, we are also learning Geography from the place where the habitats are. History and Writing go well together because they can write about who/ what we are learning about.   Handwriting and Bible go together, etc.  You get the idea?  It doesn’t always have to be so compartmentalized.

    Last but not least, we read a LOT of books, aloud together and independently.  Fiction and Nonfiction.  Picture and Chapter.  All three of my kids have a 1 Hr Reading Rest time in their rooms in the afternoons where they are required to read from a Chapter Book as well as any other they like.  They each have a Book Chart posted up in the School Room.  When they have read a certain number of books they can earn a prize or reward (something inexpensive and sometimes something that’s not monetary at all- like extra Wii time or play time doing something they enjoy).  This has done wonders for my 1st grader’s reading ability.  She just needed a little positive moitivation.

    I hope that this has been of some help to you.  I think that you are doing a great job and I learn a lot from you.  Especially your character building lessons that you teach your kids, and those, I think, are the MOST important! :)

    Oh, I almost forgot, Fridays are Friday Fun Days where we watch an educational show or DVD, play Folder Games (Different Curriculum) and Scrabble (Everyone LOVES this and it is great for Spelling), do Special Art projects or Science Experiments, have a Spelling Bee Challenge, and of course read aloud  It’s still learning but it is mixing it up in a fun way that is different than the rest of the week.  We all look forward to Fun Fridays!

    The kids and I just started a blog about Children’s Books (since we all love to read so much).  Check it out if you want  http://www.ljpjreads@wordpress.com

  • http://hikingtowardhome.blogspot.com/ Sharon@HikingTowardHome

    Okay, so here it goes… our experience with dvds and being on the road (furlough):
    We started homeschooling on the field and I didn’t know anything about homeschooling except having read a million books ‘about’ it. Loved Lisa Welschel’s because it gave an overview of many different ways. Loved the Charlotte Mason Companion big thick mega book full of wonderfully romantic idyllic ideas. HOWEVER- on the mission field in a place that seems only one step up from 3rd world, these wonderful books only added loads of depression to what was already severe culture shock. It made me sit around and feel guilty about what I “couldn’t” do. (no libraries, or cool museums, or fantastic factories to visit etc.)
    So I started with just written curriculum and the books. I was concerned that I didn’t want my kids sitting around glued to the TV all day so I avoided the DVDs. 
    By the middle of my daughter being in 3rd grade, I was pregnant and was failing at keeping up with her work.
    A friend nearby, on the field, was using the A Beka DVDs. Her son was a bit a head of us so I asked if I could see them. We loved them and they filled in the holes I was leaving. So she let us ‘share’ them for the rest of the year. The next year we ordered our own.
    I had the same pipe dream you had of taking it on the road while on furlough and how wonderful it would be to have them keep up by doing it in the car and in the hotel rooms etc. HOWEVER most churches did not take into consideration that we were mid-school year and we were expected to jump through all the hoops and go on every outing they had planned. School work became a huge stress point and was a miserable failure… by the second semester we ended up only doing math and english and reading because we were going back to the field and wanted to return the discs before leaving the states. 
    This past year in the states with no major upheavals in our school year went slightly better but I got to a point where I was YELLING at the kids all the time. 
    At first we tried putting them in separate rooms. (3 kids mind you) but I couldn’t keep up with them all and at the first moment I left one  alone all school work stopped. Yes, I know this is somewhat of a discipline issue but I know I wasn’t that focused at that age so why would I expect them to be? 
    So we tried putting everyone in one room together and using headphones on each child. I still yelled because now they could not hear me correcting them over the earphones. UGH. :-(
    It didn’t help that for this last year we have been under tremendous stress due to the church situation we were in. High stress levels mixed with me already battling severe depression was not a good thing for my kids.
    A church nearby, http://www.pvbchurch.com/ , has really taken our family in and has been a huge blessing to us. They have made it possible for me to have a much needed break from homeschooling and have made it possible for our kids to go to their Christian school this year. They also use mainly  A Beka so there isn’t a huge curriculum change for the kids. I am overwhelmed by the compassion and love this church is showering on us. As we take a break from full time ministry, we are thankful to have this church to attend. It is a spiritual hospital and refuge for our hurting hearts. (and thank you for your continued prayers on our behalf, still no job or place to live, several possibilities but nothing concrete yet.)
    One great thing that I found very validating/affirming; when we put our kids in the school, they had to be tested to make sure they were on grade level. They all tested on grade level or higher. :-)  My daughter did so well that they wanted her to skip up a grade. :-D  Mom did a major happy dance. I attribute their ‘success’ to the A Beka DVDs.
    That all being said… I dream of homeschooling like the way Karen Andreola talks about in the Charlotte Mason Companion… but I am not wired that way nor that organized and no longer feel guilty to admit it.

  • Kkmt05

    (Reading What Women Fear and loving it!  I WILL see you in person one of these days…) ahem, now on to the homeschooling matter at hand.  I have homeschooled since 1994 when my oldest began kindergarten.  Also had a daughter 20 months younger than her and a baby brother about to be born in October.  I sought the advice of other successful homeschooling families.  Since the beginning I have used Christian Liberty Academy Satellite School curriculum.  I didn’t want to use videos or computers, but wanted a more hands-on approach.  
    Both the younger children started kindergarten at 4 years old, so I had 3 children in school early on.  I had a planner for each one.  We always tackled their most-dreaded subjects first.  We were blessed to have a formal-living-room-turned-awesome-school-room in our house.  We had 3 little school desks for them, a chalk board, bookcases, and my desk. I had to learn to treat schooling them just as I would a “job”, no talking on the phone, checking the computer, doing laundry…nothing but staying right with them during school.  We would begin around 8:30 and be done by noon, with a couple of breaks during that time.  We had a 4-day school week.
    I hope no one takes this as bragging, because my intention is to give the Glory to the Lord that He allowed me to teach them at home and spend that time with them.  Our oldest daughter is graduating with her master’s in business administration with a focus on accounting this coming May, then plans to take her CPA exam.  She has maintained a 3.97 gpa.  My middle daughter will graduate in December with her associate’s in Culinary Arts, after already attaining her associate’s in Hospitality Administration, and  she is only 20 years old.  She also has maintained a 4.0 gpa.  Our youngest, our son, is 16 and is enrolled in our community college.  He is finishing his senior year of high school and beginning his freshman year of college concurrently.
    Bittersweet time for me.  I started homeschooling the year he was born.  It gave our family so much time together and so much freedom!  -oh, and the baby? – I spent many hours sitting on the floor tending to our youngest during school time!

  • Hisprincess

    Hi Angie,
    A friend of mine heard you speak at the conference and then read your blog on your homeschooling struggles. She forwarded it to me thinking I might be able to offer some encouragement or suggestions. Honestly, I also have my own struggles as I think all homeschoolers do! Anyway, I switched mid-year once when things weren’t working well for us and this wonderful journey of homeschooling was leaving me thinking I had made the wrong choice for our family. Funny thing is though, I ended up switching to Bob Jones textbooks from another curriculum that was completely different. But the switch made a HUGE difference in our days.

    I don’t think the curriculum matters as much as if the curriculum you chose is a good fit and encourages your kids to LOVE learning! We found that fit by using a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We use Sonlight for bible, history, read alouds, and reading. And this year we are trying the language arts through Sonlight as well. We use Bob Jones for math, the library for science, and Spanish for Children. I discovered that my daughter, now in 5th grade, LOVES to write which is why we are using Sonlight in conjunction with Brave Writer. With the way I have things organized we usually start school around 9 and finish around 1 or 2 with a a couple of breaks including lunch. I have set up a list of things that she can do independently such as reading her Bible, doing her spelling worksheet, her thinking skills, copy work, her personal reading, and finish any proofreading or revisions on her weekly writing assignment. I make myself available to her during that time, but I’m usually doing some chores, laundry, or working on my small photography business. Then, once she completes her independent work, I sit down with her to go over anything she had questions about, do the history lesson, science, and any other supplemental things that we do such as poetry, mapping skills, health, etc. We have managed to tag along on business trips with my husband and still keep up with most of the main subjects. We skip the extra stuff when we travel though.

    Making a switch in the middle of the year could be a huge benefit to your kids and to you. There are so many styles and so many different curriculum that you’re sure to find something that fits and works with your family. Then this journey would become a blessed time for your family. I’ve had great success selling my used curriculum on eBay. You could try that and recoup some of your investment.

    Lifting prayers that your homeschool experience is truly blessed and guided by Him!

    Sincerely.

  • ALucas1497

    Have you looked into Classical Conversations?  Yes you are supposed to be at a class one day a week for 24 weeks but it is doable on the road.  Easy Grammar and the reading and writing program through IEW is very good too.  Good luck on your search!  I struggled every year until I found Classical Conversations but I know it is not for everyone.

    • Julie

      Ww love classical conversations! It’s so incredibly rich and it’s all laid out for you through highschool!!

  • Kelli

    I don’t have anything glorious to add. I just love the comments. I am two weeks into this journey called homeschooling with my 2nd grader, kindergartner and preschooler. I love it, which is a total surprise because I came to this place kicking and screaming. God laid it on my heart and I laughed. At God.

    And now I am humbled.

    So while I am having a great time, I’m completely fraught with self doubt. We also just moved to a new State, we have no friends and the three co-ops I’ve called are full. So I have no one to ask my questions. Like, HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M DOING ENOUGH? OR TOO MUCH! I don’t know what I’m doing. And I am now bookmarking this blog post so I can come back to it over and over again. It’s like all the advice I’ve needed for the past few weeks. So I’m sorry I don’t have any advice, but thank you everyone for the encouragement you’ve provided!
    :)

  • Hollyo1

    Two things: 

    A – got the new book and I am really loving it so far so thank you for that

    B –  I don’t have great homeschooling advice but I always say when I teach that just because you have gone a ways down a road that you are pretty sure is the wrong one – going further down the wrong road does not make the journey back any shorter – only longer. Be brave enough to change course when necessary and head back into the wind. If something isn’t working – don’t be afraid to change.

    • http://kathink.blogspot.com/ Kathleen @ Kath Ink

      I like this image of knowing that you have gone down a road that you’re pretty sure is wrong doesn’t make the journey back any shorter — only longer. Also, early on in my reading of home schooling, I took the advice not to be afraid of having made a wrong choice — even an expensive choice in the curriculum. It is part of your investment in yourselves as teachers.

      I never thought that I would have the courage to pick and choose my own curriculum but going to a Carole Joy Seid seminar gave me the courage. She is coming to Nashville area on October 15th.  I highly recommend her seminar.

      Also, I heard a woman speak this spring who has home schooled for 25 years and she said, there will be gaps. There is no way that we will cover it all. This encouraged me — it could be discouraging but we must know that we cannot cover everything. So getting them to love to read and to love learning will enable them to fill in the gaps of what it is they need to know when they need to know it.

      There are many excellent curriculum out there — there is no perfect curriculum. When you find what works for your family for that season, use that.

      First and third grade are still young, especially to work independently. I have four children and have learned to do as much together as possible: Bible, history, science, lots of read alouds that cover a multitude of subjects. Learning to read/language skill acquisition and math are on an individual basis.

  • Blogshewrote

    Five in a Row! You can’t go wrong.

  • areckard

    When we first started homeschooling, I thought that I would need a complete curriculum just to get us started and so we splurged and bought Kindergarten and First grade from Sonlight. After feeling very overwhelmed with all the material…I knew that we would be changing things up a bit this year. I actually have my K, 1st and 2nd graders watching a high school history course on DVD; though I admit I did fast-forward his explanation of the mummifying process ;) It’s more like story time for them right now and they all…even our almost three year old…loves it! I’m also pulling the same information from three different history books and it’s really working well for us. The beauty of pulling from different sources is the repetition…they seem to be learning so much more now. As they get older I’ll have them memorize dates and facts and eventually when all four are high school age, I’ll have them read different books and write papers but still use the same DVDs :)
    We do our Bible, History, and Science all together and then I get the girls started on Math. Then I work with our Kindergartner for a bit. Our youngest typically works on puzzles or play trains somewhere near me ;) I’ve been able to get two munchkins doing something without me and work with one…and then keep rotating. The boys love when their sisters read to them and so that’s easy for us to do all together too. So far this schedule has been working for us and I know that it’ll get really interesting over here when I’m schooling all four. The beauty of homeschooling is being able to do what works for your family and changing and adapting as each child shows a different learning pattern.
    So, I’m still incorporating a lot of Sonlight’s curriculum but I’m also pulling from so many other great resources. We’re all thoroughly enjoying this school year! :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TM3JUTHQTCWMTCRENOTCOHSDLQ Kori

    Hi Angie…I met you in Indy…I did MFW last year and LOVED it but felt we needed a more specific grade level than what MFW offered for 3-8… SO I went with “Living books Curriculum”! I have a 3rd grader and a 1st grader.  I went with the 2nd grade curriculum for the most part (bible, history, science) BUT use grade specific math and then we are doing the Explode the Code and Beyond the Code work books for 1st and 3rd. I found a really COOL “Mailbox” book at the Teacher store…it has reproducible pages for the whole year so there are cute pages from each subject that fit the season…the book is geared for grades 2-3 so i have to choose carefully for my 1st grader BUT they work really well as busy work…to keep someone busy while you work with someone else!!  It is VERY similar to MFW…very similar to Charlotte Mason!  Love the book selections and very appropriate for multiple grades!!  We do as much as possible together which saves me tons of time!  We are using “Teaching Textbooks” for 3rd grade math…it is a DVD and she does it on her own and then I check it later…which frees me to work on math with the 1st grader (math u see).  I bought the teachers manuel as a download and then got my books off of Amazon…someone already had the 2nd grade curriculum in one of those book lists so I just bought the whole list!  Good Luck!!

  • Torew 101

    There are more experienced moms than me….but what worked for us was Alpha Omega’s LifePacs http://www.aophomeschooling.com/lifepac/.  I was a single mom, working full time, and after doing  A LOOOTTTTT of research and talking to other moms, I found these were the best fit for my son and I.  They are easy to use, easy to understand and are created in a way that I felt confident when my son worked on his own. 

    Pray!  and watch for cues from your girls (stress, boredom, comprehension, etc.)  My starting point was my state’s minimum requirements, then I added Bible, only one “elective,” and kept it very simple.  Your girls will adapt to whatever it is you introduce; kids are resilient that way! :)

    Most importantly go easy on yourself!  Don’t stress.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

  • Andrea

    Hi Angie,
    First I want to say thank you. Thank you for being obedient to the Lord always and thank you for sharing your faith through Audrey’s story with all of us that you don’t even know.  Not that I’m a crazy blog stalker, but I have been following your blog since Audrey’s birth.  Your words have been such a blessing to me and so real. I am the proud Mama of 5 babies, four here and one with Jesus.  We lost our youngest in February of 2010 through miscarraige.  I struggled many months (and still do) but your thoughts and encouragement have been answers to my prayers. Again Thank you! :)

    I  must also quickly say, I rolled over in laughter at your “quirks” post, because it sounds just like me! :)
     
    I know you probably have all of the homeschool advice that you need, so I won’t give you advice I will just share what works for us! I have a 5th, 3rd, and 1st grader and a 3 year old.  I have been homeschooling since my oldest was 3, so we are now in our 8th year of educating. 
     
    My story is a little different from most, but I knew that I would homeschool and what curriculum I would use since I was in 4th grade (10 years old), and no I wasn’t homeschooled myself.  It was just clear, and the moment my oldest was born, I told God I would teach them at home, for Him.
     
    We use Abeka (always have) and I still love it.  We do not use the DVD’s, but instead we use the workbooks and curriculum.  I love the teacher’s books for the smaller grades (especially K and 1st) because it tells you everything you need and what to teach. With my 3rd and 5th grader we just go through their books together and they handle most things themselves.  We do science and history togehter but only one at  time. This year we chose to do science this semester and we will do history in the spring!  Another thing that works great for us is our weekly schedule.  We only have traditional school lessons on Mon., Tues. & Thursday. Wednesday’s are our library and catch up days and Friday’s we take classes at a homeschool Co-op which I help coordinate.

    When I brought our traditional lessons down to 3 days I saw a vast improvement in everyone’s learning. We school at the dining room table all together.  I get each child’s work together the night (sometimes week) before in one stack.  I set it up where 2 are doing independent work why I work with the other one. 

    With my little ones, I always work with them before school. Whether we sing or play together (depending on the age).  This gives them attention they may not seek right away once class begins.  I try to keep things for him to play with and I always have a “quiet” room for someone to go into to do school work, if our youngest is pitching a fit.  He is strong willed, so that happens often! :) I hope this helps in some small way!  Give it some time and things will begin to “fit” for your family!

  • http://dancingintherain-sassy.blogspot.com/ Sassy

    Hi Angie! I am a lot like you in that I like to have everything sort of spelled out for me as far as homeschooling goes. I like the reassurance that my son is getting everything that he needs and that I don’t have to worry that I am missing something. That is why we are doing Calvert. You can read a little about our experience with it here {http://dancingintherain-sassy.blogspot.com/2011/09/homeschooling.html}. It is the same curriculum my mom used to homeschool my siblings and I. So far we love it and it’s going well! 

    God bless!

  • Ashley

    Well, my advice is very basic, but it comes from my mom who homeschooled for almost two decades: In the early years, focus on the essentials. Emphasize math and reading. Read to them. Have them read to you. If they can read well, everything else can be picked up easily when they are a little older.
    I am homeschooling my 4th & 1st graders and also have a four year old. My way of simplifying the last couple of years has been for them each to have their own (grade appropriate) math and reading/phonics work. Everything else we do together. There’s no reason that a couple of grade levels need to mean separate history/science/geography, etc. We study something, the older one writes a report, the younger one draws a picture, and we’re all together, so I don’t feel pulled in multiple directions all the time.

    • Jaci

      Ashley, you sound exactly like me.  We are often interrupted in our school year…but everyday my kids do math/reading/grammar/writing.  I LOVE Math U See as it is so foundational and simplifies me teaching 4 different ages.  Plus my kids love it too.  This is the same reason I use Easy Grammar.  We do bible, history, science altogether…just have different age appropriate assignments/activities to correlate.  I do a lot of it flying by the seat of my pants.  :)  Anyway, I read your comment and totally saw my own home.  

  • Tami

    Okay, so as far as the curriculum that you already have goes… There should be some local internet sites where you can sell your “used” stuff. We have a couple here in Cali. Google it! I know for complete curriculums like the one you are talking about, you can get almost 100% of your money back. Here are a few of my suggestions. I have homeschooled for 10 years, and this is what honestly worked the best for me!

    Phonics:
    Explode The Code books (An absolute FAVORITE of mine!)

    Math:
    Teaching Textbooks (they have computer CD’s that they listen to for their lessons, then they do their lesson work)

    Science:
    Exploring God’s Creation (Easy, informative and FUN… even for us parents)

    History:

    I piece meal this one, but I usually combine my literature with the history if possible. Then, I will  pull a spelling list from both and we will write short summaries of what we read together. That way they are getting their grammar too. We make corrections on grammar together and as they get older these summaries turn into essays ( My oldest is a sophomore in high school now).

    I hope this helps! It simplified our lives dramatically and enable us to have fun while learning! As they grow older they learn how to work more independently using these curriculums. I believe these programs help train them in working independently.

    Sorry it’s so long! :0)

  • Tami

    I just remembered the name of one of those used curriculum sites. It is homeschoolclassifieds.com. You can buy/sell any home school item there. Super neat!

  • Diana Markland

    I don’t have curriculum advice because we are working with a high school correspondence system but I want to encourage you!  We pulled our oldest son out of our local high school, second semester of his sophomore year (he is a senior, now).  Some class material is awful to work with and some is great.  You don’t always know until you have it.  Some days Jake flies through work and other days I have to walk him through every detail.    He’s almost 18 now and some days I can’t keep his attention!  Hang in there, Angie!  I think you and Todd are doing great!  :)

  • Jamie Dayton

    Angie,
     Hi, I felt this way with Sonlight last year. This year we have started KONOS, it is a unit study but they have so many options for those who want to totally schedule everything, to those who want it all scheduled and ready to go. There is an online COOP which I am doing because I live overseas, and it is so helpful in getting used to the KONOS way, all done by the coauther of KONOS. I am really falling inlove with it and it is very flexible and easy to do many grades with. Hope that helps some! best of wishes and many blessings
    Jamie

  • Patty W

    Without a doubt, you will receive tons of opinions on this. The consistent opinion that I heard during homeschooling was that the younger grades can become bored watching instructional dvds. We began using ABeka dvds in 7th grade for only math and science.  We eventually went to dvds in all subjects in 9th grade.

  • Talley

    Angie,
    We use Winter Promise (Animals in Their World) we also use Right Start Math, Explode and Beyond the Code, Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind, All About Spelling, FIAR. Lots and Lots of Reading. I know you know this but we all need to be reminded that the curriculum really doesn’t matter. What matters most is your relationship that you are cultivating with your girls. I know if you are anything like me sometimes that is hard to grasp but I encourage you to trust Him to direct your path even if you don’t have a plan He does. He has taught and is teaching me this. Their is no perfect curriculum but you and Todd are perfect for your girls that is why God placed them with you. I pray you are encouraged! Lord bless!

  • The_sparkle_girl

    We start with the Kumon books: My first book of Sticker & Paste, My first book of Coloring. Then we move on to their other “first books” . This is for our pre-pre-school and pre-school. Now we’re starting Kindergarden (with the 4 year old) and while we intend to go with Bob Jones later, right now we’re just using Bob Jones math (K5).  We’re using Kumon letters, mazes, numbers 1-30, and Bob Books (which aren’t Bob Jones, haha. But they’re super simple stories we use to learn letter sounds and to recognize letters. Their next set is to learn to read with, stories with easy words like: pat, sat, cat, bat, etc).

     The 2 and 4 year old both listen to our read aloud subjects: 5 minute devotions, science (various books, Usborne has a lot of good ones), and Bob books. Then I give the instructions for the workbook for the 4 year old and she does her work while I help the 2 year old with one of his books. Then the 4 year old gets new instructions and I go back to the 2 year old. It goes back and forth and the 2 year old gets done and goes off to play or sits quietly and colors. During this time I hope for the baby to sleep, or else he sits in my lap and I try not to squeeze him to hard while I’m cutting out the page the 2 year old needs to color on.

    There’s a lot of “busy bag” ideas out there that might be fun for your baby. Color matching, stacking, shaking, stringing… if all else fails, there’s always snacks.

    I’ve never experienced the Bob Jones videos. So nothing there. My mom used Bob Jones for our homeschooling with all subjects until around 7th grade, when we switched to Abecca for English/Reading. We only used the books, no videos.

  • http://differentparent.com/ Wick

    Wow, I don’t think I can add anything to what’s been said here.   My wife and I are just beginning the homeschool journey with 3 little girls (2, 3, and 5), and I hear echoes of her anxiety in your post as well.  Worry that if we “piecemeal” (because it’s cheaper/more flexible), we may miss something crucial and leave our kids educationally handicapped. 

    It’s in those times, we try to remind ourselves – our kids are going to be smart.  We’re not homeschooling so that we can have genius over-achievers who develop time-machines in the attic.  We want to spend time as a family, and enjoy being a large part of the education of our children.  Embracing that Truth, helps us to step forward into the unknown. 

    May God continue to bless you as you parent, and impact so many others along the way…

  • Inkling

    I’ve been thinking for a couple of days about this dilemma, and because I know you guys need your style of schooling to fit traveling, I’m not sure if any of my ideas will help.  But I do know a thing or two about juggling different grades in one room.  (I started with five students in a one-room schoolhouse in Franklin, and ended the year with ten grades K-5.)

    I grew up on ABeka and Bob Jones.  I hesitate to use Bob Jones because I was personally behind in the math and sciences areas when I transferred to a regular public high school.  I did really well on the ABeka program.

    With multiple grades, I really liked using Veritas Press’ literature based programs.  I was able to use their Phonics Museum with K-2, and that exposes them to all sorts of historical and cultural figures.  With some of the literature, we were able to use it for history or even science, melding the subjects together.  This is especially good when the kids are older, and I loved doing this with a 5/6 grade class at another school in St. Louis.  For instance, when we read Johnny Tremain, we studied the time of Paul Revere.  And when we read Island of the Blue Dolphins we studied temperate and tropical islands, as well as doing a author-and-illustrate-your-own-book project based upon island life.

    For math, we used Saxon and bought the level ahead of each grade (e.g. buy Saxon 54 for 4th grade, and don’t even bother with the Kindergarten level).  I had to teach each math lesson separately, but we were all able to do math meeting together.  Math Meeting is a great way to learn and review a ton of arithmetic facts, and I often just added my own above and beyond what they suggested.  The only complaint I have with Saxon is that I would like to see more practice problems for the current concept that the students just learned.  I guess that is my ABeka background coming through, for that is one of their strong points.

    For grammar, we used Shurley Grammar, and I found the Kindergarteners were totally learning the rhymes the older kids were singing/reciting during our lesson time while the K class would be coloring or working on math sheets.

    We did Bible together.  I can’t remember what Science we used, but I think ABeka is pretty good if it hasn’t changed too much since I was a student.

    In Franklin, we had a tiny converted one car garage behind the Anglican church to use as our classroom.  I divided it into centers – reading chair, library, math meeting, desks by chalkboard, and an open area to do larger activities.  The kids liked being together and somehow we were all productive even if I was teaching two kids one thing while the others worked on something else.

    I don’t know exactly how you could take this on the road, but if it helps, I wanted to put it out there.  The trick for me was to combine as many subjects and disciplines as I could.  And it actually worked better than I imagined.  Plus, I learned a ton of fun things along the way.  (Who knew that we got the Louisiana Purchase so cheap in part because Napoleon’s guys were dropping like flies due to a disease and he had to choose where to concentrate his men?  Talk about melding science, history, and geography!)

  • http://ourfamilyforhisglory.blogspot.com Our Family for His Glory

    Wow!! You have gotten such wonderful, priceless advise! What a blessing for all of us homeschooling mommies!

    At our house we love, love, LOVE “Heart of Dakota”!! :) It is a literature based, Christ-centered (TRULY Christ-centered… I love it) curriculum that has been just perfect for us. Before beginning homeschooling- I was searching for the “prefect” curriculum, & was not finding what I was looking for…  I then began piecing together what I thought was the best-of-the-best. Yet, it was taking me FOREVER! But, God had a plan, & as I searched night after night (I couldn’t sleep with baby #5), I came across “Heart of Dakota” & it had all of my different favorite pieces right in it! :) :) Only, they have it planned out so much better than I ever could have.

    This year, I have 2 first graders& a kindergartener (as well as a 3 year-old, 2 year-old & 3 month-old, & this is my favorite year yet! :)
    This will take you to the “Homeschool” section of our blog…
    http://ourfamilyforhisglory.blogspot.com/p/homeschool_06.html
    And this will take you to some ideas I gave for what to do with the little ones while homeschooling…
    http://ourfamilyforhisglory.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-to-do-with-little-ones-while.html
    (if you’re interested)

    I pray that God will bring peace to your mommy heart & joy in knowing you are following Him- even when the year doesn’t turn out as you would have hoped!
    Blessings,
    Jessica

  • Randt Copeland

    You’ve gotten lots of comments!  Here is my 2 cents worth.  Read aloud to them alot – Literature, science, history, Bible- and talk about what you read .You could make use of audio books from the library when you travel.  Memorize (Scripture, poetry, etc.)  with them alot .  Live, love, and laugh with them alot.  Add in a little of your workbooks for spelling and math and handwriting.  After 10 years of homeschooling I believe the curriculum really doesn’t matter.  Use what you enjoy and makes sense for your family.

  • Sunshine

     A few years ago I discovered something called the checklist by Cindy Downs.  It is a book that lists literally everything and it has a place to check it off as you do it (and more than once if you do the four year history cycle repeat) http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/checklist.html.  It gave me a LOT of reassurance that I was not leaving anything out or forgetting something.  I also highly recommend Sarah Clarkson’s book Read for the Heart for some great literature selections and “living books”.  We use a lot of librivox recordings and books on CD we check out from our library to help foster stretches of time that they could work on something on their own.   Sunshine

  • Lisa

    I have been using My Father’s World for 7 years. I honestly cannot say enough great things about this program. It is SO user-friendly, so you don’t have to do tons of planning on your own time. It is Bible-based, with an emphasis on classical education and Charlotte Mason philosophies. I love that it is so well-planned. I can sit down, open up the teacher’s manual, and pretty much just GO. Also, she adds a lot of “optional” activities and books, so you can sort of pick and choose what you want to do. She adds a suggested reading list that goes along with your studies. Most of the books are available from your local library. It has been a PERFECT fit for our family. I have used it from Kindergarten until now (my oldest is in 6th grade). Anyway, just thought I’d let you know. It might be a good fit for you right now. Sounds like your schedule is really busy. I know you would love it. My kids, honestly, have loved school, and I feel like I am teaching them what they need to know without it being a HUGE, overwhelming burden to them, to me, or to my little ones crawling around. Whatever you decide, I hope you find a great fit for your kiddos and for you!

  • Phronsie Howell

    My mom used Sonlight and it’s very literature based. Right now we’re just doing preschool so I’m no help as far as curriculum goes. I’m really no help at all, I’m trying to keep a 9 month old busy, LOL! I have some links, I’ll find them and post them for you later. :)

    • Phronsie Howell

      Replying to myself, ha! Ok, this year we’re using the preschool stuff from Answers in Genesis. You’re not looking for preschool I know but they do have some great science curricula/supplements for science (as does ICR). I get some things from Super Teacher Worksheets (free online worksheets for different subjects and ages). I look to Ann Voskamp for inspiration also. She’s posted some great links to homeschool stuff. I’m part of a homeschool support message board. Does your area have a local coalition? I know our county has a homeschool coalition and you can join up and they have a learning library and co-ops and such (and they might have ideas for you too!)

      There really is no one way to homeschool. Every child learns differently and at a different pace. 

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/Skaynopoyos?ref=si_shop skaynopoyos

    I’m still trying to figure out how to get my 16 year to be more independent – I’m still learning so will be reading the suggestions with you :)

  • Jessica K

    Ditto to Randt Copeland!  Live out your faith for your children to see and enjoy these precious years.  Share great literature with them regularly, especially reading from God’s Word.   Of all the advice I’ve received (been homeschooling for 9 years and my older sister for over 19) the best advice is to read to them a lot and don’t get overwhelmed with textbooks.  There are some great literature guides out there to help choose great books- I really liked “Honey for a Child’s Heart” by Gladys Hunt when the kids were little.

    I found that while they are young (gr.3 is still young) just stick to the basics- Bible, reading, writing (basic comprehension) and math (I use Pathway readers with comprehension workbooks and Math-U-See).  All the extra stuff can wait until they really can work independently (science, geography, grammar and  history, etc.).  Great books will go so much farther for teaching them this stuff than formal textbooks at this stage.  The formal subjects can fill in the gaps later on.   I hope all this advice doesn’t overwhelm you!  I always try to look at the bigger picture- have I showed my children who God is?  What He has done?   How they are to live for Him?  In the end, if I have showed them Jesus, that is what’s really important and what really pleases the Lord.  May God bless your family as you give Him glory in your homeschooling endeavor.

  • http://www.beamteaminc.blogspot.com Heather

    Hi Angie!  I’m new to homeschooling this year (4th grader, 1st grader and two semi-kindergartners), but when you mentioned wanting something literature-based, I thought I’d pipe in.  We’re using Five in a Row (www.fiarhg.org) and Life of Fred (www.lifeoffredmath.com).  To be honest, I can’t speak too deeply on these because we’ve only been schooling for a few weeks, but they’re worth checking into.  I love that they’re reading-based.  After having our kids in school for a several years, I’m struggling so with trying to ‘undo’ the mindset (on my part) that we should be hitting the books hard for several hours a day.  As if a child playing, being imaginative and creative, and having down time isn’t learning and just plain old good for their little souls.  We weren’t sure if this was the right time to start homeschooling in that we’re at the end of our first adoption and are about to welcome a toddler into the mix, but we quickly felt that all that made homeschooling even more right.  I wish you well!  Thanks for staring a dialogue.  Lots to learn from these ladies!   

  • Laura Dare Morgan

    ACE or Sonlight

  • Pam

    I homeschooled my kids for 6-1/2 years and used Sonlight curriculum the whole time.  We loved it as it is a literature based curriculum that gives a very well rounded education.  I did not do every thing that they had listed for each lesson/day/week as most comprehensive curriculums give way more than you need to you can choose what works for your family.    Anyway, all 3 of my kids are now in pulic school and the one thing I have learned is… they learned WAY more at home.  No matter what you are doing, I guarantee they are learning more than they would in school.  You do not need to stress that you are “missing” something critical.  They are only in 3rd and 1st grade!  Try to relax a little on the specifics and read w/them, play games and let them express themselves however they do.  I promise you they will learn in the process and be way ahead of the game!

  • Lana

    Accelerated Christian Education. http://www.aceministries.com  Its philosophy is built on basic principles of the Word of God. Students are taught to see life from God’s point of view, to take responsibility for their own learning, and to walk in Godly wisdom and character. It’s individualized learning, so each child can move along at their own pace.

  • Juli M

    I am so in the same boat. Our little man is 19 months and to keep him busy while we do school I have gotten creative with activities in the port-a-crib and an extra high chair. One on each end of the table where we are working. He has a stack of his own books, sits in my lap while we read (Sonlight has us reading a lot), has his own school supplies that are all washable so I don’t worry about what he does with them, and then I have a stash of stuff I rotate.  One of the best ideas I came across was to fill a clear Sterilite plastic box (the next size up from shoebox) half way with split peas. Peas because they were the cheapest thing in the bulk bins, non-toxic, and they mostly stay in the port-a-crib. I rotate all kinds of things in and out of the bin. Small cups, measuring spoons, scoops, tongs, tweezers, a magnifying glass, a small tea set, feathers, pom pom balls, sets of seasonal toys, sand toys, erasers, larger wooden beads and spools, big buttons, foam stickers, etc. Nearly everything I have used came from our kitchen or the dollar store. Nothing fancy at all. I even use these same things when we go out to eat. You can also use pasta, childrens chopsticks, ice cube trays, lacing cards, large pill boxes, chenille stems/pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, and on and on. Googling Tot Trays or sensory bins will give you so many great ideas.

    So much has already been said about curriculum that I hesitate to add more. We love Sonlight and Math-U-See. So far, so good. I wish you the very best. It is definitely a lot for any mama to take on. You are obviously deeply committed and the Lord will be with you as you journey along.

  • Susan

    Hi Angie,
    this is my 12th year homeschooling and I want to say…relax. I give you permission to put the video program on the shelf and wait a few years before trying that again. Just let home be the school. when I started home schooling my kids were in 4th grade, 3rd grade and 18 months old.
    The best advice I was given for that first year was to leave “schooly” stuff at school. Don’t sit at desks…don’t do endless worksbooks, etc. Teachers use desks because they can’t cuddle on the couch (or hotel bed..or on a blanket outside on the grass) with all 30 kids.
    Just pick a good math program. I personnaly love Math-U-See and then read just good books for the other subjects. Don’t try to make it 3rd grade for A&E or 1st for K…just read great history books, the girls will pick up what they can at their level. Have you heard about teaching history from the beginning of time to current time and repeating the process every 4 years. That way the first time you cover the material they are in say for example 1st grade. When you cycle back through again they are 5th graders and when you study it for the last time they are 9th graders. The material isn’t new, but their understanding is more mature each time. So you add more info each time.
    I have done the same with science, history, geograpy, etc.
    Use real life, whether at home or on the road…it’s your family…your life experiences…your own way.
    Enjoy the learning together. While on the road read aloud to the whole family…learn about the places you visit…bake and measure…use real life and don’t try to be super mom…I have news for you…she doesn’t exist. But God gave those little girls just the perfect mom for them!!!
    love you bunches, Susan

  • Elisabeth Rohr

    Hi Angie-

    Probably more of the same advice as you’ve already heard but here it goes…this is my 7th year homeschooling and my 8th as an Education Specialist (a credentialed teacher that works with homeschool families to help them pick curriculum, offer suggestions/advice/tips, etc).  I think it’s normal for it to be time intensive at 3rd grade and especially 1st grade.   I would say children become more independent learners once they read very well–usually after 4th grade.  It also depends on the personality of your child too–some are more independent than others.  I’ve read your blog for a while and it sounds like your sweet Kate might be a student that always needs a bit of direction :)   Now, at 3rd grade, your twins might be able to be a bit more independent but it all depends on their learning styles and the curriculum you have chosen.  BJUP should be a more independent curriculum–perhaps you can tell us a bit more about where they are struggling to be independent??

    If you would like to stick with BJUP, you might need to break it up over the day so you can still spend time with your 16 mos old.   Most families I know with toddlers school a bit in the morning, some more during nap time and even some in the evening (and on weekends). The up side is you don’t feel like your toddler is wandering aimlessly through the house for hours on end or being pushed to the side for hours.  The down side is you are doing school “all day.”  

    Also, I would focus on the core subjects (reading, writing, math) and get to science and history when you can. At this age, the core subjects would need the most help from mom & dad.  History and science can be taught once or twice a week.   Sometimes a good field trip or educational science DVD can teach more than a sit down, time intensive lesson anyway :-)

    If you are really unhappy with your curriculum, you might consider selling it on ebay, etc. to regain some of the expense.  Then you can switch to a curriculum that is more family friendly.

    You are going to get a TON of advice here–in the end, pray.  Go as the Lord leads you and know it is the right decision for your family.  

    Blessings-
    Elisabeth in CA

  • http://www.momof6blessings.blogspot.com Teena

    well… 137 comments and I am sure that you have plenty of information. :)   This is our 21st yr. We have three graduates. Three more to go….

    I have a 3rd, 4th and 8th grader now.

    I would say relax. I would say….  put the dvds on the shelf. Take a deep breath.

    We use Heart of Dakota… it is a literature based program. I start all of ours on Abeka phonics and math.  I usually stick with the phonics …  I have had some struggle with reading and some take off. 

    Heart of Dakota is a more charolette mason approach.  http://www.heartofdakota.com

    Praying for you.  If I had to do it all again…. I would take more walks, let them do nature journals, read more to them…. do fun things… laugh more.  They will learn. All 3 of my graduates went to college. My 18 yr old started college this month.

    YOU can do this!

    much love,
    Teena

  • BethB.

    This has nothing to do with your post about homeschooling, but it’s a prayer request. I often lurk around your blog and I am inspired by your faith and your life. I have a friend in the hospital who is very sick. She had an ileostomy and she’s gotten an infection that antibiotics aren’t helping. I’m not sure of her salvation. I’m going to ask in just a minute. I just wanted you to pray for her. Thank you so much.

  • http://www.elisvalley-perfectlove.blogspot.com Jennifer Hill

    Well this is my second year of HS’n and we are doing some of the same things this year.  I also changed up a couple of things.  I taught in public school for 12 years and I knew there were some things I wanted my kiddos to do.  One of these that I saw great success with was Wordly Wise.  I use this for spelling and vocabulary.  I.LOVE.IT! I supplement it with word maps that the kiddos have to do with each word.  We spend two weeks per lesson as opposed to one.  For reading I use novels.  We are currently reading the Hatchet series.  Great for boys.  Last year we read the Kingdom Series by Chuck Black (loved those so much).  When we finish Hatchet series (4 books) we are doing Huck Finn.  I use Apologia bible study and science.  I totally dig Apologia.  We are doing our state history for social studies (Alabama).  I borrowed books from a teacher friend. For math we are using Singapore math.  I really like this but my boys flew through this last year, so this year I am supplementing with the mental math and word problem books also published by Singapore.  Grammer is the only one I am wishy washy on.  Last year I used ABeka.  It was too easy for them and I am not overly pleased with what I bought this year (Steck-Vaughn). We are also doing Joy of Sign Language because everyone wanted to. 
    We school in the same room, but one thing I have learned is that each child needs their own school space.  We are getting each one their own desk in hopes that  this will give them space and a place to call theirs. We open each day with individual bible reading and prayer.  Then we move to group bible time.  This is where we use the Apologia bible curriculum.  We are looking at World View and so far, I like it a lot.  Our group time and independent time is about 50/50.  Have fun and do what you think is best!  You are a smart lady and I know your kiddos are getting everything they need.  Confidence mama, confidence…and lots of prayer!

  • Anonymous

    I’d hire a tutor.

  • Pamela

    I have felt your same panic a few years ago, homeschooling 3 sons. I think our most successful years came after I stopped trying to do everything “by the book, just like the teacher’s curriculum suggested” and blended a few choice subjects from my favorites found at homeschooling book fairs and from trusted friends. I did try to use the teacher’s guides and it seemed they were set up for larger classroom numbers rather than one on one as I needed. So much busy work… Once I was sure the student had a concept and could retain it later in review, I didn’t feel the need to do so much repetition, but move on and build on that concept and add the next. 

    I think it is only natural to worry about doing everything “perfect” and avoid the negative criticism you will get at times, but hang in there. I know God will give you the wisdom and grace to do this if He set you on this course, and you will know what is best for your kids since no one knows them better than you and your husband. We hung in there through some busy years with many trips to the hospital while sick grandparents had surgeries and a dad with a rotating shift schedule, etc. Having the freedom to not use dvd’s allowed us to grab a backpack and have school on the road when needed. As they got older, we used computer programs for foreign language and other studies, but they had better study habits by then and worked well alone at their own pace. I am happy to say that all of our son’s finished and have college degrees now and careers. Trust your instincts, blend your favorites, add some music, sports and field trips as time allows, and take it a day at a time. You will do great. 

  • Nicole

    Angie,
        I am 26 years old, with my Masters and a youth pastor. I’m not telling you this to brag, but to encourage you. I was home-schooled from 2nd-12th grade. My mom and dad wanted to teach myself and my younger brother the things they would not teach us in school (mainly all things biblical) and wanted to teach us the right way about big things, “Safe” sex (is only safe when you wait till marriage), evolution, etc. 
        Anyways, my mom always said that you can homeschool with three things. The bible, a math curriculum, and a library card. So don’t be discouraged! She found that the Bob Jones was a little over our heads a lot. We did use KONOS for our unit studies, PACE, and ACE, and Saxon Math (which was the best math curriculum for us; I highly recommend.) Hope these tips help. Kudos and much love to your family for homeschooling! I have the best relationship with my parents and brother because of homeschooling. :-)  
    ~Nicole 

  • C E

    Hello!  I am a homeschool graduate, and I was homeschooled my whole life.  I have 9 siblings.  We have two graduates, and 5 people doing school, and three little people.  My mother has tried many different curriculums, some which worked for her, some which didn’t, and some that may work in the future (that she still wants to try).  No matter what, though, there will always be gaps in a child’s education, whether they were homeschooled, or public schooled, or whatever.  I know I didn’t learn everything there is to learn – there were gaps in my education.  But we’re okay with that because I know how to look up what I missed.  If I don’t know something, I can just look it up.  That’s what I like about homeschooling – you can instill in your children a love to learn, and the skills and knowledge on how to learn, or how to discover things they want to know.  I can’t wait till I can do so with my own children someday!

    We don’t use video curriculums, except for piano (for one thing, it’s not practical with only 1 tv, and with all computers/tv in basically one room, and it’s also not practical with lots of kids).  My mom does curriculums that work for the kid.  My older sister learned math better with manipulatives.  I didn’t need  manipulatives, and felt like they were a waste of time – I could go faster without them.  So, I didn’t use them much, and my sister did.  My mom uses TruthQuest for history for some of the younger kids, and they are loving it!  It is great to be layed back and enjoying the time you spend, as that is a better way (I think) to reach the goal of loving to learn, and wanting to.  This sort of curriculum seems to fit how you described the the second to last paragraph, but it still has some guidance to keep on track.

    My mom used some different curriculums for my older sister than she did for me.  And, we learned some different things.  But, if we want to know whatever we missed, we can just look it up.

    We don’t always do much of anything structured for the littles.  They have tons of toys they play with, and they play together which keeps them occupied for a while.  But, there’s always things like playdough that we pull out every once in a while.  Sometimes us older kids will play with them, or take them outside.

    As for curriculums we have used:

    Mystery of History
    TruthQuest
    BJU (math)
    ABeka (math)
    Apologia (science- elementary, and highschool – HIGHLY recommend!!!  LOVE it!)
    For lit., we’ve used Progeny Press, ABeka, BJU… just books, or sometimes textbooks
    Rod and Staff Grammar
    ABeka Grammar
    etc….

    Hopefully this is helpful in some way!

    -Carrie

  • C E

    I also wanted to share with you a letter I wrote on a homeschool forum a while ago…

    Hello, I just recently graduated from home school. I was independently home educated for my whole education, and I am so glad that my parents chose to do so! It may seem a little strange, but I just wanted to encourage those parents who are still homeschooling, and those students who are not yet graduated. Please don’t give up! Having been home schooled my whole life, home schooling is just a way of life for me, and it is a part who I am! Homeschooling is such a privilege! I love how kids can be taught in so many ways, according to their learning style. I like eclectic. My mother used/is using a variety of textbooks and books, which is great because sometimes one book doesn’t work for one kid when it worked for another. I think one important thing, too, that I got out of my ‘education’ is that I know how to look things up. I don’t know everything, I haven’t learned everything, and I’m okay with that because I know how to look it up. I guess I just have the perspective that you will always have gaps in your child’s education, period. And that’s okay. If you give your children a love of learning, and the knowledge of how to look things up for themselves, they can learn practically anything that was missed. I know a lot of you ladies are very experienced in home schooling, so what I’m saying is not new to you, but from the perspective of a home school graduate, I wanted to be an encouragement. I guess I just feel so sad when I hear of people who get discouraged about homeschooling, or don’t think they can do it. Since I have never actually been a teaching parent, I don’t know everything about what it’s like, but I know sometimes, it is overwhelming. But, it is so important that you persevere, because your child’s future will depend on it. Your child will be shaped by what mode of education they get, and from what I’ve observed, schools don’t shape kids the way I want to be, or the way I would want my children to be. One of the things I really liked, that wasn’t really always a part of my ‘school’ was that my parents read to me and my siblings. I love it when they read to us. My mother reads to some of the younger kids for school, and even I like to listen in sometimes. So, even when we weren’t doing school, we still got a love for books or stories. I still remember when my sister got mad at a character in a book my mom was reading to us (Annette, in ‘Treasures of the Snow’ for those of you who have heard of the story =). Even several of the curriculums we used/use are conversational in their style. Those ones are great to hear, or to read yourself! It is also great to be around my siblings. I think I would not be very good friends with my siblings if I went to school (of any kind). I don’t want to take 6 hrs. a day plus a few more for homework, and be snobbish with my siblings, when I could learn just as much or more at home in half the time, and be best friends with my family! During a lot of my high school, I just learned practically everything from books, dvds (piano), and cds (Spanish). My mom didn’t have to really ‘teach’ me that much. If she had had to stand there, telling me what the book said (which is basically what schools do), then it would take away her time that she could spend helping my younger siblings. When I was in high school, I was capable of learning on my own; I could read. She bought the books, curriculum, or whatever for me, and I just learned from it. It’s very simple, and I think that homeschooling a high-schooler could be easier than an elementary-aged student. I got to dissect things like an eye ball, and a fetal pig. My mom didn’t really have to oversee that. I just did it; the book said how to (or told me how to get the instructions), and I just did it. (Siblings like watching, by the way. ) I know it can be hard (though I don’t know that from experience, of course) for moms sometimes when they are homeschooling, but I would really encourage you to never, ever give up. You homeschooling your children is one of the most important things you can ever do for your children. I am so thankful my parents chose to home school me. Like I said earlier, it is a way of life for me. It is so natural, it is like a part of myself. It’s not that I can’t imagine not having been home schooled; I can imagine, and I don’t like what could’ve been. It is important that children are taught by their parents, and that parents have control of what their children learn, because parents are the best people for teaching their beliefs to their children. Kids can learn about God and the Bible in school, but they won’t learn why God and the Bible are so important to their parents, when they’re at school. No one else can tell your kids about your experience of answered prayer like you can. I am not pursuing college at this point. I know that a lot of other graduates go to college, but at this point I just don’t have any reason to. I think it’s a good idea, if you don’t know what you want to do with your life yet, to take some time after you graduate, and wait before getting into a college. I really can make money and support myself right now if I had to, and all I have is a home school education (which actually, is quite substantial). I did Record-keeping; I could be an accountant. I’d have to learn more that I already have in order to do that, most likely, but that’s okay. I took the Human Body; I could pursue being a midwife or doula, or midwife helper. I took Piano; if I learn more, I could eventually be a piano teacher. I could have a sewing business. I could raise chickens and sell their eggs. But, what I would really like to be is a wife and mother. And I don’t need to go to college to learn that. I am getting more knowledge about being a homemaker, wife, mother, and home school parent where I am right now than I would ever learn in college. To home school students who are not graduated yet, esp. those in high school, or who are going into high school soon: please do your very best. Your parents sacrifice a lot to keep you at home, because they care so much about you. It really helps your mom when you take the initiative and keep your own records, and keep your school papers neat. It is so much easier for your mom to give you grades on your transcript if you have all your homework papers and tests for one subject together. Since you are well on your way to adult-hood, you are definitely capable of keeping your school things organized. If we teenagers want to be treated like adults, we need to act responsible, like adults. When your parents give you freedoms in school as a result of your trustworthiness, like if you need to take half a day off now and then to do something else, it so so wonderful. It is great to know that they trust you, because they know you will get your homework done. If you have to take today off, because you want to help make food for the new mom at church, or to build a radio, or try out your wood-burning kit, or sew an apron for Jenny, or whatever, your parents will be fine with it, if they know you have a track record of getting your homework done. (Don’t try to take off a day to do frivolous things, though.) The sense of responsibility that you feel when they trust you helps you as you become an adult, and it feels great!

  • Ter

    Angie –
    I want to encourage you to not be tied to a curriculum … it is completely okay to change tracks – to hold on to the majors and drop the minors … off the cuff I would say hold on to math and possibly language arts, but do history and science in a more “supplemental way” … this is from a parent who has graduated two students from homeschool who transitioned their jr/sr years of high school to the local community college (and simultaneously graduated high school and college with AA degrees)  and have both been admitted (and are currently studying) at two top Christian universities and are doing very well academically.    The BEST thing I did in my homeschooling was to encourage a love of reading and learning … there are many things I did wrong, but I feel they are proving out that it is MUCH less about the curriculum and “filling all the gaps” then it is about raising children of integrity who know HOW to learn!!
    Blessings!!  Enjoy!!! It goes SO fast!!!
    Terri

  • Shannon

    Angie,
    We have been homeschooling for 8! years now. We change some things every year as the kids are needing different things.  My kids are 7th, 2nd and a 2yr old.  We use Saxon Math. This might work for your season of life  b/c the lessons are short and repetitive.
    With my younger, we are using the First Language Lessons for language/grammar. We love this (we used Abeka with the older) b/c it is “sit down with Mommy time” and short reinforcement lessons. This works since we have a busy toddler! For reading, we pick titles of classics for the older and we read, read, read for the younger (ie library). History and Science can be minimal – just reading and doing what interests them in the early elementary years. OR, if you want something more formal:  We started The Story of the World for history last year. This has been as much fun for me as them. Lots of reading aloud and it is chronological. (wish I would have learned that way!) We have thoroughly enjoyed the Apologia series for science. Jennie Fulbright has now also written journals that go along with the text. These are wonderful! My kids love science. We usually choose one, like Astronomy, and go through it for the year. We also check out books that go along, etc. Fantastic. The science and the history can be done all together, so you do not have to divide the children up. This makes the lessons shorter and your day more manageable.

    One thing I way I would encourage you is that you know your children and your family best. If what you are doing is not working, sell it! (We have done that mid-year before!) That is one of the beauties of homeschooling. Your children are learning far more than you realize. I know of a family who only read books for curriculum (except for math) and they are all grown and highly functional and more intelligent than most. You can’t fail because the Lord is leading!

    I am coming to the .mom (I am a ticket winner!), so if you need me to bring any examples of what I have mentioned above, I would be happy to do so! Sometimes, it helps to “see” it.

    Blessings!
    Shannon

  • liz stetler

    Hello, Angie!  I really love your blog when I get to read it!  And I can’t wait to read your latest book as well – sounds like something I could REALLY use. ;)

    About homeschooling… there are plenty of opinions here about it, but I decided to comment because we are using BJU and I have one in K5 and one in 2nd.  I did fine for like… a week.  Then I realized I needed to keep house and take care of the 3 and 1 yr old too :)   So I talked to a homeschooling veteran friend and went to this plan:  My k5-er loves it and does Beginnings and Math (Daddy does Bible at night for devotions).  Second-grader – We do Math, Reading, and English for sure.  She loves Science and usually wants to do that, but Spelling – 2-3 days a week and Handwriting – once a week or so with reminders from me about neat writing in the other subjects (Daddy does Bible at nights for her too.)

    With this plan we can easily get a lot done before lunch – 1-2 classes after lunch for 2nd grade.  We need to set goals – like when we get to lesson 30 we’re going to have a pizza and popcorn party.  Sometimes I might say lets just do worksheets or we might skip a day and go on a field trip, etc.  Another blessing for me – My husband does school with them on Monday, his day off, and I get a break :)

    I have moments where I think I could do a more eclectic and more inexpensive approach, but my pastor husband says we ought to do this and adjust it for our needs.  I know he’s looking out for me & I appreciate that.

    I hope you can find a groove that works for your family.

    • liz stletler

      Clarification:  Daddy doesn’t do the BJU Bible classes at night – he does his own devotional with all the kids together.

      AND, we have the kids at different computers at an L-shaped desk and they wear headphones… in the kitchen/dining room-  just so you can picture it. ;)

  • http://www.family6-time.blogspot.com Suanna

    I also use Heart of Dakota.  I love it’s flexibility.   This year I have pre-k, 1st, and 2nd grade and we all do the first grade Bible, Poetry and Rhymes, and the 2nd grade music and storytime together.  I often add extras into these times if I find something that goes along with what we are learning.  We are finished most days between 12 pm and 2 pm.  I also have a 19 month old who has a quiet time in her room in the morning and a nap in the afternoon.  I put her in her bed with a few safe toys and leave her there for an hour or more if I need to.  Since I have been doing this since last year she has no problem with it.  I do close her door as it helps her to be quieter when she can’t hear everything we are doing very well.  She also has her own special box that we pull out to help occupy her when she is with us at school time.

  • Julie

    I LOVE THE ABEKA PROGRAM!

  • Debbie

    Hello Angie!  I just wanted to tell you that you have just done one of the things that will help you the most as a homeschooling mom, and that was asking for help.  
    My daughter was sharing with me recently that this was something she appreciated the most when she looked back on our own homeschooling experience.  I started teaching our two children when she was in 7th grade, and our son in 3rd.  Math was the subject that gave me the most “fear”, and after working through Algebra with her, I did not get the feeling that she had really grasped it as much as she needed to. (she finished with a C grade point) I wanted her to repeat it, and sought advice from a friend who was an assistant principal at a nearby high school.  She assured me that it would not hurt her to do it again but changing curriculum, and suggested using a curriculum that a student in her school had used.  She told me that this student had been home schooled all of his schooling until high school, and that she was afraid that he would have some real adjustments when he started that year in her school.  She was surprised when he did not…he fit in just fine, and excelled academically.  She helped me contact his mother, and I did end up using the curriculum she suggested.My daughter graduated with a degree in Secondary Education (math) and is close to having a Masters in the subject.  She is homeschooling her two children.My son…went through homeschooling telling me he was not learning anything.  We changed his whole plan every year about halfway through.  no.joke.  Right now he is 3 years away from a PhD in statistics (his Bachelor’s and Master’s in mathematics) He no longer thinks he was “deprived of an education” by being home schooled, and has thanked me many times for continuing even when he complained so much … 

    As you seek His will for you children, knowing that He loves them infinitely more than you do, and has plans for their lives that you cannot begin to comprehend…you can rest knowing that He is leading you and will continue to do so with every step you take in this journey!  Keep trusting Him…and asking your questions :)

  • Becky

    Hi Angie,
    Lots of encouraging testimonies here!  I just wanted to share with you that I have been where you are. I started homeschooling with a newborn baby, an 18 month old, a 3 year old, a 5 year old and a 7 year old.  Quite frankly, I was just happy if I kept them all alive at the end of the day. :o )  We were using Bob Jones dvd’s at the time.  I thought it would spare me the “teaching” time, so I would sit the older two in front of the dvd’s and take care of the three babies. Four years  (and a ton of money) later, I realized that it just wasn’t working. I agree with you.  It’s a great curriculum, but not for us. My children’s little brains would sit back in “tv mode” and stare at the screen.  When it came time to do a paper or take a test, I was having to re-teach it all to them anyways.  I remember a lot of tears, both theirs and mine.  

    Here we are 8 years later. My “newborn baby” just went to first grade, and my oldest in 8th.  A passage that has helped me with organizing all of thoughts (and my curriculum) is,  
      
     Isaiah 28:29 “All this also comes from the LORD Almighty,    whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent.”Bottom line…curriculum is really such a small thing in His big, miraculous, wonderful plan.  His magnificent wisdom will lead you to the perfect fit.

    -Becky

  • jennibell

    Wow, Angie, I have learned so, so much here!  Thank you for opening up the discussion.  I think I’ve been reading comments and googling links for the last 2+ hours.  Good luck to you. . .there is *so much* out there. . .and it’s great to get the un-edited advice from those who have “been there, done that”.
    Me?  I’m still too “chicken” to do it on my own so we pay tuition to an Umbrella school here in TN and they provide the curriculum, do the testing, and even tutor my kiddos when I just don’t have it in me to re-learn what a past-perfect-participle is (or whatever).  We can’t continue this route — too expensive! — but we pulled our children out of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th grade in January and since our public and private school options didn’t change over the summer months we’re back at it this year.  The supportive community there seems to be out there, though, gives me confidence that maybe, just maybe, my children and I may be able to step away from the structure and testing and oversight of “school”.
    Have a blessed weekend and don’t stress.  Lisa Whelchel might have some good advice for you, seeing as she traveled with her children while homeschooling too. . .which, I might add, would be the coolest thing in the world to do I think!!!

  • http://www.7sistershomeschool.com Kym

    Hi Angie,

    I see you have already had tons of great advice!  I made it through half of the comments so far.  Lots of great advice!

    We began homeschooling when our twins were toddlers, my son was in 1st grade and my daughter was in 4th. Now we are beginning our 12th year homeschooling our current 9th grade twins, high school senior and 3rd year college student.  We have “unschooled”, relaxed-schooled, co-oped, and done formal classes.  We have morphed more times than I can count.  We have always tried to take each child, each year, each subject individually.  Last year my son and I tried 7 different Geometry curricula before we found one the worked.

    While homeschooling has blessed us academically, I feel the greatest blessing BY FAR is the opportunities for greater relationships with our Lord, our friends and one another.  All the core curriculum, standards, etc in the world can’t begin to touch that!

    I just want to emphasize a few keys points:
     
    - there is no one “right” way to homeschool, the best way is the way that works for you and your family and is blessed by God

    - consider your children’s learning styles and well as your personal styles as teachers

    - “Communiies” (including multi-age and multi-generational relationships) offer priceless learning opportunities.

    - field trips (like much of your life), games, songs, movies, etc. make learning so much fun and bring it to life – these are the things my children describe as tools that gave them the most lasting and most meaningful learning

    - lastly, remember your goals: Mine has always been “Education is not the filling of a bucket, rather the lighting of a fire.” 

    Will continue to pray for you and yours as you walk this beautiful journey.

    I hope this link to my friend Sabrina’s post on our blog might help you and some of the other readers too.

    http://7sistershomeschool.com/2011/09/12/when-your-curriculum-isnt-working-for-your-homeschool/

  • Homemanager12

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned before or not–I didn’t sift through the 159 comments ahead of me. :D   I strongly suggest Sonlight.  Literature-based, and geared toward multiple ages.  Daily assignments laid out for you in a handy binder.  You can take it anywhere, from the couch to Zimbabwe. :)

  • Sabrina

    I love Sonlight curriculum.  I also have some friends that are using Abekah  virtual school http://www.abekaacademy.org/ and you could easily take that on the road with laptops.  I think my friends kids work pretty independently and they are in the lower grades.

  • http://www.veryunfinishedproduct.blogspot.com Mindy

    This year homeschooling is going a lot smoother for us than it did last year. I recently wrote about some things I am learning…

    http://veryunfinishedproduct.blogspot.com/2011/08/our-homeschool-day.html

    http://veryunfinishedproduct.blogspot.com/2011/09/our-homeschool-day-part-ii.html

    Hope it encourages someone:), particularly you precious Angie!!

  • http://www.StumblingAroundInTheLight.com Teri Miller

    Angie -
    I’m a few days late with this…but thought I might give you some realistic, been-in-the-trenches advice from an official Reluctant Homeschooler.

    We got into homeschooling by default – I had a chronically ill child (our oldest), whose condition was exacerbated by the over-stimulation of a brick-&-mortar school.  After the first few tear-filled years (MY tears, that is), we’ve figured out that it’s okay to take it one year at a time, re-evaluate curriculum each semester, and use different things for different kiddos.

    I’ve got seven kiddos (yeah, they all grew in my belly), and am homeschooling the oldest five: 16, 15 (10th grade), 11 (6th grade), 6, 5 (1st grade).  The little ones are almost-3 and 18 months.  OH – and if you figure out how to keep a little one busy for even FORTY minutes, can you share the secret???

    So – going against alotta advisers here – I do NOT like Sonlight.  It requires a TON of parental reading & involvement, doesn’t work for kids with reading/learning problems, and good-golly, the teaching manual weighs more than my toddler!  Any curriculum requiring that much homework by the parent, is too much for my busy home-school!

    Like I said – I’m a Reluctant Homeschooler.  Don’t get me wrong; we LOVE home schooling, and will never go back.  But I’ve discovered I’m a great coach & encourager…and an awful teacher.  So I look for curriculum that does the teaching for me!

    For kinder & 1st grade – ugh – there isn’t a thing to do but spend the time teaching those basics.  SO time consuming.  We like “Teach Your Child to Read In 100 Easy Lessons” for preschool or kinder. 

    Once they can read a bit, whew, it gets so much easier!  We’re using a new online curriculum for our 1st graders this year called “Little Lincoln” – it is WAY cool & easy & does almost all the teaching for you (especially if you’re willing to flex with it).

    Two great curriculum resources we’ve found for older grades (2-12) are LifePac (available thru Alpha Omega Press), and Teaching Textbooks.  We’ve also used an online curriculum called K12, which was good for grades 2-5, after which it got excessively too broad for our tastes.

    Oh – and we enjoy ‘Wordly Wise’ for language arts supplements – especially for older grades, to work on word origins & vocab.

    Okay, holy cow, this has been way too long.  Hmmmm….I need to blog on this.  duh!
    Hope that helps –
    Teri @ StumbingAroundInTheLight

  • Erika

    Hi Ang!!   PLEASE MAY I INTRODUCE you to…….”LIFE OF FRED”!!!!!   It is a math program that is sooooo independent and so FUNNY and all my girls LOVE it!  LOVE it!  LOVE it!  LOVE it!! I think you would appreciate the humor!  Please look into it and when you get a chance, let me know if you loved it as much as I think you will!

    The rest we use some Christian Liberty Press, BJU, and some Abeka.  Every year we look for that “something new”.  I enjoy not being tied down to one curriculmn! 
     
    Not sure if this would be up your alley, but Christian Liberty Press (CLP) has a program called CLASS.  I’ve never done that program, but some have found it helpful. 

  • Georgi

    Hello!  I’ve graduated one, and still have two at home, and along the way have learned a thing or two.  Hope this helps:

    We used Sonlight, and I loved it – until 9th grade.  However, I also have three very different children – and one did not fit the Sonlight mold (although I kept trying to force him into it!  Only took me three years to figure it out, poor kid.)   So for him, I tend to  switch it up, try to figure out what works for him.  For the others, they love to read, so Sonlight was great for them.  It was too much for my oldest in high school though, and that’s OK.   When I stopped using Sonlight for my oldest, I also switched my younger kids, too.

    I wish I had used Math-U-See from the beginning, but I was worried about their approach, and “what if we put them in school”, how far behind would they be?  etc.  But it really works well for my kids – all of them!  :-)  

    Easy Grammar, Daily Grams, (I think those both started in 3rd grade) and Italic Handwriting every year.  And some sort of Bible or devotional.

    Add some science (I liked Sonlight for the elementary years, and Apologia only through Physical Science) and history (we are using Notgrass this year for 6th grade and I really like it!) and reading.  Loved the Pathway readers for the first few years, too.

    It’s so easy to feel like you are going to miss something – but you really don’t need to worry about that so much until they are in middle school and high school.  I know that probably sounds crazy, but it really is true.  (And did you know that schools typically only finish 80% of the textbooks, if even that?)  Enjoy them while they are young – pick pumpkins and press leaves and go to the zoo – because pretty soon one will be in college, the youngest will be turning 12, and you’ll wonder where the years went!

    When my kids were in elementary school, we always said we finished before lunch (but sometimes we ate at 2!)   Middle school and high school sometimes don’t START until then.  My how things change.  Oh – and the 16 month old – when my little girl was little, I kept a box of special toys that she only got to play with while her brothers did school.  It worked for a while.  Like two weeks.  :-)  

  • Monica

    I realize I am almost a month late to the party (LOL!), but I wanted to share a book with you that has tremedously blessed me. Totally going to apologize in advance too, since it’s very likely someone has already mentioned it..

    Clay and Sally Clarkson’s “Educating the Wholehearted Child.” This book isn’t a curriculum. However, it really go to the heart of why I wanted to homeschool. Included are curriculum suggestions and how to implement a “wholehearted” learning approach. It rescued me from my “school at home” mentality. Overall, it’s a tremendously encouraging read.

    I hope this suggestion is helpful to you and that it blesses you that way is has richly blessed me!

    Monica

  • Jpmama5

    This is my 4th year at Hshooling and I just received some great advice last weekend.  Our job is basically teaching our children to read.  Once they can get to that point they can pretty much do any curriculum you put in front of them.  Then basically you are there to answer questions that come up.  I do love doing science and history altogether, but then they have their individual levels they do by themselves such as: Math, Reading/Language/ Writing. 

    I tend to make things harder and more stressful than they should be so this was great advice for me.  I hope it helps you.

    ~Kristen

  • Jennifer Price

    I was in the same boat last year.  We use the ABeka dvd’s.  I had one in the 1st and one in the 2nd grade and a toddler.  I have lots of friends that piece curriculums together but that didn’t work for me.  I stressed a lot last year but this year it has been a lot better.  I know this doesn’t really help you but it is nice to know that other people go through the same struggles that I did.  We just stuck it out and it’s working well for us now that they are more independent.  We are doing year around school.  We do about 4-5 weeks on and 2 weeks off.  We love it!  I pray that you will find what works for you and the girls :)

  • holly

    As much as I would LOVE to browse all your comments, I have run out of time too quickly!  You have many curriculum comments, so I will let you think about those.  I have 5 young children and one of my favorite “strategies” to keep the “littles” busy while I am working with the older ones is “towel time”.  Basically, you lay down a towel or small blanket, and give them toys, puzzles or preschool activities (only one at a time), and teach them to stay on the towel.  There is a learning curve, especially if you start young, but it works GREAT if they learn it.  You can start for short intervals, use incentives, have special toys or games, whatever works for you.  Hope that helps!!
    Holly Willis
    jadyn49507@yahoo.com

  • Sandy

    I’ve only read some of the comments, and I know you’ve received lots of good advice, so I won’t try to repeat it.  After exclusively homeschooling for 13 years (my eldest was homeschooled from Kindergarten and just started at the University of Louisville this fall!), I have begun teaching elementary school at a nearby private Christian school.  Some observations based on my experience:
    1) You mentioned that you don’t want your girls to miss anything.  They will!  There will be all kinds of things that they “miss” through the years: fabulous curricula that you buy that you never have the time to get to, wonderful opportunities that you have to pass up for one reason or another- there’s no way to do it all!  Trust God that he will give them the opportunities they need, and that he will guide you through all the choices you make for their education.2)  BJU is geared for a classroom, and there’s WAY TOO MUCH stuff to do!  Although I love the Christian school where I teach, I am required to teach a classroom curriculum, and we have to move at a break-neck pace to get through all of it.  Sucks the joy right out of learning!   Don’t be afraid of the flexibility homeschooling offers you.  It’s ok not to get through it all and to drop things that aren’t as critical right now.  If it’s important, they’ll be seeing it again and again through the years.  

    My younger four kids (Grades 5,7,9,11) are attending the school where I teach, and they all say that homeschooling was “way harder” than “real” school, and they are all making excellent grades.  Even with all the learning gaps, all the agonizing over curricula, all the headaches,  all the hassle from my engineer husband who was convinced our kids were way behind the rest of the world in math… God has been faithful and they are thriving.  Your girls will too.  
    Blessings!
    Sandy

  • Holly

    Angie, I met you briefly at the True Woman Conference in Ft. Worth through our sweet mutual friend, Jennifer L.  Although I am super late reading this post, if you ever want to talk about home school adventures, I am currently in year number twenty-seven or eight maybe. 
       Just call Jennifer and get my info.      Feel free to give me a buzz, Holly

  • Lisa

    We also use the Bob Jones curriculum and I know exactly what you are feeling.  This is the second year that we have not taught from the book and actually used the Hard Drive and it was completely overwhelming at first.  We finally decided to let our 5 and 6 years olds learn from the books (with me teaching) and let our 5th grader continue with the Hard Drive.  I can finish with the younger ones in about and hour and a half and the 5th grader now completes his work in about 3.5 hours.  I sat with him for the entire day one day and figured out what could be cut out (he only does the workbook for these ones) and what teachers talked to slowly (he is allowed to play them on fast forward) and what I could do with him.  So far that has made our life a lot less stressful.  I’m not exactly sure of how it works with the DVDs, but with the Hard Drive and Online versions, you have the option to make them talk faster, mark off the work done, and more easily switch from subject to subject.  I think that you are able to switch to the other versions free of charge if you are using the DVDs.  Just some thoughts.

  • Anonymous

    You have 500+ comments here so I will keep it short and sweet. We are in year 6 of homeschooling. I now have a Sophomore {gulp}, a 6th grader, and a 4th grader. We tried the all encompassing “box” curriculum at first. Huge mistake but I wasn’t confident in my decision or my ability at the time so it felt “safest.” During year 4, after I had allowed the enemy to burden me with fear and doubt, the Lord met me in my time of need with a curriculum that would REVOLUTIONIZE our homeschool experience. It was Sonlight. I realize all families are different and what works for one won’t always work for another but I could not pass up singing their praises. Their literature picks are phenomenal. Their History, Read Alouds, and Science I LOVE LOVE LOVE. And the best part??? I never have to spend on SECOND planning!!!! It’s mapped out like my very own Homeschool assistant. 

    We use Abeka for Language and Writing, Teaching Textbooks for Math (another lifesaver), and Spelling Power for Spelling. I have 3 VERY different children and all of these seems to work very well for all 3 of mine. 

    Hope this helps. :-)

  • Linda

    Hi! I’ve read some of the comments you’ve received. Lots of good advice, so I won’t bore you with much. I homeschooled my seven children, now age 39 down to 22. The youngest will graduate from NorthCentral University in Minneapolis, this coming May. We tried many didn’t methods and curricula. I would spend a lot of time reading history, and good literature. We also used the standard Christian texts, and McGuffy readers and Ray’s arithmatic, then Saxon math. My kids loved material from Cristical Thinking. To teach reading we used Play N Talk. There is so much good stuff out there. You just need to find what you and your children are comfortable with. Generally, starting at about 4th grade, your children will probably want to do as much as possible on their own. I made up contracts, showing what was going to be done each day. Some they did on their own, without me, and the rest I would assist them. This worked all the way through high school. Our children have gone away to college, worked well independently, and graduated with honors. I am sure you will do great with your girls. It is not necessarily how much they do, but that you teach them to know how to learn and work independently, which will come with time.

    Love you book, “I Will Carry You.” It is like reading our life story, two years ago. My daughter found out at week 16, she was having a baby girl, and two weeks later, that her little girl had full trisomy 13. So many similar experiences to yours. Today marked two years since our Grace was born but given back to God.

  • Mbthedq

    We loved “Five -In -A Row” when our Margaret was younger. If they like to be read to it is a wondeful unit study. (We technically only did (four days in row as Fridays were co-op days)
    Just back from Hartford, it was my favorite one ever. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so very evident.
    Thank you!
    Mary Beth

  • Kristen Scherer

    Hopefully you are not still waiting by the computer….or maybe you are. ;)
    We are in our 4th year of homeschooling and joined Classical Conversations this year.  It has been amazing and compliments are “relaxed” style of home learning (we do a lot of library, books, casual learning)http://www.3inpink2inblue.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous

    Late to the conversation…
    We used BJU  dvds for the first 6 yrs of our journey.  We really liked them. My children loved the dvd’s and the teachers. I loved not being responsible for all the instruction. We had good years and tough years.  (Most of that didn’t rest on the curriculum, but on me and our schedule of life that year.) When we first started, I learned that there was a difference between passive and active listening/watching. My children thought school was “watching tv” and passive listening is VERY different from what was expected of them at “school.”  As each child started Kindergarten, I sat in the room with them for about a week or two in order to help them learn to listen/engage their mind. The teacher would give an instruction or ask a question and they would just be sitting there watching. :) I would gently remind them, “Did you hear what she just said? You need to listen carefully and do whatever she says as soon as she tells you to.” or “You need to answer out loud.” etc… After prompting for those first couple weeks, it was a new skill – active listening! After that, things went much easier. They knew what was going on and were able to be much more independent. I could go about my work and listen for audible responses to gauge whether they were really paying attention or not. School went along fine, but as the children grew into middle and upper elementary, it did take almost as much time as a regular school day. I didn’t like that.  Or the fact that we spent most of the day in separate spaces while doing school. And I didn’t know what they were each learning about because I couldn’t keep up with so many classes. So there were no fun discussions about reading stories, etc. 

    Now jump ahead to this summer, I felt like things were becoming nothing more than doing school at home.  And while there is much to be said for having them home, I wanted more out of “school.” Seriously, I could have sent them to school to learn the exact same things and had all that time to myself and to get things done. BUT that was not my goal. I didn’t want my children to have a conversation some day with a traditionally schooled person and say, “Yeah, we had those same workbooks too, we just did them at home.” I wanted my children to have something different to show for being homeschooled.  I want them to be MORE. To be better grounded. Better educated even. Mostly to have a depth of character that is uncommon among young people. To be a different caliber of person BECAUSE of their homeschooling. So I started searching out some other curricula. I found several things I liked and was beginning to piece together my own conglomeration when a friend saw what I was doing and made a suggestion. “If you are going that direction, you should look at what I do. I think you’d love it!” So I looked at her teachers guide and at the catalog and fell in love… with My Father’s World!

    I had found a curriculum that echoed my heart’s desires for my children – to fall in love with God and to have a heart for other people! I love the philosophy behind the choices of books and the heart of the people working there.  I love that they choose particular books because they are some of the best in the subject matter and that they try to find ones that are written from a Biblical perspective. I love that the teacher guide spells out every day for me! I love that they give me a huge library list to flesh out more (if I want to) and that it is organized by the week and what we are studying. I love that I don’t HAVE to flesh out more if I don’t have time – that the included books are sufficient. I love that they have a discussion group/support page. ….and I could go on…

    I can not begin to tell you how our school days have changed. I LOVE school!
    I, not JUST the kids.   I, the mom, LOVE school!
    It has breathed new life into our school day.
    I cherish this time with my children. (And I am really  sad I lost 6 years to the tv.)
    I love that it only takes a few hours to do the “school” learning and then we are on to the rest of our day. Real life.
    I have time to do all those extra things I never got around to when we had a full day of  dvds! Art, music, cooking, foreign language, extra reading time with me…
    I love that my children and I are all on the same page and when something comes up in life that relates to what we have studied, we all get it. We are learning together! …and there is LOTS to be said for that.
    My children love having me do school with them – I can see it. I am tying strings to the hearts. :)

    And yes, I have a toddler (with special needs, too) who was wreaking havoc at the beginning of the year. BUT I started “rug time” with her (right near my chair) and after the learning curve of a few days,  it works beautifully! She has things to keep her occupied (I switch them out when we change subjects) and it helps her feel like she is with us.  She joins us at the table for some things too and then she really thinks she is big stuff. :)   She looks forward to “doing school” too. When the other children are doing an assignment, I take her aside to work on her preschool activities, etc. It’s a win, win. She is happy and quiet when we are working and in reality, is getting more one-on-one time in the end.

    I love what this curriculum has done for our family this year. And I love that I finally found the courage to step away from my comfort zone of the curriculum I knew and venture out into what God had newly placed before me.
    It has been a blessing!

    Sorry this was so long, but hope it will help to know of someone who has been there and done that, changed, and is loving it!
    Laura
    a new MFW mom

    • Kl_elliott

      Wow. Thank you so much for this reply. Before you mentioned MFW,  you were listing all the things you wanted for your kids as a result of homeschooling. I was wanting to scream, “YES!” with you on each point. And then you said MFW, the one I have been pouring over the past 24 hours, obsessively. I think you just gave me that gentle nudge I was needing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adriennelich Adrienne Renae Lich

    I just recently started homeschooling my 5 and 7 year olds. I use “Five In A Row” and I love it! Their website is http://www.fiveinarow.com. It’s all based on books. I love to read, and so do my kids, so this is perfect for us! They give you a list of books to read (most can be checked out at the library). From that book, you can develop social studies lessons geography, art, etc. All assignments stem from the book. I’ll give you an example. We just finished reading “The Very Last First Time”. It’s about a girl who lives in Canada on Ungava Bay, and she always used to walk with her mom on the bottom of the sea when it was frozen. She finally got old enough to make her first trip alone. The book has pictures that are made with dots (pointillist). We made our own pointillist painting as an Art lesson. We also talked about fear, and incorporated Bible verses into it that discuss fear. For Geography, we bought a big map and tacked it to the wall. ($5.95 at Walmart). We found Ungava Bay and discussed how far it was from us (Indiana).  There’s so much more you can do with it. I love it!

  • Jodi

    For K/1st grader  Sing, Spell, Read, and write is great.  Easy grammar for all ages, Saxon math, K12.com is who I have used for years now.  I have used all the others but my kids love the K12 program.  You can combine History and Science for all the kids. The science is very hands on and the history is great.  We have now covered all grades 1st-9th.  I hope this helps.  K12 does require hands on from the parents, but also the kids will learn to work my themselves.  This just takes time and time and more time.  We have days when we are done in 4 hours and other days when it takes 8. Depends on the kids attitudes.  If they have lots of energy, we have started “P.E.” first thing and this helps.  Good luck…. Oh and for the little one, well I always seemed to get more done when they were taking naps.  Or have a box of “school stuff” for her to play with. New toys, play dough, etc…  Good luck.

  • Sass

    All I can say is I was homeschooled and I loved it.  Trips to the museum, art gallery, lessons of curriculm when it fit our schedule and time for sports.  Every child has a learning curve.  The first grader will need more one on one help as there has been no learning curve and this is where it begins.  The third grader needs guidence and the curve is beginning to form.  I am also a student working for my MAsters in education.  It’s all about phonics really.  Once understanding and comprehension or developed significally then you may be able to send your children off to their own study areas to do their own work, which is usually around 6-7th grade.  So you have a little ways to go before that learning curve becomes workable for you and your family.  However, there are many different plans and curriculums out there, that may just relieve some of your long days, but will cost some more money which I;m sure you were not looking to do.

  • GKMOM

    Hi Angie. I homeschool my 10 year old son and it has been a challenge every year. The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that God wants me to do this . I know in my heart this is what I am supposed to do. I am convinced that my son would have been labeled ADD by now and held back in school. I also just cringe at the thought of him being anywhere near a public school!  I too had to fight my urges to not waste a book when all of this cost so much. In the beginning I was very regimented and felt like I HAD to finish everything and in a certain amount of time. Over the years I had to realize that some of the curriculum was not going to work for him at all. We started out with Alpha Omega and have found that The Language was too based in writing for him. He isn’t capable of choosing topics, drafting, revising,note-taking etc. This year I switched to BJU Press. It is more traditional grammar and even teaches sentence diagramming. We suppliment cursive writing in because it does not address that, at least not in our 5th grade book. I also got him a separate spelling book.  We also switched to Teaching Textbooks Math and LOVE it. He wasn’t doing well in the Alpha Omega Math, but has been much better now. I saw some recommedations for Saxon math, but I have to advise that unless your girls are really math minded Saxon is NOT an easy curriculum! I also completely skipped 4th grade History in Alpha Omega because it was boring him! It was very Social Studies like and Civics minded. he wanted real history! So, we bought 5th grade last year and have taken our time doing it. We suppliment with some small books about government and states and presidents. For science we stuck with Alpha Omega, but may switch to BJU Press next year. I stick in some dinosaur stuff and other special interests here and there. He does some 4th and 5th grade readers and some Alpha Omega Art. And some bible and devotional time. Oh and typing. There are free qwerty typing lessons online. One thing I found helpful this year was a more divided schedule. We do English, Math, Typing and Bible everyday but only do History on Tues and Thurs and Science on Mon and Wed  then Fri we add in either or both of those that need any extra done or tests for the week. This seems to make the day not quite so stressed for time. I have a VERY active 2 1/2 year old adorably sassy girl who tries to dominate our day and he has had a very hard time adapting to her shenanigans and interuptions. I am trying very hard to believe that we will be alright in the end. We also don’t completely stop in the summer, especially now with my daughter causing so much havoc on our day! We use a Bridge curriculum in the summer and finish any classes we were behind in on a very relaxed schedule. Mardel and CBD are great places to browse what is out there.  I STILL have to sit with my son most of the time! But my sister in laws 3 girls(13,10,&7) do great on their own! So hopefully that will get easier for you!  Sometimes I feel like I will lose my mind..but I KNOW I am doing the right thing! Hang in there!! Just remember you ARE doing a great job and it will all be ok in the end! I am a very regimented person and it is hard for me to deviate from neat packaged perfection, but I am learning everyday. Most of all, enjoy,because it goes soo fast and they are gone, off to college and your left amazed at how quickly time goes…I hope this helps some:)

  • Fastpenner

    We love sonlight at our house! We have two in first grade and one in kindergarten. Lots of snuggling and reading, and we like the classical approach to education, it’s a good fit for me and for my kids. Also we LOVE Horizons math, it’s so repetitive and gradual that even my first graders are doing a lot of it themselves and I just teach new concepts as they come up. Because there is so much slow Progression they are even teaching themselves a bit! Hope you find(or have found) a great fit for your family! There is so much good stuff out there it can be hard to choose!

  • Shaelc4

    Hi Angie. I was just wondering if you are still homeschooling? I homeschool and what a journey! I love meeting other moms for encouragement and inspiration. Hope to hear back from you soon!

  • Baronsmom04

    Hi there, Angie.  I’m on my 14th yr. and second ’round’ of kiddos.  I’ve strayed many times, however I keep coming back to Sonlight!  It’s a literature based, Charlotte Mason approached-style of h/s’ing.  Check them out….www.sonlight.com  They JUST revamped their Instructor’s Guide to make it more user-friendly and is due to be released in a few weeks.  I love their branding…’how you wish you were taught…guaranteed!’   Request a catalog.  Blessings to your blessings!  Lisa

  • Naomischafer

    We are just starting at our house. I taught my daughter to read when she was 2.5 with Siegfried engelmanns Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and are slowly working our way into actual material (she is 3.5 now). She did have extensive word awareness from sight word programs (like Your Baby Can Read or Skwids.com) so I ended up teaching her out of looking for something to keep her mind occupied. We will piecemeal our curriculums as we go, but by referencing back to state or national standards so I can make sure we don’t forget things (although math is a good one to pick a curricula for or else you could teach them in an order which you might later realize was a little backwards). You might be surprised to find there is no current science requirements for elementary and the focus is really math and reading, but that is a little backwards sine most of the subjects are easier to teach using a focus on science. What kid isn’t more interested in animals than division? So using science to teach and encourage the other subjects connects better with kids, simply (in my opinion) because it’s more concede and sensible to them. The ore you can keep it relatable in elementary subjects the faster they will learn and the more they will enjoy it. Plus Nashville has a children’s science museum, and you can get annual passes for a very reasonabl price and make at. Weeks routine for educational play, in addition to signing up for classes that typical kids science museums offer starting at 3yrs.

  • Amber

    I’m in my senior year (psych major) and military spouse. This year our family has tried K12 (6th and 2nd). Pros and Cons, pros – if you have an iphone you’re set (homeschooling on the road is feasible). Cons-attendance is a bugger and they REALLY want a tally daily. For our state it was free, transferable if we moved mid year and met state qualifications. We supplement with Awana, library and our own “version” of field trips/family vacations and travel. You are in good company! -Amber

  • KellyR

    I piece meal it all together but it has certainly saved my sanity and my blood pressure. I set out to meet clear priorities–like reading for my 4 yr. old because reading is so critical to me. We use Explode the Code workbooks but then I discovered Explode the Code online and it’s AMAZING. I’m enthralled with it because it allows children to use very self-sufficiently and gives incredibly specific reports on where they need further work and how to do it. Only $65 a year and worth six times that. I LOVE the books that Sonlight uses but don’t like how choppy the suggested schedule of use is. So I buy the entire book list and make my own schedule for reading. I have a wild 2 yr.old who only wants to climb trees so I’ve kept him busy inside while I’m working on other teaching by making that his very special iPad time. I loaded iPad with apps that are grouped for him and all very educational–key to it is that I got him special headphones–we make a really big deal of the headphones and he gets so excited that he has his own time for iPad and headphones. He’s already doing all his letters on the Handwriting Without Tears app and LOVES it. His excitement wears off on the others so I keep adding new $1.99 apps. After my core priorities I just try to reference some of the guidelines for what they should be learning and adapt apps, online curriculum and other curricula that meets those goals. I shudder when I think of the thousands of dollars I spent originally believing that I had to have a whole kit and implement it exactly. The pressure and anxiety led to so much self-condemnation that I felt defeated before I ever got out of bed. Ironically, it was a Sonlight representative (they have mentor moms who’ve home schooled) that helped me by encouraging me to place mama-sanity as top priority and do what felt most natural for me. I also hired a brilliant teacher to come in 4 hours a week (split into two 2-hour days) to teach them math and science. This gives me a much-needed break and allows them to experience someone else encouraging their God-given love of learning. It’s expensive but I happily give up other things for the treasure of having a companion teacher for those hours. I am sure you’ll find what works for your family and the unique callings on all of your lives. One of our sons has many hospital stays so it’s been a joy and relief to me that my little self-created curriculum is able to go inpatient with us. It’s a mish-mash but it’s ours. There was no greater comfort, and I believe affirmation from God, to me than our recent 3 week hospital stay when my beloved James, still hazy from the anesthesia used in his heart catheterization, looked up at me through glassy eyes and said, “Mommy get my Montessori red rods” As I reached in our big wagon of school supplies and grabbed the box with his math manipulatives I felt the breath of heaven wash warm over me. You’re doing it well my love is what I heard deep within. And for that night and the 21 that followed we did all our school, without rules, have-to’s or anguish. We read, we laughed, we played, we took breaks for blood-draws and echocardiograms and I whispered thanks to Jesus for our traveling wagon of wisdom and the weird and wacky but wonderfully unique-to-us gifts that it held. Go with your beautiful heart Angie and your children’s hearts and minds will be FULL and gifted with exactly what they need for their journey. Blessings, Kelly