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homeschool curriculum 911

Homeschool Curriculum 911

by Patricia Marie

Okay, so you’ve read through the steps to start homeschooling in Virginia and you’ve let your superintendent know that you are home educating. Now, you’re looking at the actual “doing” of the thing.

If you’ve been considering home educating your children for a while, you’ve probably had time to research methods, homeschool curriculum resources, costs, support groups, classes, co-ops, activities, and other exciting educational opportunities available in your area.

However, if you haven’t had the luxury of time to research these things yet, don’t fret! This article will provide guidance regarding a simple, stress-free way to begin your family’s home education journey.

“LIFE ITSELF is an education! It’s not a race to a final destination but, rather, the cultivation of personal character. So, make certain you savor the experience and enjoy the journey!”

Accept the Changes and Go with the Flow

It’s important that we acknowledge the first challenge that you will likely face—the challenge of change.

Like me—and many other homeschool parents—your (and your child’s) experience with education has likely been in the context of the industrial model, situated in a classroom. Ask any seasoned homeschooler where to start and, undoubtedly, they will tell you that what is first needed is time —time to explore, consider, and experience education in the context of the big, wide world… facilitated by you, the parent.

Really, you are looking forward to two big changes here: the development of your ideas about what education is, and the development of your ideas about what parenting is.

Know that as you move away from what is familiar in mind and practice, mental shifts will be naturally occurring for both you and your child. You may even experience a complete paradigm shift. Just remember that, as these new doors open up for you, there is no rush on this journey of exploration. In fact, education and parental discipleship are both life-long endeavors; we can expect to never fully arrive at a final and “perfect” destination. Consider instead the idea that home education is a lifestyle of learning that is facilitated and nurtured by a loving parent. Realize and embrace the fact that you are now free to cultivate a new vision for your family… and you, dear parent, have the privilege of watching that vision manifest and grow in its own unique and beautiful way.

With this said—and as exciting as change can be!—it can also sometimes be overwhelming and, potentially, anxiety-producing. If you are experiencing this side of the coin, know that you are in good company. Many (if not most) homeschooling parents experienced this as well. Though families have home educated for about 97% of human history, the “how-to” knowledge and understanding has been lost for several recent generations. We are blessed to have had strong, modern homeschool pioneers carve out a road for us.

Nevertheless, new things can be scary. Take heart during this initial swell. Remember when you started a new job? It was probably difficult and overwhelming at first. You might have wondered if you would ever figure it out. However, time went on, and you plugged away. Then, one day, you had a handle on the job and were actually training others to do it. Home education is the same. You WILL learn the job, and all will be well.

A Practical Strategy

Acknowledging all of this—and being mindful to extend grace to yourself and your child during this transition—let’s now look at a simple and practical strategy that you can use to help your child maintain and build upon their foundational skills while you work on customization.

Here are the steps:

  1. Use an inexpensive, high-quality online program. You can sign up for it and start immediately with no set up and no prep. Then, while you have that plate spinning…
  2. Work on organizing your day. While those two plates are spinning…
  3. Read up on educational philosophies and methods. Take the time you need to customize your plans and begin implementing them gradually, one at a time.
  4. Continue your self-education as a parent-teacher.

Online Homeschool Curriculum

Online programs may not be the best choice for creativity, but there are times when they come in handy–such as getting off to a quick start. There are a variety of online options to choose from that will help you provide your child with resources for ongoing skills work. Here is a list of some of your community’s favorite free and low-cost online homeschool curriculum options that you could start using today:

Monarch by AOP

  • Full K-12 curriculum options available
  • All online and flexible
  • 30-day free trial and 20% off through August

Power Homeschool

  • Full K-12 curriculum options available
  • $10 – $15 per month per student, depending on the classes you choose

Time4Learning

  • Full PreK-12 curriculum options available
  • $19.95 – $30 per month per student depending on the classes you choose

All-in-One Homeschool

  • Full PreK-12 curriculum options available
  • Free

Ambleside Online

  • Full K-12 curriculum options available
  • Free curriculum guide based on the Charlotte Mason method

IXL for Families

  • Full K-12 curriculum options available
  • $9.99 – $19.95 per month per student depending on the classes you choose

Schoolhouse Teachers

  • Full Pre-K-12 curriculum options available
  • Up to $49.97 every quarter

ABC Mouse

  • For ages 2-8
  • $9.95 per month per student

Organizing Your Day

There are many ways to organize your day, and this will change for you as your needs and goals change over time. For the parent who is just starting out and needs quick direction, here are my suggestions:

As the Lord has tasked parents with the discipleship of their children, a great way to start each day is with family Bible and prayer time. You don’t need a program to do this. You can simply read a chapter of the Bible, ask your children to tell you back (narrate) what you’ve read, and close in prayer. My personal routine includes a daily memory verse set to song for a memory work program offered through our church. Use your own resources, and have fun! The focus is, as in all things, to simply put first things first.

Follow your Bible time with a family read-aloud. You don’t have to read for hours. Fifteen minutes is just fine for starting out. Sarah Mackenzie’s website Read Aloud Revival is a fantastic one-stop-resource to find a great read-aloud for your family.

From this foundation, you will then, gradually, add in more lessons, one at a time. When considering which subjects to introduce first, it is helpful to always remember that language arts and math are your foundational skills subjects. So, if you choose to use an online program, I recommend starting with the language arts lessons. Once you have this routine down (Bible, read-aloud, language arts), then add in math. From there, continue to add more subjects (history, science, foreign language, art, music, computer, etc.) one at a time, as you and your child become familiar and comfortable with each new flow.

Note that all of the online programs listed above offer flexibility to separate out subjects and take them one step at a time during your season of transition.

Once your child has completed their study time, you will want to then provide plenty of time and experience outside (especially in nature!) and in the big, wide world. Keep your eyes open and be ready to support your child’s individual interests and passions. Seek out your local support groups and learn about the various classes, co-ops, activities, get-togethers, etc. in your area. Your focus with these things is to enrich and nurture your children’s lives.

Customization

“Customization is the secret sauce of home education,” says Anne Miller, president of HEAV.

Now that you have the online lessons and daily routines plates spinning, you can now turn your focus to researching and creating a customized plan for your child.

Generally, homeschool curriculum is structured around a particular philosophy or method of education. When looking at curriculum options, it’s a good strategy to study the educational philosophies and teaching methods first and then find a curriculum that supports your vision.
One of my favorite introductory resources for learning about the various educational philosophies and teaching methods available is Sonya Shafer’s 5 Flavors of Homeschooling video. If you are able to identify some methods that seem to fit your family, you will then be able to narrow down your search to the curricula that support those methods. This strategy will save you lots of time (and money!) in the long run by providing more focused research.

If you’re wondering where to purchase resources, HEAV has a great list of suppliers. You can also find companies that specialize in curricula supporting a particular method by conducting a simple search in your browser. Personally, one of my favorite one-stop online shops is Rainbow Resource. You can also check very large, well-known companies like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Christianbook.com, etc. to find what you need. Be sure to shop around to find the best prices.

Ongoing Parent-Teacher Training

Ongoing parent-teacher training is an important component of your home education experience. Consider—above all of your other available resources—regular attendance at the annual HEAV Homeschool Convention. The HEAV Convention is the 3rd largest homeschool convention in the United States, and it is widely considered to be the best in-service parent-teacher training that you could ask for.

In addition to this, there are countless books, articles, videos, podcasts, seminars, online summits, local book clubs, and so much more that will assist you in continuing to develop your knowledge and skills as a parent-teacher. Always keep something going in this way throughout your home education journey, and you will be sure to equip yourself and your children for success.

Enjoy the Journey

Whatever resources you use, remember that your job is to help your child grow in the way of self-education. If our children can get the skills of self-education down, they can learn anything!

To do this, simply consider how you yourself learn now that you are out of “school,” and teach those skills to your children. The reality is—whether you realize it or not—that you have been self-educating all along! No one has ever taught you anything that you yourself didn’t choose to receive. You have lived your life setting goals for what you want to know or be able to do, and you have used various resources that work best for your particular learning styles in order to achieve those goals. Your children are no different from yourself in this way. The great British educator, Charlotte Mason, put it like this: “Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.”

So, instead of focusing on the success of your child’s education as being based on test scores or parroting capability, focus on the fact that you are educating a whole person—a living, breathing, human being, made in His image. Keep a wide view of all that education entails—spiritual development, moral development, emotional development, physical development, academic development—and provide for your child the best atmosphere you can possibly provide for all of this wonderful development to take place.

Lastly, always keep in mind that LIFE ITSELF is an education! It’s not a race to a final destination but, rather, the cultivation of personal character. So, make certain you savor the experience and enjoy the journey!

Patricia Beahr HEAV blogger homeschool curriculumPatricia and her husband began their home education journey in 2012, and they consider this decision to be one of the best that they have ever made for their family. Patricia seeks to share the blessings that her family has enjoyed by providing her fellow home educators encouragement, guidance, and assistance as they walk out this journey together. Patricia currently works on HEAV’s legislative team as Yvonne Bunn’s assistant director of government affairs. You can reach her by contacting the HEAV office or finding her online at HEAV’s Homeschooling in Virginia Facebook page.

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