10 Days of Getting Started: Keep It Simple!

Well here we are at the final day of the 10 Days Blog Hop. I’ve had a great time. I hope you have too! I’ll have the chance to catch up with some of the other blogs now. I’m anxious to work on some more habit training CM style when all this is over! I hope you’ve been inspired by our efforts as well. Today, I want to talk about keeping things simple.

Seems like an easy idea, right? Well if you’ve been around a while, then you know how easy it is to be caught up in a whirlwind of information. Sometimes as homeschoolers we make things entirely too complicated. My last piece of advice to those who are just starting is to keep things simple!

Comparing yourself to well established homeschoolers may only serve to discourage you. Keep yourself focused on the vision you have established and work toward that vision. Great homeschooling does not require gobs of amazing curriculum. It doesn’t require serious equipment and fancy school rooms. It doesn’t require expensive items others have. All it requires is the desire to achieve a vision and consistency.

As you are starting, if you are hitting some math skills, enjoying good books about all kinds of things, and working on refining your child’s written communication skills on a daily basis, then you are having a great homeschooling day!

Try not to be overwhelmed with all the information out there. Just take things slow and steady and add in things if you want to as you get really good at doing important things consistently.

Keep your schedule light- that includes sports, lessons, and everything else under the sun you are bound to figure out are available to homeschoolers everywhere. Your time will be well spent if you spend it establishing good habits and learning about your students and how you work together.

And lastly, it may take some time to get a groove! Parenting and homeschooling are not guaranteed to be easy. As Jim Trelease says, parenting was not meant to be a time saving endeavor! Take the time to read and learn and understand how you can work with your children the best. Then keep at it and find a mentor- someone who can share the wisdom they’ve collected after years of homeschooling.

Thanks for coming along on these 10 Days of Getting Started. I hope I’ve shared something here that has been valuable. Feel free to leave a comment! I have been reading them and at the request of a reader, I’ll be sharing what to have in your homeschool library in the next few days. If there is something else I did not get to that you wanted to know more about, please leave a comment and I’ll try to answer you!

Heather

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

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10 Days of Getting Started: How about Math?

Well I have two days left to blog on “Getting Started” and I had a good list of topics some of which ended up together and I blogged extra days. I’m saving some sage advice for tomorrow so today I thought I’d go ahead with my original idea of a math post. Math and science are sometimes the intimidators when it comes to homeschooling. I’ll list some of the math programs I know folks use and I’ll provide some details on the ones we have or do use. Then I will share some of my favorite math websites we use for practice and enrichment.

Math on the Level-This the program we use primarily in our homeschool. Developed by Carlita Boyles, it’s a program that relies on math maturation in order to teach kids. There is no scope and sequence set in stone, rather there is a list of concepts kids must know before they get to Algebra. Some things require prior mastery of skills and some things don’t. The hallmark of MOTL is that you as the parent choose when your child is ready to learn a concept rather than the publisher. MOTL is a great way to teach math if you like putting together what and how your children learn something. For me, it is a great way to do living math- that applied math we sometimes see so little of- like an after thought so many times. It is teacher intensive, but well worth the time IF that is how you want to teach math. It’s not for everyone. I have lots of homeschooling pals who carve their own path in math. MOTL is a great way to have sort of a “spine” to rely on if you are going your own way. It’s pricey at $315 with shipping, but that is your whole program from Pre-K to grade 8 (or whenever you start algebra). There is an Excel spreadsheet you can use to have review problems come up regularly based on what your child needs to review. This is the “5-a-Day” which is another hallmark of Math on the Level- five math problems a day! I have other posts on how we use Math on the Level. Feel free to check them out. Also be sure to check out our math journals.

Horizons- We have the entire Horizons series except for the newest pre-Algebra level. We used it a long time because it’s cheap, thorough, and visually pleasing. It’s a spiral program which is great for my oldest son. Spiraling means that it teaches new things in a lesson while reviewing older concepts all the time. As opposed to the mastery method where you teach that concept and just that one until it’s mastered. Eventually, we left Horizons because my other kids, especially my daughter, did not do well with it. Too much repetition and too many problems! Also, teaching three levels of Horizons required that I do three 45 minute lessons (or at least two since my oldest prefers to read and do himself) which was just too much.

Singapore- “Singapore Math” is not a trade name but a general term referring to the math curriculum, or syllabus, designed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education. Singapore students regularly perform well on math tests in comparison to other countries so people became interested in how they did math and formed this program based on that. Several publishers produce a Singapore syllabus program.

Math U See- this is a method where you watch videos of math teaching and work with manipulatives to learn math. This is a very popular program though I have not seen it personally beyond what is on their website.

RightStart – uses the AL Abacus to provide a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic experience. RightStart seems heavy on trinkets and price to me, but a lot of homeschoolers really like it. I use their elementary card games for math fact practice.

Miquon- Based on the belief that mathematical insight grows out of observation, investigation, and the discovery of patterns. The concrete models are the way the kids learn with this program. They are not a supplement.
Life of Fred- Oh how we love Life of Fred! This one is a non-traditional text book written to the student format with math portrayed in a story form. Fred covers Fractions through Calculus and everything in between in a series of reasonably priced books. The student gets to try out problems along the way and every ten chapters they take a bridge test in order to move to the next set of chapters. I love Fred because he makes my students think! Not many folks are satisfied with Fred as a full program, though it is a stand alone curriculum, but many of us use it as as supplement to traditional math. For $25 to $30 a book, it’s easy to add it on to any program. Fred is entertaining and though provoking and he is a standard part of our homeschool!

Saxon- Often considered the quintessential homeschool math, it is certainly the grandfather of all the math programs. It is similar to Horizons because it is a spiral program with many problem sets, but it has some distinct differences. For one is is not visually pleasing! Very plain presentation. One thing about Saxon is that it is completely scripted. If you don’t know a thing about math, you read the scripting for each lesson and come away fairly certain you got it right. I have never used Saxon, but I did get a good look at it before going with Horizons. We do have Saxon Algebra I which we will be starting shortly. The entire program was on the “free” table at co-op one day. I couldn’t leave it behind knowing we’d be needing Algebra very soon. One thing to note- Saxon is well known for its college prep math- the higher math stuff.

Math Mammoth- I love Math Mammoth! It’s very simple. It has text boxes on the teaching pages with exercise to follow. Maria is extremely homeschool friendly. I use her program all the time to supplement the problems I give my kids. I wouldn’t hesitate to use her full series. It doesn’t come with bells and whistles like all the manipulatives some companies rely on and/or provide, but it is thorough and cost effective. You can buy it in full or purchase only those units you need. Great way to go!

Teaching Textbooks- this is a computer based model that allows the student to watch the lessons being laid out on a “whiteboard” and answering questions there. You can track your student’s progress and you can even tell how many tries it took to get the correct answer. This is an easy way to go hands off with math if that is your desire. My experience with it is that it is a slow method which would not work for my oldest and I know that it would get old for my other kids as the newness wears off. My daughter knows what math is even if it’s disguised in computer “fun”! Also, this one is a bit on the pricey side for one level of math.

Now that you have some idea of the various programs (disclaimer: there may be more I didn’t mention), I’ll give you some great math sites we enjoy.

Hopefully, this has given you something to ponder in regard to math. Feel free to ask more questions!

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

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10 Days of Getting Started: The New Start- Bringing Kids Home from School

Since our beginnings in homeschool commenced after our oldest was enrolled in public school, I thought I’d devote a post to that topic. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat. You’ve had your kids in a conventional school setting for some amount of time and are now considering pulling them out or perhaps you already have and you are still getting your bearings. Either way, bringing kids home to begin homeschooling does have its own set of challenges. How can we make it a smooth transition?

I think it’s important to take into account why you’ve chosen to bring your child home. It’s this reason that will give you a clue as to what your vision will be and what to do to make the transition go well. In our case, we pulled our son out of public school because he needed more of a challenge and he needed inspiring experiences. So, my strategy was just to settle back and allow him to get excited about learning again. We had a very student driven school at that time.

They say it takes one month to adjust for every year your child was in school. So, in my case it only took about month or so to “deschool” our son. Some of you may be bringing children home who have been in school for several years or more. It might take longer for your children to adapt to the homeschool setting.

Some kids may be having academic struggles and anxiety which contributed to you bringing them home. These kids are probably relieved to have left the classroom and I know my son was extremely excited to spend his time differently. However, some kids may be resistant to being homeschooled and that takes a special influence and some time to adjust.

No matter what your reasons are, the advice I have is to relax! You don’t have to establish a whole new solid routine the first week your kids are home. Spend time with them. Play games of all kinds. Read to them. Have them read to you. Practice some math- perhaps through games. Generally, just get to know your students. All of this activity will help you to assess where your student really is and what they need most from you as they start out at home. Try not to get caught in the trap of making your homeschool look like a replica of their classroom. A relaxed atmosphere where you can begin to break the molds and habits they are accustomed to from the classroom is all you need.

Remember that we all come to the homeschooling table with some prior experience- typically we know the classroom situation well. You may be having some second thoughts and wondering if this was a good thing to do. My biggest advice here is to create a unique adventure for your children without feeling guilty about bringing them home. Try not to doubt yourself or your ability to teach your children. And most especially, create an atmosphere that represents what your vision is for your school. Don’t feel like everything has to be the same for them to like being home.

One of the best things I did at that time was to let my son’s interests guide us along the way and we made sure to work on basic skills at the same time. Try not to fall into the “I have to make up time because we or he or she is behind.” There is enough time to slow down!

Most importantly, move forward with confidence that you are equipped to handle homeschooling! Your children will enjoy it. I’d be happy to answer any specific questions you have about bringing an older child home for school. Just leave a comment!

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

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