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

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

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

10 Days of Getting Started: To Co-op or Not to Co-op?

That is the question. Do we join a homeschool co-op? Lots of other families do it. Should we? I’ve been asked to share some schooling with a few friends. Is it worth it? I’m sure some of you have been asked or you know about a local co-op and you wonder if it’s a good idea to join.

There are advantages and disadvantages to being a part of a homeschool co-op. Co-ops provide some extra fun for the kids and a chance for them to interact with other homeschoolers. At our co-op my kids get to learn things they might not do as much here- like being part of a play or doing pioneer crafts for ten whole weeks! The downside to participating in a co-op is they can make you too busy depending on how long it is and your role there at the co-op.They add to your homeschool expense (very important to consider if you have limited funds to work with as it is) and they take away time at home schooling which is a topic I will talk about soon!

As you think about whether a co-op is right for your homeschool, consider the following things. 

  • How long is the co-op? How much of the day will it cost you? How long per semester?
  • How much will the co-op cost? Overall and for individual classes?
  • What kinds of classes are taught there? Is it strongly academic or is it extra-curricular focused?
  • What is your level of commitment, as an adult, to the co-op once you join? Can you handle what is being asked of you?
  • Consider your homeschooling vision. Does this co-op line up with the things you value for your school?

I’m going to be talking about keeping things simple in a future post. As a new homeschooler, it is best to get to know your student before taking them out to a regular commitment. So, I would avoid any co-op that is longer than a couple of hours.

Consider the focus of the co-op. One of the things I love about our homeschooling co-op is that it truly is focused on the extracurricular stuff. Having too many hard core classes going on can begin to shift the home right out of the homeschool! Our chapter leader gently reminds us of that often. I want a co-op to offer my kids some fun along with getting to learn with others.

Co-ops are not a good way to keep things simple in your homeschool! Honestly, my recommendation to is to hold off on joining a co-op until you have a good command of your school.  It is difficult enough to get things going in the right direction consistently without adding in extra activities.

Our co-op is two hours long with a 20 minute recess. We meet once a week on Mondays for ten weeks each semester. On the last day we get to enjoy a Co-op Night and see performances and the class showcases. Here’s a peek at ours from this past fall. We offer mostly extra-curricular type classes and the kids all have a great time. I’m not interested in a more formal, longer co-op. I find them unnecessary even though they are very popular.

Make sure what is happening at this co-op is worth your time and make sure it aligns with the vision for your school.

I did a post on our co-op within the last year. You can find out more about the specifics if you’d like.

See you next time!

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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

10 Days of Getting Started: Curriclum Styles

I did a few bonus posts over the weekend- one on extra supplies to have on hand and one introducing some facts about unit studies. I’d like to talk more about how unit studies work for our homeschool, but before I do I’d like to take a look at some curriculum styles. No series on getting started with homeschooling would be complete without visiting the different types of homeschool curriculum to see what they are all about. I promise I will return to how we use unit studies in our school. Now that I am back home, I can think more clearly and I think a general introduction to some other homeschool methods is in order. The one disclaimer I will make is that I am not an expert on all of these. I know the basics of the major attributes of each of them and that is what I will share here. The list below includes some styles of homeschooling along with some big players in the curriculum world today.  Before the end of the week I will revisit unit studies in more detail. It seems appropriate, as we finish surveying the possibilities, to end with what we use as our primary programs.

Literature based learning- Sonlight which uses many books as the core to the Language Arts and history portion of the program. The “core” for each grade also includes science resources and math resources (typically separate curriculum that is paired with the Sonlight material). The schedule is elaborate and the literature and history timelines coincide. I think the hallmark of this curriculum is the numbers of and choice selection of the books

Classical-there are many resources aimed at classical style homeschooling. Classical homeschoolers study history in chronological order (yes…in case you are wondering, there is another way to organize history as you build in prior knowlege!) The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer is a great resource. There is more to classical education including the idea of teaching the trivium. It includes teaching kids at specific levels. Remember, I’m sharing only the “big ideas” and not too much detail. Be sure to visit 10 Day Blog Hop partner Angela at Milk and Cookies who is sharing about classical education!

Charlotte Mason- Charlotte Mason was a late 19th century British educator who promoted the use of living books, first-hand experiences and good habits. She is fond of using copywork and dictation to help kids learn handwriting and early composition whether it be oral or written. Living books are books usually written by one author to tell about something he is passionate about.  One of my favorite Charlotte Mason homeschoolers is Barb from Harmony Art Mom and the Handbook of Nature Study Blog. Simply Charlotte Mason is another resource you can use to learn more about a CM Education. Ambleside Online is a free resource which you can use to follow along with this method. Be sure to check out Our Journey Westward,Cindy is a 10 Days blog hop pal devoted to the Charlotte Mason method.

traditional- this could be any number of different curriculum that we have and we piece them together to do a bigger job. This is the method that looks most like a traditional classroom. The kids have a separated 6 or more subjects per day provided by different text books or worksheets. Some traditional programs are moving to a digital technology and you can have your different subjects via their web interface or in their disk packaging.

unit study- takes one central idea whether it’s a book, concept, topic, person, etc and builds a study around that central idea that includes all the disciplines. Over the weekend, I described it some here. I will definitely write more about how we use unit studies. In the meantime, please use the tabs under my header to explore the Five in a Row units and the other unit studies I have put together.

eclectic-this one is named by definition and this type of homeschooling incorporates pieces of a few or more types of curriculum.

unschooling- this type of learning environment allows kids to explore and learn the things they are most passionate about without it resembling a traditional school. Journey into Unschooling is a great resource for the younger kids. Homeschooling Belle is our 10 Days Blog Hop unschooling expert. The hallmark of unschooling is the lack of formal curriculum- in most cases.

Typically, you will enjoy one method over another. Some may fit your children better than others. Explore these options through the links and check out the other blog hop contributors for more words of wisdom on a method they are using. Hopefully, you’ll gain more insight and see where you might fit in to these categories.

Thanks for reading!

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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