My baby boy turned six this summer! I cannot believe he's already ready for first grade, but alas, the time has come!
We struggled over whether to enroll him in the local public school or to homeschool him. In the end, though, we came down on the side of homeschooling. We had many reasons, but primarily, the level of education he would receive at home versus in the public school setting, and above that, the desire to protect him as long we possibly can from the negative influences found even in our small-town, rural school were the final decision makers.
So began my search to find the "perfect" curriculum. To my dismay, there are WAY too many choices available to the modern homeschooler!!! So many choices only served to confuse me and the next "neat" thing that I came across in my search of the internet ended up a distraction rather than a help. I finally saw that to be able to really make a final decision, I was going to have to decide what was most important to our family, what I thought would work for both Ryan as the student and me as the teacher, and of course, what it would COST.
Along the way, I found a few options that jumped out at me and a few websites that were particularly helpful. You can check out my sidebar over the next few weeks as I start to add them to my favorite homeschooling sites.
My Father's World is still at the top of my list as a possibility for the future, thought I opted against it this year mostly for budgeting reasons. The whole idea of a unit study is to include all your children, regardless of grade level, in one subject saving your time and promoting family togetherness. MFW is a a great option for history and geography from a biblical standpoint. It also is a great Bible curriculum.
MathUSee was recommended to me by two friends who have homeschooled their multiple children from the beginning and have seen great results using this curriculum. Since I have been involved in both teaching and tutoring math in the past, I was leery of choosing mathematics that I am not familiar with, i.e. Saxon Math. However, after taking an hour and a half to listen to the video introductions, I was highly impressed with the teaching techniques and the concepts presented by MUS. I'm hoping to be able to use this in the coming years with our boys.
Confessions of a Homeschooler is a blog particularly for parents of preschoolers, but full of great ideas for any homeschooler. She offers many FREE resources that are easily downloaded right to your computer, as well as link to other free or inexpensive ideas for curriculum and fun activities. Definitely check it out if you are just beginning to get a feel for what is out there!
Robinson Curriculum is another, very different, approach to schooling your children at home. My husband and I were both impressed with the concept. When you break homeschooling down to the basics, you get reading, writing, and arithmetic. That is what RC is all about. You purchase their set of cd's for a very reasonable cost, and you have all that you need to teach reading and writing to any child from 1-12 grade. A math curriculum has to be supplemented, as well as the beginning learning to read and write. They have every book you need for your child to receive an intense, balanced, Christian education. It's simply time spent writing, time spent reading, time spent learning math. Ideally, your child should be able to work alone most of the time with limited input by you as a teacher. They learn to learn on their own!
After a couple months of perusing the internet, looking at catalogs, asking lots of questions of my very patient parents and Aunt Michelle (a successful homeschooling mom of 5!) I finally settled with some very basic curriculum that I was already familiar with. Since I was taught using Abeka, I opted to go with that for our first year, as well as purchasing the Robinson Curriculum to use, or at least supplement, down the road.
At first, I shied away from Abeka simply because it is very intensive, but now that we have been using it a while, I'm finding that the detailed lesson plans actually help me stay focused and know what to DO as a first time homeschooler. After a couple days of trying to wing it without teacher manuals, I told my mom I had no idea what to actually DO to teach Ryan. HOW was I supposed to do this thing called homeschooling??? Abeka's teacher manual for homeschoolers has really helped me!! By the way, Ebay is a great place to find Abeka non-consumables at inexpensive prices.
Ryan and I both have been on a roller coaster ride since this school year started, but I think we're finally finding our groove and getting settled in. He had his first math test last week and aced it! He was so nervous...it was actually kinda cute! Now, he looks forward to Wednesdays because he gets to take another test. :-)
I am finding that above all, homeschooling takes lots of PATIENCE and GRACE and a CONVICTION to see it through. There are days that I think it would be so much easier to just drive down the road, enroll him in public school, and let someone else take care of teaching him, but that would be the lazy way out. The good days are beginning to outnumber the bad, and I'm starting to enjoy teaching him more and more. Seeing him learn to read and have a hunger for learning is awesome! I hope that my impatient days don't rob him of that joy of learning, but I know that ultimately, my son's future is the Lord's hands--hands much more capable than mine ever could be!