Shaking’ Up the Homeschool

Homeschool moms can get stressed out pretty easy. We want make sure we are choosing the best thing for our kids. At the same time, we may feel a lot of pressure. The choices out there for homeschooling are overwhelming! 

Are you going traditional or unschooling?
Mastery math or spiral?
Pace books or teacher-based books?
Phonics or something else? (okay, I am bias and a little ignorant to the other options… Phonics work!)
There are a lot of choices… How do you make the one that is best for your children?
Let’s start out first by me saying this: homeschooling is not a new concept. Actually it is the oldest educational method there is. And what makes it so great is that you, as a parent, can gear it however you want for your children. It is based on the premise that you know what is best for them, and what works for you. So I am not going to judge your decisions, though they may be different from my own. Every family is different, so if you have found some thing that works, then I am your biggest cheerleader.
Shakin’ it Up
Starting out, I strapped myself to one curriculum for everything. It was a great start, because it gave us a point of reference as to what worked and didn’t work. It built my confidence in this strange new world of homeschooling. And for a lot of people, one set curriculum works perfect.
But not every family works best that way. I know something I am starting to delve into is the world of integrated curriculums. One subject taught to multiple grades in my house. Why? Because I do not want to be teaching 4 sciences and 4 histories to 4 different kids, on top of the things that need to be taught individually (Math, English, sometimes Reading).
So we shake things up. We are still trying to find a math curriculum that works well for us. It is okay to experiment, as long as you are willing to change it when you realize it isn’t working for your kids.
Where to Look…
Oh, there are so many choices out there… How do we choose? Trial and error may work. Having a group of homeschooling moms to discuss with is helpful. They can tell you what they like, if they have heard of different curriculums, and since they know you and yours personally, they can tell you if they think it will be a good fit for your children. I have even parused my friends’ curricula to see if I would be interested.
I have also had my mother-in-law look into things I am interested in. She’s a school teacher, so her professional opinion is always a plus. She loves her grand kids and wants what is best for them like I do, so that is another plus. In other words, get opinions. Do your research. See if you can find a copy to just look through. Take up the trial offers. If you have the stomach for it, go to homeschool conventions. 
Can I Do It?
I have found that there are somethings that are just better if done by myself. Spelling lists in our first curriculum were too easy for Nattie…. I mean, she never got any wrong and she didn’t have to study. She needed something more. So, we make our own lists. There are many sites with more challenging words that we have found. So we use those.
Reading is another one where my daughter is proficient, and she loves it. Finished her two reading textbooks by Christmas. She understands what she is reading. She can discuss and follow plot lines. So now? We read for fun. I pick books for her to read, and once again, there are great lists and suggestions if you know where to look. (Might I suggest some classics for advanced readers?) Instead of reading being something we have to do, since she is an established reader, it is something we like to do. 
It can be scary to try something on your own, but once you start tailoring things to your child’s level, it is quite enjoyable. And if, in the end, they learn to enjoy learning, then I say you have been quite successful. 
As For Me…
We are shaking things up this year again. I am entering a different world now, since three of my four children will be doing schooling in some shape or form. And my mind is already reeling as to how next year will be. All four kids in school? AHHHH!! 
Okay, I am better now. Back to my pondering.
So we change somethings up. Again.
Sophie will be in preschool, and I have always used books I find along the way. But this year I found this curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler, and I am really excited about it. Inexpensive, comprehensive, creative, Bible based… What more could you ask for? Plus she takes away some of the dirty work by having your lessons already planned out each week. It follows the Letter of the Week concept that is popular, and we are excited to try it out!
Meredith will be in Kindergarten this year.  We are sticking to Bob Jones Press for this, since I think it is such a good starting off point. And I already have the teachers manuals and manipulatives…. We don’t do everything they suggest, but that is another post for another time.
Natalie is going into third, and that is where life gets complex. We are using BJ Press for English and Handwriting. Their English combines grammar and writing in one book, which I love. Math Mammoth will be our math this year, per recommendations from a friend. Spelling lists come from me, as well as reading books. I know we will be doing a book unit study at one point of the year. I loved being in classes where we discussed the book and did activities in conjunction… I hope she does too!
I am hoping we can work as a family on science and history. I know that is a lot to expect for a preschooler and kindergartener, but the point is to start a habit together. Answers in Genesis will be the science curriculum. Their “God’s Design of Science” curriculum is integrated, can be used in rotation for grades 1-8, and is comprehensive. (It isn’t just about creation and biology.) History/Geography will come from Confessions of a Homeschooler, and we will be taking a Road Trip across America! Once again, the price is right, the material comprehensive, and more than I could ever use. It looks like fun!
So are you thinking of shaking things up? Don’t settle for something that just isn’t fitting you kids! Finding the right fit can take awhile, but it is so rewarding in the long run.

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