Our Considering Homeschool journey has led us on several important stops thus far: reading, reflection, and research (book suggestions, state legal considerations, etc.); preschool at home; and an overview of homeschool methods. Those are all crucial topics to cover before beginning homeschool.
Once you have an idea of what your state requires from homeschool families and what teaching methods/educational environment you’d like to establish, you’re probably ready to tackle the fun world of schedules, lesson planning, and curriculum.
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Keep in mind that you don’t have to have this perfectly configured before starting. I don’t know a homeschool family out there, mine included, who has been able to stick with the same schedules and curriculum choices from beginning to end or child to child. It’s a work in progress for all of us.
You do, however, need some direction in order to make the most of this precious time you have. If unschooling is your method of choice, most of these suggestions won’t be quite as useful for you, but being aware of them won’t hurt anything.
You can go a few different directions with this depending upon your preferred method.
If you are primarily interested in classical education, The Well-Trained Mind would be a great place to start for curriculum suggestions. Classical Conversations also has tons of great resources and curriculum options available. There are lots of great resources for classical education, but I’d start with these two first.
For the Charlotte Mason method, the two places I’d suggest in the beginning are Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online. The biggest difference between the two sites is that Simply Charlotte Mason has resources and a store for purchasing materials, whereas Ambleside is primarily a roadmap for Charlotte Mason’s method (a very helpful and thorough roadmap at that).
Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp is a wonderful starting point for traditional textbook-style learning, eclectic, and even unschooling. I love this book because it includes detailed suggestions for what to cover in each grade and subject and you can use it to customize your homeschool. You can buy textbooks, you can Pinterest your heart out, find freebie after freebie, you can search your local library, the sky’s the limit here. This book can guide you along and help you come up with a game plan.
Curriculum packages are most appealing to some homeschoolers. Some packages were created for homeschool use and some double as private school curriculum. While I can see why these are great options for some families, packages are often more costly than our budget will allow. Nonetheless, you may be able to find a packaged option that works for your family. If you’re not interested in piecing together curriculum, here are some options to consider.
Some of my favorite places to shop are Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Rainbow Resource Center. One particularly nice thing about Christian Book Distributors is that they have previews for most resources available for purchase on the site.
Scheduling & lesson planning fall into place once you’ve determined your method and curriculum of choice. We’re eclectic homeschoolers and that allows us to make our days and weeks our own and not worry about keeping up with a preset pace. Before we transitioned to eclectic homeschooling, we were more traditionally focused.
Even then, our homeschool time was usually over before lunch. We’ve always been year-round homeschoolers with a sick day or holiday here and there. Because of that, being done after two or three hours each day doesn’t bother me.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to do seven or eight subjects a day. Our daily schedule has changed over the years, but one thing hasn’t: our kids still get to be kids each day. We usually have subjects like math, spelling, and handwriting everyday because my oldest needs that repetition.
Subjects like science and history usually alternate days. Language arts usually shows up 4 days a week, while music, art, or worldview show up only once or twice during the week. Sometimes a subject may not show up at all for a week or two. Gasp. The last thing I want to do is overwhelm them with “school.”
A good planner helps tremendously with day to day logistics. My favorite is Homeschool Planet. I’m also a little biased, but I’m a fan of these FREE Homeschool Planning Worksheets. I love it more than you can imagine. Regardless of your choice, a homeschool planner is a lifesaver when it comes to homeschooling.
Check out the rest of this Considering Homeschool series.
You may also find these posts helpful:
Homeschool 101: The Basics of Home Education
Done by Noon: A Look at Our Typical Homeschool Day