Saturday, December 1, 2012

How Do I Start?

  You need to decide what method you will use. 

If you can afford it, in your first year consider buying a complete curriculum from one of the major manufacturers. After all, this is the method you were taught with and the one your child (if he is old enough to have attended a traditional school) has been taught with. You are both familiar with the “textbook” idea, and don’t have to add something else to your learning for the year to the new relationships (teacher/student instead of just parent/child). 

You can make this a little cheaper by not buying teacher guides in any subject you feel confident enough to grade without them (first grade spelling for example). You can also leave out most if not all tests. After all, tests are basically written to tell the teacher of thirty students how well he is doing at reaching how many students. You can get the same results much faster by taking a few minuets to read the material and then asking a few questions, doing a Charlotte Mason style "narration" (have the child tell you about what they read). Better yet, read the textbook with your child and discuss it as you go. With an older child, you could have him write a “report” on a day’s reading to explain to you what he just read or, gee, you could just have him do the work the book assigns him at the end of the chapter. 

When I have bought “Canned Curricula” I have used Abeka. In fact, there are parts of Abeka I use no matter what. 
If I were to use a self-paced curriculum it would be either Alpha Omega or Christian Light (nearly identical. AO is more professional, CL is cheaper and a bit more conservative religiously, though both are very Christian.)

If I wanted a computer curriculum I would use Alpha Omega’s Monarch, The Ron Paul Curriculum, or Easy Peasy, depending on my particular needs and budget.

If money is real tight, you could just buy math and the language arts and use the library, Google, and Wikipedia for the rest, or just use one of the free curricula I discuss in the publisher section. If that is still too much, follow my suggestions below for teaching with no money at all.
But do let me give you a little warning; Americans have spent so long not paying directly for education we tend to think it shouldn’t cost anything. There is a definite spirit of poverty among homeschoolers. Don’t let this get a hold of you. Anything of value is going to cost something and generally the more you spend in money the less you have to spend in prep time and research, freeing you up to do better things with your family.

Also, the Bible says that the workman is worthy of his hire. Those small time publishers with the great books won’t be around long if people don’t spend money on their product. The curriculum, your time, and your child are worth using money on.
During your first year, you can research different methods and decide if a different one would work better for your family next year. 

Don’t give up if things just don’t seem right the first year. That is the hardest year as it takes time for you and your children to “detoxify” from the public school life. (Some homeschoolers recommend taking anywhere from two weeks to a year off of all formal education to “detoxify”). 

You may also just have a bad method fit. I have known people who began homeschooling with one method and when that didn’t work out, they put their children back in school. I believe that if they had tried another method, things would have worked out fine. There are so many different methods of homeschooling because different things work for different families at different times. 

Also be prepared that what works this year may not work next year. Birth, death, moves, etc affect what type of schooling you need to do. Be flexible. 

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