Thursday, August 18, 2011

15 Lessons from a (retired) Homeschool Mom - part one

Welcome to my series of lessons I learned as a homeschool mom. Here we go . . .

1. It is important to find your own homeschooling "voice". There are an increasing number of styles and options to choose from.

Read homeschooling books and magazines, peruse catalogues and attend  conferences. Ask good questions of other homeschooling families.

Do not be afraid to test out little bits of different styles. Some of this is trial and error.

Then . . . pay attention to what works well with you and your kids, listen to your heart and ask God for direction. It will take some time in the beginning, but you will discover your families homeschooling style.

2. Do  your homework in choosing curriculum. Spending hours each summer pouring over catalogues (to study the different options for each subject) was so much fun. Talk to other parents, as well.

I enjoyed picking and choosing from lots of different publishers and independent sources, to find the best option for each subject. (still miss doing this)

I never purchased a complete curriculum from a publisher. (very expensive) Nor did I ever buy the teacher's guides.

As I began to piece together the books I wanted for the next year, I first checked out which books were available at the library. (We started homeschooling before the library catalog was available on-line.) Purchasing used books and borrowing from friends was great, too.

If you are new to homeschooling and picking out curriculum feels overwhelming, you can purchase a full years already prepared plan from a publisher, and get a year of homeschooling under your belt. Then next year . . . oh the fun you will have, picking out your own.

Occasionally, I would purchase something that looked great, but when we started using it, we all hated it. Rather than torture ourselves all year, I would just let that book go (and let myself off the hook for wasting money.) Remember, there is a lot of trial and error here.

I usually spent $100 per girl. It was an exciting day when the books and supplies arrived in the mail.

3. Choose a lesson planner that matches your style and personality. A simple form that I created worked for us.

Each Friday, after our school day was over, I would plan the next week's lessons. I enjoyed not thinking about school over the weekend. And we were always prepared to start school on Monday, even if I got sick or something came up. (Life still happens when you homeschool.)

After I wrote the next weeks plans, one for each daughter, I stapled it into a file folder. If you prefer to have the year's plans in one book, Target often has a great lesson plan book in their dollar section. Check out the requirements in your state to see if you need to keep these records.

Relax and have fun doing your planning. It will take awhile to discover how much work you want to accomplish in a week.  Even when I taught school professionally, I rarely accomplished everything in my plan, or often changed my plan as I went along. You do not have to get this perfectly. It will feel more natural with time.


16 comments:

  1. I'm gearing up to homeschool again this year after a year off. We're just waiting for the last of our ordered books to arrive. It is so fun to anticipate a "better" curriculum and to get organized, and to think ahead of all the things I'm going to learn this year, too! I'm looking forward to all the suggestions you will be sharing!

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  2. I think this is such an encouraging post. Even though I don't homeschool, this helps me with some ways in which I might be more organized with how to be more deliberate in teaching God's Word to my kids.

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  3. I have felt bad in the past for jumping from one type of curriculum to another, but I'm hoping that it will just mean a more eclectic and varied education for my girls!

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  4. Interesting! The most children here are going to a school in their village or town.

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  5. This is SUCH a great post! It's going in the "great links for the month" section of my newsletter!

    By the way, you must be incredibly organized!

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  6. Learning your style and not being tossed by the latest "buzz" word is really important these days. Right after you get comfortable someone comes out with a new "buzz" word and you feel you have missed it to only find out that what you are doing is the same thing just packaged different....yes, agree on finding your voice.

    Don't believe that once you bought something it will work for all your children from then on...oh my I did, I thought how reasonable it will be for this math book to go through all five of them...now there is a sixth! Well it did get through the first two, probably by force, and didn't work on the next three. So it isn't worth the savings in money to force a book on the next one.

    Enjoyed this...it helps to gear me up for my next go around this block.

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  7. These are very good tips for a newbie...thanks for sharing!

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  8. Glenda... this is my second year (Levi is in first grade now). Last year seemed so difficult for me because I just could not find a groove and was trying to use the curriculum I grew up with since I was familiar with it(Abeka mostly). This year I had the opportunity to look through several friends choices and actually got excited about them. It has only been one week and I am having so much fun and everything seems so much smoother because I am excited about the new choices. I have even looked over several planners in the last few weeks and have come to realize my favorite one that I have been using everyday is from the Target dollar bin! So funny you mentioned that one! Thank you for doing this series. I am excited to see what else you have to share. I just love your wisdom, your family, your beautiful girls, and the joy you share. I am so grateful for you, Glenda!

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  9. I didn't realize you homeschooled your girls! :) I love the day when curriculum arrives and we can all look through it together. You're right about the library, it offers so much to a homeschooling family. We've always gone, but I decided to intentionally incorporate it into our curriculum this year. (Glad you did this series!)

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  10. Awesome advise!!! This totally takes me back to when my mom homeschooled us. I am praying that God will open the door for us to be able to homeschool our children. Presently it is illegal - but we're working very hard to change the law.

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  11. I home schooled my two kids for one year. It was a great time of learning and bonding but at the same time I needed time out as well.We used the ACE curriculum and just adapted it to suit us. You are right about curricular being expensive though.Thanks for this wonderful series! :)

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  12. FANTASTIC tips! i am working on an overview for the whole year this weekend and next week. We'll start the day after Labor Day. I contemplated buying a complete curriculum this year, but I couldn't go through with it. I'm such a "do my own thing kinda girl" I don't think I could've handled every day being planned out for me. :)

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  13. Great advice! I love all the wonderful curriculum choices these days and a huge plus is the access to the internet that allows me to search from home, ask others how it did or did not work for them, and the option to get curriculum used through so many wonderful sources!

    There is a church close to us that actually has a large section in their library of home school curriculum that allows members and non-members to check out materials for a year! I was so blessed this year to only pay $30!!! It has been a fantastic resource these last few years.

    I used to keep a Word document with a chart on it, labeled with each day of the week and subject on it. I could easily sit down, grade that past weeks lesson and then write out the next week's plans and print. Loved being able to make notes and pencil in grades for items already done during the week. I guess that's the elementary ed. degree coming out in me. Looking forward to reading more of your series!

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  14. In our two weeks of homeschooling, the number one thing I've learned is to write my lesson plans in pencil! Great series and very timely for us. Thank you!!

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  15. Glenda, I think I will enjoy catching up on your series here! I'm definitely interested in how it works for various families. Thanks for sharing!

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  16. looking over catalogs for new curriculum is my favorite! i love it so much! i did read this series last year, but i'm going to read it again :)

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