Our twins, now 13, are in eighth grade. When we started the academic year, I sat down with each twin (a boy and a girl) to discuss what they wanted to learn about this homeschool year and to share what I had planned for them as well. Homeschooling middle school is a fluid, flexible few years. I have an older son, now in high school, and he was my test subject and helped me loosen up my rigid thoughts and fears that middle school had to JUST be a launching pad to high school. We’re interest-led with a dollop of what I call my “non-negotiables.” Continue reading »
As home educators, we have the flexibility to craft learning experiences for our kids that don’t have to follow the traditional school path to a tee. But, what about other skills and topics beyond math, language arts, and science? I remember taking Home Economics in school (back in the 1980s), shop class, study habit classes, health classes, etc. When we choose to homeschool our kids, we need to cover these topics as well. I’ve put together a list below of classes and subjects to consider, especially with your teens. Continue reading »
As families turn to homeschooling due to lack of information (or what they see as unacceptable policies) from public school systems about what fall may bring, they have questions. One of the most common questions we are seeing is whether a certain curriculum is accredited. Continue reading »
When I decided to tackle a blog post about our 7th grade plans for my twins, I had to pause and catch my breath. How are they already in 7th grade? Why are they taller than me? Will they notice if we do Five In A Row again for old time’s sake? My oldest, a rising high schooler, made his way through middle school homeschool. Sometimes, his learning looked super structured, but often it looked more unschool-ish than I had anticipated. Here are my three key insights about homeschooling middle school . . . Continue reading »
Has your family recently made a decision to switch gears and begin homeschooling or use a new curriculum? Either way, embarking on a different educational path takes courage and faith, and it may take time to find your rhythm. Here are ten suggestions to ease the way. Continue reading »
What’s the capital of Montana? How many teaspoons are in a quarter cup? How long do rhinoceroses live? If your homeschool student asked you one of these questions, you’d most likely answer, “look it up.” Your student would probably sit down at their computer or pull out their tablet or phone to do so. In today’s day and age, the thirst for knowledge is almost unquenchable and going online to learn is as natural as breathing. That’s why it’s a wonder that families balk at the idea of using online curriculum in their homeschool. Continue reading »
Did you or someone you know just start homeschooling “after the holidays” – right in the middle of the school year? “What curriculum should I use?” Even among experienced homeschoolers, January ruminations run toward assessing the curriculum and whether it is working. I know you don’t want to hear this – but your homeschool priority should be connection, not curriculum. Continue reading »
If you’re new to homeschooling, you’re going to have to think differently. Yes, you’re going to have to be willing to break the unwritten “rules of school” and forge your own, often uncharted, path. And although this can be nerve-wracking and downright terrifying at first, it is the key to an effective, individualized, fulfilling homeschool experience. Continue reading »
Recently on TheHomeSchoolMom’s Facebook page someone asked for recommendations for her soon to be 4 year old. It took me back to when I had a 4 year old and a 1 year old and had recently decided to homeschool. I. Was. So. Excited. What curriculum should I use? How should we schedule our days? (I bought Managers of Their Homes and carefully scheduled every moment of our days and then proceeded to never once use the schedule.) I made lesson plans and felt organized and believed that my kids were going to get the best education ever. And honestly, we had great fun with some of the activities. So after all these years (my kids are now 19 and 16), what curriculum would I suggest for a 4 year old? Continue reading »
As you may have read over on my personal blog, I’m thinning my library of homeschooling books, and it’s an occasion for reflection. One of the things I finally feel free to do is to pass along my copy of Saxon Math.
Saxon didn’t work for us. In fact, it didn’t work in dramatic ways. We had multiple reasons for beginning homeschooling, but among the academic reasons was that the math taught at school was a poor fit and created a lot of stress and little math learning. Continue reading »
Part I of Homeschool High School Composition gives an overview of how to approach teaching homeschool composition. It is important to read it before using the assignments below, since it is a different perspective for teaching composition. Below are the assignments for composition using this part-to-whole process. The assignments use the UNC Writing Center’s free online resources.
If you would like to download the assignments, we have them as a PDF download here: Homeschool High School Composition Continue reading »
The Writing Center at UNC has put together a large collection of writing resources for college writing that are excellent tools for teaching homeschool high school composition. The center’s downloads and videos offer detailed explanations about research, sourcing, organization, editing and proofreading, voice, fallacies, thesis statements, and dozens of other writing topics. The resources are arranged alphabetically, making them easy to find by topic but not offering much in the way of an orderly progression for teaching. The following is a suggested order of study for using the resources for composition for a homeschooled high school student. In our case, we used this for a literature composition, but literature compositions can be the most difficult type to write. It might be more effective to initially use the process with a topic of choice instead of an essay on a particular book. Continue reading »
From the feedback and questions that we get on our Facebook page, there is a great deal of interest in how to homeschool high school. This year my daughter is a sophomore in high school, and I thought it might be helpful to share our 10th grade plan with you. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling high school is often easier than homeschooling younger grades. Students are older, more mature, and better able to manage their own academics. When they need assistance, the material is more difficult, but between teacher guides, online resources, and friends with a knowledge of the subject matter, we have not found this to be a problem. Continue reading »
As regular readers know, I’m a big advocate of using accessible learning methods instead of curriculum. For some homeschoolers, this is in addition to their regular curriculum, and for others it’s truly instead of any packaged formal curriculum.
I’m used to hearing that you can’t learn math this way — that’s a common chorus among homeschoolers — but I was in a recent conversation with a homeschool mom who was all for the “instead-of-curriculum” approach except for handwriting. And by handwriting, she meant printing–learning to print. Continue reading »
This year in my role as a homeschool evaluator, I met a number of tweens and teens who are interested in fashion. As we went through their portfolio of work and talked about their year, I was fascinated with the ways they had woven their interest in fashion with their academic studies. Two of the teens I met with had taken their interest in current fashion into the past — studying the typical dress and accessorizing of women and men in earlier periods of history. They also took their fashion interest international — studying the current typical dress of modern-day people in other parts of the world.
Both of these girls (who did not know each other — they had arrived at this independently) had done extensive research to be able to portray the styles of other times and other places, and they could explain how the fashion reflected the culture, religious beliefs, gender roles, classes and roles in society, and daily life. They were articulate about the historical times and geography of the world as they discussed the observations they had made about fashion in these distant centuries and far-off places. Continue reading »
Many experienced homeschoolers have long valued the ability to delay formal academics to create a more holistic early childhood education for their young children, with the understanding that this creates a rich foundation for later academic and life success. Today, parents new to homeschooling are embarking on homeschooling at a time when public schools are emphasizing early formal academics and implementing standardized testing of very young children, despite lack of evidence that these practices enhance educational outcomes for the children.
As David Elkind (author of The Hurried Child and The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally) writes in “Much Too Early” for the website EducationNext, “Why, when we know what is good for young children, do we persist in miseducating them, in putting them at risk for no purpose?” Continue reading »
Our family has greatly enjoyed using The Great Courses audio and video recorded classes. The first of The Great Courses we used was The Story of Human Language, presented by leading linguist John McWhorter, who gives 36 lectures about the development of human language, why languages change or become extinct, dialects, how languages and their grammars affect thinking, and what the study of language can tell us about history and interconnectedness of early peoples.
From there, we began listening to every Great Courses CD set the library had. They offer courses in science, math, fine arts, music, religion, philosophy, history, literature, living, language, business, and economics. But it’s the course titles that are really intriguing — such as Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy, The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World, Writing Creative Nonfiction, How to Listen to and Understand Opera, and nearly 400 more.
Everyone has a comment on the increasing popularity of homeschooling. When I talk to people about homeschooling, they frequently mention the availability of “so much curriculum these days,” as if that is the single most important factor in being able to homeschool. Non-homeschoolers, prospective homeschoolers, and new homeschoolers seem surprised that many homeschoolers use learning materials that are not, strictly speaking, part of a homeschool curriculum. There are many reasons why people use other learning resources instead of curriculum. Continue reading »
You may not find it in the DSM-5 list of psychological disorders, but I promise you it exists. You’ve heard of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Yeah, just call this PCSD.
Post-Convention Stress Disorder.
Have you experienced it? The “Where am I going to put all this stuff” mind racing, the “How can I incorporate these ideas” insomnia, the “What did she say about managing toddlers while you’re teaching” memory lapses, and the “There is no way I can do all of this” headaches. Continue reading »
I am going to be a math curriculum expert before this whole homeschooling thing is over.
Yep, we are now on our third math program in four years.
This isn’t how I planned it, but then, does anything in homeschooling go according to plan? I would have liked to have begun a math program in Kindergarten and stuck with it, at least through the sixth grade. That would have helped me be able to avoid repetition, progress more efficiently, and be able to keep a more accurate assessment of exactly what she was mastering. Continue reading »