Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Begin Homeschooling, Part Two, Curriculum

How to Pick a Curriculum

Ok, so, you've read Part one right? You've done your research into your state's laws. If you needed to send off a letter of intent you've done so, or at least gotten one prepared. Now, your staring at your computer screen at a giant list of what seems to be an endless choice of curriculum. What do you do?

Breath. First thing is first. What can you afford to do? What is your budget? No, don't get mad at me for bringing money into this! We all know we all want what's best for our kids, but that doesn't mean we should go broke doing it. Think about it, you could buy the most expensive curriculum set out there, resign your family to eating noodles and spam for the rest of the year and find out in two weeks you all hate the curriculum. Not worth it. 

Figure out what you can spend. If you want a certain set of books but can't afford a whole package of teachers aides and lesson plans can you buy the text books separately, if so are you willing to make your own lesson plans and grade the lessons without those aides? (This is what I do by the way) Do you want to go with an online school choice, where it's pretty much all done for you? Most of the online choices have a monthly payment plan. 

I haven't used all of the curriculum out there. However we've tried a couple of them. I've researched a lot of them. And I'll give a quick rundown of what I know here and what our experience was with each of them. (Please note that I was not paid for any of these reviews.)

When we first decided that we were going to homeschool I looked into the public school (gasp) aspect of the K-12 program. Unfortunately, they were willing to take my daughter but not my son due to us not having a valid copy of his birth certificate at the time and then they wouldn't be able to start my daughter until six weeks into the official school year. Needless to say I was not very impressed. This was the public school aspect of this program, there is a private aspect of this program I am not sure what their tuition is currently.

Next I chose to go with for the Cracker Jacks. Although I wasn't too impressed with the lessons up front the price was reasonable and I didn't have to do a lot of planning (I wasn't really confident that I could become the teacher that they'd need). Within weeks we knew it wasn't going to work for us. ECJ was bored out of his mind, the lessons were too repetitive, History and Science required notes to be taken offline for the quizzes given online or he'd never pass. YCJ was frustrated because the math was "baby-ish" and the English was the same story over and over again for a whole week. I had them stick with it for about four months before I pulled the plug, I should have done it sooner. I should state here that the site gives you a free 30 day trial and just because our family didn't like it doesn't mean that your family won't.

Peanut we'd started on and she loved it but wanted to spend more time playing with her virtual hamster than doing her lessons. We stopped hers at the same time we stopped her sibling's. This year we're going to let her do it again, but only as a supplement and only because she's asked us repeatedly. (It costs about $80 a year so it's not horrible.) This site also gives you a free 30 day trial.

If you've read my previous posts you'll know that we now use ABeka books ( ). I chose these because they are pretty reasonable on price (most text books are around $15 or less), they are Christian based, and they've been around a long time. Also, I can purchase just the text books which makes it rather affordable for me. This year the text books cost me $213.85 total for all three children. I have found no reason to complain about these texts, they are comprehensive, entertaining, colorful, and informative. I showed them to one of my non-homeschool friends and she was very impressed, her children's school doesn't teach a lot of the skills shown in them. ABeka offers many options from what I'm doing to a full on accredited program.
These are some books from last year.

I've looked into Seton Home study ( ) program books and although I like the look of their material (and although I am Catholic) the cost is a little more prohibitive for my family. 

We, and some of the homeschool and non-homeschool families we know, use Easy Peasy Homeschool ( ) as either a full curriculum or a supplement. The woman who put this together did so for her children and made it available for FREE for the whole world and did a wonderful job of it.

We also make use of Khan Academy, , for extra math practice and some of their science and history lessons. This site is also FREE and we know many people who use this as either a math curriculum complete or a supplement (even if their children aren't homeschooled). 

And these are only the one's that I've either personally tried or seriously looked into. It's just the tip of the homeschool curriculum ice burg folks. Scary I know. But what you need to keep in mind, what you must know, what you have to prepare yourself for ***drum roll please*** the first thing you try probably won't work. What works for others may not work for your family. And only YOU know what works for your family. So, if you begin with one set of curriculum and it doesn't work and you move on don't feel too bad, almost everyone does it... it's OK really it is. 

You don't have to buy brand new either. Garage sales, co-ops, craigslist, all these things are fine. Look up homeschool buyers book lists e-mail lists online you'll find several, people just like you who might have something they're not using gently used that they're selling for a reduced price. 

Find something that you think will peak your interest, or your children's interest, and start with that if you can. Or something that's in line with your values. Heck, there's many many homeschoolers out there that don't even use curriculum. Do what's best for YOUR family and you'll be doing what's RIGHT for your children.

Part three will be about curriculum add-on's like math manipulative's and workbooks, and I'll try to have that out to you sometime on Saturday. Part four will be on lesson planning and I'm hoping to have that out on Tuesday. 

Monday please look for my Day in the life post for the blog hop ( ) .

And sometime in the future of next week there will be Our Homeschool Experience and a part five to how to begin homeschooling. If you have questions on anything feel free to contact me and I'll try to help you out.

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