Homeschooling

So, we’ve decided to homeschool… Now what?

The first thing that I did was find the laws for homeschooling in both Texas and Virginia, since I was unsure where we would be when we began our school year. The laws are very different in both states, but one thing (and about the only thing) they have in common is the requirement to notify your current school district of your intent to homeschool. I was so excited the day that I filled that paperwork out for our girls here in Texas, and even more excited when I found out we would be in Virginia and sent off our intent to homeschool letter to the district there.

Our original plan was to enroll the girls into Liberty Online Academy, but the more we thought about it the more we felt that defeated the purpose of teaching them at home. The curriculum, while Christ focused, would still be decided for us. The girls would not be able to really explore what interests them, and we would still be on a schedule set by someone other than our family. Not to mention, the idea of them sitting in front of a computer to complete their schooling did not sound ideal. Once we came to the decision of choosing a curriculum ourselves, I started to panic a little bit. That’s when I decided use my “phone-a-friend” and call two of the most amazing homeschooling momma’s I know, my aunt Tammie and sweet friend Elizabeth. I also picked up a copy of the book Homeschooling For Dummies and read it from front to back in about 2 days, highlighting and flagging the whole way through.

The method of homeschooling that we decided was best for our family is called “eclectic homeschooling”. This simply means that we will be using a combination of homeschooling styles to fit the needs of all of our girls. I spent a lot of time researching the different curriculum for each subject and grade levels, and created a plan for each of the girls that we are very excited to try out next year. I have no question in my mind that there will be things that work, and things that do not. We are very blessed to have a family who wholeheartedly supports our decision to homeschool, and since we have a lot of time to make up with them we are excited to include them in our journey. Gam-Paw is fully embracing his role as “field trip Friday” director, and Paw-Paw is equally excited about his self-appointed role as “principal” of Landis Academy.

One thing that I was not prepared for is the expense of purchasing homeschool curriculum, and since we have so many to buy for I have had to break down our purchases by subject. Many people recommend going to a homeschool convention before deciding on curriculum, so that you can actual see and look through all of the options available. Unfortunately, due to our upcoming move and hectic summer, I could not find a convention that I will be able to attend. Because of this, I spent many hours doing research and deciding on what I am hoping will be the best fit for our family. I am including the links as I go through what we will be using, in case you are thinking of homeschooling and would like to check them out.

Keep in mind this is our first year, so I am sure as we begin using them there will be things that I like and dislike about each curriculum. I will plan to post throughout the year to update my opinions and feelings on each.

If you are interested in the curriculum we plan to use for our first year of homeschooling, keep reading.

For science we decided to go with Apologia, a creation based Christian curriculum. The younger girls will be learning “Land Animals of the Sixth Day” and Emma will be using their “Exploring Creation with General Science” curriculum. We have already purchased this curriculum and I have had a chance to look through the textbooks and student notebooks. My first impression is that it all looks very well put together, and not at all like the boring textbooks that I am used to using in school. The student journal notebooks are very colorful and I know something that the girls are going to enjoy using.

For math, I chose a separate curriculum for the older and younger girls. It’s no secret that I am not good at math, so I was happy to find a curriculum that provides instruction for the older girls who will be doing harder work. Emma and Caitlyn will be using Teaching Textbooks, from their website “We realized that independent learners needed a product that contains the maximum amount of teaching, so a Teaching Textbook™, with its approximately 700 pages of text and 120 – 160 hours of teacher instruction on CD-ROM, is both a teacher and a textbook combined into one.” The younger girls will be using Horizon Math Kits, which are all in one box curriculum sets that also come highly recommended. We have already purchased the math curriculum as well, and the entire family was so excited to see the Teaching Textbooks. They look so FUN, something I never thought I would say about math.

History is my favorite subject, and I was so excited looking through all of the available options for history curriculum for all of the girls. Harper will be using A Beka Book “Social Studies K5” and “Community Helpers”. Ava will be using A Beka Book “Our America: History and Geography”. We also plan to supplement with “Beginning Geography K-2” with both of them. Caitlyn will also be using A Beka Book and will be studying “The History of Our United States – 4th Grade Kit”. Emma’s history curriculum came highly recommended to me, and I must say I have been impressed in researching it. She will be using Notgrass America the Beautiful”. I have not purchased their history curriculum yet, so cannot say what I feel about it after having it in my hands.

Language arts was probably what I had the hardest time deciding on for the girls. Ava struggles with spelling, while Caitlyn struggles with handwriting. Harper is just now learning to read, let alone write. They are all over the place when it comes to language arts, so I had to really customize this to what I feel will be best for each of them individually. Harper is already working her way through “Teach Your Kid to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” and we are seeing a lot of progress with that. We are going to use “A Reason for Handwriting” and “Spelling You See Level A” for her as well. Ava will be using the BJU PressEnglish Grade 2 Homeschool Set” and we will also supplement her spelling with “Spelling You See Level B”. Caitlyn will be using the BJU Press “English: Writing and Grammar, Grade 4” kit and we plan to supplement with “Spelling You See Level E” for her. Emma will be using the BJU Writing and Grammar: Grade 7 Kit” and will supplement with “Wordsmith Grades 7-9”. All of the girls will be writing in daily writing journals that I created myself using monthly themed prompts that I found on Pinterest. We have not yet purchased our language arts curriculum, so I will plan to update my first impression when we do.

We will also be using a Bible curriculum that we have yet to decide on, as well as a cooking curriculum (Raddish Kids)!

If you are interested in learning more about any of the curriculum that we decided on, I have provided the links to each that you can access by clicking the name of the curriculum you are curious about. Also, if you are a homeschooling momma and have some tips for me, please comment on this post and send them my way. I will take any advice I can get as we embark on this exciting journey.

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