Monday, March 28, 2011

How I Homeschool

Earlier this week a friend of mine said, "You are a crazy homeschooler". I was not offended. I understood what she really meant, "I can't do that." I know this woman is more than capable of homeschooling her children but I didn't press the matter because it is a personal decision. I believe that a person must figure out on their own whether or not they want to homeschool. It is not for everyone. If someone had told me I should homeschool before I came to that conclusion on my own, I probably would have been adamant that it was not for me. That being said, if you are trying to decide if homeschooling is right for you, I hope I can help. 

I recently posted about WHY I homeschool. Today I am going to try to summarize HOW I homeschool. 

First of all, I mainly teach Charlotte Mason Style. I do not use a prepackaged curriculum. A lot of homeschool moms are terrified at the thought of making up their own curriculum and lesson plans. I totally understand that. I was the same way when I started out. Packaged curriculum can be expensive!!!! I don't like the idea of buying something, bringing it home, and then being stuck with it if it doesn't work out. Also, I don't like to feel pushed forward. If my child is not grasping a subject I like to linger on it until he gets it. If my child gets it right away I don't want to bore him to death by making him continue with it because the lesson plans say we must. I understand that some people LOVE to have the structure of a boxed curriculum. If that is you, FABULOUS! Here are some free Charlotte Mason style curricula.

Here are some that are not free but have every thing planned out to a T. If that is your thing, check out these curricula... 
Let me be CLEAR here. *I HAVE NOT TRIED ANY OF THESE CURRICULA!* I am not endorsing them, nor am I getting any kind of compensation for mentioning them. I have not even looked through them all. I am just giving you the links so that if you are interested, you can check them out and research them yourself. Every family is different. We all have different needs, goals, and teaching styles. 

Here is my teaching style. I told you before that I put together my own curriculum. "It sounds very labor intensive", you say. Well, no, it isn't. I will give you a quick rundown of how I do it.

Around January I start planning ahead for next year. I look up the acedemic benchmarks for each subject and grade. I pull out a fresh composition notebook and I get to work writing out my schedule.  It may seem like a lot of work but I do it a little bit at a time, in my free time. Next year, because I am going to be officially homeschooling 2 children, I decided to take the easy way out. I am using Lesson Pathways for all of my resources. I am following their schedule and this way all I have to do is find the books to go with the lessons. 

I have said before the I don't follow a schedule. I follow a sequence. That is true for both my daily activities and my year. I don't like strict plans like, "Unit 1, day 1 Introduction to plants. yada yada yada." Instead I make up a sequence like, first we are going to study rocks, then soil, then plants, then animals yada yada yada. This way I am in no rush to get through a unit. If it is boring us, we finish it in a week. If it is exciting, we linger awhile and learn everything about it. That is how we ended up studying outer space for 2 months this year. 

On Sunday night, I get out the boys work binders. I empty out everything from the week before and staple it all to the back of their filled in planner sheet. Then that goes into an expandable file that is labeled with their full name, grade, and school year. In the very front pocket of the file is the letter from the school board that says they received my letter of intent. I just like to keep it all together so that if I ever get questioned, I have it right there. Once the binders are emptied, I fill them up again. It takes me only 15 minutes at the most. 

When the kids finish breakfast I tell them to get out their binders. We start out with a Bible study as a family. We read from a devotional and they work on memorizing a bible verse. I write the bible verse on a piece of paper and it goes in their binder. Then they get to work at their own pace. They come to me when they need help or a lesson to be taught. I love how independent they have become since we started the work binders. 

Because I teach Charlotte Mason, most of my lessons are just reading a book with them. The only lessons I do teach  are Math, Writing, and Grammar. I teach these lessons with our dry erase boards. I have a stack of 4 drawers. There is one for Music, Art, Language Arts, and Math. If I need any manipulatives I just pull it out of there. No need to get it out ahead of time. It takes 2 seconds. 

All of this keeps me from having to run around like crazy gathering materials to follow exact lesson plans. However, I am not always fully prepared when I have a lapbook or a science project. That is when I say something like, "Go and have a play break for a few minutes while I get this together." LOL. It's homeschool. It's okay if that happens. 

One last thing, in case you did not know, I homeschool for FREE.

*NOTE: I have since used both Queen homeschool Supplies and Heart of Dakota. I can happily recommend both programs. CLICK HERE for a comparison of the 2.

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