I recently helped a friend of mine with the decision to homeschool their daughter that just entered kindergarten. They were unhappy with their school for various reasons and decided that they would keep her at home for school. My friends are very excited yet nervous about the decision and asked for some guidance and help with where and how to start.
We sat down and covered the basics:
- Homeschool method of choice – Classical, Unschooling, Waldorf, Montessori…so many to choose from! (BTW, this is a great place to start because this will lead you to the kind of teaching/learning style, curriculum, and environment that will fit your family)
- Co-op or no co-op? What are the local options?
- Curriculum and materials – What to buy? What can I make? There’s so much out there!
- Reading instruction – Quick intro to Phonics vs Whole Language and the latest research
- Daily structure – or lack there of if unschooling
- Daughter’s learning style
- Mom’s teaching style
- Starting points and assessments
- And other such things that come up when talking about homeschooling
Anyway, she had some great questions about planning for subjects and on how to be sure that she would be teaching the things that her daughter needed to know for her age. This is a really common concern and there’s a super easy and free resource that you can use to help guide you in the general direction. Your state standards.
I know, I know…many families homeschool to get away from the state school system. Yet the state standards can be a really helpful guide for parents because it shows you what kids should (developmentally) be learning for each subject by grade level. This doesn’t mean that you have to teach those things or that you can’t go above and beyond those things – but it can really help to give you a big picture of where you want to go for the year and might even give you some ideas for what you want to teach.
So if you have these same concerns as a new homeschooler or if you’re a veteran looking for ideas on what to teach for a certain grade level or subject, then you can definitely get some ideas from this free resource. Check out your state’s standards online by going to your state’s department of education website.
What are some things that you all have done to help you organize or decide what you teach? We’d love to hear from you!
We’ve received a couple of emails from people who are interested in starting up their own blogs to write about their kids’ progress and don’t know where to get started. It’s pretty easy actually. Just head over to WordPress and register. It’s ABSOLUTELY FREE and very easy to use. You’ll be writing your first post within a few minutes. Blogger is another free option, but we’re partial to WordPress around here. By the way, both of these options also allow you the option of keeping the entire blog private if that’s a concern.
If you want to get really fancy you can buy your own domain name and host your own site. It’s a little more work, but you have a little more control (and responsibility) over how your site works that way.
Why should you start an education or family blog? Here are a few good reasons:
- Track your kids’ progress–It’s a great way to keep notes on their struggles and achievements
- Meet and connect with others–If you’re homeschooling, there are many others with whom you can network and share ideas. The same goes for teachers and parents who are working with their kids outside of school.
- A blog for your kids–having your kids keep a blog of their own is great writing exercise for them and also is a great way to help them (and you) get hands on experience with how technology is changing the way we learn. Maybe they could use their blog to write reviews for the books they read.
- A teaching tool–What if you posted assignments for you children on your blog and they were tasked with reading and comprehending these assignments? You could even include some intentional grammar and spelling errors and have your child find them.
There are probably a million other reasons for you to start blogging that have nothing to do with education, but hopefully this will convince you give it a try. Make sure you let us know about your new blog (a link would be great), and we’ll make sure to put you on our blogroll and feature your unique ideas!
In the spirit of keeping our great readers updated with the latest in homeschool reading and beyond, I’m launching our new recurring post named Literacy Lowdown. Visit the site each week (or better yet subscribe here to receive updates automatically!) to learn what is going on around the blogosphere as it relates to homeschool reading and more. There are so many great resources, stories, tips, and news out there that you can spend hours surfing for good information. Well, let me do some of the work for you by rounding up a variety of interesting posts from other homeschooling families! Feel free to email me or leave links in the comments that you think our readers would like.
Kicking off our first Literacy Lowdown is…
Carletta over at Successful Homeschooling, who shares her homeschooling reading success tips. They’re similar to Dr Mommy’s useful homeschool reading tips…the simplified version, of course. Check them both out for some great ideas!
Carrie Lauth shares her guide to recognizing your child’s learning style…this can help you figure out ways to make reading instruction fun and interesting.
Spunkyhomeschool enlightens one of her readers about “living books” and shares how awesome it is to use these to teach her children without having to rely strictly on textbooks.