My children, DS is 11, DD is 8, and DD is 6. My husband and I are disgusted with the PS education they have received thusfar and have decided that this is the best choice for us. We love the CM method and know our children will excel with it. Here are my concerns...Purchasing curriculum-Can I teach without purchasing the curriculum with the exception of Math? My DD has a terrible time with spelling, should I purchase curriculum for her? In our public school system the main focus is on LA and Math. Science is taught 1/2 the year and Social the other 1/2. So right now my DD has been learning about caterpillars for the whole 2nd half. Do I start at the 1st grade level, in science and social, for all of them or at their grade level. I feel they have missed so much and as a parent I have failed them.
New and Terrified and Concerned about a curriculum(15 posts) (13 voices)
Well, you've come to the right place for encouragement and real honest-to-goodness help. I am still relatively new to the method, and I'm sure others will chime in, but I wanted to give you a little encouragement. Your children are very fortunate that you have recognized the need to go another direction for them in their education, so for that, you can and should feel encouraged. I understand the feeling of failure (especially with the ps education), but now things are different and there's nothing you can do about the past. But, there's plenty to do about the future, Yeah!
I have to run, but I'm sure others will be able to assist you with some recommendations.
Start them where they are grade level/ability level, is my suggestion. They will start to get so much more out of their education, and with a CM education they will fill in their own gaps all on their own, so you'll hardly notice in a few years how much they "missed" to start with.
I assume you're talking about your 8yo having trouble with spelling? For my 2 dds (ages 9 and almost 8) I have not stressed spelling too much at this point, and their spelling is improving on their own just from the reading we've been doing and copywork. My 9yo will be 4th grade next year, so we'll be starting Spelling Wisdom, Book 1. She was my most atrocious speller, but she has improved greatly this past year all on her own with hardly any prompting from me.
For science and social/history, just start them at grade level and do nature study. Your younger 2 will get much more out of science with nature study than with much else, and your 11yo, with something like Apologia or 106 Days of Creation Studies & Considering God's Creation, plus nature study, will catch up and surpass his ps friends. (My kids know way more than same age or older peers at our church & in the neighborhood. I can only assume the methods we're using are working better than I ever imagined! :)
Hopefully others will chime in with their suggestions, as well.
Oh, and welcome!
I will be new to homeschooling next school year, a 1st grader (currently in ps K) and a 4yo to follow. I've downloaded the sample of "106 days of creation" from this website's bookstore and think it looks wonderful for a general science overview. It is geared towards 1st-3rd graders, so both your younger children could do the program together. I am thinking I may do that for science when my ds is 8 and dd is 6. That way you don't have to worry what grade science your children are in, but rather what they learning and retaining.
As for math, I am planning to use MEP, which is free online (you have to print the lessons), but looks like it will be a good fit for us. Math was my strong suit in life, so for me I think I will be able to teach the program to our dc, but if it doesn't work for our dc I plan to look into purchasing Right Start or Math U See. If you do choose MEP, there is a supportive yahoo group of MEP users.
To get a stronger handle on LA, Charlotte Mason would recommend that you READ, READ, READ great literature to your children so they get used to hearing proper grammar. Then as they learn to read themselves they get into the habit of seeing correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc..... With narration, they would be learning how to put their thoughts into their own words making complete sentences which would later lend to proper use of grammar in writing. Also, with copy work dc get used to seeing words spelled correctly in addition to the proper use of grammar of punctuation. Atleast, this is how I understand how it works the CM way (I haven't been there done that, so experienced moms in this area can feel free to correct me). I've read some people just use word lists containing the most common used words for spelling. I'm not planning to purchase a spelling curriculum unless I see they that are dc are struggling greatly in that area after I give them a couple years of copywork from great literature sources (like poetry, reading selections, scriptures, etc....).
In my curriculum research the past months, I've learned you can teach your children without purchasing much or you can spend thousands of dollars. If you have a good library or home literature collection, internet access, possibly an e-reader (not necessary but helpful using the free classic literature books) and creativity I think spending less is the way to go.
I hope this encourages you, but keep in mind I'm just beginning like you and there are others that will have better advice.
What an exciting new adventure for you and your family!
Have you looked at the SCM History/Bible/Geography modules yet? I have been using Module 1 with my ds7 and my soon-to-be dd4 will join us in a few years when she is ready. I cannot recommend them highly enough! I am thrilled that my children would have read through (with narration) the Bible twice by the time they finish high school. If you go to the free curriculum guide and click on History, it will take you to an overview of the modules and the time periods they cover. I love the fact that the Bible is part of the History curriculum and you will spend a good amount of time in one time period at a time, giving dc the time to 'absorb' what they are learning. We have used it for 2 terms now and I am so pleased with my ds7's interest in what we are reading and the ancient egyptian history we are learning about. The books are wonderful and you can find many of them at the library and can purchase the family handbook lesson guide directly from SCM for a very good price. So easy yet so effective.
I agree that the Free Curriculum Guide here on SCM is just a treasure!!
Other than math, there's not really a packaged curriculum to buy. I bought a few items that I wanted to have - Outdoor Secrets, a geography program, a history spine, etc. Otherwise, we use our public library a ton and I buy books second-hand if I can't find a book that I'd like to read with the kids.
In terms of "grade level", since we do literature reading, faith, memorization, and history together, the only things the kids are currently doing independently are science and math (and some of their extracurriculars). Next year I am going to combine the kids into one science, too. So...in that respect they aren't really in a grade. My 4th grader is doing a math program that is several grades ahead, since he excels in math. The rest of the subjects aren't really grade-specific. I follow his age/ability in terms of when to incorporate new tasks as shown in the SCM guide (written narrations, grammar, etc.).
I was in public school until sixth grade when my mother began homeschooling me. I did miss the great start my younger brothers received because they were homeschooled all the way through but It really didn't matter once we got rolling. I caught the love of learnig and my mom just kept buying books and I was off and running. The CM method (IMO) is about teaching children HOW to learn and to love doing it, not about how much you cram in their little minds. Then when they are 30 like me and still learning new languages, instruments, new skills, and still reading voraciously you will know you succeeded! I loved being homeschooled. It is a great privilege.
For curriculum choose what fits your family best but avoid the biggest trap - becoming a slave to it. Sometimes it's nice to have someone tell you what to do everyday, and sometimes you are up to discovering each days possibilities. Both seasons are fine.
I will say I really like most of the SCM offerings. They are well put together and less inclined to make you feel enslaved to a schedule because of their CM focus.
Good luck on your journey!
What I did the first year I utilized the SCM Curriculum Guide was this. Money was very tight, so I knew I would have to purchase only the things I could not get at the library (or borrow from homeschooling friends), and even those purchases would have to be carefully sought out used books. (If you are planning to purchase used books, search this forum for threads that have links to reputable used book sites.) For those items I could neither find at the library nor for sale affordably, I asked the ladies on this forum for suggestions of substitute books.
The first thing I did was to go through the curriculum guide and select the book titles I expected to use for the year. Being my first year using CM methods, I overscheduled....but you can always decide to drop a book or two for any subject once you get underway and decide you'll be too rushed if you try to fit in everything! For example, I waaaay overscheduled the number of literature books we would be reading (we used them as family read-alouds, so all three of mine were reading the same literature books--they are close in age). I had to drop some from my list, but then I realized, the literature selections we were reading were listed for grades 4, 5, & 6.....so, I shouldn't expect to read all of them in one year, or there would be nothing left for the next two years! Plus, you'll come across recommendations that aren't on the SCM list that you'll want to include. So, don't go wild and plan to use everything listed for each subject when a smaller portion of reading might be enough.
After I decided what books to use for each subject, I typed them out in a Word document (okay, I was lazy and just "cut and pasted" the titles from the curriculum guide), listing them under subject headings. My older daughter had her own set of subject headings for literature and history (because she was near middle school) and my younger two had a joint set of subject headings for their book selections--they are close enough in age to be taught most things together. Then I had a couple of subjects where the entire family would read those books together and learn as a family.
We are blessed to have two large suburban libraries within reasonable traveling distance as well as a county library system with nearby branches. The county system allows me to request items from any of its branches and pick them up locally, plus I can request items through a statewide interlibrary loan that often helps me to acquire older, out-of-print materials. So, I looked up each of my desired book titles in the libraries' online catalogs. If it was available at a given library, I noted that with a 3-letter abbreviation after the book title on my Word document. I also noted if they had an audiobook copy. I put an asterisk just before any titles that were not available in any of the libraries, so I would know to ask other moms about possible substitutes or look into purchasing those books.
Then I printed out my list and took it with me anytime I might pop into a Goodwill store or a HalfPrice Books store.....or garage sales, used book fairs, etc. If I kept it in my purse, it was handy if I just happened to run into a bargain on something I needed.
It was a little bit of work to prepare, but in the long-run it made that year's materials affordable for us. It's a little tricky to time things right within library borrowing periods, but most of the older books we used didn't seem to be very popular (how sad), so as long as there were no holds on a book, we just renewed it as many times as we were permitted to do so. As I said, a little tricky, but it worked out okay for us.
I would love to have shelves upon shelves of great books in our home (and some moms on this forum do--they're savvy budgeters!), but we have made good use of local libraries and are blessed by them. My kids are getting the kind of education that will leave a lifetime imprint on them, and it's not what they would have gotten in public school. So, I'll spend the extra time and effort to make it happen. If I had more disposable income, I would invest in decent, readable copies of good books before upgrading our home furnishings or buying extra shoes and accessories or eating out more often. So, to answer your question about purchasing curriculum, if you have the budget to buy a lot of the books you'll be needing, by all means do so. If not, don't get discouraged; just see what other options (such as the library) might be available to you.
You definitely don't need to be buying a bunch of curriculum right away. In fact, I'd recommend against it. You'll want to spend some time really connecting with your kids and slowly figuring out what will work best for your whole family.
Many people recommend a time of 'deschooling' after taking kids out of public school. This just a time to relax, enjoy being a family, and get school 'out of their system'. Homeschooling will be a very different experience, and taking some time to decompress after being in school will help make the transtion. I've seen people recommend as much as a month for every year your child was in school.
Meanwhile, you can be starting to develop good habits like spending lots of time outside. Start a regular 'nature study' time. At first it can be just getting out somewhere and learning to observe and notice nature. Then start to take along a notebook to sketch things you see and start a 'nature journal' to record the things your children have noticed.
You can also gradually introduce all the 'extras' which aren't really extra. Pick a composer and start listening to some music. Pick an artist, find a collection of his/her works in the library, and enjoy looking at different pictures. Start a routine of family read alouds. Choose engaging literature that will expose your children to beautiful language and thoughts.
This will give you time to do some research and pondering and learn what you want to do in different areas. You may choose to follow SCM's guides, or in some cases do something different. You can build these into your routines gradually. You don't have to all of a sudden start 'doing school' with everything at once.
All along the way, start finding lots and lots of good books. We use the library extensively, as well as used bookstores, garage sales, and plenty of online resources. I don't follow any given plan exactly, because I build our curriculum around the books we have available.
Even math, I don't follow any one program, but use games, activities, and ideas from many different sources. You may want something more formal for your older child, but with your younger two you wouldn't even need to buy anything for math right away.
Enjoy the Journey!
and check out these series of blog posts...
and others... http://simplycharlottemason.com/series/
Welcome! Glad you could join us.....Take is easy is my advise. Don't beat yourself up. We all feel like we are not doing our best for our children. Even the most accomplished homeschoolers feel that way. Remember you are not a public school. Your children will learn from you 24/7. They will learn your values, your knowledge. Things that the ps will not teach them. My children are always asking me the meanings of words ect. This is great because if they were in school they wouldn't be able to do this. By the time they came home they would have forgotten the word or had something better to do like homework. :) so even if you were to teach them one great day of homeschool homework I think you would be doing more for them then the ps anyway....
I also think you could group together subjects. For instance.... History and Geography go together... have them Read your History and Geography and you hit 3 subjects in one time frame. Same with writing your spelling, grammar/english dictation, ect...(Nature Study, Art, Picture Study, & Music. you could put together.) It makes things easier, you spend less time on them and you get more done. Plus, it helps them build on each subject by corrilating it with what they have learned together. It reinforces the time they spent on learning it by association. It is no fun to be stuck in a text book learning nothing but facts. That is why you see great success when their is a project available. If you group subjects together there is more of a chance to hit a project that can be associated with everything you want to teach. :)
Don't think harder think smarter. One homeschooling parent told me that we talk to much as teachers. She says she teaches more to her autistic son because he has to learn by pictures. She does activities with him and he learns more because he is happy to learn. So make it fun and they will learn more quicker. Hope this helps you because it took me a few years to learn this valuable information and I wish I would have known it the first year I taught school. :)
Good Luck and Blessings!
You are all a treasure. I am definitely going to take my time. My dd going into 3rd grade struggles with reading and spelling and I think I am going to go back with her. My ds is going in to 1st grade and I think I will start them out together and let her gain her confidence and then she can move on when she feels she is ready. My ds going into 6th grade again I think he lost out a lot on Math and will begin at the beginning with him. He never got his facts down and he struggles. Again thank you for the encouragement and I will, I am sure, have many more questions.
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