Topic | Switching to Homeschooling–hoping for clarification

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  • babambrie
    Participant

    Hello, all! I am brand new to homeschooling, though it’s something we’ve been considering for a while. Long story short, I will be pulling my daughter out of public school at the end of this month. She’s six, and in first grade. (With two little brothers, 1.5 and 3, which makes this big change all the more “exciting.” 🙂 )

    All that I’ve read about Charlotte Mason and her methods and philosophies about educating children has been really hitting me right in the heart–this is exactly what I want for my daughter, and I am thrilled to do this with her! I’ve loved pouring through the blog posts and forum here at SCM. They are fantastic resources! When I look at the big picture, I feel reasonably confident that eventually I’ll be able to find my teaching “groove” and this will be fantastic. But right now, with zero experience, a very tight time frame, a lot of unknowns and a very tiny budget, I’m sort of low-level freaking out. 🙂

    So I was wondering if I might be able to talk through my plans for her schooling with you guys; I’m hoping you’ll be able to help clarify some things and let me know if I’m way off or on track.

    So I know I need “the three R’s”, and I’m hoping to use Penny Gardner’s italics for handwriting and copywork (I loved what I saw with the Delightful Handwriting books, but I wanted the italics style). I’m still hammering out what math program to use (free is best, so I’m looking at MEP–would I need to get any cuisenaire rods or base 10 blocks? Are they worth it? Which ones?)

    But for reading, I’m a little confused. I’m REALLY hoping not to have to purchase any lesson plans or guides, even though they might be helpful. So to cover “reading” in the CM way, do I just need to come up with a list of good, living books and then have my daughter read a little each day, using narration to gauge comprehension? Or I read them with her? Is that it, or am I missing something? I’d love to manage this subject with online books or the library, and I think I can, but I want to be sure. I’m afraid it’s seeming too easy. 🙂

    For History I was going to loosely follow Guest Hollow’s free American History program, leaving things out as necessary (or substituting more age-appropriate books) to make it work for a first grader.

    For Science I was going to use Exploring Creation with Astronomy (from Apologia).

    I plan on having some sort of Morning Basket setup with scriptures to memorize and stuff for Picture Study, Composer Study, Poetry, Nature Study, etc, and I’m *really* excited for all these things (I’m planning out weekly “big” nature treks already!), but I want to make sure I’ve got the core subjects hammered out.

    So thanks in advance for any advice/encouragement/correction/clarification. I must be crazy to switch up my daughter’s schooling at this random point in the school year, but there’s no doubt for me this is what we need to do. Every time I ask her what she learned at school and my (very bright, super curious, learning-loving) daughter just shrugs with complete disinterest, it kills me. And with some upcoming changes for our family–this is what is right for us. Thanks for helping us make it work!

    Monica
    Participant

    That looks like a beautiful start!  My girls are 7 and 6.  Their schedule is similar, but our homeschool is probably a lot different because they have two older siblings instead of two younger.

    My advice would be to not overload her.  Don’t expect every subject every day (we alternate science with history) and allow her lots of free time for playing, creating, exploring, and having fun.  Schedule one of your “extras” in morning reading each day (today for us was literature read-aloud, yesterday was composer study, Monday was geography).  Slow and steady (and with any luck, your daughter will love the literature read-aloud so much that she’ll grab it out of the basket and want to read it herself.  That’s what my 9YO DS – a reluctant reader – is doing right now.)

    As for “reading,” there are really two areas that you need to cover:  a reading program (phonics, sight reading, a mixture of the two, whatever you decide) and literature.  With the literature, I read aloud and then before the next chapter I ask the kids what they remember from the previous chapter.  It’s that simple.  We want to expose them to quality literature, great stories, and the intricate language structure of more classic pieces.  Some of my kids really enjoy audio books, too, so we download lots of them from http://www.librivox.org.  (My 9YO just finished with Dr. Dolittle and he liked The Wonderful Wizard of Oz).

    Finally, with reading instruction, I’ve done different things with different kids.  I find what works for them and stick with it.  At this season, that happens to be Explode the Code workbooks.  My daughters love them.  With my older kids, who didn’t like workbooks, we did Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons or something like that.  As soon as they were more fluent readers, I would have them read aloud to me each day from a book at their level.  (This week my daughters are reading from Blueberries for Sal and my son is reading from an astronomy chapter book that he is interested in.)

    I’ll close by saying that less is more at this age!  If handwriting means copying two words, so be it.  If math means 5 problems, that’s fine.  Work at her pace, within reason, and don’t allow the 6-hour schedule of the public school make you think you aren’t doing enough.  Congrats on your decision and enjoy this season!

    amama5
    Participant

    Congratulations!  You aren’t crazy at all, do what’s best for your family, and only you know that so don’t second guess yourself.  I have 6 children, 5 school age, and we have a tight budget as well, so hopefully I can help a little.  The best part for you is that you are starting to homeschool early, your oldest is 6, so you have it easier than jumping in with three school aged kiddos.

    If you have a good library, use it!  Make substitutions, rearrange schedules depending on when your books come in.  www.half.com, amazon, and http://www.abebooks.com are websites I find cheaper or free books.

    Just a few thoughts: one is that your schedule sounds a bit heavy for a 6 year old, but maybe since you said she is bright and loves learning it will be fine.  If I had done Apologia Astronomy with my 6 year olds, they would have been absolutely miserable. I have loved living science books mixed with experiments for lower elementary grades.

    Reading: I have 4 excellent readers, my 6 year old kindergartner son can read if forced to:)  He’s not a big fan of structure so we only do formal school a few minutes a day right now.  I haven’t ever used a reading program (well, not a complete one).  I started out with my first child using Hooked on Phonics, then Pathway Readers, and realized my son was not motivated to read those at all.  So once I teach them letter sounds(thank you Leapfrog Letter Factory!) and beginning sight words/phonics, we pick books that interest them, even if they are twaddle (Henry and Mudge, Nate the Great, etc).  I am a huge fan of finding what works for each child.  So they read aloud to me daily and through that I can spot trouble words and work on them at that time.  That’s all we’ve done and it’s been great, it may not work for everyone.

    I don’t know if you have an iPad, MUS (math-u-see) has their manipulatives set as an app on there if you don’t want to buy the set.  Even most of my children that ended up using other math curriculum still were helped by the blocks.

    I also couldn’t tell if you meant you would be doing music/art/poetry/nature every day?  I would do those once a week, and just starting out you might want to just do nature and one other until you have a good start.

    Hope you have a great rest of the year and that your daughter blossoms at home!

    HollyS
    Participant

    Lots of great ideas so far!  I agree that you should start slowly.  You don’t have to cover it all.  We don’t cover every subject, every week.  I’m okay with nature study (or picture study or another other study) every other week.  Just pick a few subjects to start with and slowly add more in throughout the year.

    With just a 6yo, history is optional…Picking up a few picture books from the library or reading a Children’s Bible is plenty of history for this age.

    Some people only have a couple science lessons per week, but we like daily science.  I’ve found Apologia’s lessons to be best when we work on it every day (for a shorter amount of time).  On nature study days, we usually skip our regular science lesson.  Handbook of Nature Study is a great resource, and you can find it online for free.  We pick an object from the book.  Recently we’ve studied wood frogs, corn from our garden, and clouds.  I usually look around the yard for ideas or glance at the book when they find something interesting.  The lesson in the book is full of questions to get them looking closely at the animal. There is also information for you to read and then share a fact or two if you think it will interest them.

    For phonics, I haven’t spent too much time researching CM’s take on it, but I’ve come up with a very inexpensive program for my DC.  Somewhere between ages 4 & 6, I start teaching them letter sounds.  My DC have been reading at a variety of ages.  If they have a hard time picking up the letter sounds, we try again in a couple months.  I’ve covered letter sounds with homemade flashcards and inexpensive phonics workbooks (ETC Primers or MCP K were what we’ve used).  From there, I teach them blending.  I’ll put 3 letter flashcards together or write a simple word on a dry-erase board.  We start with CVC words like CAT or SIT.  Once they get the hang of blending words, I add in the McGuffey Primer.  You can find this free on Gutenberg.org.  New words are added in gradually (and there are a couple sight words as well).  When they finish the Primer, we work on the First Reader and add in some more colorful readers like Frog and Toad, Dr. Seuss,  or Little Bear.  I imagine your DD is already reading, so I’d just continue having her read aloud.

    For the literature part of reading, we just read.  Sometimes I have them narrate their readings.  Aesop’s Fables are a great introduction to narration if she has trouble with this.

    There is a great video in the SCM library on picture study when you are ready to add this…Sonya makes it very easy (and non-scary) to implement!  For music, just listen to a CD as time allows…we listen to a track per week or I play it while we are cleaning the kitchen.  We listen and sing a few songs during the week (usually a hymn and a folksong).   It’s very easy to go overboard here, but I think simple is best.

    babambrie
    Participant

    Thank you so much for your suggestions! I’m so glad I took the time to ask here. As I’ve been looking things over, I think you are all right that maybe a little less might be a little better. I’m trying to give myself reasonable expectations, so I think for the first few weeks I will just make sure we’ve got reading, writing, and math down. Although I’ve shown her a few of the books on Native Americans we’ve checked out (the beginning of American History) and she’s already excited about those.

    I am excited to get into all the “fun” stuff (picture study, composers, etc.) but I think I will just table those for a while until we have our rhythm. I love music, and I’m always singing some hymn or children’s song, so maybe that base is sufficiently covered for a while, too. 🙂

    My daughter is a pretty decent reader (she can read through Dr. Seuss and little books like Frog and Toad pretty easily, and she enjoys it), so I guess just continuing her reading would be sufficient, without much specific focus on phonics? For literature I hadn’t thought of audio books; Librivox looks amazing! She would love listening as she draws or plays!

    I chose the Apologia Astronomy book because she’s always loved the stars. Last year we learned a bit about constellations and the night sky together, and she loved our little trips to try to find them in the sky. I showed her the book, and she’s very excited (I can guarantee she’ll love all the projects). But I’m starting to worry, because it seems a lot of people mention that these books might be better for a higher grade level (though the book itself says it works for first grade). I want to encourage her love of learning, but I don’t want to burn her out. Does anyone have an experience where it *did* work out okay? I really like the idea of doing less at a time, but daily, especially if I can find little add-ons that make things interesting (like this we found last year  https://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=EG10fxvMjAA, she loved watching the moon change!).

    Thanks again for helping me hash everything out! Your advice (and encouragement!) is invaluable. Tomorrow is her last day at public school, so next Monday we’ll be jumping in! I know there’ll be an adjustment period, but this is really helping me make sure the start is more likely to be successful.

    HollyS
    Participant

    I’d give Apologia a try since she’s interested in it…You can always save it for later if it’s too much.  We did the Astronomy book when my DD was that age and she enjoyed it.  I think that book is supposed to be the best for the younger ages.

    Wings2fly
    Participant

    Our experience with Apologia is that after months of studying the same topic , we get burnt out.  The kids were excited at the beginning, but then start to think it is too long and boring.  So that is when we set it aside and changed books and topic, with a living book.  We haven’t yet done a whole Apologia book the whole year.

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