Homeschooling for Beginners: Our Family’s Homeschool Curriculum

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Our public school officially starts today. I can hardly believe it! The summer flew by. And I also can’t believe I’m looking into options for homeschooling for beginners.

Why We Decided to Homeschool

When our school district announced last month that we’d be distance learning for at least the entire fall, I started strongly considering the idea of homeschool. It had appealed to me in the past, especially with how much we typically love to travel. But my kids LOVE their school and being in a classroom setting.

However, the main reasons they (and I) love public school – such as socialization, STEAM lab, art class, sports, projects, group work, and more – were suddenly no longer on the table. If felt like all the negatives (only exacerbated with me being the one to manage the time constraints) and none of the perks of public school.

homeschooling for beginners

Hybrid Public School and Homeschool

Fortunately, our third kiddo who is entering kindergarten was assigned the same (amazing) teacher that our older two had. Since we have a wonderful, established relationship, it made it a lot easier to discuss possibilities beforehand. She already knows he’s a comfortable reader, which is one of the most important skills to build in kindergarten.

Because of that, we’ve been able to work out enough flexibility that we feel comfortable keeping him enrolled. This also maintains his spot if school does eventually go back in person – I think it’s especially important as a kindergartener to have that in-person interaction if possible.

Related: Homeschool Supplies: Our Favorite Home Education Resources

Which Kids We’re Homeschooling

For our incoming 2nd and 4th graders, however, it just doesn’t seem easily feasible or enjoyable to manage everything online. Each of them would have 4-5 Zoom calls each day. Even if they’re not super long, just managing all the schedules and on and off times seems terrible. One of my kiddos in particular isn’t their best emotionally when on a screen for long periods of time, and it just doesn’t feel like a great fit overall.

I’ve considered homeschool a few times over the year, but never jumped in since our kids loved their classrooms. But this seemed like the perfect time to try out homeschooling, when they wouldn’t feel like they’re missing out on the perks of public school, anyway. We also currently have more flexibility than we’ll probably ever have again in terms of location, since my husband will be working remotely for the next almost-year.

Homeschooling for Beginners

I knew there were a lot of homeschool options out there, but WOW! There are a ton!

I’m by no means a homeschooling expert. But I did do a LOT of research to figure out which homeschool curriculum options would fit best for our family. My friend Sarah was also a great resource for helping me navigate what would work best for our family.

I knew I wanted ones that were reasonably organized and that wouldn’t take a ton of creation or effort from me. But I also knew I was willing to put in some work if it allowed my kids a more rigorous course of study. Both of my homeschooling kids are reasonably advanced and gifted in multiple subject areas, so I wanted to use this year as an opportunity to challenge them more than they typically are in the public school classroom.

After perusing many curriculum options, I finally decided on the best homeschooling for beginners options for our family. I’m hoping these will be a wonderful experience for gifted students that will still leave us plenty of time for play and exploration. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear – do you homeschool? If not, would you consider it? If so, what curriculum have you used? Do you love it? Please share!!

 

Homeschooling for Beginners: Our Family’s Homeschool Curriculum

 

Homeschool Math Curriculum

This felt like the easiest subject area to choose a homeschool curriculum for our family. My kids love math and feel confident in it. They’ve always wanted to be more challenged in math at school.

I’d heard great things about Singapore Math (my friend Jessica recommended it a while ago in this great homeschool resources post), and that it’s rigorous and great for kids who want a challenge. I also felt that if this year is a little nuts with getting started, I at least wanted them to be really solid in math.

While I feel it’s absolutely still possible to build any subject skill later on, math is one of those things that is easier with a really strong foundation at a young age. I’m excited for it!

 

Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum

English Language Arts (ELA) was, by far, the most difficult subject area for me to decide on a homeschooling for beginners curriculum. My two oldest kids are both very strong readers and writers, with each reading about 4-6 grades above grade level. They’re strong with spelling and reading comprehension.

However, there’s a decent amount of grammar specifics that they just haven’t covered in class yet, so I wanted to make sure we incorporated enough of a foundation that they’d be familiar with syntax, parts of speech, and the elements of strong writing. It proved difficult to find a curriculum that would challenge their reading and writing skills, while still filling in grammatical gaps.

I figured a literature-based curriculum was probably our best bet. I’d seen Moving Beyond the Page before, but it had gotten lost in the sea of options. My friend Vanessa mentioned she was using it, though, so I went back to check. And it seemed perfect! Literature-based with lots of composition. It provides a sound foundation of grammar/spelling, but doesn’t spend tons of technical time on it, which is perfect for us. I much prefer learning those things through practical applications/lots of reading rather than diagrams! I’m really excited for this curriculum and I think my voracious readers will love it.

I’ll also continue reading practice with my kindergartener at home!

Related: Tips for Encouraging a Reluctant Reader

 

Homeschool Science Curriculum

Our public school uses the Mystery Science curriculum, and we’ve used a few of the free materials in the past. They’re really well put together, and have activities that go along with the videos. There are even a bunch of starter regular and mini lessons that are totally free. We’ll start with those and likely continue!

Much of elementary school science is also about observation, questions, and hypotheses. So to encourage exploration, I’m planning to supplement with things like this nature activity book and a magnifying glass and microscope. We’ll also do some STEM activities from this book, and play some STEM games (here’s one of our favorites). Not to mention some baking projects!

 

Homeschool Social Studies Curriculum

For history and social studies, I wanted something story-based and interesting. I knew I’d be supplementing quite a bit with materials from the Global Children’s Book Club, so I didn’t necessarily need something totally comprehensive.

Still, Story of the World just seemed so fun! It has lots of activities that go along with it, which is right in line with much of what I shared with the countries. And several of the countries from the book club are found in Story of the World, too, so I thought it would be great to join some of the activities and help my kids get extra excited.

I’ll be sure to incorporate some fun global social science activities for my toddler, too!

 

Supplemental Learning: Homeschool Electives

Homeschooling seemed like a wonderful time to incorporate some electives into our learning. Here are some we’ll be including:

Arts

This is a really important one to me and one I feel confident teaching, both through Global Book Club resources as well as through lots of supplemental books. I’m also strongly considering including Masterpiece Society into our curriculum.

We’ll also continue with our instrumental practice for music – my older two play the violin, and my third plays the cello! I’ll also do some gentle music play and exercises with my toddler and baby.

 

Tech

My kids have done typingclub.com for a few years now, and it will be great to get in some regular practice to become confident typists.

The kids also love to code! We’re planning to do some coding for kids from this book, through code.org (we loved it last year, and with this little robot.

 

Entrepreneurship

This is a new one for our family, and one that we’re all really looking forward to. Daniel LOVES entrepreneurship and has been involved in it since high school, and he’s thrilled to work with our kids on a project or two.

 

Foreign Language

Each of our kids will continue to practice a foreign language with a parent a few times a week.

 

Outside Time + Field Trips

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we’ll be spending LOTS of time outside – hiking, biking, running, playing, exploring, swimming, and more. I’m really looking forward to lots of field trips (both virtual and in person), exploring, and time together growing and learning. It’s going to be great!

Related: 65+ Things to Do Outside with Kids at Home

 

I’d love to hear what you’re planning to do for school this year! Are you distance learning? Homeschooling? Unschooling? Going back in person? Tell me in the comments!

 

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