As I was preparing to go to Created for Care this year, I went through some notes from last year and found some of the questions the ladies there asked about homeschooling. I can’t remember how many of these Meghan and I actually answered during our session, but I thought it might be useful to answer them here in case other moms have the same questions.
What curriculum do you use?
We’ve tried a lot of different things over the years– that’s one of the good things about homeschooling. But here’s what’s working for us right now:
- MATH Grades K-3 Alpha Omega Horizon, Grades 4+ Teaching Textbooks
- SCIENCE Apologia science
- PHONICS and READING ABeka Phonics, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, BOB books (very early readers). I also like Sonlight books.
- HISTORY The Light and the Glory, Childhood of Famous Americans
- HANDWRITING/GRAMMAR A Reason for Writing, Daily Guided Teaching And Review, Simply Grammar
- FOREIGN LANGUAGE Fluenz Spanish- expensive, but really good. Kids are able to work on their own, without parents having to know the language.
- GEOGRAPHY Seterra, a free downloadable program that we are using for the first time this year. Very useful.
How much do you check/correct your kids’ school work?
It can definitely be very time consuming to check kids’ work, especially when you’re homeschooling multiple kids. But I’ve learned and relearned over the years that unless I inspect, I just can’t expect quality work.
To make math checking less tedious, I did switch everyone over to Teaching Textbooks math. It is taught AND graded by the computer, and I love that. Even with that, however, I go into the grade book every day, look at kids’ scores, and then have them redo every problem until they get them all right. My younger girls get their writing checked each day, and everyone reads to me until they each become fluent on their own.
My teens do much of their daily work on their own, but once every couple weeks we do a chemistry test, and also go over the review problems for each chapter with them. They also write one essay every month. They do the various steps of essay-writing on their own, but near the end of each month I go over each essay with each teen and talk through any needed edits. Usually I have to read over an essay at least three times before it passes inspection.
How do you encourage reluctant readers?
You need to start by giving kids a good basis in phonics, as well as teaching word attack skills, such as how to break a word into chunks as you’re sounding it out. I also try to read with kids every day until they get better at reading. These days only my 3rd grader reads to me, but I had some of my ESL kids read to me well into their teens. Of course it helps to find books for kids on topics that they truly find interesting. The Shadow Children books intrigued some of my mid-elementary reluctant readers. But the final (and perhaps most important) thing to remember about learning to read is that kids get competent at wildly different ages. My first bio son didn’t enjoy reading until he was nearly 10. My second bio son was a good reader at age 4. Same environment, same parents. They were just ready at different times.
What are some of your tips for homeschooling a child with ADD?
One of the reasons I think my one son was nearly 10 before he became a good reader is that he was a very active kid, and didn’t have much patience for sitting still. I think that if he’d been in a public school environment, he might have been labeled ADHD in his early elementary years. But because we were able to homeschool, I was able to give him activity breaks when he needed them, or let him move from the table to the couch and then to the floor to continue working. Often if I notice a kid seems to be struggling with focus, I will send him or her out to walk the dog, assign three laps around the house, or 5 minutes on the mini-trampoline. Very active kids often can memorize very well while jumping on a trampoline.
Here are some other posts I’ve written about homeschooling over the years: