September 20, 2012

Our Favourite Homeschool Resources


I occasionally get emails from moms venturing into home education who want to know how we choose our curriculum and what resources we love most, so I want to take a few moments to share the tools that work for us.  I don't claim to be a know-it-all expert on homeschooling (I'm pretty new to it too!), but I do know that sometimes it can be helpful to see how another family goes about things.

Here are some of the tools that are working for us right now...

Math:  I am a huge fan of The Critical Thinking Co.  Their math text books are colourful and engaging and they progress through the math skills at a pace that doesn't bore my children or leave them in the dust.  The books are pricey, so as I've shared before, I cut the spine off and put each day's work in a page protector to be completed with a dry erase marker.  This allows me to reuse the books for multiple children.

We also use the Building Thinking Skills books from The Critical Thinking Co.


Language Arts: My oldest daughter is in grade one and is doing A Reason for Handwriting and Spelling Workout.  She loves to read the Bob books to her younger siblings (and it has helped her to build a lot of confidence and realize that she really can read by herself) and we use the bingo cards and word searches from this book to practice sight words.


My 4 year old is in Senior Kindergarten this year and we are working together through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy Lessons.  I think the one-on-one time we spend snuggled on the couch with this book is at least as beneficial as the reading lessons themselves.

Science: My kids are fascinated with the sky and space so we are using Apologia's Exploring Creation With Astronomy as our science text.  Honestly, they would probably be a little  young for this course if they weren't  already so interested in the topic.  On the first page of the book they explain the benefits of presenting science topics in an immersion strategy (a whole topic of study all in one year) instead of the spiral method many of us experienced in school (touching on many topics of study year after year, going a little bit deeper each time)  and I was immediately sold on this curriculum.  I can't wait to explore all of the Apologia Exploring Creation books with the kids!

History: We are reading through the Mystery of History, Volume One. I love this book.  It presents biblical history and world history intertwined with one another, and it is very well written.  My husband and I are as excited to read from it as the kids are. (maybe more!)  We don't do all of the projects and activities the book suggests.

Latin: We've just started using Song School Latin.  When I ordered our curriculum for this year, Song School Latin was sold out so we only received it this week. So far it seems like a great way to introduce some Latin so that the kids (and the whole family, really) is ready for a more in depth study of the language later on.

Geography:We decided against a formal geography course this year.  In part because I was afraid of burdening my young children with too many academics and not enough getting dirty in the backyard, but also because I think that curiosity based learning is the best learning and we can foster plenty of curiosity and  some great question-asking just by encouraging the kids to explore atlases, maps, and our world map place mats.  We read books about interesting places and we curl up together on the couch and pour over the pages of our beginner's Atlas.


Other resources:  One of my favourite things about doing school at home is how we get to blur the lines between education and life.  We start our day with a riddle because my oldest daughter loves riddles. We refer to youtube videos and read interesting facts from the farmer's Almanac.  We pray for missionaries and then find them on a map. We take the long way home when running errands so we can drive past the Long Haired Highland Cattle because we read about them in Wee Gillis and find them beautiful.  We read lots of good books and watch documentaries together and sit on the back porch to observe the sky. 

Our Homeschool Goals: I think it would be overwhelming to consider the vast array of homeschool resources out there without knowing what it is we are trying to achieve.  By giving words to the dreams we have for our children's education we gain focus and insight into where to put our time and energy.

For us, our goal is to raise children who are very literate and have great critical thinking skills, who are passionate, curious and creative.  If they are those things, then we believe they will have no problem learning anything they need to know and excelling at anything they feel called to do.  And that's what we want for our children: freedom to go wherever God calls them.

So that's our homeschool in a nutshell.  Thanks for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

24 comments:

  1. Great resources. Thanks for taking the time to share.

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  2. I was homeschooled K-12 and am so grateful my parents chose this for me and my siblings. I am now a graduate of the University of Virginia and am so grateful for the firm foundation I had that allowed me to enjoy public education with gusto at the right time!

    We used Apologia's Exploring Creation textbooks for all our high school science and loved them. For math, have you tried Saxon? It's not as colorful, but as kids grow up that's not as important, and the repetition, repetition, repetition was what I needed to be competent at math. My parents also used Calvert School K-8 and we LOVED that curriculum as kids, especially the very classical-school subjects of Mythology, Art History, Sculpture, and Architecture; I am grateful almost every day for that cultural foundation!

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    1. My sister (8 years younger than me) was homeschooled grades 3 and up and ended up at UVa, too! (For Medical School. She was at JMU like me, for undergrad.) My mom used Saxon math as well. :-)

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  3. Thank you for posting this! We are considering homeschooling and any input is always welcome!

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  4. Love it! we're just starting our research into curriculum for our girls, I plan to start actual lesson plans in addition to our' play' learning time here in a couple months when my daughter turns two. . . do the apologia books follow biblical science?

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    1. Hey Stephie. Apologia teaches creationism, is that what you mean?

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    2. That's exactly what I mean! I really can't stand old world philosophies, and they start teaching them by even simple things when they should learn how and why things are they try to teach millions of years. .

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  5. Sounds like we have a lot in common. I was thinking of using many of the same curriculum choices next year with my daughter. What do you think of a Reason for Writing? That is one I really want to check out. I hear often about handwriting without tears but I really like the purpose of the other. Thanks for sharing what you guys are up too.

    Kathy

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    1. Hi Kathy! My daughter loves to make pictures and cards and notes for people and give them to them, so A Reason for Handwriting was a really fitting choice for us. (Because at the end of the week she gets to make a pretty scripture page to give away!) But I've heard a lot of good things about Handwriting Without Tears as well :)

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    2. My son used Handwriting Without Tears last year in his public school Pre-K class and loved it. It could be an individual thing, but his writing is much better at this stage than his older sister's was (is!) so I think it's definitely worth taking a look. His teacher also said she'd used it with her older nephew to "retrain" him, I think he was about 8 or 9... at any rate, she couldn't sing enough praises about the program. :)

      Good luck!

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    3. My son used Handwriting Without Tears last year in his public school Pre-K class and loved it. It could be an individual thing, but his writing is much better at this stage than his older sister's was (is!) so I think it's definitely worth taking a look. His teacher also said she'd used it with her older nephew to "retrain" him, I think he was about 8 or 9... at any rate, she couldn't sing enough praises about the program. :)

      Good luck!

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  6. Great goals! I've been recycling my daughter's math worksheets, thinking about how wasteful it is, so your page protectors work on that level, too.

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  7. I recently wrote a post on my blog about "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." I've been using it with my 4-year-old, too, and it has worked really well.

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  8. I was just over at Money Saving Mom and one of the deals right now is a free download of In the Hands of a Child Little House in the Big Woods along with links to a lot of other resources that have to do with the Little House books.

    I know your love for those rivals mine so I thought I would share!

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  9. These are some great resources! I hope some of them are still around by the time I have kids ready to homeschool (I don't even have kids yet, so it may be a while). Thanks for sharing! I'm adding these to my future wish lists!

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  10. THANK YOU!
    My oldest is only 28 months but I am starting to research/make a game plan as to how I want to approach homeschooling (especially since we plan to/hope for a large family like you!)


    God bless!

    Our Front Porch View: The Story of a Young Family's Pursuit to Fulfill a Simpler Life
    www.ourfrontporchview.com

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  11. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been thinking of homeschooling our little ones and picking a curriculum seems so overwhelming. I love seeing what other families are using. Thanks again!

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  12. Sounds like you have everything under control. :)

    Life is a great teacher; I completely agree with letting the kids go outside to explore, taking the long way home to see the cow... Leans a little toward unschooling, which is just living life and exploring.

    We have used Apologia and liked it. I have two suggestions for supplements that your kiddos might like: Vocabulary Spelling City and Learning Games for Kids. Both sites have quality educational games and more, both are free, and both are geared for multiple age ranges. Learning Games for Kids has a section on geography.

    Best wishes this year.

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  13. Just found your blog. I love all of the HS info. Thank you!

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  14. Did you use 100 easy lessons with your older daughter? I've looked through it and it seems like it would be completely boring but I've heard nothing but great reviews. I'm trying to decide between it and a beka with my little guy.

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    1. Yes, brittany. I used it with my oldest. I highly recommend it. :D

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  15. We are using The Mystery of History vol 2 and Apologia's Astronomy course, this year. Great stuff! Your blog is a blessing!

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  16. I was home schooled most of my life and my son is now 3 and we are starting to think of how to get started and I'm completely intimidated by the thought of how to do it. I really appreciate reading posts like this!

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