This is a lengthy post in order to be as thorough as I can. If you decide to read it later you might want to know that there is a sale code on one of my primary resources for Lapbooks towards the bottom of the post that expires December 31st. Thanks!
Many of you have noticed through my instagram and occasional posts on Facebook that I’ve started homeschooling my daughter. It has been a joyous first semester for both of us and we have each learned so much. I’m looking forward to the years ahead with excitement I didn’t know was possible.
While I used to think homeschooling was some fringe activity participated in by a few, now that I’m immersed myself I have discovered a vast network of encouragement, knowledge, and truly amazing people. Lately, I’ve also found that more and more people I personally know are choosing to homeschool their children and even though I am the new kid on the block, I’ve been asked so many questions about the curriculum I use that I thought a post might prove helpful as there are a lot of people (three in my own circle) that plan on beginning to homeschool for the first time this January.
There are countless good reasons why a parent may choose to homeschool their child so I won’t spend much time on that topic. I know a lot of folks are fleeing to homeschool right now due to situations in their child’s school and my heart is with you. We were very fortunate (blessed) in not being in a situation like that. Both of my children attended a school that didn’t teach against our beliefs or use an academic structure that we felt did not put the child first. In fact, my son is still attending that school, being in high school and heavily involved in school activities. Still, I know people who personally have felt the need to “flee” the school system for their child’s sake and I can certainly empathize. Still others just feel compelled by the knowledge that a one on one, personalized education will be better for their child, and I understand that as well. On our count, I will just say that we felt led to homeschool.
The most important thing I have learned about homeschooling is that, until you homeschool, you can’t really understand homeschooling.
Gratefully, we have many friends who homeschool and Alabama is a very homeschool friendly state. There are countless groups of homeschoolers around who go on field trips together, take classes together, and get together for social activities. And just so you know, that whole “socialization” thing is the biggest joke in the homeschool community, because kids have twice as much socialization as those who are told to sit down, sit still, and be quiet all day. Yes, I immediately ousted myself as an newbie when I asked that question of the first five or six homeschoolers I spoke to regarding homeschooling myself. “What about socializing?”. They were so kind and answered with grace, even though now I know how ridiculous the thought of not socializing was and that they had been asked that at least a thousand times.
The Curriculum I use
Everyone told us we’d love Apologia Science and everyone was right. This is what is referred to as “a living book*” that uses engaging language and writing to draw the children in and immerse them in what they are learning about. You can purchase just the book itself or the book and a notebook or junior notebook to go along with it. The notebooks are a great idea to help drive home the specific points of each chapter but after a few weeks we discovered the Apologia lap books from A Journey Through Learning and now use the science books in conjunction with the lap books to teach each chapter. This is a wonderful setup for us that makes teaching and learning highly effective.
I do suggest purchasing a science kit with each book and you might want to look at the notebooks as they are a good fit, we just like the lap book method better. Each chapter has experiments at the end of them and by purchasing the science kits ahead of time, you have everything you need for every single experiment – and some experiments call for some highly specialized items so the kits save a great deal of money. We are on our first book of the 3 book Biology series now and will then follow up with their curriculums for middle and high school. Apologia is definitely a science we are sticking with for the long haul.
History should be interesting, because it is, but there are some teachers who manage to take the fascinating and turn it into cardboard. I’m pretty sure I had all of those teachers. I had one interesting history teacher in my entire career as a student. He was my teacher for a grand total of ten minutes, until I realized I had gone into the wrong class by accident. It was my first day of college. I stood up, politely excused myself, and told him I sure was sorry I wasn’t in that class. I spent the rest of the semester trying to stay awake while listening to a monotone voice interspersed with multiple “uums” read directly from a text.
The Story Of Our World is nothing like that. I am thrilled to have a history program that brings it to life for Katy, and fascinates both of us equally. We get so excited about our History lessons! This program came highly recommended by everyone we spoke to. I have already read the entire book, because I couldn’t stop. When it comes time for history, Katy and I often go and curl up in bed with our book – It is that good! There is also a wonderful activity book you can get to go along with it filled with teaching ideas and activities to reinforce what you have learned, in addition to a test and answer book.
I highly recommend purchasing everything they offer for each book, except for the cd’s. The CD’s are great if you have younger children or children who have problems reading, but they are just the books, read aloud, on cd. If you have a fair to middlin’ reader these books will draw you in on their own, no CD needed.
Also, Drive Thru History DVD’s are great for teaching history and entertainment. They aren’t related to The Story of our World but it’s not like we can learn too much history, right? Goodness knows there isn’t a lot offered on television these days that is family friendly, entertaining, and enlightening and these DVD’s fit the bill. The whole family loves them. They are expensive, but I’ve been buying a few at a time, watching those, then selling them on ebay before buying more. I have heard they are available on Netflix if you have the dvd rental service but I’m not sure. Libraries may have them, you’d need to check locally. We sometimes use Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube to look for short videos that further expand on our studies in history.
I have not found a Bible curriculum that works for us just yet. This has been the most difficult one to find but I am going to a homeschool convention in the spring and hope to get lucky there. We have used Rod and Staff’s Bible curriculum which is also a reading curriculum and it is good,but just not the best fit for my child. Until then, we are using various lap books.
Next week we start a lap book on the parables of Jesus and when we finish that one we have ones lined up for The Old Testament and The New Testament. Hopefully, we’ll find a bible curriculum that works for us at the homeschool convention but if not, we will continue to use lap books and adapt children’t bible studies for homeschool use.
A lot of folks teach exclusively with the Charlotte Mason method but like most things, I pick and choose what I feel works best for us. We are about to start using a Charlotte Mason method of teaching spelling, which is to introduce the child to quotes, poetry, and prose from famous people throughout the ages and have them learn those rather than a random list of words. By the time they are done going through five books, they will have learned how to spell over 12,500 words, including the most common 6,000 words in the English language. The books to use for this are called Spelling Wisdom and are just a joy to read! I purchased the one book I have so far on ebay but you can get all of them at SimplyCharlotteMason.com.
Dare you not to enjoy this!
MY FAVORITE RESOURCE FOR LEARNING
Lapbooks I have purchased so far from A Journey Through Learning*
*If you order any of these, I would greatly appreciate it if you clicked my affiliate link to get to their site. It won’t cost you a penny more but I will get a small commission which will help me pay for my ever growing lap booking habit 🙂 Clicking on either of the Journey Through Learning ads above or here will get you there via my personal link. Please and thank you! 🙂
- Bell Express LapBook (Alexander Graham Bell study)
- Cooking Day
- Marie Curie
- The Great Depression
- America’s Great Documents and Speeches
- American Government And The Election Process
- Fall Fun Research Lapbook
- Flowers Express Lapbook
- Frogs Express Lapbook
- Going West Lapbook and Study Guide
- Historical Places
- GroundHog Day
- Inside My Body Lapbook and Study Guide
- The New Testament
- The Old Testament
- The Parables Of A King
- Planets Express
- Plants Lapbook and Study Guide
- Proper Manners
- Renewable Energy
- The American Revolution
- Stars Express
- Sun Express
- The Arrival Of A King (We did this one for Christmas)
- Weather Express
- Who’s That President?
- Winter Express
Things you need:
Memberships that help:
Where I buy my books:
Christian Book Distributors is one of my absolute favorite online stores. They have tons of curriculum choices in addition to books, DVDs, gifts, etc. They ship quickly and have great customer service.
I do purchase a lot of things off Amazon, mostly school supplies (folders, printer, etc) and sometimes resource books (like this, this, and this).
Ebay is an excellent resource for new and used curriculum and can save a lot of money. This is a great time of year to shop as there aren’t as many folks looking for school texts so you can get better deals.
Milestone Books is an excellent resource. They publish Rod and Staff and a number of wonderful subjects under that brand. They are a wonderful company to order from.
What You Need To Know About Homeschooling
I hope this post has been helpful in some way. If you homeschool, I’d love to hear your favorite curriculum choices in the comments. I’d also love to hear about your experiences: any special memories, funny moments, etc.
If you don’t homeschool and have questions because you are considering it, please feel free to ask them. The Southern Plate family is filled with wonderful folks who can help and I’ll be glad to chime in if I can be helpful as well.
What program do you align with? I’ve been thinking of homeschooling our 4th grader for his upcoming 5th grade year (2016/2017) and have read that AL requires an alignment with a private school or Christian school.
Thanks for any information
First year homeschooler here! I took an early retirement from the public school system after having my fourth child (at 44…thank you very much!). I taught for 15 years before taking this leap of Faith…best decision I ever made. ☺
It was the best decision for us as well Linda!! I can’t believe I didn’t take the leap sooner!!
Katy Rose might enjoy a local 4-H club. They have lots of fun activities.
A few days ago, I typed a few questions in the comment section of this post that seems to have disappeared into cyberspace…amazing how that happens! Anyway, do I need to type up that comment again or do you have any chance of “finding” it and answering my questions? Good luck on your homeschooling journey!
I found it Bev!!! I think the internet temporarily ate it or something. There were many things that factored into our decision but it was something that I had considered for some time. It is kind of a funny story of how the final decision was made, but that is a post for another day. We had been researching for a few months but really just plunged in head first. Katy kinda pushed us because we were hemhawing back and forth at the time and she was ready to be homeschooled! I am the primary teacher but yes, Ricky does help. As a mater of fact, the whole family is very involved.
Thanks for finding my questions and answering them! I think that this is a thoughtful, informative post and am very impressed with your organization and how much thought and planning goes into every part of the process! Good luck in your homeschooling journey.
Wow, nice job here, Christy! It’s lovely having a celebrity like you on board with home schooling! : ) You are a great voice for all of us with your relaxed, fun, do-what-works-for-you approach.
I am a home school graduate myself, my mom having taught me from 2nd -12th grades, and all 8 of my siblings as well. She would say that having an education degree made it HARDER to home school, as you keep trying to “teach school” rather than just educating your children. My kids have the privilege of being second generation home schoolers. : ) My oldest graduates in the spring and my youngest are 2-year-olds for another couple months, with a good sized gang in between. Many happy days ahead!
Thank you for all your ideas here. I’ll check out some that looked good to me.
Thank you so much for the support Becky!!!
This post is such a huge blessing to me! I have had it on my heart to start homeschooling my daughter for about a year now. If it is Gods will, I will stop working in May and we will start homeschooling in the upcoming school year. Ontop of feeling a little inadequate, for the job, I also have been nervous about what curriculum and resources to use. You have just eased a lot of my fears and answered a lot of questions that I have had. Thank you for such great resources! I wish I could hug you!
I am so glad it helped!! I felt the same way starting out and have had so many wonderful people there to answer questions and help get us started, I think you will find that most all homeschoolers are that way and are willing to go above and beyond to help in any way that they can.