We are half way through our first year of homeschool. We still love it. I thought would share a few things I've learned about getting started in homeschooling as well as a few websites that I have found helpful. Hope you will find some use in these things too.
1. Pick a Curriculum to guide you. I've found having a solid curriculum has helped me stay on track. I like having the lessons prepared for me out of the box and having teacher answer keys really saves time checking the work of two students in different grades. I looked at a LOT of curriculum vendors before deciding on A Beka for our kids. I'll do a more detailed review of that later on in the year but for now a few thoughts on choosing a curriculum.
* Find out how your children learn best. Are they hands-on kinesthetic learners, learn by listening and watching, or reading and writing? Choose a curriculum that teaches the way they learn the best whether its the traditional workbook or and online program.
* Decide if you want to follow the trend of your states government schools. If you are thinking about only homeschooling temporarily or up to a certain grade you might want to keep them in the same scope and sequence as their peers in there current grade. Here's a website, The Homeschool Resource Roadmap, that tells which curriculum vendors follow common core or not.
* Take into consideration how far the curriculum you are considering goes. Some programs only go up to 6th or 8th grade, while others cover preK through High School. If you are in it for the long haul til graduation and you skip around to different curriculum you could be missing some key components because different curriculum cover subjects in varying order. The scope and sequence in which they teach the material may be different between grades. Look beyond the current grade of your child and consider the future for each curriculum.
* How much does it cost? Homeschool is not free just like public school isn't free. You still have to buy supplies, pay for field trips, sports, etc. Curriculum is probably the biggest chunk of your homeschool budget. Don't overspend on fancy curriculum that gives you way more than you need or could make on your own. But also don't try to get by with too little that you don't stay focused on all that they need to learn in a year. Homeschooling your kids is an investment. Invest wisely!
2. Helpful Websites for Homeschoolers
We are part of a homeschool community called Classical Conversations and we love it. I can't imagine homeschooling without it. It covers all the subjects, we just need to buy math, grammar/language/reading curriculum. While there is no need to really add anything to this outstanding program, it's fun to mix it up a bit with some new review games every now and then. Here are a few places I've gone for extras.
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood This family is amazing and has been homeschooling a lot longer than me. There is a ton of information and free resources on this site.
Confessions of a Homeschooler Also a helpful blog full of planners, reviews of materials, and she has even written some of her own material. I used her PreK program with my youngest son when he was three and we liked it a lot.
http://www.discoveryeducation.com/free-puzzlemaker/ Allows you to quickly create your own word searches, word puzzles, and word games out of your own spelling words.