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Topic: Home Schooling Programs

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Subject: Home Schooling Programs
Date Posted: 11/2/2008 4:46 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2007
Posts: 1,455
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I know i keep posting and never come back, but i am because we need to figure this out!


how do you choose a program? What programs are out there?

Subject: How to choose a homeschooling program
Date Posted: 11/2/2008 9:50 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2008
Posts: 9
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The best way to choose a program (from my experience) is to talk to other moms.  You can look at their books and materials and find out how the programs work from moms/students who have actually used them.  Also, you may come across something you otherwise wouldn't have found at a curriculum fair, etc.   Curriculum fairs are a good way to get information "hands on" too, though, if you don't have access to many other homeschooling families to get and share information.  I have found that it is always best to actually look through books and materials any time you possibly can before buying them.  It will save lots of time and money.  Many progams sound great when described in the catalog, but may not be so interesting and/or appropriate for your family's particular needs.  I have occasionally used books such as 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy.  Although I don't find that to be the best way to choose curriculum, it can certainly be of help until you find the right "direction" for your family.  Hope this is some help to you.

Date Posted: 11/3/2008 4:31 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2007
Posts: 237
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You will find many helpful articles on this site:


There are descriptions of the different approaches and methods of homeschooling.

Once you have your reasons for homeschooling, and have figured out a learning method that makes sense to you and for your kids, that will narrow down some of your curriculum decisions to manageable size.

Without knowing your goals, none of us will be able to offer much useful advice. Knowing the age/grade levels of your children helps too.

The requirements of your specific state also affect what you will choose, so knowing what state you are in will help us help you.


Date Posted: 11/3/2008 7:29 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 181
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Ditto what Chandra said.

Said in another way: you need to know what you want to do and why. You need to know something of  your kid's learning preferences and abilities to match the work to the child. You need to know what you hate doing and avoid that. and what they hate and avoid that You need to know what you state requires and match curriculum to that requirement (different states dictate varying levels of detail of what must be taught in what grade). When you figure that out listen to some recommendations but know something of the person sharing the opinion. This is because if they love a type of work that you hate then their opinion will be irrelevant and not applicable to your family. Then try to see the stuff in your hands and evaluate it. This is important because what some rave about or what some catalog imples is fantastic may look boring (or some other negative thing) to you. If you are not able to look at stuff in real life buy it and just know probably something that you buy won't be a good fit (that is typical).

There are some online sites that share reviews. Rainbow Resource Center's catalog has LONG product descriptions. I love them and am a regular customer BUT their issue is they praise everything instead of comparing and contrasting. Thus it is easy to feel like you love every phonics program or every whatever subject program and it is hard to choose.

The thing with custom reviews like on HomeSchoolReviews is that something that I loved and worked with my kids was hated by another family or vice-versa. It is amazing when something was so great for us yet someone else hated it. So the usefulness of those reviews is debatable unless the reviewer spells out what the program is really like and you can take that and match it to your children's and your preferences. A perfect example is if your child does math best on a clean, uncluttered page with just black ink and you read a review for singapore math that happens to mention the page has cartoons and lots of color and is visually stmulating and another review for Math U See says they have boring white pages with just black ink and the absence of any visual decoration of any kind...then now you know which would be a better fit, whether those writers said they loved or hated the programs you learned something mroe concretely applicable to YOUR child. See what I mean?

Looking for the right fit for books and curriculum has taken up a lot of my time. There is also time tweaking when something I planned is not working out. Just warning you in advance about this fact. I do want a good fit and don't want my kids to suffer through using something we have just because it is what we have. This is why I end up tweaking and making changes throughout the year. I choose to do that--I give myself more work. LOL.

Hope this helps.

Date Posted: 11/3/2008 11:35 AM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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First, find out your children's learning styles, and your teaching style (which typically matches your learning style).  Then take all the curricula that don't match either and remove them from the list.  Your kids may have different learning styles, which means you'd need different curricula for each, or find something to do together, like unit studies, where you mix and match activities to their own styles.

Read, read, read.  Find out about all the different ways of HS'ing.  Don't be afraid to choose one - you can always change later.  Attend "curriculum share" nights at a local HS group.  Attend a HS'ing convention.  Go to "motel meetings" some of the publishers do.  Get your hands on items.  One thing I did was visit the local Christian book store that had a good selection of materials on hand.  I just sat and went through them to get an overall "first glance".  Many times I could wipe out a curriculum due to my first impressions.  I opened one Saxon math book at a convention, for instance, and said, "no way".  It wasn't visual enough.  Some publishers I found "cheesy".  I think I searched for six months until I made up my mind.  But it was worth it b/c we've used the same curriculum for six years, giving my son a consistent method and scope & sequence (be sure to read those from publishers, too).


Date Posted: 11/6/2008 5:03 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2007
Posts: 1,455
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thanks.... i am having a hard time finding he learning style, how do i really know the best way for him?



Subject: Learning Style
Date Posted: 11/6/2008 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 11/26/2006
Posts: 6
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     I hope you can give yourself permission to make a few mistakes along the way as you purchase home school curriculum.  I think you will discover your child's learning style (somewhat) through trial and error as well as, perhaps, from things that your read and have observed.  As a mom who has home schooled 3 kids over 11 years, some purchases just didnt work out so well.  Some worked for child #1, but not child #2 or #3.  Sometimes I over bought (usually at used books sales or ebay or from friends so I wasnt out as much money).  My advice is to be willing to drop something that either you or your child doesnt like and try something new.  Maybe you could borrow something from a friend before you commit to purchase.  Just my 2 cents.

Subject: My recent Curriculum Choice
Date Posted: 11/6/2008 10:37 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2008
Posts: 118
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I pulled my 1st grader out of Public School in April and had to scramble to figure out what I was going to teach and honestly what I was doing. I called everyone that I knew who had ever homeschooled any of their children. I wrote down the curriculums that they used and looked on-line at any that were mentioned several times. I eventually decided on Sonlight. I am also using Singapore Math. I chose Sonlight because it is very heavy on reading "Real Books" and I need to spend a lot of time reading to my kids. Since they all love stories this is a great fit for us. My older kids keep taking the 1st graders history books because they are interesting. You can get a book list from their website and take it to the library before you decide. Most of the really great books are heavily wishlisted on PBS. If you do not like to read to your kids or they do not like to listen pick something else. That said, my kids usually color or do legos while I am reading. They really are remembering what I am reading though. It is easy to combine the Core (history and literature) for several ages if they are not too far apart. Mine are 2 1/2 years apart. We have substituted a literature story (Charlotte's Web) that did not capture the kids interest or mine. I am comfortable having read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis instead. The big notebook tells what you need to cover for the week divided by day. It has worked well for us. I just write in the large note section when I substitute something, have a great day or new idea or question to look up later. Singapore Math is very good for people who are comfortable with math. It does not have a huge number of drills. The pages can usually be colored (at least for the early years) which is also a plus for us. We have had to stop and do extra work when they do not get a concept but this has been rare. It has been fun to teach but I have a background in accounting. I have been told that people who have been traumatized by math have a very hard time with it. You have been studying your children for years. Think about what they enjoy and when they are at their best. You also know what time and energy you have. I do not enjoy crafts or that sort of project with my kids. I will cook and bake with them and both my husband and I are more than willing to read them stories. I sometimes read the teachers forum just to see how much difficulty the 1st year teachers are having. I feel much better then. I have also been taking ideas from the "What Your X Graders Needs To Know" That is another good place to start but you will need to do much more yourself. Don't worry if things do not go perfectly or your child does not seem to be learning. Just keep remembering to take time to enjoy your kids and this time with them. Good luck to you all.
Subject: Where to Begin ....
Date Posted: 11/9/2008 4:30 AM ET
Member Since: 7/11/2008
Posts: 3
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Congratulations on your choice to homeschool your child.  You will find it to be the most frustrating and rewarding experience you'll ever have.  With that said, it's so overwhelming to be where you are.  My son and I are doing first grade and, like most parents, I did much homework before starting out.  There were times I just wanted to throw up my arms and forget about it (the Rainbow Resource book is 3 inches thick and talk about overload at the homeschool conventions!).  Perhaps until you get a firm grasp of what your family's style is, you may want to purchase an out-of-the-box curriculum like Sonlight.  I purchased their pre-k curriculum and went from there.  Sonlight is pretty expensive, but as a previous poster said, everything is there for you.  I know a couple of families who use My Father's World and like it.  After reading about Charlotte Mason, a victorian-era educator, I found that I resonate with her style and am incorporating her methods into our homeschool.  Ambleside Online offers a free Charlotte Mason curriculum.  I stumbled across a website which also offers a free curriculum called Tanglewood Education, which is what we have been following.

I hope you find what you need -- and if you don't, keep at it until you do.  My son and I are finally getting into a groove and it's been such a wonderful, blessed experience!


Date Posted: 11/9/2008 6:05 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2007
Posts: 1,455
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well you guys have been help ful the sonlight program doesnt seem to like to much $$ I am trying to figure out his leanring style. Right now he wants to read, so we have been reading, he wants to learn the things i do like knitting and crochesing. he wants to help with cooking. so i think he need something hands on. i am just not sure were to go. i dont mind spending a little money and getting things from other curriculems, but cant spend a whole lot. so i'm going to look at those free sites rachel spoke about.


aiden started pre school this week. it has been hard on him and a little on me. so i'm leaninf more and more to home schooling. he went on tues for 2 hrs and seemed ok. but told me he didnt want to go the next day. and wed he got sick. there. so on thurs i kept him home. every night this week just about he woke up in the middle of the night. talking about how he didnt want to go. anyhow thurs when i called to tell them he wasnt going. i asked how he was there. they said that he had a hard time sitting for the groups that they do. that he lost his intrest sometimes that they had to re direct him a few times. and on tues. he told them to "shut up & that they were the boss of him" i was so shocked that he did that that i cried. i didnt know what to do. i still kind of dont. but we will see how things go this week. i get so worried that things are going on there that might no be good or something.

Subject: figuring out learning styles
Date Posted: 11/9/2008 7:10 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 181
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If you buy the book "Discover your child's learning style", it is under $20 on AMazon I'm pretty sure, there is a test in there that you give yourself and each of your kids and score it. The investment in the book is worth it. I have retested my kids over these last 6 years since I bought it and it is always helpful.

Also a separate thing to look at by a list online (free) is the list of visual spatial (right brained learners) versus conrete sequentil (left brained learners). Here is a side by side list



By starting with the learning style info and figuring out the preferences for you and your child is helpful. For example if you know your child has uneven development (a visual spatial trait) you will know that  buying a big schoo in a box by one grade level may not work out.

Other things you will learn along the way like others here have already said. I don't think there is a HSer out there who bought something that didn't work out or that was never used. But at the same time it is important to just not spend money blindly and have it wasted. Some thought has to go into planning especially if your budget is tight and you worry about buying wrong stuff.

You can also buy stuff used online, check the swap and sell boards at "the well trained mind" site.

Good luck, you will figure it out!!