Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What we use to homeschool

Lots of simple living proponents are also homeschoolers. I guess its no surprise that in striving for self-sufficiency many embrace homeschooling as a part of their do-it-yourself mentality. That's certainly what led me to homeschooling.

When we started homeschooling, I wanted desperately to know how other people homeschooled their children and what they used. I thought there was a magical formula for homeschooling and if I could just find the perfect curriculum, we'd have it! Now that I've done it for a couple of years I realize that homeschooling means customizing an education specifically for your child. That is the aspect of homeschooling that can make it so successful! Because of this, no one can tell me the perfect thing to do for my kid. In the same way, my telling you what I do for my kids won't be the perfect thing to do for your kids. However, maybe one or two of our choices might be just what you are looking for!

We are generally classical homeschoolers (helping our kids move through the stages of grammar, logic, and rhetoric), but we also do some unschooling (child-led learning). I also like to improvise our homeschool curriculum and what I've made up doesn't necessarily fall into a specific style.

What we do without textbooks:

We follow a schedule, but also try to be open to learning opportunities as they arrive or as our moods dictate. We do lots of reading and writing. To save money on paper, the kids often write on their rewritable white boards that I picked up at Target for $1 each.

Every day the kids read aloud, read quietly to themselves, and write in their journals. Weekly they are required to present a book report. I buy the notebooks for journals in bulk for 10-25 cents each during the back to school sales. The books come from the library.

I think memorization is important, but I also want it to be fun, so we memorize songs. So far we've memorized the Animaniacs Presidents Song, Animaniacs States and Capital Song, and The 50 States That Rhyme. To memorize these songs, we just break them into verses and focus on one verse each week or so, until we have it!

We also use the following books:

  • All subjects - What your Nth grader needs to know - If I were someone just starting out with homeschooling and I could only buy one book, it would be What your Nth grader needs to know. You can buy this series of books on Amazon for one cent each (plus shipping). We use this book currently to fill in the gaps, but the first year we used it almost exclusively--especially for art, music, history and science.

  • Science - Real Science 4 Kids We use the textbooks only and omit the lab books and teachers guide to save money. I try to pick these books up for $10 or less. My kids really like the pictures and they can read the text themselves. We supplement with videos from Kahn Academy and Discovery Education. (My mom bought us a subscription to Discovery Education. Its pricey, but I hear some states offer it to homeschoolers for free. We enjoy having it, but we will ask my mom to save her money in the future. There's too many free resources on-line to pay for a video service!)

  •  History - Story of the World and A Child's History of the World These books are great! Story of the world has four levels/books. A Child's History of the World is just one book. We use both and add in History Pockets and other history crafts. 

  • Math - Math Mammoth is pretty cheap and we like it a lot. If you are looking for a free program, you could try MEP Math. I also mentioned here that we use Fun for the Brain, a free math games site, to reinforce our Math Mammoth lessons.

  • Grammar - We just recently decided to switch over to Kiss Grammar because its free and because my kids weren't retaining information with Growing with Grammar. I really haven't been using Kiss long enough to say how it is going.
    • Spelling - Click n Spell This is a lifetime on-line subscription I bought through Homeschool Buyers Co-op. It was about $50, but worth it for me because I hate teaching spelling!
    • Typing - Here is a totally free typing instructional game on line. We use it and my kids are really learning to type!
    Daddy Bushman homeschools the kids one day each week in Spanish, Art, and Music. I didn't mention what he uses to do so because, honestly, I have no idea. That one day each week is my all important me-time!
      Not everything I've mentioned here is free, but since we spend very little on homeschooling, most of it is pretty affordable. Don't forget to get look for homeschool books and resources first from your public library, where everything IS free!

      What's your favorite homeschooling resource? What's your favorite way to homeschool for free?

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