Your questions are awesome. Where to begin when putting together my own homeschool curriculum is another dynamic reader question I have to share with you because sometimes the core curriculum is not real clear.
Look at Nicolle’s question:
I am a single mom of an incredible 6 (going on 7) year old boy. A hands on entrepreneur with overhead still working on the business and so I am a working mom and my son comes to work with me. though it may be difficult I work towards doing things I believe in in my heart, after long consideration. I am very creative; however we are just making more friends and have no family where we are (my sons daddy is here p/t). With that said and with found support in other (stay at home) home-school moms I took the leap and am just beginning to home-school my son. I am overwhelmed though still with how to create an initial solid foundation to build a ‘core curriculum’ for him and us. I’ve been told my style is more eclectic, unit studies, with a twist of Charlotte mason living language. I was referred to take your course which I will. I’ve worked on new work etc scheduling…but despite being told it’s easier to buy a curriculum (a bit expensive for me and all I want is the written curriculum and not all the books as I can attain them in a different way and which to choose?!) I’d like to start working on my own…Where do I begin knowing the curriculum I put together (as you said in your video) will not ‘leave my child’ behind so to say???
Singleness can have a huge advantage when you are on the curriculum hunt. You have time to research curriculum because you don’t have a husband’s demands to meet. Singleness does have its freedom.
Too, using the creative and entrepreneur part of your personality are strengths and can save you money in long run.
Entrepreneurs rock and are willing to take chances and risks that others are not willing to take. This is where you can think of hands-on ideas on the spur of the moment and where you will seize teachable moments.
The side of your personality that probably needs support is with the details and maybe curbing the desire to “jump” to something different when you need to stay on course.
This is where part laid-out curriculum comes in. You are on the right track. Just remember though that laid-out does not always mean expensive.
You can use laid-out curriculum without buying a whole boxed curriculum. Just buy each part that you need.
When looking at costs, there are a couple of ways at looking at this.
One way is that when you buy something laid-out, you don’t have the guesswork of whether you are covering the basics or not.
Another way of looking at it that I have seen is that many, many, many homeschoolers think they are saving money only to spend or waste thousands of hours trying out new curriculum in their hunt to find a perfect fit.
What price are you putting on your time to hunt for the “perfect” resource?
Understand that anything you purchase will not be perfect ever.
However, getting something that will help you to stay on task, will allow freedom for you to add your creativity and tweaking or deleting activities that make no sense to you is a great start.
I do believe you can find a balance too. One more advantage you have is that your son is very young. Just starting out you don’t need very much at this age.
The core curriculum are basically your 3 R’s, which are reading, writing and arithmetic.
The 3 R’s vary slightly at each age, but here is the very short list of essentials for his age:
If you spend your hard earned dollars on these things first, then you are covering the essentials.
These are the subjects he needs to do everyday. They don’t have to be done necessarily by a worksheet either. Again, you can add your flair to these subjects. At this age, he needs more hands-on as well.
For example, a day of teaching might go like this: phonics may be about creating an art collage of the sounds he is working on, handwriting practice might consist of playing with slime dough after he writes a sentence or two, math could be a read aloud from a living book about math or doing a candy graph and reading could be him listening on line to a read aloud.
Using the laid out guides, you will know what he needs to learn each day and can enhance it with more hands-on learning.
With your tendency toward creativity you can add in science and history from library books and free resources.
Too, you will want to spend money on items for arts and crafts because at this age it is not just play, but it is about learning.
Used curriculum is not always cheaper. It’s worth looking at all your options.
You do not have to buy a boxed curriculum, but you can buy each of these pieces separate and still make a good fit for your son because they are still laid out.
Choose a Homeschool Phonics Program
Look at some of the choices for phonic programs that I like:
Alpha Omega has Horizons, A Beka has a solid phonics program, All About Spelling which is a reading program too, Explode the Code and Sing, Spell, Read and Write.
Choose a Homeschool Handwriting Program
A Reason for Writing and I like workbooks by Zaner-Bloser.
Too, add in plenty of copywork and dictation starting off with like one sentence to copy and expand to longer ones.
You don’t need to teach formal composition until later grades, which could be another long topic here on my blog.
For now, at this age you are teaching the mechanics of how to write.
Most children don’t have control over their fine motor skills until about halfway through first grade. That is when I started teaching cursive to each of my sons.
Choose a Homeschool Math Program
Math is a fun subject too. There are a lot of wonderful programs to choose from as well.
Besides something rigorous which is a given, I prefer bright colored pages for this age too.
Horizon Math is advanced, Singapore is right there too and so is Math U See.
Each one has a different approach.
Choose a Homeschool Reading Program
If he is not reading yet, then you want some phonics readers that enhance your phonics lessons. I used Pathway readers because they were rigorous and inexpensive.
Too, when I taught my oldest son to read, I went to the local teacher supply store and bought an inexpensive set of phonics readers. It focused on one sound in each book and then I added in way more free stuff I found on line and hands-on art to focus on that sound for three or four days and then added in another book.
If he is reading, then you want to look for living books, which means they are not textbooks. You can also save a lot of money by making regular trips to the library to get books on his reading level.
Keep in mind if you use a program like Sing, Spell, Read and Write or All About Spelling which is called All About Reading, readers will be included.
I also loved Christian Light Readers too. They are inexpensive and beautifully written. It does not hurt to have phonics readers and easy books for beginning readers a plenty.
Though I see this long scrolling list of subjects that new homeschoolers have for their children, the core curriculum or basics are the bones or framework of an excellent education.
Stay the course by doing them each day in every grade, adding in spice along the way by varying your teaching methods and curriculum and you will have a great beginning.
You might also want to look at these posts:
8 Components of a Boxed Curriculum
How to Use a Boxed Curriculum without Giving Up Your Homeschool Approach
How To Choose Curriculum Other Than the Looks Good Method
Stop Switching Your Curriculum, Switch Your Course of Study
Hugs and love ya,
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