Friday, October 5, 2012

Research Curriculum Options

Photo credit: mazwebs

This is one of those homeschooling issues that can drive you crazy, if you let it.

There are SO MANY options out there for homeschool curricula. You can choose an all-in-one, complete curriculum, packaged up and shipped right to your door. You can pick different curricula by subject matter, using one company's offerings for one subject, and another company's for something else. Or maybe you'll custom design your curriculum every year.

The awesome thing about this, is that you get to choose exactly how your children are educated.

The bad thing --- it can make you crazy (as noted above) and it can hit you hard in the wallet, especially if you buy something only to find out that it's not working out for you and your kids.

With that in mind, here are my tips for researching curriculum options for your homeschool:

  • If you read homeschooling blogs, pay attention to bloggers who have similar philosophies to yours. Which curriculum do they use? What books do they rave about? 
  • If you can attend a homeschooling conference, that's a great way to hear from different companies about their offerings.
  • Take your preferences into account. Are you more comfortable with a full, packaged, pre-planned curriculum? Or are you more of a "let's just try it and see how it goes?" type? If you are leaning toward packaged curricula, check out the following companies:

A few considerations about packaged curricula:
  1. Many of them are Christian-based. If you are a Christian homeschooler, then, likely that is fine with you! But if you are a secular or non-Christian homeschooler, you'll have to judge whether you'll be turned off by the Christian leanings of these curricula or not. 
  2. Packaged curricula are expensive -- the above packaged deals range from $500 to $2,000 per year, depending on company and grade level!
  3. Packaged curricula are fairly regimented. If this appeals to you, then that's great! If not, you may find yourself working against the very curriculum you spent all of that money on...

A couple of my favorite resources:

The Well-Trained Mind (this is the curriculum we follow. You are responsible for pulling all of the materials together for your kids, but if you like a hands-on, challenging curriculum, this is the one.

Curriculum Choice -- this blog has detailed posts about how to choose the right curriculum for your kids

A final note: a lot of this process trial and error. Some things just won't work for your kids. It's frustrating, but the great thing about homeschooling is that we can be flexible and ensure that our curriculum really works for our kids. Don't get discouraged -- just try, try again!

This post is part of my 31 Days of Tips for New Homeschoolers series!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Research Your State's Homeschool Laws

 Photo credit: creationc

One of the first steps any family should take in their homeschooling journey is to research their state's laws regarding homeschooling. This does two big things:
  • It ensures that you don't get into trouble -- who needs the hassle?
  • It gives you peace of mind going forward. You know exactly what is expected of you and your family, and you can plan accordingly.
Luckily, learning about your state's homeschool requirements is pretty straightforward. You can either go to your state government website and search "homeschool" (or just Google "state" + "homeschool laws.")

An even easier way is to go to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) site. At the bottom of the page, click "my state", then "laws." Click on your state on the map, and another page will come up. Each state has a very useful link named "A Legal Analysis." This explains, in plain English, what your state homeschool laws mean for you.

For example, here in Michigan, we have things pretty easy. We do not have to notify anyone about our intent to homeschool. We do not have to submit lesson plans, attendance records, or test scores to anyone. How we educate our children is entirely up to us. This gives us a wonderful amount of freedom in choosing a yearly school calendar and curriculum.

No matter which state you live in, though, learning how to comply with the homeschool laws is absolutely necessary. It's much easier to jump through any necessary hoops now than dig yourself out of possible trouble later on!

Links: HSLDA Michigan Homeschooling Page

This post is part of my 31 Days of Tips for New Homeschoolers series!

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of Tips for New Homeschoolers

Every day this month I'll be posting a helpful tip for new homeschoolers. The posts will all be collected right here as I work my way through the month, so it will be easy to find a post if you want to read it again later. I hope new (and prospective!) homeschoolers find this information helpful.

  • Day One: Research Homeschool Laws
  • Day Two: Research Curriculum
  • Day Three: Planning the School Year
  • Day Four: How Much Time Per Subject?
  • Day Five: Planning Your School Day
  • Day Six: How to Save Money on Books and Supplies
  • Day Seven: Make Use of Your Local Library
  • Day Eight: Organizing the Homeschool Day
  • Day Nine: Weekly Planning for Homeschoolers
  • Day Ten: Spelling Resources for Homeschoolers
  • Day Eleven: Grammar Resources for Homeschoolers
  • Day Twelve: Math Resources for Homeschoolers
  • Day Thirteen: History Resources for Homeschoolers
  • Day Fourteen: Science Resources for Homeschoolers
  • Day Fifteen: Artist Study Resources for Homeschoolers
  • Day Sixteen: Alphabet & Phonics Resources for Homeschoolers
  • Day Seventeen: Music Study for Homeschoolers
  • Day Eighteen: Foreign Language Resources for Homeschoolers
  • Day Nineteen: Recommended Reading Lists
  • Day Twenty: Organizing Paperwork
  • Day Twenty-One: Keeping Grades and Records
  • Day Twenty-Two: Work with Your Child's Learning Style
  • Day Twenty-Three: Benefits of Copywork
  • Day Twenty-Four: Take a Break When You Need One
  • Day Twenty-Five: Field Trip Ideas for Homeschoolers
  • Day Twenty-Six: Homeschool Co-Ops
  • Day Twenty-Seven: Explaining Homeschooling to Family and Friends
  • Day Twenty-Eight: The Socialization Question
  • Day Twenty-Nine: The World is Your Classroom
  • Day Thirty: Favorite Homeschooling Blogs
  • Day Thirty-One: You Can Do It!
Find more 31 dayers over at Nesting Place!