What Curriculum do I use?
Finding the curriculum that perfectly fits your family, homeschool style, children’s unique needs, and goals can be an overwhelming task. I’m thankful for this opportunity to share with you the resources I’ve pulled together to shape our “curriculum.”
I’d like to start by encouraging you to write a few things down before you begin your quest to find the curriculum:
Why are you homeschooling?
Who are you homeschooling? - think past the obvious answer. Think of each school-aged child as an individual learner. Write down each name and make notes of things you already know about their learning style, strengths, and weaknesses.
What is the most important thing for your children to learn in this season of life?
What do you envision your “school days” looking like?
How involved do you want to be with their learning? Ex: Hands-off vs. Hand-in-Hand
… then take this list and pray over it. Submit this entire homeschooling experience to the Lord, acknowledging that these are His children first and begin or continue the practice of depending on Him to guide your steps.
Okay, thanks for letting me be bossy.
Now, let me just get right into sharing what we USE!
I use Gather Round Homeschool as my “main curriculum.” It covers everything but math! I made a video for you to get a good look at a curriculum that I adore so much!
*GRH has never paid me for sharing my opinion, I simply believe in God’s call on Rebecca’s life and believe in their mission and I am personally so thankful for their obedience to develop and create this for other homeschooling families.
If you have specific questions feel free to reach out. We have completed the following units: Christmas Mini, North American Birds, Oceans, Space, Africa, Earth Science
What about Math?
You may know that I was a math and language middle school teacher in my past life (pre-kids). Please don’t believe the lie that this somehow makes me more qualified to homeschool. I actually feel like my classroom training and experience made it a little bit more challenging to homeschool well and you can read more about how I almost killed homeschool in this post. Or you can read about how and why in the world our family started homeschooling in the first place in this post.
Because of my degree and teaching experience, I was extremely critical of elementary level math curriculums. I had witnessed at the middle school level how learning/understanding gaps and short cuts had set students up for failure in higher level math. I started to think maybe my expectations were too high until I found MathMammoth.
Before you click the link, let me just say, her website is nothing family and she teaches with a no-frill style. We don’t watch the videos, they aren’t engaging enough for younger kids. Her workbooks are simple and you can buy print or digital to print on your own. It’s not fancy but content wise, IT IS LEGIT! Math concepts are taught at such a fundamental level that a parent can easily learn as they are teaching.
Here’s the deal with math. I constantly hear that it is so intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. You know all of those abstract and weird math concepts and skills that you learned in school (or maybe didn’t really) and then you stopped using them so you forgot them… guess what? So did most of the math educators out there. Most of us are “re-learning” skills as we prepare to teach them. I’m not kidding. So as a parent, that’s what you do. You learn alongside your students and figure it out together. If you get stuck - hello youtube … or call a friend … call me! I’m your friend! Math just clicks for some people and those people love math so they won’t mind at all to help your child master the pythagorean theory.
Learning to Read
My oldest child attended public school in Johnson City, TN for his kindergarten year and the first half of first grade. He learned to read and write under the direction of Mrs. Botts and Mrs. Williams (bless their souls! seriously...angels on earth!) so when I realized that I was going to be teaching my daughter how to read and write all by myself, I was petrified.
Reading especially felt like something that I was so unqualified to even think about doing.
That was such a lie.
It has been the most natural extension of our relationship and I’m so thankful for the supernatural ability that the Lord has given me to just go at her pace. Bubba and Sissy are two totally different learners and personalities. When Sissy still wasn’t reading well by Christmas, I was worried but then all of the sudden a switch flipped and she just took off! Gather Round “Pre-reader” and “Early Reader” student books are designed to be supplemented with other books and I decided that I didn't want to over complicate things but I wanted some kind of plan. Here are my favorite things that I used to teach her to read at her pace.
LETTERLAND - I used this curriculum to introduce letters to all of my kids and Sawce can already recite most of the alphabet and some of their sounds at age 2 because it's just so fun and endearing. The program has material for blending sounds and sight words but it just seemed over complicated, so from that point on, I transition the kids to using the actual letter names and move them over to reading letters together as words.
Bob Books - We received 4 random Bob Books for Bubba as a hand-me-down from a neighbor/friend when he was in preschool. I loved everything about them and have slowly collected the whole set. Sissy has really excelled with these books and I’ve just used the sight words in each book to work on memorization as well as spelling. I found a few workbooks at target one time that corresponded to Bob Books and freaked out and bought them all, but I actually didn’t use them until after Christmas because it was just frustrating at first.
*Let me say a word about how new and well cared for these books are. I’m banking on my curriculum and learning materials to last through at least four students/kids so there are some boundaries set in place. With the exception of the abc letterland book, these books are stored in this box on our shelf and read with mommy only, with the exception of Bob Books may be pulled two at a time and taken to Sissy’s bed with her. I want to instill a love for reading in my children and I want books to be their life companions. They take books in the car, in their beds, in the crib, all over the house … just not these books. We have on average 30-40 books from the library each week and we have a healthy little library of our own on our bookshelf. Those books have no rules and their tattered pages and missing covers are proof of how well loved they are.
There are a million options out there for curriculum but what genuinely matters is the heart of your homeschool. I’m the first to admit that I can get tied up in the details of planning and so overly excited or anxious about the academic subjects, skills, concepts, and standards and lose sight of what an amazing opportunity this is to train my children up in the Lord.
Encourage your children to experience creation but never miss out on the chance to turn their hearts in worship to their Creator.
Teach your children how to operate with numbers but make sure they have a desire to know their Heavenly Father who knows the number of hairs on their head.
Train your children to investigate, explore, and question the world around them, but help them to rest in the fact that we serve a God who is all knowing and all powerful and is made strong in our weakness.
Grow their vocabulary, monitor their comprehension, challenge their ability to think outside the box but most importantly lead them to the only One who can save them from themselves.