Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Getting Started

Kelley asks: We're considering homeschooling or participating in a partial home study through a private school. I have a 1 year old son and a 3 year old son. What advice can you give to someone just barely venturing down the homeschool road? Resources? Suggestions? Cautions? I just don't know where to begin!

Melissa asks: Can you possibly give a paraphrased lesson on how to establish the 12 year overview of what needs to be taught.

Heidi answers: Whew! I might get a little wordy here...

I think the first thing a person needs to do is write down why they want to homeschool. You might not have a long list at first. It may just be a rough sketch of general ideas. Everyone is different. You might have a child who is struggling socially or academically in school. Health issues (diabetes or severe allergies), academic goals that don't mesh well with schools available to you, educational philosophies that differ from traditional schools, a desire for flexibility or family time....whatever your reasons, write them down. After much thought (years), I've written my 'why's' here.

Next, put some thought into your educational philosophy. You made need to do some reading and research on this one. A few of my favorite books are Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense, The Well-Trained Mind, Cultural Literacy, and For the Children's Sake. Check your local library for additional titles.

There are many different methods for learning at home: unit studies, boxed curriculum, online schools, unschooling, Classical, Charlotte Mason, the list goes on. If you haven't found something in your research that feels right to you, the resource options may be unbearably overwhelming!

In the early years, while you are reading and researching, I would spend (and have) as much time as possible reading aloud to your children. These books can be about art, science, geography, or simply tell a delightful story. Make books accessible to your children to look at on their own. Utilize books and stories on CD.

A daily routine and good discipline strategies are priceless to a homeschooling mom. Spending time to develop these two things will pay you back again and again. (Learn from my mistakes....)

I mentioned the 12-year overview when I wrote about 'Defining Your Big-Picture Goals' in Homeschool Planning the Heidi way. I think defining your educational style, goals, and expectations is an important step in choosing to homeschool. There are so many variations, and each family will come up with something a little different depending on the above choices as well as the needs of each student.

If you are looking for a basic list of the curriculum standards and requirements for each grade, World Book has a Typical Course of Study outlined on their site. Many families find helpful such books as the Core Knowledge What Your __Grader Needs to Know. Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School is an often recommended book for those searching for a complete homeschool planning resource.

As for me, I read The Well-Trained Mind before Levi was born, and it was right on target as far as style and content. I've tweaked small things here and there to suit our family, and I'm sure we'll make more adjustments as we go along. I've enjoyed reading about other educational philosophies such as Charlotte Mason and Cultural Literacy (or Core Knowledge). The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that as parents/teachers, we are free to take the best of what we discover and implement it in our own homes.

The following is our very basic 12-year outline (based mostly upon the course of study defined by The Well-Trained Mind):

Grammar Stage

First Grade:
Ancient History and Literature
Art and Music (Begin Piano Lessons)

Second Grade:
Handwriting (Cursive)
Medieval/Early Renaissance History and Literature
Earth Science and Astronomy
Art and Music (Continue Piano Lessons)

Third Grade:
Late Renaissance/Early Modern History and Literature
Art and Music (Piano Lessons)

Fourth Grade:
Modern History and Literature
Art and Music (Piano Lessons)

Logic Stage

5th-8th Grades:
Continue Spelling, Grammar, Writing, and Math
Repeat History, Literature and Science rotation at appropriate levels
Latin and Spanish
Formal Logic Study
Art and Music (connect with history studies) (continue piano or begin study of new instrument)

Rhetoric Stage

9th-12th Grades:
Grammar, Vocabulary, Writing, Math
Repeat History and Literature rotation with a Great Books study
Repeat Science rotation at appropriate levels
Language Study (Latin, Spanish, French, or student's choice)
Rhetoric, Speech, Debate
Art and Music according to student's interests
Junior and Senior Projects
Life Skills

Wow, did anyone make it to the bottom of this post? All that and I'm sure I've omitted something important. I'll cover specific resources and where I find them in future posts. Any other related questions? Kelley, did I answer your question, or did I get off track?


Shell in your Pocket said...

I made it to the bottom of the post..I am teacher so I love to read this stuff!
"The Well-Trained" Mind is such a great book and resource!
-sandy toe

Christi said...

I made it too, and want to thank you for all your time and thoughtfulness in putting this together for everyone!

And, one more question - I don't remember if I asked this one or not - how do you actually lesson plan? I see now (and from the Planning the Heidi Way post) how you've gotten the outline of your 12-years and this year. But how do you flesh it out and come up with what you'll be teaching?

Looking forward to reading more!

Skeller said...

LOVE the sweatshirt!!! Y'know, I almost bought Keller U. shirts a couple years back, but those were our very-tight-don't-spend-ANY-money years, so I didn't. But now I'm thinking I need to find that website again and get us all some shirts :-).

TWTM is where our homeschool journey began (well, the seeds were planted way way long ago with Wilson's Lost Tools of Learning; TWTM just put those classical ed concepts in a homeschool frame for us).

Heidi said...

Susan~ I bought matching shirts for the whole family for Christmas. :) And now I can't even find the link to their website! So, do you still follow TWTM fairly closely (or did you ever?). What have you changed? What are your thoughts from someone down the road a little way... (Big questions today, LOL.)

Heidi said...

Sandy Toes~ I didn't know you were a teacher! What fun.

Christi~ Do you mean how do I choose specific curriculum or put lessons together? I'll be going through that sort of stuff subject by subject in this series.

Darcy said...

I love your blog and I check it every day. I was just given the Lemonade Award and in turn I am giving it to you. Thanks for making your blog such a special place!

Christi said...

Well, both! But I was specifically wondering about how you put the lessons together. As someone coming from a boxed curriculum, I am used to having the lessons planned for me.