2017-2018 Curriculum Picks

If you are new to homeschooling I’d like to bet that picking out the right curriculum is by far the hardest part. I know because that was me last year and this year!

Last year, I was only homeschooling my 7th grader as my 2nd grader was still attending public school. We decided about half way through the year that we would 100% be pulling the youngest and homeschooling them both this year.

So as I shuffled through all of the different options we have as homeschoolers, I immediately became overwhelmed! Why didn’t anyone tell me how hard this would be? I didn’t find it as hard with just one child to think of but when you are looking at options for multiple children it really starts to get daunting. Then we had the bright idea to go to a homeschool convention! Haha! Boy, that sure sent my mind spinning.

Anyway, let’s talk about my requirements for curriculum.

  • Strong Christian foundation without leaving out information
  • Curriculum geared towards multiple children in different grades
  • Nicely laid out and appealing to the eyes
  • Something that interests the girls

Subjects:

  • Math
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • History
  • Spanish
  • ASL

Now, when you look at this list is really doesn’t seem that complicated. The problem is, there are a ton of great options! I could sit here and list all of them but instead I will just tell you what we chose and why.

Math:

For math we really struggled. This was the last curriculum that we finally nailed down. The issues we found was that a lot of math curriculum ends at the 6th grade level or they don’t go all the way through to High School and if it did it was terribly dry. We had previously used MCP math and while it wasn’t as dry as say Saxon I felt like it could have used a little more parental instructions. We also looked at Teaching Textbooks. It looks like a solid program but I do believe the grade levels are a little behind. However, a lot of people love Teaching Textbooks! For us though, we really try to keep the girls off of the computer because they are both easily distracted and lets be real…I can see them surfing youtube more than doing math lol.

In the end we decided to go with Math-U-See. This program goes all the way up to Calculus, so we don’t have to worry about switching curriculum ever! This was huge for us because we have a child who will be doing High School next year. On top of that, the girls are actually understanding it! A little background, our middle daughter has been a struggling learner since she began kindergarten. In fact this is our second go around with homeschooling because after two years in public school and summer school she still couldn’t read. Anyways, I say that to say she is able to grasp the concepts with Math-U-See to the point that she is able to “teach” me what she’s learned! Thats huge!

 

 

Now lets talk about Language Arts and History.

Language Arts is a hard one and most families end up using several different curriculums because you need to have at least reading, spelling, grammar and writing. I really didn’t want to do

four separate curriculums. I mean I’d like to stay sane y’all! I will spare you the searching I did and tell you that I was very fortunate to find a language Arts program called The Good and The Beautiful by Jenny Phillips. Her Language Arts program consists of 8 components reading, writing, literature, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, geography, and art all in one! I mean could I have gotten any luckier? I love the way her program is put together and it’s also extremely affordable which is really important to a lot of families. Jenny Phillips also has a History curriculum which I am in love with! It has a four year plan that covers grades 1-12 and my favorite part is it is set up family style which means the girls and I can do it together. It should defiantly be on your curriculum radar!

 

 

 

For Science we are actually using two different curriculums. We are using Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics by Apologia which we like because again we can do this together. I bought the student journals which they have for older children and a junior for younger children. This curriculum is meant for k-6 which is a little behind where Lynn should be but I wasn’t concerned about that because we are also using God’s Design for Chemistry & Ecology by Answers in Genesis with our Co-Op group. So I don’t feel like she will be missing out on anything. We actually enjoy both curriculums and the experiments in both are super fun!

 

I strongly believe that being successful homeschoolers has a lot to do with allowing the children to explore their interests. So when we decided to add a foreign language I let the girls pick what they wanted to do. They both picked Spanish and ASL. Since they wanted to do both I wanted to keep it fun so they wouldn’t feel overwhelmed with a ton of extra text. We went with Foreign Language for kids by kids for Spanish which we viewed at the homeschool convention and we chose Language Tree’s American Sign Language for kids. Both of these are DVDs so the girls feel like they are just getting a break when they are really learning something new! Win!

In the end, what works for us might not work for you and that’s okay! That is the greatest part of homeschooling, it isn’t cookie cutter. I hope this post was helpful. Until next time!

Why do you Homeschool?

Why do you Homeschool? That seems to be a pretty popular question for homeschooling parents, though I find it a little amusing. I don’t think I’ve ever walked up to a friend and said “Why do you take your child to public school?” I know it’s not usually meant in a negative light, and its probably just curiosity peaking in yet I still have to smile anytime someone asks me.

Here’s the thing though, I haven’t always homeschooled and I currently have two children in the public school system. You see I wasn’t one of those moms who proudly announced before I even had children that I would be a homeschool mom. Nope. That wasn’t even a thought in mind. I grew up going to public school and to be completely honest with you…. I didn’t know a thing about homeschooling.

When my first child turned five, he started kindergarten like all of his friends. We had wonderful experiences with the school and teachers- never thinking twice. Then my second child came along. She was a busy little girl who couldn’t sit still for the life of me! I often joke that if she was the first, she would have been the last ha-ha! Not because I don’t love her dearly, but because she pushed every.single.boundary!

I knew pretty early on that [K] was different. Her mind seemed to work ten times faster than any of the other children and sure enough within her first month of kindergarten she was diagnosed with ADHD. Now let me say, I was one of those people who didn’t believe that ADHD was a “thing”…. until I experienced it first-hand. It’s really hard to put into words what a child with ADHD is like, but let me sum it up for you like this. Imagine that your brain is playing a TV show, only someone else has control over the remote and they are flipping the channels as fast as they can. That’s what it was like for my [K]. Her kindergarten year came and went and though she had some struggles her teacher assured me that she would learn enough to move onto first grade. First grade came in what seemed like a very short time but this year [K] struggled. She couldn’t stay focused, she couldn’t absorb the lessons and by the end of the year my sweet precious girl couldn’t even read. 

That summer I worked and worked with her and I just knew that I had to do something. I remember telling my husband that I thought homeschooling would be a really good option, even if just long enough to catch her up. He was worried about her socialization – which in hind sight was hilarious since I was running a daycare at the time. After a lot of discussion, we decided [K] would be better off staying home and we decided to keep our oldest [A] home as well, since he would have been moving up to the middle school. We were not prepared for that and neither was he.

That year we homeschooled for 6th and 2nd grade. I won’t lie and tell you it was rainbows and butterflies. It was hard. I had no idea what I was doing and I was so afraid I was going to cause more harm than good. As the year went on though, I found that I COULD teach my children. I learned a lot about them as little humans that I didn’t know before homeschooling. I had been sending them off for the best hours of their day and getting little grumpy people back at 3pm. By the end of the year, [K] was completely caught up and reading!

I was sure I would continue to homeschool but both the children wanted to go back to public school and I wanted them to be happy in their education – plus their dad was deployed and I was on my own for six months. So the following year they returned to public school.

For [A], this was probably the best decision. He just functioned better with teachers and peers. He will be a senior in High School next year and he is still in Public School where he plans to stay.

[K] on the other hand, she struggled. She struggled through 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade. I should have pulled her out sooner but she really wanted to keep trying because she loved being with her friends. Then during 6th grade things got rough. For starters the school implemented common core. Now, I know some people hate it and some people love it but for us it was more a matter of it being implemented after 6 years of doing math the complete opposite way. [K] tried so hard, she just couldn’t grasp this new way of doing math. If that wasn’t hard enough she dealt with a teacher who had less than appropriate teaching methods and children who bullied her. By the end of the year we were both done with school.

Her dad and I sat down with her to discuss our options and she decided that she wanted to be homeschooled again. This was a really tough decision for me, because I run a daycare and because I would have to tell our youngest daughter [B] that she would be staying in public school. I knew that as an upcoming 2nd grader [B] would need more one on one help and I just wasn’t sure how that would work with daycare. We ended up pulling [K] and homeschooling and keeping the other two in public school.

At first we started with a program called K-12 online but within 6 weeks we realized this was not a good fit for us. While it was a strong academic program, it just moved faster than [K] could keep up with. We switched to  independent homeschooling and we have both LOVED it. It took a bit to get it down pat and figure out what her learning style is, and what it isn’t but it’s been amazing. She is so much happier! If you ask her which she prefers she will tell your hands down- homeschooling!

After a lot of family reflection we’ve decided that both girls will stay home next year. I will be switching to a before and after school program for my daycare and spending the days with my two girls. We are all excited about this next chapter!

At the end of the day, you must know that there are no cookie cutter reasons for homeschooling. It is a personal family decision. It doesn’t make me a better parent; it just means it works for us.

 

Stay tuned for a review of the Curriculums we used this year.

 

 

 

Daycare Room Tour

Hey! I’ve had a lot of people over the years ask me for tours of my daycare room. I love inviting new providers over so that they can see my space and ask me tons of questions! Thanks to technology, I can now share my space with all of you!

I just wanted to show that you don’t have to have a huge room or a super large house to run a successful daycare. You just have to get creative and utilize every nook and cranny. I hope you find this video helpful and please let me know if you’d like more details on a certain area!

 

I mentioned a few items in my video that I promised I’d link you to:

Magna-tiles- these are one of my very favorite items, if you don’t have them yet you should check them out!

Also for my magnet board I have several different Melissa and Doug magnet sets. The kids love these too!

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You do WHAT?

I know I can’t be the only crazy working homeschool mom! Right?

To be fair, I didn’t start off doing both. When my second child was 18 months olds I enrolled in a learning opportunity at our base. One of the plus sides to this opportunity was the 20 free hours of child care at one of the Family Child Care homes on base. Family Child Care? I had no idea what that even meant at the time, but I was really excited to finish my education, so off I went to this FCC home. I will never forget it, the cute little shelves with toys- all labeled with pretty pictures and colors. It was so inviting and fun. My daughter loved her FCC provider and we enrolled right away with our free hours.

After a few months the learning program shut down, sadly. I tested out early and graduated with my diploma and went on to enroll in College to become a Teacher. Life was going great but I kept thinking about that FCC program. How awesome it would be to open my own FCC program, finish my degree and be at home with my kids?! What? My husband was a bit skeptical, but he eventually gave in and I decided to give it a shot!

Well…fast forward to today. I’ve been running that FCC home ever since, with the exception of a few breaks to work in the CDC’s (Child Development Centers on base) and once to Homeschool (I’ll fill you in on that later). My little 18 month old, is now 13 years old and full of attitude.

I’ve learned a lot over the years, and I’ve had some pretty amazing mentors along the way. I hope I can help other providers or maybe those who are considering this career path. It’s an amazing job, and certainly not for everyone. Ha!

I typically care for 5-6 children at time, the ages vary a lot but its common for me to have children infancy through four years old at any given time. You can only imagine how busy the day can be but it sure is fun and well…sometimes messy! Lesson planning, cleaning, organizing and cooking. Just a few of the tasks I do on a daily basis and for the last year I’ve also been homeschooling! I know what you’re thinking,

“Is she serious?”

“How do you manage?”

“Girl you have lost your mind!”

Haha! I hear those on a daily basis too, and guess what? I’ve figured out that I’m not the ONLY crazy one doing both! As it turns out theres a whole community of moms just like me. Who knew?

So whether you do both, do one or do none of these things- I hope I can inspire you or at least make you laugh with the daily antics of my life!

 

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