Choosing Curriculum for Home Education

I love this time of year!! Spring is near, the days are getting warmer & longer, the trees are starting to bud, the brown grass is becoming green again! But there is another reason I love this time of year…this is when I choose our curriculum for next year! For me it’s kind of like Christmas morning when it arrives; I am so excited to look through it all.

Selecting a new curriculum can be a daunting task and at one point last year I became so overwhelmed I actually cried (I had just had a baby so I’m gonna blame that on hormones). There is so much to choose from and there are a lot of great options.

If you are new to homeschooling you may be wondering how in the world do you wade through the sea of curriculum and find what is right for your children, yourself and your budget. Here are some things that have helped me. First, pray about it, seek God’s will. God was leading me to homeschool and I seek him diligently because there’s no way I could do this without Him. Secondly, I get advice from a veteran homeschool mom, I’m fortunate enough to know several. A couple of years ago I was trying to select the perfect thing for preschool; I went to a homeschool convention and talked to a salesperson from a leading name in home education. I decided to go with that, it sounded great! It was the entire kit but my husband and I walked away to discuss it because it was more than we had budgeted for. Just so happened, two veteran homeschooling moms that I knew were there so we asked them and they gave me awesome advice!! They said for preschool and kindergarten concentrate on the basics, reading and math. They told me about what they had used and what they found that worked best for their children. They saved me at least $200 and my daughter did great!! Last year pretty much the same thing happened, I got some great advice from these ladies and saved a lot of money, my daughter is five and she reads at least at a 2nd grade level! I’m not going to list everything I have used here because I think it’s important to find what works for your family because we are different & our kids learn differently but I will say the book “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” was recommended to us and it is AMAZING!! I followed it word for word and when we finished she was really reading!! Also, you may want to consider joining your local homeschool support group/ co-op, this is a great way to meet veteran homeschool parents and get advice.

The next thing I’d say about choosing curriculum is go to a homeschool convention if you can. This is a great place to ask questions, get tons of catalogs and really compare what’s out there. Some companies offer convention specials so you can save money and that’s always good! Don’t feel like you have to buy there though because it can be overwhelming so you may want to go home and really consider what you were presented.

You will want to evaluate your child’s skills before making your choice. This can be done formally through testing, a lot companies offer this, or more casually, I found a book that’s basically a check list of what a child should know by when. You can find this info online too. Based on your child’s current ability you can set goals for their learning for the next year. You should also consider your child’s learning style and what curriculum best fits that.

Go online and read reviews, I always do this before I purchase anything. One source I’ve found is by Cathy Duffy, she also has a book called “101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum”, I’ve not read the book but I have found the website helpful, the address is http://cathyduffyreviews.com/.

A great MUST HAVE book for homeschooling was recommended to me when we started is “Educating the Wholehearted Child” by Clay and Sally Clarkson. Many parents I know read this book over each summer before starting the new school year. Personally, it changed the way I look at home education. The Clarksons actually have a ministry devoted to helping Christian parents raise whole hearted children, their website is http://www.wholeheart.org/.

Whatever your choice, the beauty is it is your choice, homeschooling gives you the freedom to try different things, to find what works best for your children and it will not be the same for everyone because our wonderful God made us all unique. Don’t sweat it too much because if God has given you the desire to do this, He has called you and He will provide what you need.

I hope I’ve helped and not just rambled on. I welcome your questions and comments.

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Combating Crazy

Our days are wild and that’s putting it mildly. I can lose my temper easily and then I spend the rest of the day feeling guilty and frustrated. There are things I can do before my day ever gets started that really help to set the right tone (when I make sure to do them).
First and foremost, I find that things go much better and I usually have an extra measure of patience when my day starts with a quiet time with The Lord. My children tend to be early risers so I really have to make a point to get up at least 45 minutes before they do and sometimes that just does not happen.

Another thing that really helps and I struggle to accomplish, is getting things done the night before. The kitchen cleaned and ready to prepare breakfast, everyone’s clothes ready for the next day and the laundry (my arch enemy) should be all put away. If you are like me you just want to relax at the end of the day but it truly makes a difference in my productivity and my attitude the next day if these things can be accomplished.

A great book I have found packed with great and practical ideas about home management and getting it all together is “Large Family Logistics” by Kim Brenneman, here is the link for Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1934554499

Why I am doing this

I have been a stay at home mom for four years. We have a five year old daughter and two sons who are two and one.

I had a good career at a company I love. My husband and I never really thought of having children and we definitely never imagined me staying at home with them. When our daughter was born our whole mindset changed and a sense of great responsibility overwhelmed us both. We felt that I should stay at home; we felt strongly that was what The Lord wanted us to do. Let me say, I don’t look down on any mother who works away from home; there are many reasons mothers work, some because they choose to and many others would love to stay at home but for various reasons, they just are not able to. God will use us wherever we are if we seek Him and His will.

My husband and I prayed A LOT because with where we lived and the mortgage we had, we had to have two incomes. So we sold our house and moved to the country, to the area we both grew up. It took 18 months but we did it!!

I think I had envisioned something different about how life would be as a stay at home mom. I pictured me being like June Cleaver. My house would be spotless, a wonderful dinner would await my husband when he came home from work. I would get up each morning before dawn and drink coffee and have a nice long quiet time with The Lord. The children and I would have so much fun playing games, reading, doing crafts and nature walks everyday. My children would be well behaved and I would be smiling all the time.

It did not take long for reality and great disappointment to set it. In the first week I was working so hard I was more physically tired than I had ever been. Months past and my pace had to slow, I could not keep up with the demands of perfection I put on myself. I was getting more and more grumpy with my daughter and my husband. I was finding this to be a much more difficult lifestyle than I ever imagined. Then my two sons were born sixteen months apart and things got even more hectic. And along the way we decided to homeschool, we are currently in our 2nd year of that. I would never change a thing. I love every second I have with my kids; there have been about a hundred or so times that I’ve cried and said to myself “I am not cut out for this” but every time I feel God reminding me that I can do all things through Christ and I know this is exactly what He has made me to do.

I have never experienced greater joy and happiness than I have with my children. For years I knew that everyone has a call on their life and a purpose, something they are supposed to do but I could never find anything I was really passionate about that I felt called to do. I feel that way about staying at home and homeschooling; I feel like this is what God has purposed me to do during this season of my life. It can be so very challenging but the reward is so much greater.

I have found out a lot of things through trial and error and I have gotten a lot of good information from other mothers who have done this homeschooling thing for a long time. I have read some great books that have helped me in mothering, home management and homeschooling. I want to use my bog to share this information and to share my struggles and joys of day to day life. So here it goes I pray that it might be of some help and encouragement.