You have made up your mind and you are going to homeschool. Congratulations! You have signed up to do the hardest job on earth, well that’s what I believe. Homeschooling is no easy task, but it has as many rewards as it does frustrating moments. I choose to look at the end in mind and not right now. I will hopefully have educated and raised children who will be wonderful witnesses for Christ, good wives, husbands, mothers, and fathers. This is what is most important to my husband and I.
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So what do you do now? Where do you start? First take a deep breath, and be confident in your decision. You are the mom/dad/gaurdian and know what is best for your children. I struggle with this, and I have to sometimes daily remind myself of this, because I have wavered in this I have put my kids in public school and taken them out a few times, only to figure out I am the one who knows whats best for our family. I have to be confident that God will prepare me for the job. So be confident in your abilities.
The legalities of homeschooling is what I think scares people the most, but thankfully there are wonderful organizations that are here to help. The legalities can very largely from state to state. First go to HSLDA and look up your state and see what is required, some are very homeschool friendly while others are a bit more complicated. You also need to send a letter of intent to your local school board. There are free forms on HSLDA for this as well.
Now you get the pleasure to find a curriculum that will fit to your child’s learning style. There are books on learning styles you can read, and also some of the curriculum sites have articles written about this. I will link you to a few of the curriculum sites that I know of and have used. These sites mostly have Christian based curriculum, so if that is not what you are looking for there are a ton of other resources on the internet. These are in no particular order.
There are accredited homeschool academies available, I know Abeka and Alpha Omega are just two of them. Do your research and decide which direction you want to take for your children’s education.
General / Boxed Curriculum – These have all the 4 plus subjects that you would need to complete a school year.
- AOPhomeschooling.com – They have several types of curriculum to choose from. They offer workbooks, online learning, and combined learning for multiple grades. We have used the LIFEPAC‘s and have enjoyed the ease of using these. There is really not a lot of lesson planning with the LIFEPAC, Monarch, Switched on Schoolhouse , or Horizons. Horizons has proved to be a favorite of ours in Math. We have not used the Weaver curriculum, that is for families who would like to combine grades, I also believe there is some lesson planning involved.
- Timberdoodle – Timberdoodle is a great resource if you just want to go to one place and buy a boxed curriculum with everything you need.
- Heart of Dakota– Description taken from their website description: “Heart of Dakota publishes Christ-centered homeschool curricula that is easy to use, flexible, educational and can also be used with multiple ages at the same time. Our desire is to help homeschool teachers have a successful experience from the very beginning, while keeping God’s Word at the heart of their children’s academic training.” www.heartofdakota.com I am really wanting to try this curriculum next year for my 1st grader, and 6th grader. They have lesson plans that you follow along, so it takes all the guess work out of planning. They also are more of a classical education.
- Sonlight – This can be taught with multiple grades. They have full packages, or you can pick and choose.
Science – Remember the boxed curriculum usually provides this.
- Apologia– This is a Science curriculum that we love and are currently using. They are a more hands-on approach with a text book, and journal that each child works in, as well as crafts that go along with the curriculum. At the end of the journal your child will have a scrapbook of sorts that they have created. We are currently completing Astronomy with my 5th grader, and General Science with my 7th grader. Apologia has curriculum for elementary through high school.
- Bright Ideas Press – Has the Christian Kids Explore Science series.
- Answers in Genesis – This is from the creators of the Creation Museum.
History – Remember the boxed curriculum usually provides this.
- the ARDA – the ARDA stands for the Association of Religion Data Archives. This is a Free resource for teaching history and timelines. Read at the bottom of this post for the full review of the ARDA.
- Mystery of History – This curriculum is really great because it not only gives you the world history, but the biblical history for the same time periods. This can be used for multiple grades.
- Answers in Genesis – We are currently using Ancient Civilizations and the Bible for our curriculum this year. We really like it, but wish there were more lesson plans that went along with it so we could pace ourselves better.
- Story of the World – I have heard good things about this curriculum, but have not personally used it.
Language Arts – There are so many options I will list a few we have used. Remember the boxed curriculum usually provides this.
- Analytical Grammar – My kids are learning a lot from this curriculum. It starts you out from the beginning with nonuns and then builds on itself. You can go as slow or as fast through these workbooks that you need to. Elementary – Highschool
- Explode the Code – Phonics. Workbook, online, or app.
- Learning Language Arts through Literature
Math – Remember the boxed curriculum usually provides this.
- Horizons – This is our favorite math curriculum so far.
- Math-U-See – We actually won a full level of this curriculum from a giveaway. I am so excited to try this. We chose to get the Algebra 1 set for our 2015-2016 school year for my 8th grader. I have heard nothing but good things about this program. So stay tuned for our review.
- Singapore Math
- Teaching Textbooks – This is great for visual learners, it is on the computer. I really liked this curriculum.
There are so many more resources that it is impossible to name them all. I hope I was able to get you started in the direction to figure your curriculum choices out.
I really like shopping for curriculum from Christianbook.com, they have a lot to choose from and usually free shipping.
Getting your school calendar together
School calendars can be intimidating at first, but it really is not hard. There are several ways to do a calendar, regular school year calendar that follows along public school schedules, or year-round schooling. The options for these two can vary greatly. I suggest going to your local school district web page and look at their calendar. You can follow along with them, or it will give you an idea. This is the method we usually use.
Year round schooling usually is a more relaxed school schedule that doesn’t follow the normal public school calendar. You can Google “year round school calendar” and find several examples to use. First and foremost make a calendar that will work for you, remember it is your school, so plan as you need to. If you know you will be taking a vacation plan around it, or any other events that could cause a gap in the calendar.
Then pick a start date and have fun!
Picking a planner
There are a few ways to plan, one is online and the other is on paper with a planner. Below I will list a few options for this that we have used. Choose what will work best for you.
- Homeschool Planet – Currently we use this, and print out our weekly schedule from here. It auto keeps attendance, and you can change due dates, or shift your plans out from a certain date if you have had to change your schedule. I highly recomend it. It is very easy to use, and can be used with multiple family members.
- Hedua– I just ordered the blog planner from them, and have heard all of their planners are great. They also have an online version, but I found it to be a bit confusing.
- Confessions of a Homeschooler – She has some great affordable, printable planners.
We will be documenting our homeschool journey as the year progresses. Please follow along under the Homeschool link in the menu bar for more posts about homeschooling!
I will be updating these resources from time to time. I will post new posts linking back to this one so you will be able to find everything you need.
Now all you need to do is pick your day to start and be confident. You can do it!
Here is a glimpse of our table we school at!
the ARDA: Free teaching resource for history
The ARDA is a very unique tool to use when teaching history, but more specifically when teaching religion. The ARDA offers FREE Teaching Tools and Jr./Sr. High resources. I encourage you to bookmark the ARDA for easy access.
Is your student interested in how other religions worship? The ARDA has a YouTube channel where we’ve collected over 100 videos of the worship services of a number of religions. Students can use these to virtually experience the worship services that may not be available near them in any capacity. This column also contains guides and tools for observing religious groups.
the ARDA offers:
- Historical Timeline– Students can explore various important events and people throughout the centuries of American religious history. The timeline is fully interactive, so students can view by different categories (people, events) or change the view type. Within each entry, there are pictures, explanatory text, and additional source links allowing students to continue their investigation. We also offer historical timelines of important Catholic and Baptist events and people. We will continue adding new timelines in the future.
- Compare Yourself Surveys– Here students can answer a number of questions to see how they are similar or different from other youth across the United States. My 8th grader in particular finds this very interesting and fascinating.
- ARDA Lesson Plans– The ARDA Lesson Plans integrate content from the ARDA and other sources into teachable units. Each lesson has specific learning objectives, relevant readings from which to choose, learning activities to utilize, and assessment tools to gauge student learning on the topic. Lesson plans contain links to the ARDA learning resources to make it easy for homeschool teachers to use the ARDA. As the teacher I find these to be very helpful.
You can follow the ARDA via social media: