Evaluation Station!

 How Do I Begin Homeschooling?

   ...WITH PRAYER! Homeschooling can be a daunting task, especially when you are first getting started. Just like anything else, the more you do it, the more comfortable and competent you will become. By the time your children graduate, you should have it all figured out! But I would not begin to undertake such a huge endeavor without the confirmation and help from the Lord.

     My goal here is to help you to just get started. Even as a certified teacher with classroom experience, I was terrified on the first day of homeschooling my own children! I stood with them in a lovely and very nicely appointed "classroom" in our home and froze. We prayed. Then I pulled a book off the shelf and we began reading. There. We have begun. And now, I have witnessed the surreal event of one of them graduating from college. I am overwhelmed at the goodness of God.

     If you are beginning your homeschool journey, you may want to sort through the different styles, methods, and philosophies of learning/teaching prior to picking curriculum for your children. MOST homeschoolers end up being eclectic- meaning we use a bit of this and that from here and there. You will tweak it as the years go on. I personally do not prefer companies that offer packages of all their own curriculum for every subject. I prefer to pick and choose from the best of the best for each subject.

     SO... if you just want to get started (and you are coming in at the Kindergarten level) and don't want to do all the research and shopping around, I have compiled a list of what I would use if I were beginning again. These curriculum choices are what I consider to be "the best of the best." (I have highlighted the references to the different homeschooling methods in pink.)

If you are beginning homeschooling at a different level, early elementary can still draw from most this list, or you can slip over to my Links and Resources page for more ideas!  ALSO- DO go to my "Services" page and use the form down on the left hand side to officially register your student as a Homeschooler.

     The suggestions below are given in the form of a letter written to a relative... Welcome to the family!

 We begin with Language Arts

Hello, my dear!
    I've been compiling a few curriculum recommendations for you to review. I think you will like these a lot... but if you don't, it's okay! (I pulled most of these right from my Links and Resources page on EvaluationStation.Com) This is everything you would need (plus a couple of references for the future.)

We'll begin with a great article by a leader in the Classical homeschooling movement. She gives a great picture of what it takes, and what it looks like to teach a child to read...

www.welltrainedmind.com/teaching-reading/

and here is a GREAT reading/phonics program that will compliment her method:

 ProgressivePhonics.Com is a great site that is completely FREE and extremely useful in teaching your young one how to read with an engaging set of mini books and lots of guidance for YOU. This is a complete system you will find very effective and extremely easy to use.

The above program has handwriting, but this next site is great for making your own as needed. It would be great to make one with her name so she could practice...

Make your OWN Handwriting worksheets (using your child's name, etc.). SUCH a COOL resource!   handwritingworksheets.com

and... "A Reason for Handwriting" Scripture based assignments produce a wonderful keepsake treasure to keep OR share at the end of the week. GREAT way to learn Bible verses.

(Don't push the handwriting if she's not ready. Sometimes we have to wait for those "small motor skills" to kick in.)

No need to do Spelling yet, but when you do, you can design your own spelling fun using this site:

Puzzlemaker can be used as the core of your Spelling program (just use any misspelled words as your child's spelling words for that week) OR to strengthen vocabulary in any part of your curriculum. Easy to use, fun, and FREE! Just click here- PUZZLEMAKER ...and you are on your way!

("Easy Grammar" is a great curriculum which you can jump into in a few years to round out your language arts. A little later, we can add in Writing (Composition) with Institute for Excellence in Writing... an excellent method which can be utilized year after year- with just a change in the source material- but following the same basic steps. Awesome program.)

 Next, Math.


For Math-
If I were just starting out again... I would choose to begin the same way I did before. For grades K-2, I would use BJUP for math. (This follows the "Traditional" method of schooling.) It is a cute and effective program for the little ones, complete with manipulatives, colorful workbook pages, and cute stick figure characters (that also come in plush toys!) All of this adds up to a really fun math experience that lays down a good foundation. We want our children to love math, right? This will do the trick. (At 3rd grade, I would switch to Teaching Textbooks, which is mentioned below.)

“Teaching Textbooks” is also worthy of consideration. Textbook system with complete video support, automatic online gradebook, every equation explained. Engaging format that puts students at ease and might even help them love math! Here’s the link, check it out and watch the demo:

TeachingTextbooks.Com

 Science is fun!


Science-

During Kindergarten, you can enjoy scheduled weekly nature walks (as per the Charlotte Mason method) and she can draw what she sees and label it in her nature journal. Observation of God's amazing creation is plenty for this age level. Discussing why things work the way they do and how amazing our Creator is, growing something from a seed, classifying solids and liquids (and jello?!) and enjoying some field trips and some Magic School Bus episodes will be sufficient! Learning to ask the right questions and developing a hunger for the answers is the goal. When she gets into the series below, they will teach her about following the Scientific Process in order to find those answers.

God's Design for Science is an excellent series and will keep you all busy all through elementary and jr high. Then you should switch to Apologia Science. You can buy this off my site:

But go ahead and visit their site to get a better view of the packages (order from them if you wish: Answers in Genesis

I actually have this curriculum if you just want to borrow it from me!

Social Studies 

For Social Studies- I have this book on order and will be happy to loan it to you. It looks like great fun. Lots of crafts and activities as you travel to the seven continents, but first, you must make your suitcase out of a cereal box and your passport! Great opportunity to discuss how we are all alike and how we differ. You can add to this adventure by reading a folktale from that region, singing cultural songs, cook international meals, explore cultural games, languages, money, etc. Take a real look at these places using Google Earth. One trip a week with the various activities added in will fuel your social studies program for over a year. Here's the book-

Around the World Art & Activities: Visiting the 7 Continents Through Craft Fun


Mapping your town (very simply, of course) on a large sheet of brown paper, perhaps, and discussing the various functions and features of the city is a wonderful Kindergarten activity. You can plan out your town and discuss the need for various services and venues- like the fire station and the park. You can even grid the map to start with and have your child find what is located in space C3, for example. Visiting these places and asking questions and taking photos can be a great local fieldtrip!


 Physical Education


For PE- Dancing, hopscotch, running, bouncing balls... any large motor activity! Many kids this age are better at "parallel play" (playing by themselves next to someone else who is playing by themselves) rather than playing WITH someone.

Introducing concepts such as- Games have rules, fairness, team effort, and giving your best effort- all have their value and will come with time. If you see the opportunity to do this, great! Remember, not all children like team sports. It is mostly about exercising those muscles and having fun at this age... and oh yeah... that "sharing" thing!

Service Activities



DO plan to do regular service type activities. Deliver a meal, go sing a song together at a Home (or just visit or have her recite a learned Bible verse to cheer someone,) walk someone's dog, do a small chore for a needy neighbor... so she can learn to think of others. This is an integral part of homeschooling, and when she gets older... she will actually need to start documenting service hours if she wants a Bright Futures Scholarship! Always bring in a Bible verse with whatever you are doing. "Do unto others..." etc.

 Final Thoughts...


Kindergarten is a wonderful time of nursery rhymes and exploring lots of new and exciting things. Enjoy every minute. I believe the BEST way to begin every day is by reading a Bible story from the Beginner's Bible. This sets a tone for life! "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

Don't force lessons if we are not cooperating. Sometimes the entire mood can be changed just by curling up together with a good book on the couch. School needs to be the fun thing we do together... our special time. Offering choices (as the first article stated) of "would you rather do this or that," can be helpful. You will know when to push a bit and when not to... and when YOU need a break! Don't get into a battle over school. Setting a good tone from the start makes a big difference down the road.

     Once you settle in, you might want to explore such fun things as "Lap Books" (Google that- Lots of informative videos on YouTube about this creative way to learn and display what you have learned.) AND also explore "Unit Studies." There is a sweet one for the early years on my Services page by Valerie Bendt- the originator of this method.

     Call/text me if you need anything, esp prayer! And remember to take a picture of her first day of school. It will come in handy later!

DO watch my power-point, "How to Prepare for a Portfolio Evaluation, without losing your mind!" and keep that organized right from the start. This will make evaluation time a celebration and not a chore. A portfolio will be a wonderful keepsake of your first year.

Love,

C