Monday, August 18, 2014

Our Laid-Back Method of Home Schooling & a CASH Giveaway!

I don't often blog about the way we home school, but I think with it being Back-To-School time for most of us, it may be nice for those who are interested to see the very laid-back approach we take. 
Our oldest started kindergarten in the fall of 2010. His brother started kindergarten the year after.
We chose traditional public schooling for them until our oldest was in 2nd grade. My heart had always felt pulled to Home School, but it was a foreign concept to my husband, so we spent 2 1/2 years talking about it until he felt comfortable pulling them out of school and educating them at home. 

I scoured website after website, I joined countless Home Schooling Facebook groups, and I messaged many of my homeschooling friends to ask for their insight. 

What I got was a LOT of (good!) information. And overload and an overwhelmed, sinking feeling that this was going to be too much for me. 

And then I took a step back, a deep breath, and I told myself that in our state (Pennsylvania), children are not required to begin school until the age of 8, so since our oldest was not yet 8, we had some wiggle room should we decided to send them back to school. 

I checked into some of the popular curriculum (like A Beka, My Father's World, Sonlight, and Timberdoodle), but the price was not cost-effective for our family. 

I stumbled across some Brain Quest workbooks in Target one day, and fell in love with the colorful pages and the variety of subjects. 

The cover said that it contained a "whole year of curriculum-based exercises and activities," but we quickly discovered that if you do each subject concurrently, you run out of curriculum way before a school year is over. 

So...I Googled some more workbooks and I discovered Scholastic has some really great workbooks and they are in line with State Standards. 

These workbooks are awesome! The back also details what workbooks/subjects are available for each grade. It makes my job very easy. 

For Spelling, I added these workbooks last year. They are wonderful! They provide a spelling list for each week, activities for each day of the week to reinforce the words, and a test for the last day of the week. We photocopy these pages so that we can reuse the workbooks each year. That helps cut down on expenses. 

In addition to these workbooks, I like to supplement with things from our children's Bible and from websites that offer free downloads. There are a TON of websites...many websites offer entire curriculum for FREE! (Check out My Joy-Filled Life for many!)

Our routine has changed up a bit over the past 2 years and as we find our groove. This year (school starts for us at the end of August/beginning of September) I'd like to have the 3 oldest children (grades 1, 3 &4) start their day by reading a section of their children's Bible (pre-determined) and write in their journal about what they've read. I'd also like to start working with them on memorizing age-appropriate verses. 

The rest of our day is handled by when the littler ones are in nap. Since our youngest two are 2 & 3 years old, it's much easier to wait until they are in nap to do lessons. Since we have 4 in school this year, that may need to be tweaked a bit. We shall see...

We usually start at the page where we left off in each workbook and do 1 page per day. We do Social Studies and Science/health about once or twice a week and that is in conjunction with  "teaching moments" as we are "living life". We have lots of conversations about Math and Science just in our everyday activities. We also like to go to local places such as the Children's Museum, the Science Center and local farms. 

I'm not sure how long we will Home School. We are taking it one year at a time. Our state requires that our children test in grades 3, 5, 8 and high school (ACT or SAT). So far, our oldest is the only who has reached the mandatory testing age and he did very well. That bolstered my confidence enough to continue on. This year, our second oldest tests and we will evaluate where we are going with him for next year based on that. It has been a tremendous blessing to home school. I am able to be present for those "a-ha!" moments and to address issues and correct on-the-spot as necessary. 

I was very nervous in the beginning, but as we have been feeling our way through, I have gained confidence. The sense of accomplishment is second to none! Our oldest daughter finished kindergarten last year and she is now reading! She went from not reading at all at the beginning of the year last year to reading everything in sight! That is an amazing feeling knowing that I was instrumental in that!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me: mandypmommyof4 {at} yahoo {dot} com. 

Homeschooling is not for everyone, but it is definitely working out well for us. If it's your desire  to home school, but you're on the fence or have concerns, I'd love to chat with you further!



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