Homeschooling Independently Without an Umbrella school
The best thing to do is to go ahead and choose a curriculum. You have many options and chances are you may want to switch after trying one this year. Most of them will provide what you need and get you up and running your school program. In talking to other homeschoolers, that is a question you should discuss. Ask them what they use and take notes.
Cathy Duffy has an Internet site that talks about curriculum. She has been in the business of reviewing curriculum since I started 20 years ago. You can trust what she says. Some major companies that I would recommend you look at are Abeka, Bob Jones, Alpha Omega, School of Tomorrow, and Sonlight.
Here are two major factors you should consider.
1. How much do you have to spend?
Much: If you have unlimited resources, your options are unlimited. You can buy a complete curriculum with all the bells and whistles and be on your way. Just remember that spending money does not guarantee a good education. If you do more of the planning and choosing, you can take advantage of your areas of expertise and your children’s interests and abilities.
Little: My solution for this is useful even if you have lots of money. I homeschooled for very little. I could have homeschooled for even less, but I liked curriculum and loved to shop for it. One of my friends was very frugal and schooled on a shoestring. She did what I did but limited her purchases more.
First, make a list of subjects you plan to teach and some of your options. Then:
a. Look for used curriculum. Check thrift stores. Ask your local support group for ideas of where to find it. Check out E bay and major homeschool sites. For subjects like math and reading, accompanying workbooks are valuable. For other subjects, workbooks are helpful but not necessary. Check publication dates and make sure you can still get a workbook for that date if you feel you need workbooks.
b. Look for unit studies that give you multi-grades in one book. They are often on one topic and the various subjects are incorporated. You can use free library and online sources with unit studies.
c. Look for ungraded curriculum. I used Spelling Power by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon and Mastering Mathematics by Lez Farmer’s which are ungraded programs for many grades. With these types, a child can work at their own level. Most involve testing and starting them where the tests show to start them. School of Tomorrow curriculum is graded but works this way.
c. Set up an exchange program. I found a woman who had the in between grades of my children. We shared reading books from year to year.
d. Remember that you don’t have to do workbooks and tests. You also can make your own worksheets and/or tests. Be creative. Let them put on plays about what they read or do art to show what they learned. Review and test orally. Make up games for review or better yet have your children make up games.
e. Free stuff. Look for free samples of curriculum. Use the Internet’s free stuff. I found that a neighboring county library offered Spanish online for free. Organizations like the Cornell Bird Watch Program will send oodles of information about birds if you agree to keep track of what you see. I signed up for the post office’s free kits about history for teachers. Use the library!
2. How much time will you have to devote to homeschooling?
One more thing to consider when choosing curriculum is how much time you have to devote to this. When you have limited time, you need to choose a little differently. Here are a few of my suggestions for those of you with limited time because of a part time job or other commitments that also need attention.
a. A full planned out curriculum is better for those with limited time.
b. Pick easier books that children can work with on their own. Grade level is not as important in homeschool as it is in public except to our pride. School of Tomorrow and Alpha Omega are easier for children to do on their own.
c. Consider asking grandparents or Dad to help even just for one subject. In that case, you need to let them help choose a textbook that they feel comfortable with.
In summary, expensive curriculums generally take less preparation time. Inexpensive usually takes more preparation time. Spending money does not mean a better education. You can get a student more involved and liking it better when you do more of the planning. Consider used, unit, ungraded, exchanging, no workbooks, and free stuff. Going down a grade level can allow students to work on their own easier. Consider asking for advice from seasoned homeschoolers and for help from your husband and parents.