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How Do You Choose The Best Home-school Program?

Readers Forum:

I am thinking about home-schooling my children, ages 7 and 11, and I know there are different curriculum's for homeschool. I don't know where to go to find out about homeschooling resources or how to compare the different programs. In addition, what resources are available to home-school parents? How can you suplement the social aspects, art, PE, and other programs offered in school. I would like to find the program that is right for my children and encorporate all of the additional activities to create a well rounded education for them.

8 comments to How Do You Choose The Best Home-school Program?

  • ozboz48

    The first thing you need to do is figure out what your kids’ learning styles are. For example, you might have a visual-tactile learner, who needs lots of hands-on work. The other child might be an auditory learner who needs to hear the information.
    You do not need to buy a packaged curriculum for your kids, although many people do. The advantage of such curriculums is that they do the work for you – in a sense. Everything you need – if you like the curriculum – arrives in boxes at your home. The disadvantages are that they are expensive and might night fit your child’s learning sytle or the subject matter you wish your child to learn. Here is a site with many reviews of such materials: http://www.homeschoolreviews.com/
    Socialization is easy. There is a big, wide, wonderful world out there. If you let your children find their own interests, you will be able to provide many, many opportunities for socialization. Clubs, teams, volunteer work, and homeschool park days (google your town and the words “park day) to find the one closest to you. Your kids can also keep any friends they have from school. It’s not an either/or situation.
    For PE, you again follow your kids interests – soccer, martial arts, other team sports, swimming, bike riding, ballet, hiking, etc, are all wonderful ways to stay physically fit. For example, my child does martial arts, horseback riding, and plays a mean game of soccer on park day.
    Art – museums, concerts, videos and my favorite – the library.
    Remember – this is real life, not the artificial “life” offered by schools. Anything is possible.

  • Hannah M

    First, you need to define precisely what ‘best’ means to you and your kids; that is a very subjective word and what is ‘best’ for one of your children may not suit the other one at all (and, I’m willing to bet, ‘best’ to you will mean something very different to my family).
    If you take a look around your community (sports centres, leisure centres, Tafe, scouts, young farmers, church, others’ private businesses, beavers, cubs, the library, CCF, pony club, SLC etc etc) you should find heaps of opportunities for socialising, art, P.E., drama, music, camps etc.
    Also check out your local and regional home-ed groups. Find out what other home-educating families are doing; also where and how they’re doing it.
    Don’t forget to check community notice boards at the library, local store etc, local newspapers and magazines, community websites etc.
    Lastly you shouldn’t forget the fun and lessons to be had in simply buying in (or better still improvising) the equipment and just having a go at home, with Mum.

  • Stacy N

    A lot depends on where you live but I don’t use just one curriculum. I pick and choose what I want to use. There is a computer based program called time4learning.com. My 11 yo uses this and it is like $20 for the first kid then I think it is like $14 for each after. They have the 4 core subjects and it keeps track of the grades and there are worksheets you can print out too. I get my PE and Art stuff from edhelper.com and co-op groups. The main group we are in has co-ops for every subject at least once a month. You just have to find the right support group.

  • onebigsm

    You might try charter schools, which provide all the materials for you for free, but allow you to count other things for school credit too, including p.e., watching educational videos, reading, art projects, lego projects, etc.
    I found our current charter school by searching online.
    Have a good day!

  • Anonymous

    Have you looked into the laws in your state? For those a great place to go is http://www.hslda.org. They provide all the laws you need for the state.
    What are your kids learning styles? One child may not benefit from the same curricula as the other. Case in point my sister has 5 that she Home schools the oldest is using Christian Liberty Press, #2 is using Sonlight and Saxon math, #3 is using the same Sonlight curricula and Singapore math, #4 + 5 is Sonlight and teaching textbooks math. My kids are using Sonlight and Math U See (she introduced me to Sonlight and we fell in love).
    The best way I have found to get PE, art, and other classes that I can’t teach is a Co-Op. To find one go you need to find a home school group in your area. Ask around. Find out who else home schools. Try an Internet search for home school groups in your area. Join Girl/ Boy scouts, dance classes, karate, city leagues for base ball or soccer or even cheer-leading, any thing that public school kids do outside of school is also open to you.
    Look into different curricula but be prepared to throw it out if it isn’t working for your family!
    The public library is your friend! They are usually more than willing to help you in any way possible. The ones I’ve met are very supportive of home schoolers.

  • glurpy

    First thing I did was find a local homeschool support group online so that I could get to know other homeschoolers, read their posts about different resources, get together with them–where they would sometimes bring specific resources–and things like that.
    Cathy Duffy has a website on different popular homeschooling products; it only covers some of what is in her book but it’ll give you a starting point to look at company websites. Her book on homeschool curriculum is supposed to be very thorough and very good; your library may even have a copy.
    One thing to know is that there is no such thing as “perfect” or even “best” program. If there were, there would only be one thing on the market. ๐Ÿ™‚ You won’t ruin your children by not using the “best” program; plenty of people don’t even use a full curriculum and their kids do great. I will say, though, that it sounds like you are wanting to recreate school at home, with clubs and all kinds of other stuff. There is far more to education than the school structure.
    Social aspects? That was the primary reason to NOT have my kids in school. I didn’t like what I saw while I was teaching. Where we live, we have lots of homeschoolers so there’s always lots to do, lots of people to meet up with, have field trips with, etc. We can be as social as we want to be! In addition to homeschooling things, there are Scouts/Guides, swimming lessons, community sports and so much more. Since your kids are already in school, if you pull them out, they should also make sure to regularly get together with those friends.
    Art? Lots of books at the library, lots of stores with art supplies. Art in our schools here is not very fancy–one period a week and nobody specialized in art teaching them, just a teacher going off of a book or their own ideas, something you can easily do at home. Where I live, there are also art centres that offer group classes and homeschoolers sometimes set up classes there, as well as various studios that have things open to everybody and private art instructors for those who are very serious. I can’t do art worth beans but my 10yo daughter is highly talented and has learned lots through library books and art kits.
    PE–our backyard, playgrounds, swimming lessons, ski/snowboard lessons, soccer, skating, visiting a community recreation centre’s gym, they have bikes and skipping ropes and frisbees and balls… PE is about being physically active and staying in shape. If they never learn how to play basketball with a team, I don’t think it’ll cause them to suffer in life. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Other programs? Are they necessary? Or are they there to help make school a place that kids want to be? At home, you can do anything that is something they enjoy; you don’t have to contrive programs to keep them busy. A child can be well-rounded without doing EVERYTHING. There’s no need to do everything. In fact, doing everything lessens the chance of excelling in an area because not enough time can be devoted to it.

  • Rosie_08

    “Best” is in the eye of the beholder ๐Ÿ˜‰
    You incorporate PE, art etc the same way you always have. They continue going to scouts, playing soccer, singing in the church choir or whatever it is you guys do.
    Here is a good start: http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/methโ€ฆ
    See if anything there jumps out and grabs you. That’ll give you a very big hint on where to do your research. The Classical Method, particularly “The Well Trained Mind” by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, gave me the biggest “YEAH THAT!!” followed by a “Yeah That!!” when I read up on the Charlotte Manson method. If you are looking for well rounded, that might be a good place to investigate.
    Amazon customer reviews and these two sites are also invaluable, not to mention various message boards I’m on:http://www.homeschoolmath.net/reviews/ and http://homeschoolreviews.com/
    It’s quite likely that you’ll pick and choose from here and there. I have a table drawn up with the grade level down one side and the subjects I intend to teach along the top. I’m gradually filling that in with the curriculums, books etc that I intend to use. I’m sure they will change over time, but if you don’t have a plan, you don’t get started ๐Ÿ™‚
    So, the big questions:
    1. What does the law require of you?
    2. What do you want to teach?
    3. How do you want to teach it?
    4. Does your hubby agree?
    5. What curriculums, books, locally run classes, etc can you immediately discount?
    6. What’s left over?
    Start plugging this into a table like I described above. It’s a good idea to have long term aims. They give guidance as to what your short term aims should be.
    Good luck with your research ๐Ÿ™‚

  • ASD & DYS Mum

    Welcome to HS’ing!
    The first thing you should do, IMO, is find out your children’s learning styles, and then your own learning/teaching style. This will help guide your curriculum decisions. Each child may need curriculum from a different company from the other.
    Then attend a HS’ing convention near you (they usually go on from April-August) so you can see different curriculum in person. I have to do this because I’m so visual, and I want to see the “whole picture” of the progression through the curriculum – the entire scope and sequence.
    At a HS convention, you can spend a lot of time in the vendor hall looking at curriculum, seeing the prices, comparing different ones, and typically getting a sale, or free shipping. Individual companies have booths, and then companies like Rainbow Resource Center have a giant booth with a wonderful selection of materials…and their giant catalog on hand so you can order there if they don’t have what you want.
    HS conventions also have seminars which are very helpful to all HS’ers.
    At the same time as the above, contact your state/local HS’ing groups. You can sometimes find websites or Yahoo Groups for them. Attend some of the events to meet others and discuss curriculum. Some groups also have “curriculum share” nights, where members talk about the items they use. Our local group has a buy/sell/trade Yahoo Group also.
    There are tons of resources and tons of activities for HS’ing. We live in a city of 80,000 and there’s a huge HS community. I moved here from a city of 500,000 and it was even larger there. Here are some activities my son has done, or is currently doing. We’ve HS’ed for over 5 years.
    *YMCA HS PE, Art, & Swimming classes
    *HS Co-op – with 125 other kids and 22 classes to choose from
    *HS bowling, ice skating, roller skating, movies
    *HS classes at zoos and museums
    *Boy Scouts (many HS’ers do 4H also)
    *Park district sponsored indoor & outdoor track, & cross country
    *HS field trips (choose your topic & place!)
    *day camps and weekly camps (church, scouts, zoo, raptor center)
    *Math Olympiad
    *Online Academic League
    *Book Adventure team
    *Book It Pizza Hut reading program (free pizza)
    *Six Flags reading program (free tickets)
    *Volunteer work for missionaries
    *Bible Club
    …and others I’m not recalling at the moment!
    You’ll find you have *more* options with HS’ing than in PS. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s also very refreshing to do things with HS’ers as a group b/c the kids are 99% very respectful, obedient, and work well as a group. My son gets annoyed at events that are mostly PS kids, but loves being around other HS’ers.
    Don’t be afraid to try things, then back out. Make goals for each year and re-evaluate each year. It’s very easy to get burned out doing too much – with curriuclum work, and with activities.
    I know others will list great ideas also.
    FWIW, we’ve used the K12 curriculum for over 5 years and love it. You can mix and match grade levels, work at varying speeds in courses, and the scope & sequence is amazing. We’ve always used it as independent HS’ers, not thorugh a virtual school.http://www.k12.com

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