What We Use, by Jennifer - MetroFamily Magazine
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What We Use, by Jennifer

by Jennifer Geary

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

When someone finds out we’re homeschooling, one of the most common responses is, “Oh, I could never do that!”  Nonsense. You’ve been homeschooling since the day your child came home from the hospital. Where do you think they learned to speak, to use a fork, to mind their manners? If you don’t want to homeschool your kids for their “real” education, that’s fine, but if you do, you’ve got some decisions to make.

One of the biggest decisions you have to start with is what kind (if any) of curriculum you want to use. Kami has given lots of great ideas to consider, so let me be succinct here and say that your reason for homeschooling will have a big impact on what you choose to use.  And the good news is that with homeschooling’s increasing popularity, someone somewhere has a curriculum to sell you. Are you looking to essentially do school at home? Do you like unit studies? Do you want to mix and match? Are you an unschooler? There is something for you—many, many somethings, in fact!

I am a mix-and-matcher. I really don’t think it’s possible for anyone to create a mass-marketed educational plan that will suit each child’s every need. Even as a public school teacher, I used the textbooks as a spine and constantly pulled in outside resources to supplement.  Is it more work? Yes, but the results are rewarding. A child who has read living books, researched historical figures, and participated in historical simulations is going to have a deeper understand of a time period than one who just read the textbook, answered the three questions at the end of the section, and moved on.  Is there anything wrong with textbooks and written work?  No, but I like to go a little deeper and take my students with me.

So what do we use now that I’m not a classroom teacher?  Primarily we use Five In A Row, a literature-based curriculum, and units from Homeschool Share. (In the interest of full-disclosure, I do write book reviews for the Homeschool Share blog, but I am not compensated in any way for sending people there—it’s all about sharing!)  In my opinion, early elementary learning is all about exposure. My son isn’t some kind of World War II scholar, but we’ve learned about different aspects of the war as we read Grandfather’s Journey, All Those Secrets of the World, and A New Coat for Anna. When he is older and we begin to learn more details, he’ll have a hook on which to hang his new knowledge. Good literature provides an easy way for children to make connections when they’re learning about topics with which they have no previous real-life experience.

In addition to FIAR and Homeschool Share, we use Math on the Level and all kinds of odds and ends resources from all kinds of places.  I’ll share more of those with you later!  No matter what you decide to use, feel free to adjust it for your child—and for your teaching style.  You will enjoy your homeschooling journey much more with a little bit of personalization!

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