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Monday, July 28, 2014

On Planning For Homeschool On The Cheap

Even though we had been going back and forth on homeschooling for awhile, we didn't actually jump into the decision to do it until mid-July.  That means a little over a month of time before our tentative starting date of September 2.  A little over a month to find curriculum to use, to plan everything, to pay for everything, to figure out schedules and routines.

That's not a lot of time.

I started out by making a list of the big subjects I needed/wanted to cover (the first four are the subjects required by the state; the last three are my additions):
  • Reading/Language Arts: This includes read-aloud time, letters, grammar, phonics, spelling, handwriting, and maybe foreign languages later on.
  • Math: This will also include calendar/weather time.
  • Social Studies: This includes history, geography, and cultural concepts. Jesse will probably include some sociology in here at some point.
  • Science and Health: This includes science, P.E., and what we call life skills (cooking, gardening, etc.)
  • Music/Hymnody
  • Art
  • Bible History and Memory Work
Once I had that list, I started going subject by subject to find curriculum, a mixture of pre-K and Kindergarten materials.  Some I had an idea:
  • Reading: I want to make a list of read-alouds from several lists I have saved, and do a chapter a day, potentially with extra activities to go along with the stories.
  • Language Arts: I want to do Letter Of The Week to start, and have Handwriting and Art projects that coincide with that, as well as more reading with books that go with that letter (apple books for A and so on).
  • Art: I want to do seasonal art projects as well, which are easy to find on Pinterest, or projects that go with our Science units, or our Bible stories.  Basically art will supplement our other activities most of the time.
  • Bible History: I want something similar to Christ Light (I was going to pick Christ Light, but I'm trying to find a cheaper option), something that has Bible stories, along with activities and memory work to go with each story.
Some I had no clue:
  • Math: I need a curriculum for math, because while math in Kindergarten isn't hard, I don't know which concepts need to be covered or what order to go in.
  • Science: Ugh. My science and social studies background is not strong.
And then I went down the rabbit hole.  The Internet is a wonderful place to find everything you could possibly imagine for resources.  When you're just starting out though, you want to save everything that might be useful because you don't know yet what might be useful.  And you can't possibly save everything.  And some things only have half the material available right now and you have to come back each week for the next piece, and who is going to remember all those different places?

I want this to be inexpensive.  I am willing to spend money on curriculum that we will use, especially knowing that it will probably be used four times over (various learning styles taken into account, of course).  But right now, money is tight.  So I'm trying to find cheap and free resources for the things that I know better, so that I can spend the money on the things I don't know.  (And I know we will need plenty of paper and toner for the printer for all those free printable activities!) 
We did find several helpful resources at the library, and I'm sure there will be plenty more as we get into things.

So I'm making my lists.  Must buy this.  Would like this when we can afford this.  Will ask for this for birthdays/Christmas.  

For example, there's a fun-looking handwriting series that includes letters to trace and pictures to color, and starting in first grade, Bible verses to copy.  Each year is about $18.  But there are also many free online printables for letters, some with coloring pages, and I hope I am competent enough to find Bible passages.  So those sets will go on my "Would like this" list, but we probably won't buy them right now.  

And then there's my list of "next steps" for each subject.  Print this free planner and put it in a binder.  Get all of my links saved in one spot (or two - bookmarks on my computer and Pinterest).  Download these files.  Buy this curriculum.  Each time I accomplish something on my list I add about three more things.
Does all this seem like a lot?  My brain is overwhelmed.  Planning is hard.  If someone could just hand me the teacher's manuals and tell me to plan out the weeks, I could do that easily.  But that kind of defeats the purpose of finding the best fit for your family, one of those things I like about homeschooling.  So I soldier on.  

Once I have my curriculum set in stone, I plan on posting a listing of what we will be using, knowing that it very well may change a few weeks/months in, if we find it isn't working for us.  And my homeschooling updates should get more fun once we actually get started, hopefully with specifics about what we're doing, and what is working well (or not!).

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