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I want to find some curriculum now. WWYD?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I've been reading here for 5 years or so now in addition to other online resources. One could think I'd have this down by now, but I think I have some issues with keeping my attention on one thing at a time and get overwhelmed easily.

I ordered Oak Meadow Preschool a couple of years ago for DD and never used it once. Despite the fact that I adore the idea of using nature as a basis, I seriously do not like finger plays and singing with kids. It's super boring.
Speaking of, I should really sell it.
Anyway, I also don't like "playing" with my kids. I encourage them to play pretend and provide them with resources (toys, costumes, etc). I also like setting them up with projects and stuff. I DEFINITELY want them to learn "practical" things like: sewing, cooking, cleaning, repairing, creating and researching in addition to the basics like reading, writing and etc.
The thing is, I run a small business in addition to being a SAHM. I am very very busy. A lot of times, I need to get things done in tandem with the kids' play. I absolutely love to read to them and we do that a lot. They have also been watching a lot of movies (which I'm on the fence about and DH is not a fan of the tv being on all day when they are on a roll). My youngest is also at a stage where field trips can be very stressful because of random meltdowns and intense behavior, so being out and about all day is not fun.

I'm moving our day to a flexible schedule because I have a personal need for structure due to the high volume of things I must accomplish in order to have a successful business and an organized house. DH works from home as well, so I have the added pressure of his opinion on how we spend our day. Structured pockets of homeschooling could be part of our daily "to do" list. Not a hard schedule, just a list of things that need to get done and we do them sometime during the day or week or month.

We are eclectic homeschoolers. Currently, I have nothing for curriculum. Zip. We've been more "unschooly". The kids use Starfall and PBS kids online or just learn things from life as they come up. Oh! We have the Magic Treehouse series up to 28 plus a couple others. The research guides are fantastic. I've recently been thinking I would like to find secular materials to cover Math, Phonics, Spelling, Science, etc.

DD has been learning a ton of things and teaching herself to write and read a bit. She even does math in her head. I feel like the curriculum and structure is more for me than her. Part of it is that I feel too scattered to allow a ton of unstructured learning that can look an awful lot like educational neglect. I'd rather feel like I have the bases covered where I can check things off my list (if you will).
DS has most of the basics covered and I'm not concerned about a formal structure for him at this point.

I'm trying to sort out if we really NEED a curriculum, or if I just need to change how I think about homeschool. I'm also remiss to buy things that we will not end up using like I did with the Oak Meadow situation. What I'd really like to do is go to a brick and mortar store and actually page through the books and see what's inside before I purchase. We have a HUGE schoolbook resource near here, but it's all Christian materials.

Plus, what if I buy workbooks and etc and DD refuses to do them? She has told me she doesn't want to do formal school and she just wants to "be herself". I do think she's getting what she needs and if I put in the extra effort to record what she is learning, I would probably see that everything is fine the way it is. Maybe I need to de-school?
I need to decide if I should continue in an unschooling vein (aka flying by the seat of my pants with no direction or structure to speak of in my case), or try some formal structure and materials and see how it goes.
post #2 of 24
You could buy some stuff, and then let the kids use it how and when they choose. I have one kid who really enjoys workbooks from time to time.

As an alternative to paging through stuff at the store, you could go to rainbowresource.com -- they often have scans of a few pages of the stuff they sell. They're a Christian company, but they sell lots of stuff.

However, I notice that your DD is 6-- any chance this is not so much a reflection of her changing needs as a reaction to the fact that she would be starting 1st grade this year? If that's it, don't spend too much.
post #3 of 24
well, you said you like to read to them a lot, so what about finding a good reading list and choosing books from there. We're unschoolers using Sonlight books. While most of their selections are secular, they are a Christian company, but you could leave off those books with religious themes if you wish. My kids always love their selections, lots of historical fiction and great science books too. That makes up the bulk of what we do for "school."
post #4 of 24
As an unschooler I'd only be getting a curriculum if one of my kids craved busy work and wanted a set schedule or something. Since your kid flat out said she just wants to be herself then I wouldn't be getting one.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeldamomma View Post
You could buy some stuff, and then let the kids use it how and when they choose. I have one kid who really enjoys workbooks from time to time.

As an alternative to paging through stuff at the store, you could go to rainbowresource.com -- they often have scans of a few pages of the stuff they sell. They're a Christian company, but they sell lots of stuff.

However, I notice that your DD is 6-- any chance this is not so much a reflection of her changing needs as a reaction to the fact that she would be starting 1st grade this year? If that's it, don't spend too much.
Actually, yes I think this is a lot of the issue. We have several kids on our new block that go to public school and I've already been grilled by one of the parents about hsing our kids. Thankfully, I'm in Texas, so homeschool is super easy, BUT I'm suddenly twitchy that we don't have enough "school" happening, ykwim? At least if I have a few workbooks laying around in addition to everything else, I don't look like the neglecto-parent to the busybodies.
Also, DD has a very strong personality and I'm worried she's going to announce she does NO schoolwork whatsoever. I've spoken with her a bit about other people's expectation of what school is and said it's not worth the trouble. She's a smart kid, but I still worry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oobleckmama View Post
well, you said you like to read to them a lot, so what about finding a good reading list and choosing books from there. We're unschoolers using Sonlight books. While most of their selections are secular, they are a Christian company, but you could leave off those books with religious themes if you wish. My kids always love their selections, lots of historical fiction and great science books too. That makes up the bulk of what we do for "school."
I'm just concerned about things like evolution being left out. Maybe I'll take a stroll over to that bookstore and just see what they have. It certainly cannot hurt, and I'm pretty sure things like math aren't super religious (right????? ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
As an unschooler I'd only be getting a curriculum if one of my kids craved busy work and wanted a set schedule or something. Since your kid flat out said she just wants to be herself then I wouldn't be getting one.
What do I do to show that what we are doing isn't educational neglect? Should I start recording what they do? Like, if DD empties her piggy bank and we go over which coins are worth how much and she counts them, should I make that 30 minutes of math? I know this sounds ridiculously anal (and maybe it is), but I have NO idea how to tackle this situation. I am out of my element here.
post #6 of 24
In terms of your DD saying that she doesn't do any schoolwork, I would probably just laugh it off and say "Learning is so woven into our everyday lives that she doesn't really register things as academic learning versus anything else." (I wouldn't say this in front of your DD, but if you got comments from another parent after your DD said she didn't do school.)

I just checked out a book called "Everything Your First Grader Needs to Know" from the library. I'm not an unschooler, but just looking through something like that might be helpful for you, especially from the library. You can get a sense of what you're already covering in regular life, etc.
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeldamomma View Post
You could buy some stuff, and then let the kids use it how and when they choose. I have one kid who really enjoys workbooks from time to time.

As an alternative to paging through stuff at the store, you could go to rainbowresource.com -- they often have scans of a few pages of the stuff they sell. They're a Christian company, but they sell lots of stuff.

However, I notice that your DD is 6-- any chance this is not so much a reflection of her changing needs as a reaction to the fact that she would be starting 1st grade this year? If that's it, don't spend too much.
I like the rainbow resource idea. It's easy to order a print catalog through their website (the site is so extensive that it takes forever to look through). We don't use Protestant materials since we are Catholic but they still have hundreds of options that are non-religious so their catalog is a very worthwhile read (it's about the size of a phone book). We've come up with some great ideas just thumbing through it.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EviesMom View Post
In terms of your DD saying that she doesn't do any schoolwork, I would probably just laugh it off and say "Learning is so woven into our everyday lives that she doesn't really register things as academic learning versus anything else." (I wouldn't say this in front of your DD, but if you got comments from another parent after your DD said she didn't do school.)

I just checked out a book called "Everything Your First Grader Needs to Know" from the library. I'm not an unschooler, but just looking through something like that might be helpful for you, especially from the library. You can get a sense of what you're already covering in regular life, etc.
That is brilliant. Thank you so much for your insight. Also, I will check that book out. I had it in my hands for awhile a few months back, but I only gave it a glance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post
I like the rainbow resource idea. It's easy to order a print catalog through their website (the site is so extensive that it takes forever to look through). We don't use Protestant materials since we are Catholic but they still have hundreds of options that are non-religious so their catalog is a very worthwhile read (it's about the size of a phone book). We've come up with some great ideas just thumbing through it.
I will take a look! Thanks.
post #9 of 24
We are also secular unschoolers using sonlight. Here are some of the books I've purchased used:

http://www.amazon.com/How-Do-You-Lif...9369794&sr=8-1
>
> http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Whale-Big...ref=pd_sim_b_2
>
> http://www.amazon.com/How-Hole-Other...ref=pd_sim_b_3
>
> Even some social science ones that do an interesting job:
> http://www.amazon.com/Then-Now-Usbor...ref=pd_sim_b_5
>
> http://www.amazon.com/Childs-Book-Ar...ef=pd_sim_b_29

My son loves most of the books we got. I read through their "newcomers" list for his age group (He's 4 so I got p3/4 and p4/5.) I eliminated any that were religious or what else I didn't like.

I also joined the sonlight secular group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sonlig...guid=156716553 Do a search on "evolution" there and you'll get some great ideas on evolution books.

I really like the idea of using "living books" and I like that there is some thought given to the book list. I feel like I've sort of got a cushion that we are covering subjects that I wouldn't think about on my own to "strew."

Aside from being an unschooler, I'm getting more and more into delayed academics. Perhaps these articles would be interesting to you:

Article on why young kids’ brains aren’t ready for early reading/writing instruction:
http://www.lilipoh.com/articles/2007..._children.aspx

Here’s an article that discusses how children who start academics at later ages do better in the long run:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/2752895.stm

I did a search on Peter Gray on the Psychology Today website and he has lots of interesting articles. Here are a couple I read:

Math:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...r-own-learning

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...ath-in-schools

Reading:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...hemselves-read
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreaming View Post
What do I do to show that what we are doing isn't educational neglect? Should I start recording what they do? Like, if DD empties her piggy bank and we go over which coins are worth how much and she counts them, should I make that 30 minutes of math? I know this sounds ridiculously anal (and maybe it is), but I have NO idea how to tackle this situation. I am out of my element here.
What are your states requirements as far as recording? My state had none, so I'm not really in a position to answer. But in general yes, I'd consider that math LOL.
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreaming View Post
Actually, yes I think this is a lot of the issue. We have several kids on our new block that go to public school and I've already been grilled by one of the parents about hsing our kids. Thankfully, I'm in Texas, so homeschool is super easy

Sorry I posted before reading this. Texas doesn't have any reporting requirements last I checked so I wouldn't worry about recording anything. You are not required to supply any kinds of records as to what you do.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreaming View Post
... I have a personal need for structure due to the high volume of things I must accomplish in order to have a successful business and an organized house...
...I feel like the curriculum and structure is more for me than her.

I does sound like this is more about YOUR needs than your dc's. So I'd look towards what you can do on your end to make yourself feel more organized and to meet your need for structure rather than creating structure for your kids.


Quote:
Plus, what if I buy workbooks and etc and DD refuses to do them?
This seems like a real possibility, especially since she's said she doesn't want to do school. Would you be okay, buying the materials and having them not being used or would that create a struggle between you and your dd?


Quote:
I do think she's getting what she needs and if I put in the extra effort to record what she is learning, I would probably see that everything is fine the way it is.
If it would make you feel better, then I think you should do this. It couldn't possibly take any more effort or time than implementing a curriculum would, and if it eases your worries, then everyone wins.

Maybe if you can see where the learning is happening, it would make you feel better about responding to those who ask about what the kids are doing. Do you actually have a lot of people who inquire about what the kids are learning or is that just something you worry about happening?
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, a lot of people seem very interested in the fact that we are homeschooling. Since our model appears to be unschooling at this juncture (I say "eclectic" when explaining it to someone because I'm not a fan of pigeonholing), it recently occurred to me that I feel the need to prove we are educating the kids. The idea of a "concerned parent" reporting us to whomever (even if in Texas I'm not required to record anything) makes me twitchy.

What I think I really need to do is do more reading on unschooling in particular (rather than homeschooling in general) so I can feel confident in our own path. I'm reading about a local Sudbury school and find that super helpful, too.

Thank you for all the book and article links! Those are exactly the types of books I've been buying already. Sometimes reading an article and passing it along to DH to show him we are all good is the best thing I can do for my sanity.

Either way, I know I can still have my own daily rhythm and the children can do their own thing. I just need to wrap my mind around everything and I'll chill out.
post #14 of 24
Something I bought is a set of learning guides that were developed by an unschooler http://www.fun-books.com/books/livin...ing_guides.htm They allow you to see if your kid is picking up the stuff that society says is necessary at certain ages. Here is a description from the site:

These guides are put together by Nancy Plent, founder of the Unschoolers Network in New Jersey and a long-time homeschooler. She reviewed the scope and sequence charts and curriculum guides of dozens of schools in various states, then combined the highest standards of elements from each to create these guides. Why purchase these curriculum guides? 1) They may help you to fulfill your state's legal requirement to provide an educational plan 2) They allow you to see some of the highest standards for schools at various grade levels, just in case you are curious about what the schools expect or are anxious about what you are doing 3) They provide record-keeping space that can help organize a portfolio.

Besides providing a checklist under each subject, Nancy offers suggestions on how to translate real-life experience into curricula goals. She also lists resources from a variety of companies. Each guide covers two or more grade levels. The first four are in comb binding, while the high school guide is in a 3-ring binder.


I have the whole set. My son won't be eligible to enroll in the local kindergarten until fall 2011. However, he already has achieved all the K language goals and most of the math goals. You could also get online and look at the requirements for your local school district. I just like these guides because they are easy to follow and they were developed by an unschooler.
post #15 of 24
Could you keep a journal and record daily (or weekly, if your memory is that good) the things that you do that are "academic" or "school-y"? You could record the piggy bank counting there...you would probably get to a point where you would see patterns developing of what your DD does and what she is interested in...You might even be able to then translate it into a conversation or spiel of what your family does when you're in a conversation about home schooling. You would have a few concrete examples of maths, science, history that she has done in the recent past.

Instead of a narrative journal, you could write the activities into categories each night. That might be faster, and you might discover that some things cover more than one category (just like real life - huh! maybe the unschoolers are onto something!) - like cooking is both science and math and health. (assuming that you discuss nutrition and scientific concepts as you go along).

And, I just did a quick google search for cooking-science-first-grade and found THIS - an edible landfill! But it doesn't fit the "nutrition/health"
category, unless it's an example of what NOT to put into your body! (cookies, pudding, licorice, butterscotch chips, marshmallows, white chocolate chips, chocolate cereal, chocolate syrup, green sprinkles, candy to top it off - I guess maybe part of the discussion could be "garbage is to the earth what bad foods are to our bodies" - and, hey!, you have another curriculum slot filled: language arts! (metaphor).)

ETA - while I was writing up this post, thinking I was all original, SundayCrepes posted to let me know someone else has BTDT, of course!
post #16 of 24
You know, every time my DH says something about what the kids *should* be doing, I get really excited, tell him that's such a great idea & that I know the kids will love doing that with him!!

As for curriculum, I only buy materials that I wouldn't mind if DS (4.5) never touched it. This includes the "educational" stuff *I* need lying around to not feel neglectful; things like wood blocks, tinkertoys, musical instruments, art supplies, school supplies, dress-up clothes, etc; & things that I want to play with. But only to the degree that we can comfortably afford them. So we do a lot on the internet. We print out free phonics books from http://starfall.com & http://http://www.progressivephonics.com/index.php. We watch documentaries on Netflix. We watch How It's Made. We go to the library every two weeks.

The big thing I do most days is devote time to DS & whatever he wants to do. For us, this is during baby's nap. If I need to eat so I won't be cranky, I do that first, but it's a time to not worry about the house or work. Having a scheduled time that begins & ends really helps me to be able to focus on him & what he *wants* to learn. Sometimes he wants to read, bake cookies, print, play internet games, art, & sometimes he wants "schoolwork". I'm slowly learning to go with the flow!

HTH & let us know how you create the balance you need!
post #17 of 24
Rainbow Resource (but only since the Elijah Company resource is no longer in print!)

I have looked at some things that "replace" a lot of curricula, and my kids in elementary age group learn mostly by "life it's own self." (Like KONOS; and "Understanding Mathmatics from Counting to Calculus"-- we go straight from toddler to HS math via Life of Fred w this one, and it's great for remedial or gifted students if you tutor; The Writing Road to Reading is also quite good, and it's just one book to buy, not a whole "set" w lots of gadget-y, program-y things, etc)

I feel we are a success if they can add, subtract, multiply and divide, read, and write well, AND have not been chained to a desk in a government institution for 40+ hours a week-- first decide what success looks like for your child(ren)-- what do you want them to know and have accomplished by the time they fly, and then you'll know what you need to have on hand to make it happen.

Oh, and all my LOs have far exceeded this expectation already, and they are 9-17, so now that they've learned how to learn, they can learn anything!

blessings
post #18 of 24
Oh! and for "proving" / displaying/ or for your own conscience, knowing exactly what it is you've done and accomplished, I use "Class Completion Check-off Sheet."

These are easy to make, (and if you want mine, pm me your email addy and I'll attach it). It is a word doc with the title, "Class Completion Check-off Sheet," and blanks for the course title, student name, start and end date, and in small print you can state what standard you are working with
(ie since I have a student in HS, I use this standard, "based on 150 hours / course credit". For elementary fewer hours would make up a course-- think how many hours they'd spend on a core subject in a public or private school-- maybe they only work on language arts for 1/2 hour a day x the required minimum # of days in your state-- in any case 150 hours is WAY overkill, and 100 is sufficient for most elementary classes)

Then you insert a table that has a square for each hour you require-- like 150, a 10 column by 15 row table. Or for 100 hours, obviously use 10 x 10.

Each time you do something that qualifies, check off a box and or date it.

We've recorded everything from auto shop and advanced horsemanship to simple phonics and science this way. You have solid proof (journals stand up in courts of law as a record of past events, LOL) of what subjects you've worked on, and the time spent. When the sheet is full, the credit is earned.

Enjoy !
post #19 of 24
Perhaps you could check out educationallearninggames.com and find a few games that your DD might enjoy. I even found a games-based phonics program (Happy Phonics) on a different site. My DDs love games, so that's the direction we're heading.
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 

Update :)

Well, this thread has really gotten me thinking about our approach to schooling. I'm reading more about unschooling, and starting to get a clearer picture. DD found my copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and she told me that she wants to learn how to make cupcakes, so that's what we'll be doing until she finds something else she's interested in.
I'll continue to take cues from her and DS and just chill out a bit. They are only 4 and 6. I'm an attentive parent. As long as I know that I'm doing all I can for them and their education, I'm not going to keep worrying about it. It's a waste of energy.
Thank you so much for all the replies! You've been very helpful and given me a ton of resources for the future if I should need them.
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