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What works for your family?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I could post this as a poll, but honestly I dont think that would work. I was wondering what you do: what philosophy most fits, do you use a boxed curriculum, or what, and anything else that might be of interest.





Me: My ds is 4 yo on a pre-k level in phonics/writing, and 1st to 2nd in math, science, social studies, basically everything else lol. I am mostly an unschooler who really strews and kinda pushes without being pushy. I think the most important thing to do is listen to the child's needs. My dd, who is 2, is seeming to become someone who will benefit most from a literature based program. I have no idea where to look for her when the time comes, and honestly the whole literature thing scares me. I am so scared of language arts. I'm glad my ds is strong in math b/c I am too.

post #2 of 24
If you're not strong in LA and/or literature, that's where a set curriculum might come in handy. We are using Sonlight, and we love the reading. I love that they have it all scheduled out so I don't have to. For K, we used most of it as is, except not doing one book, or a reading here or there that I didn't agree with. Otherwise it was well ordered, so I spent literally no time preparing for it. This year, I took the first grade curriculum schedule, scratched out a bunch of stuff, and added in some other supportive stuff that we already had. So it was a bit more prep work, but I did all that at the start of the year, so now its no prep time at all every day. Actually, we are only doing it 2 days a week, so I'm planning to stretch this year out over two years.

This year we are also using the Sonlight LA, but I'm only using it for the creative thinking/writing activities, not for spelling, reading, or phonics. It is also all laid out well in a schedule, and you only use the parts you want. So no real prep time for that either.

Sonlight can be used in either a religious way or a secular way, you decide.

There are other nice literature programs, like Ambleside, Five in a Row.
post #3 of 24
We use Ambleside Online along with Queen Homeschool's Language Lessons and Learning Language Arts Through Literature. I keep it down to 15 to 20 mins per lesson and it works well for my 6 yo

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post #4 of 24

At that age we did nothing structured. Reading aloud to my kids was always part of our days, and our home and family life included lots of opportunities for exploring and learning (gardens, conversation, Lego, housework, animals, art materials, fridge magnet letters, etc.) but that was it. The only exception was that by age 4.5 or so I had available to them the Miquon Math lab materials and workbooks, since all my kids have been very curious about math and numbers early on. We didn't do any systematic work in that program, though -- it was just like the other possibilities we had around our home. Also, my kids were learning violin in a semi-structured way.

When my kids were 6 or so, they began getting interested in doing little bits of school-like learning. Magically enough they were already reading and doing 2nd or 3rd grade level math, despite not getting any direct instruction in these things. So we just picked up where they were at, gradually adding structure if they seemed to want it.


We have pretty much continued as unschoolers, using bits of curriculum if/when my kids want to, but otherwise not. My kids are now 9 through 18. Three of them have transitioned successfully to high school, honour roll, grade-level acceleration, teacher accolades, the whole nine yards. My youngest is still exclusively homeschooled.



post #5 of 24

An unschooler by philosophy, but I operate less on philosophy right now and more on just listening to where they are at.  I don't even know if that makes sense.  I hear them using and playing with math, so I know what they understand and it is definitely above grade level, so I let it go for now.  They are both practicing reading, and my 7yo is reading on her own with some help.  I am letting them have this time to deepen their understanding of these basic skills.  There might come a day when I might add some more academic materials in a similar to the way moominmamma described, but today is not the day.


Actually, today is gorgeous and we are practicing on jumping rope, hula hoops and yo-yos!

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses. It's funny how I do some things radically different from my parents and some things are the same. Like this reading thing, my parents never really read to me. However, I recently bought a Droid mp3 player and now I read the books like that. I really like that so much better for some reason.


Ok, so I really like your answers :) It is so neat hearing how everyone does things differently but somehow we seem to all have great kids who do really well in life :)

post #7 of 24

I guess I would consider us to be relaxed eclectic homeschoolers. We homeschool year round and do not do testing.

I didn't really start using any curriculum until dd was probably 6. Prior to that, she explored and played. I read to dd a lot. We looked up things she had questions about. We worked on motor skills. When she asked to learn to read I worked with her.

We have been using Sonlight, a literature based curriculum, as our base for a number of years and like many things about it. I did not like their language arts so we use various resources for that.

We have used Math U See for math for a few years now and like it. We tried Miquon Math but it wasn't a good fit for dd. Dd really struggled understanding math but has made a lot of progress.


In retrospect there are things I wish I had encouraged a bit more earlier. We tried some things that did not work out but I suppose that was part of learning and growing in our homeschool journey.

post #8 of 24

I've enjoyed all these posts!


I have one son, almost eight, who has been home learning other than a disappointing but not horrible year of half-day kindergarten. We haven't done anything structured so far. He has never liked workbooks-- or instruction for that matter-- so it was clear from the start that any approach that taught in an overt way or required written output would lead to power struggles and unhappiness all round.He has a high need for autonomy and is actually very motivated to learn, so unschooling has worked well so far.


We have tons of books, science kits, lego, craft materials etc, and he has his own backyard workshop which he has filled with tools, projects and experiments. I have always read to him a lot and he picked up reading early. He reads very well and is curious about most subjects, so he learns through exploration, conversation, books, the internet etc. He's picking up math concepts well and likes math, though I know he would resist any kind of drilling or rote work at this point.


He is keen on tech/electronics/programming/robotics etc so the most structured things we have done are in that area. He took part in a First Lego League team last year and loved it... this meant two or three meetings a week over a few months, plus two competitions. Great experience for him. We've recently found a university engineering student to spend one morning a week with him working on electronics projects, robotics, video game design etc-- whatever the two of them decide to do-- and that has been good too. I don't know much (anything!) about these areas, so my son's knowledge long ago surpassed mine-- and when he would get frustrated with a project (reach exceeding grasp, as it does!), I couldn't help him. This student mentor has been a great thing for us all.


I wonder if by ten or twelve or fourteen, we might want more structure... but we'll see. It's interesting to see it all unfold.

Edited by Cassidy68 - 4/25/12 at 10:57pm
post #9 of 24

Structured work at the kitchen table using lots of open-and-go materials.  But until age 8, not a lot of time doing this.  Our 6 yo K student does Reading Eggs, Horizons Math, D'Nealian handwriting, speech therapy practice and violin practice.  Our just turned 9 yo Grade 3 student does math, science, history and lots of different types of language arts work and spends 2-3 hours on it, some days more if he has a hard time getting it going.   He also does violin practice and some form of exercise every day - this time of year, usually related to baseball.   I work in DVDs, Brainpop and experiments as we have time, but most of his work is structured work that involves a paper and pencil.

post #10 of 24

My ds is 5 and starting first grade on May 1st. We are following the Well Trained Mind program, blending Charlotte Mason with Classical and unit studies. Just what does that mean?


Charlotte Mason elements: Narration, copy work, Picture Study of great works by master artists. Living books. Done with lessons by noon.


Classical elements: We follow the Trivium, which means we study history chronologically and go through all of recorded history every 4 years. My son will be studying The Ancients, from 40,000 BC to 400AD, in this first grade year. We study one ancient civilization at a time (which becomes the theme of a Unit Study, for example the Ancient Greeks). We spend an hour a day reading literature from the period (Homer's Oddysey adapted for kids), then we study science topics based on that period of history (classification, biology, human anatomy).


Next year, in 2nd grade, he will go on to the Medieval to early Renaissance Period from 400-1600 AD. Earth sciences and astronomy go along with this period.



It all sounds like quite a lot, but our actual days look like this:

Start 9am, reading classic literature adapted for kids. He narrates back plot, or draws an illustration.

10am, spelling workbook, 2 pages, and handwriting, 3 sentences.

10:30, Math workbook, 2 pages of Singapore Math.

Then he does a one hour session of either History, Science, or Art.

Our day is done by lunch time, so he can play and read the rest of the day.






post #11 of 24

We're basically unschoolers, lots of hands on projects, videos, and reading aloud together with my 8-yr-old.  He is a huge history kid, and I always hate, hate, hated social studies. I know very little history, so this has been an opportunity and a challenge for me. What I find is that in digging up resources, I look for stuff that appeals to me and is easily understandable by someone with limited background knowledge, but seems pretty comprehensive, and it is just right for him with his avid interest but younger age.

post #12 of 24

We do whatever works for us, I honestly don't have a philosophy.. If I tried to stick with one thing it would stress me out and i would be to worried about sticking with what we are "suppose" to do instead of doing what would work best with my kids.. I just go with the flow and form our curriculum around the children.

post #13 of 24

I think I tend to treat curriculum just like any other book and not something to follow.  At least so far that has been what "works" in that if I think of a workbook as something that needs to be done, I am set up for disappointment and the feeling that I am interfering with her joy of learning.  Just now I wrote about our experience with the review and realized that there is one pre-packaged activity that we do as-is and that is Highlights Top Secret Adventures for social studies.  SO once in a while you will find something in the "curriculum" genre that works. 


I have also realized that though dd usually dislikes worksheets made by others, she truly enjoys those we prepare at home.   As in, she asks for more.   I think she finds them more interesting because we make them at the "just right" level - not easy, not "too" hard though it needs to be a little bit hard for her to like it and get excited about figuring it out.  She doesn't like anything that simply involves outputting knowledge she has already gained - except when she does.  She was in a phase once where she repeatedly asked for 4 digit addition and subtraction.  I briefly questioned in my mind why she wanted this again and again, but quickly realized that if she wants it, she has a reason.  Furthermore what reason did I have not to give it to her?  None.  So I did.


What works best for us are the real life activities without reference to curriculum or subject matter.  We just had our county review yesterday so my mind is still in the latter mode.

post #14 of 24
Originally Posted by cheery View Post

Just now I wrote about our experience with the review and realized that there is one pre-packaged activity that we do as-is and that is Highlights Top Secret Adventures for social studies.  



How old is your daughter?  Ours really like their puzzle books, and I've seen this one and thought it looked interesting.  Also, is it something that can be divided between two kids *easily*?  

post #15 of 24

She is 8, soon to be 9.  She started doing these soon after turning 7, their recommended minimum age.


To share btw two kids, write the answers to the puzzles on a separate sheet of paper so that you don't need to write in the puzzle book itself.  The rest of the material can be easily shared.   She and a friend would some times do them together, sharing all the material and writing on separate paper.   That was really fun too.

post #16 of 24

I guess we're sort of split between a boxed curriculum part-time and supplemental homeschool programs part-time. I use Moving Beyond the Page with my older child, and the younger we just play and do a few coloring-style workbook pages, science kids, or play with magnet letters when he wants to "do school" like his sister. 


Next year, the 8 yo will be in a 2 day a week full day program and the 4 yo will be in a 3 day a week half day program. DD 8 will use MBTP. I think DS 4 (5 in late fall) will use some Evan Moor materials like this: http://www.evan-moor.com/Product.aspx?EmcID=12. He wants to learn to read, but he's not quite ready for Headsprout, which DD used to learn to read. Maybe in the fall, or we'll just keep playing with letters until he's ready for Headsprout. I like Evan Moor's stuff, and a few of their preschool themes are actually related to either things DS loves or things that DD will be doing in MBTP, so I'm hoping to get them both working on, for example, the Rainforest at the same time at their own levels. 

post #17 of 24

We started with Sonlight but I didn't like how much it jumped around.  We'd be only able to read a couple pages of a book when we wanted to read more. In order to stay on schedule, we'd have to follow their routine.  Eventually we ditched the format and just read the books cover to cover and then would start another one.  Now we don't follow a box set.  We use Horizons for Math (just the workbooks), Sonlight's science package (5 day) for science - we really enjoy that!, Handwriting Without Tears workbooks, and A Beka's history/geography books (without teacher's manual) including writing out the vocabulary daily.  I also add in a Bible story per day plus we move through books I pick up from our library, juvenile non-fiction.  Right now we're finishing up a book on the Wright brothers and a couple on the Revolutionary War.  We're also reading a few pages a day from a book about growing up in the time of George Washington.  I also make sure my oldest always has a novel in hand (he is about halfway through the Magic Tree House series) and that we read a non-fiction chapter book every day (usually 1 chapter a day), currently "The Dragon Keeper."  It's working out well for us; we started as unschoolers but it just wasn't working for us so now I lesson plan and we follow a curriculum I've created every day.

post #18 of 24

I guess our homeschooling philosophy is relaxed eclectic.  We do the basics, stay on or above grade level, have a lot of fun with it, and do 1-2 field trips a week.  We'll use whatever works: workbooks, textbooks, living books, websites, hands-on projects, documentaries, etc.  I don't use a boxed curriculum, I prefer to piece things together myself based on what ds likes at that moment - and that's always changing.  I love it and try to keep things as stress-free as possible.

post #19 of 24

At this age, playing. Honestly, I don't think you need anything else. There is a window of opportunity for a particular kind of play, I think, up to the age of around seven, and kids need to go through this much more than they need to learn to read.


I don't mean I'd stop a child from learning to read or teach them if they requested it (providing other signs of readiness were there, like sign recognition), just that I would not push it on a child before seven. (maybe not even then-just that IME most kids are ready at seven for the beginnings of abstract work if thats what you want to do with them)


(random question here. I often see posters saying "my 4 yo is on a pre-K level with this " or a "2nd grade level on that". How do you know this stuff? I never have any idea what level my kids are at. For my 4 year old, I could say, "she really likes drawing and animals but has no idea how to spell", and thats about it. Even my 8 year old it would be, he's done a year of latin and two years of maths and knows basic arthimatic and the tables and likes algebra and probabilty more than geometry...I mean, how do you know what level your child is on? Genuine question.)

Edited by Fillyjonk - 5/8/12 at 2:02am
post #20 of 24

What works for us (5yo dd) is having lots of enriching supplies (arts/crafts/recyclables/materials) on hand at all times and within reach, TONS of books, a library card, streaming internet, a couple of classes in the community, some great parks and outdoor activities, playdates with awesome friends, travel, and parents who keep an open mind and who model learning all the time.  We read constantly.  I create art myself.  Dh plays guitar and surfs.  We also have some curriculum and it's used as needed (miquon/saxon/workbooks).  I keep an eye on "scope and sequence" for her age but honestly don't worry about it too much.  DD is very self directed and motivated, creative, and curious and these are all qualities I hope for her to retain her whole life.  

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