I am beginning to think homeschooling may be a good option for my child. So far, I am not impressed with our public school, and I'm in a so called "good district." I am a certified elementary teacher with experience and I just feel like I know too much about what really goes on in schools. Anyway, I'm new to this forum. I have NO IDEA where to even start. I'm looking for a hands on learning type curriculum-not workbooks and worksheets. I do not want a religious curriculum. I just don't know what is out there. Thanks for any suggestions. Also, what is the price range for a homeschool curriculum?
You probably want to look into different styles and go from there. I have 2 books out from the library right now that I feel really give me a grasp on what is out there and general approaches.
I'd say you might be interested in a Charlotte Mason or Classical or "Great Books" approach. We're considering using Sonlight as our core - it is religious, but there are ton of people who do it without the religious books and there is a secular sonlight Yahoo group, IIRC.
Qualifier: I'm just prepping now for our K year too.
I am just wrapping up my first year of homeschooling with my 6 year old and just-turned-5 year old. We did 1st grade for my son and a mix of Pre-K & K for my daughter.
We are using an eclectic mix of materials, but with a pretty strong classical base. We did use Sonlight for much of our planning. It is definitely Christian, but can very easily be used secularly. The Sonlight catalog denotes religious publishers with an X, so when I ordered, I simply crossed those off :) Their Read-Alouds are mostly wonderful...even though we are moving on this coming year and making our own curriculum, I am definitely taking my read-alouds from their list.
The Cathy Duffy book is good...be forewarned that she is Christian, and while she does a good job reviewing both Christian and secular materials, her viewpoint is clearly represented in her writing.
I found Susan Wise Bauer's "The Well-Trained Mind" to be an invaluable resource for me. If you go to her site (peacehillpress.com) you can download some of her audio lectures for $3-4. The ones entitled "The Joy of Classical Education" and "Teaching the Real Child" are great.
For more secular info/reviews, Angela at satorismiles.com is fantastic. Lots of great/frank reviews, and she definitely has lots of info that would be applicable as her daughter is, I believe, 6 or 7.
Our current curricula include:
for our 5 year old:
The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading - Wise
Handwriting without Tears - Letters and Numbers for Me
Sonlight Language Arts for Kindergarten
Get Ready, Get Set & Go for the Code
Singapore Math - Earlybird A & B
for our 6 year old:
Sonlight Language Arts for Grade 1
Explode the Code 1-3
Wordly Wise for Vocab
Singapore Math US Edition 1A & B with textbook, workbook, challenging word problems and intensive practice
History: Story of the World, Vol I (Ancient History) with the Activity Guide; Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History as a supporting spine; we also used the free Mosaic curriculum at bringinguplearners.com
Science: Real Science Odyssey Life Science for the Grammar Stage
Art: Drawing with Children - Mona Brooks
Art Appreciation: Come Look with Me series
Music Appreciation: Story of the Orchestra
We also do poetry readings/memorization and critical thinking activites.
Of everything I listed, the things that I recommend are:
-Story of the World (written by a Christian, but she makes a valiant effort to be impartial - all Christian/Bible stories are indicated as being apart from straight history, just as Greek/Roman myths, etc. are) along with the Activity Guide, which has awesome hands-on activities, coloring pages, maps, etc already compiled for you. I also loved using some of the suggested resources from the free mosaic curriculum
- Real Science Odyssey - great program, with a short intro to each subject (I would recommend getting at least one other supporting spine like a Kingfisher or Usborne encylopedia), and then one or two follow-up projects
- Ordinary Parent's Guide - great, no-nonsense approach to teaching reading. If you like a looser approach, Phonics Pathways is good.
-Handwriting without tears - good, basic handwriting program. Very gentle; has lots of hands-on activities (like play-doh letters, the wooden pieces you use to "build" letters, etc).
-Explode the Code - all of the various workbooks are great. I am not really a workbook lover, but really do like these, as do my kids.
- Sonlight's Core 1 program (I think this is now called Core B - they renamed them as of this year) - we are secular, so we did not use the Bible portion of the curriculum. The history layout is great - it literally tells you day-by-day what pages of which books to read, etc. It is pretty much pick up and go. The same goes for the Read alouds, poetry reading and Mother Goose selections.
-Singapore Math - LOVE this program. I'm not as sold on the Earlybird Math, but once you get to 1A, it's wonderful. You definitely need to invest in the Home Instructor's Guide. I also like to get the textbook and workbook for the student. Intensive practice is good for extra practice, and the Challenging Word Problems are awesome. Even if i were not using the full program, I would want to use CWP. I like the US version much better than the standards version.
What I will not be using again:
-Wordly Wise - not that it's not a good program, but it is very repetitive...the same layout week to week got old for us.
-Sonlight Language Arts - it is not a bad program, but I felt it was a bit disjointed, and maybe a little light for my taste.
Something else we have used periodically is Five in a Row, which is a literature based program. You read the same picture book every day, five days in a row, and do various activities based on the book. In this way, you can touch on language arts, arts and crafts, science, history, etc. My family LOVED it. There is a religious bent to some of the activities, but they are easily skipped. This one is a bit more parent-intensive as you have to decide which activities you wish to do and then gather the materials for each week.
I know that was a lot of info...I hope this helps some, and isn't too overwhelming! Good luck!
We've used Sonlight as a guide to buying books. We're not Christian--and I haven't run into many problems. In fact, I've been really impressed by the quality of the choices. Many have become favorites.
I also think that it's easier to start with some core subjects, especially in Kindy, and add if you need them. So, with DS1, we did Handwriting without Tears, Right Start Level A math, and Click-n-Read Phonics with some Sonlight literature choices. I had bought Sonlight's Kindy science, but we ended up not doing a formal science program. Instead, we took nature walks, went to our science museum, etc.
If you want a total packaged curriculum that is secular,two that come to mind are Calvert and Oak Meadow.
Popular Math Programs: RightStart, Math-U-See, Singapore, Saxon
Handwriting: Depends on whether you want italic or not. Also some Moms do a Cursive first program. Handwriting without Tears, Getty-Dubay Italic, and others.
Reading: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons, Explode the Code, Hooked on Phonics, Bob books, Click-n-Read Phonics, Reading Eggs
Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1). "Kids do as well as they can."
Mine are currently 6 and 7, and we are through the K stuff.
What I did really ... was to keep the academic stuff focused and thoughtfully purposeful. Too much "curriculum" and you get kids who aren't curious, don't figure out how to investigate ... and don't have a chance to do anything else. So "hands on" -- what they need to do hands on in this age group is learn to read (if it is not too hard for them developmentally, otherwise it can wait a year), listen to LOTS of audiobooks or be read to extensively in English (vocabulary will be the basis of moving past 2nd-3rd grade reading level), start a second language if you plan that since their brains will never be more ready for that. They need to hear music and sing. Some will be ready to start an instrument. They need to learn to ride a bike without stabilizers, if they haven't already. They need to master swimming. They need to get a lot of vigorous outdoor play. The ones who learn to read fairly easily, they can be soaking up the world through books before the end of the K year. Others will need a few more years.
I'm pretty informal and low key with kindy myself. I prefer to read excellent literature, practice writing with sidewalk chalk and window markers, learn spelling and vocab while playing Scrabble, take nature walks, introduce math at their comfort level. I bought no curriculum until grade 2-3, no textbooks. We did use some workbooks here and there that they were interested in. They both excelled with this type of approach and were above grade level before we were done. Some of our faves were Peep and the Big Wide World (you can watch full episodes on their website for free) and starfall.com is awesome and free! Just a couple things I can think of off the top of my head. :) Enjoy yourself!
Alex 8 Gabby 6 (Homeborn!) Gideon 2.... chickens, ducks, cats and a dog
This is what we're planning for kindy this fall. http://canticlesbycandlelight.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/kindergarten-ready-set-go/
I think most of what we will learn will be through reading and hands on activities. We just started doing the "lessons" from "An Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading" and my kids think those are fun. I think I may purchase a HWOT book for practice. I had a lot of tears when I was teaching my oldest to write, hoping to avoid that. I am nervous about math though. I definitely will be having structured math time. I did not really develop a solid foundation when I was in K and struggled to keep up all through school. I don't know if we will homeschool forever so I want him to at least be at grade level for math. I am looking at Rightstart or Singapore (leaning heavily towards Rightstart).