So, I jumped into the homeschooling pond feet first right after the holiday break. I'm so very unprepared. I have three sons who are 6, 7 and 9 years old. They are eager little boys who love to learn. My confidence needs boosting that I can give them enough opportunities to learn. I would love to find a curriculum that would help guide me. We are a very low media family and spend much of our time outside. I like to keep things simple and usually tend towards the more Waldorfy side of learning. My sons love stories. My 9 year old loves to read and my 7 and 6 year old are on similar levels with reading. They love listening to me read as well as audio books.
So, my questions.... is there a good place to go to research curriculums? Are there curriculums that work well with multiple children and ones that you wouldn't recommend for working with three? Any ideas or thoughts would be so appreciated.
Please let me know if there is more information that I didn't provide that would help you guide me. If there are curriculums that you've loved please also share those with me.
Thanks so much!
Here are the main Waldorf curriculums:
*Live Education!: You need to put a lot of time and effort to make this work for you. I think it's best suited to those whom lean towards unschooling.
*Christopherus: I use this and love it!! This is a complete curriculum, but you do need to add in music/foreign language. It's detailed enough, but gives plenty of room to add your own flavor.
*A Little Garden Flower: Very similar to Christopherus, but MUCH cheaper and MUCH less detailed(from what I've heard).
*Oak Meadow: I'm not comfortable calling this a true Waldorf curriculum, though it is based on Waldorf somewhat. It's like a mainstream version of Waldorf I guess you can say. This curriculum is very detailed, almost no extra work needed here.
I know there's at least one more but my mind is done for the day...
Maybe Earthschooling is the other one you're thinking of?
The trick with Waldorf and multiple ages is that it's so specifically programmed for each individual year, it could be tricky to do them together. Not impossible, of course, but in any case it wouldn't be 'pure' Waldorf to do so. Whether or not that matters to you, is up to you. ;)
Since you say you all love reading and literature, another 'branch' to look into might be Charlotte Mason style homeschooling. The emphasis is on learning through 'living books' - engaging literature, rather than dry textbooks. Rather than question-and-answer worksheets, learning is expressed through narration (basically repeating back from the book in your own words, which evolves over the years from oral to written, and can also be expressed through drawing or other media as well). It's not as fairy-oriented as Waldorf, if you know what I mean, but being out in nature as much as possible, and reducing media consumption, is still very important to the concept.
You won't find any Charlotte Mason boxed curricula -- just guides. Ambleside online is a primary source of guidance, and I think Simply Charlotte Mason is another. There are also email groups through yahoo to chat with experienced families.
There are some subject-specific curricula out there, however, that are Charlotte Mason friendly. I'm thinking for instance of NOEO Science and History Odyssey, though there are certainly others (these are ones we use ourselves so I can speak from experience). One thing I love about these programs is that they are NOT grade-specific, but aimed at a RANGE. So they're much easier to present to multiple children.
They're organized by subject rather than by grade. In HO, for instance, there's Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern Times within each level. You would generally start with Ancients at either level I or II or III, depending on your age, and progress chronologically through, and then repeat the cycle when you're older at a higher level. In NOEO, there's Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. The order you do them in doesn't matter. Every 3 years (if you're proceeding religiously) the cycle repeats, and gets more indepth at each level.
There are other options out there which are aimed at a range rather than a specific grade. Teacher's Book Bags (through currclick) come in, if I recall correctly, K-2, 3-5, and 6+. So you could at least get your 6 and 7yo together. Hands of a Child is a maker of lapbook manuals, if your boys are crafty they might enjoy that, and they're also aimed at a range. Even things like the books from Critical Thinking Co are aimed at ranges. Basically, if you have kids of 2 or even 3 different ages working the same material, you'll just expect the older one to produce a bit more of a response -- either more quantity (eg write a little longer) or more quality (eg more perceptive observations, better spelling (hee), more detail, etc).
For now, though, don't rush into anything. Take alllll the time you need to research it properly. Some deschooling time is very valuable, practically essential, if your kids were previously in school. Let them read and play outside, formal schooling can wait until you've got your head wrapped around it. :) When you are ready, many of these suggested options offer sample pages to try, so you can see if it works for you before purchasing. Or something like Ambleside has no actual cost to you -- other than any books you might choose to buy (as opposed to borrowing from the library). And of course, remember than as homeschoolers you are FREE -- free to try stuff, free to *reject* stuff if it's not working, free to try something else entirely. Free to experiment, free to take a break, free to do extra and free to do less. :)
Story of the World is a history program that would probably work well to do with all 3 boys. You just start with the Ancient times book for all 3, and go from there. You get one book that you read aloud from, and the activity book has lots of good go along activities and you can get extra student pages if you want them all to be able to do all the coloring pages.
Rainbowresource.com is a great place to find tons of choices with parent reviews of the products, and they will send you a huge catalog to look at if you request it.
Thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses. I definitely will look into the programs that you guys referenced. It's so nice to have others who know different curriculums respond!
Also, thanks for the reminder to take it slow. I think I'm a bit anxious as I have family and friends that doubt our choice and so I jumped into the world of "stressed out homeschooling mama" pretty quickly once I started hearing of their dissatisfaction.
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