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#1 of 14 Old 10-02-2005, 06:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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things did not go too well. Hi all, I am new to the forum and hate to make my first post about a "problem", Lol, but here goes....

I am 33 and a stay at home mom of 6...ages 10. 8, 6, 4, 3 & 3. My dh and I decided to send the kids back to school this year after a very stressful homeschooling experience last year. I was primarily responsible for teaching the kids and I just felt totally overwhelmed. My 6 year old (then 5) went to kindergartedn in public school while I had the other children at home. I purchased a well know set of curriculum (workbook style) for both of the older children and we all found it to be very boring and things went downhill from there. I felt totally confused about what they should be learning and how long we should be spending on each subject. The winter months were also very long(we are in Michigan and it is very cold and snowy) and it was often difficult to find things for the kids to do without spending a lot of money every week. There are homeschool groups in our area, but many were far away or practiced strict religious guidelines which we were not fond of. I guess I am at a loss as to how to develop a curriculum that is interesting and most of all organized. I am the type of person who does well with some type of guidelines or "directions" to follow. I felt lost and I was constantly changing our curriculum. After all was said and done, I did notice improvements in many areas for both kids, but I still came away from the experience feeling like I had failed.

I am finding that the same things that we removed our kids from public school for in the first place, are of course still present. My oldest DD will be starting the middle grades next year and we already know that we don't want her attending the local middle school.

HELP! How do I develop a plan/curriculum that works for us, stay organized and not feel so overwhelmed with the responsibilites of homeschooling? How do you formulate a schedule and what committments do you have or things you to keep you on some type of schedule?
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#2 of 14 Old 10-02-2005, 07:28 PM
 
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Welcome to MDC

Our boys are enrolled in the local public school right now, even though I know they are not being challenged academically, this among a myriad of other reasons why I should pull them out and homeschool but haven't...not yet.

I think the concerns you have are ones shared by a lot of homeschoolers, especially when you are new to it.

It sounds like you were doing okay, the usual juggling around trying to find a fit for you and your children. I get very nervous every time I start to prepare for the possibility of pulling my boys out of public school....will I mess up, not teach them enough, teach too much. Then I think about all of the wasted time spent in school. Time spent waiting for the other children to finish their work so the class can move on and so forth. So much more can be accomplished at home, more than in a class of 20-30 kids.

I'm sure someone here with more experience than I will give you some good advice.

Good Luck
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#3 of 14 Old 10-02-2005, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the encouragement! I researched, read and researched some more before finally deciding to remove my kids from public school. I thought I had all of my ducks in a row, but by nature I am not a very organized individual. I thought that by having the prepackaged curriculum I would have half the battle won, so to speak. My kids seem more well rounded on the activity front, as school gives them extra curricular things to do that don't necessarily cost an arm and a leg. My oldest DD is in band and my oldest DS is in the young astrounauts program. I was hard pressed to find these types of activities for them that were near our home.

I know that homeschooling is a wonderful way to educate my children, I just need to know how to do it successfully!
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#4 of 14 Old 10-02-2005, 08:34 PM
 
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Gosh, I wouldn't know what advice to give with the number and ages of children you have, but I wanted to offer my support and encouragement for whatever that's worth! I know there are some moms of larger families here -- hopefully they will have some words of wisdom for you.
Just brainstorming a bit: I wonder if maybe the older children could help construct their own curriculum? Some families do unit studies -- those seem to be adaptable to various ages, although they intimidate me personally! (I'm not all that organized either.)

I note that you are from Michigan, as am I. I'm in the Lansing area, so if you are nearby, you're welcome to PM me and I can let you know about the non-religious groups and resources that I know of around here. I know of a group in Marshall, MI also. Beyond that, someone else will have to help you! Michigan is a great state for homeschooling -- you can take your time to work out a plan that fits your family without the presures of having to prove a certain level of progress or achievement. I hope you hit on something that works for you!

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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#5 of 14 Old 10-02-2005, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Stephanie...thanks for the encouragement. I live in a suburb of the Detroit area, Southfield, and lansing is about 1 1/2 hours away from me (I think ). The groups I had come accross in the past were in your area, the Ann Arbor area and the Ypsilanti area...all a bit far since I have the younger ones. I met some really nice moms on the homeschooling board but at the time my Oldest DS was suffering from a horrible sinus abcess, asthma and allergies...we finally got his medical issues worked out, but by then I had lost contact with those I met online. One of the moms frequently emailed me and called, but unfortunately she proved to be a bit "scary" in regard to her personal life so needless to say, I kind of backed off. Anyhow, I am determined to figure things out so that next school year we are on the right track!
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#6 of 14 Old 10-02-2005, 09:00 PM
 
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I think that part of the problem is that different things work for different families and no body can tell you what will really work for you and your family. We are eclectic and I pull together different resources for my kids. It works really well for us, but it is time comsuming for me and I'm not sure how practical it would be with 6 kids!!!

This fall one of the moms organized a homeschooling weekly spotlight. Each week a different mom is blogging her about what they do each day. Because different moms here HS in different ways, it is a wealth of information. Read back through the old ones for more ideas.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#7 of 14 Old 10-02-2005, 09:11 PM
 
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Have you read some of the "fly-on the wall" type books, in which multiple families give a sunup to sundown account of a typical (for them) HSing day? I'm thinking of Nancy Lande's "A Patchwork of Days" and "Homeschool Open House" ( a 5-year follow-up to the first book), and Rhonda Barfield's "Real Life Homeschooling". They're fascinating reading, and you might get some ideas and inspiration, as many of those interviewed have large families. All of these are available from Amazon.

BTW, which curriculum did you use?
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#8 of 14 Old 10-02-2005, 09:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I used Alpha Omega LifePacs. The kids found the curriculum boring. Later in the year I began using Language Arts through Literature and found that my Oldest DD loved it. So I did find one thing I will probably stick with. I will definitely read through the "fly on the wall" writings as that will probably be pretty helpful. I read Rhonda Barfield's book and that book was one of the things that gave me my final push to start homeschooling. I loved how each family chronicled what they were doing. I also read Jill or Lisa Whelan's (Blair from the facts of life sitcom; not sure if I have her name right, LOL) book where she visits and "has coffee" with several different types of homeschooling moms.

Unschooling seems like it fits my style a little bit better and would probably work well with the different ages I have but I get a bit nervous about whether I would be covering what they "need" to know. I think I will also research unit studies a bit more. Does anyone have any suggestions for a Unit Studies program?
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#9 of 14 Old 10-03-2005, 11:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyof6
I get a bit nervous about whether I would be covering what they "need" to know. I think I will also research unit studies a bit more. Does anyone have any suggestions for a Unit Studies program?
We used Five in a Row for awhile and my kids really liked it.

http://www.fiveinarow.com/

As far as what kids need to know, I think my kids need to be able to read well, express themselves in writing, and be comfortable with math. I don't buy into grade levels for those things but I do want to see my kids progressing at rates that are comfortable for them.

For other things (history, science, geography, etc.) we use real books, field trips, hands on experiences, etc.

I really don't worry about covering everything because I feel that if my kids retain their love of learning and develop their basic skills (reading writing math) then they will be able to learn what ever they need in life.

Some one said education is the kindling of a fire, not the filling of a bucket and I try to keep that in mind when deciding how to approach a subject with my kids. I think that when we get too hung up on what they *need* to know, we are thinking of with what and how much to fill a bucket, rather than figuring out how to kindle a fire.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#10 of 14 Old 10-03-2005, 11:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyof6
Unschooling seems like it fits my style a little bit better and would probably work well with the different ages I have but I get a bit nervous about whether I would be covering what they "need" to know.
A book that really helped me get comfortable with unschooling was "Homeschooling Our Children Unschooling Ourselves" by Alison McKee. To me unschooling is all about having faith that your child will learn what he/she needs to know, given the opportunity to do so.
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#11 of 14 Old 10-03-2005, 11:52 AM
 
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Homeschooling can be so overwhelming, especially at the beginning. Don't expect to pick the perfect curriculum for all of your children the first time you try. And don't even expect the perfect curriculum for one child to work for all the others. With a lot of kids, you'll need to be pretty forgiving of yourself in terms of time spent actually schooling; I think you'll spend a lot of time not doing what looks like schooling for a couple of years.

When we started homeschoooling, my oldest and I would be crying by the end of every day. My dh finally suggested that we throw away the curriculum that we bought and just do individual subjects--like phonics and math. I have found that, especially in the beginning for each child, that worked for us. I think that reading and math are crucial, and so we spend a lot of time on those two subjects. By the time the children are in middle school, we follow what more closely resembles a school curriculum--although not a school day. In high school, we do a lot of formal subjects to prepare for college.

But it doesn't matter what anyone else does. You and your family will have to learn (maybe slowly and painfully) what works for you. Don't give up. My entirely homeschooled college freshman daughter tells me how glad she is that she was homeschooled and how restrictive college seems to her.

Let your heart and your knowledge of your children be your guide.
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#12 of 14 Old 10-03-2005, 03:38 PM
 
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For unschooling, definitely check out John Holt's Learning All the Time. In fact, I think all parents should read it, not just the home/unschoolers.

As for unit studies, the Rainbow Resource Catalog contains several unit studies, including ones based on the Little House series, the Chronicles of Narnia, pirates, and more. FYI, many, but not all, of their products are overtly Christian, so if that matters to you one way or the other, you'll want to double check before ordering (for example, A Reason for Handwriting uses scripture for every lesson, but Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting uses no scripture at all.)

I think the "best" unit studies follow the children's own interests, but I think I'd want to start out with a prepackaged one before trying to make my own. (I've never done it, and haven't read much about them, so maybe it's not as daunting as I think it might be. )

Ulrike, mom to:
Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)
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#13 of 14 Old 10-03-2005, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, I am sorry that I wasn't aware of this message board last school year. You all have been very helpful and I appreciate the encouragement. I have already begun to check out the info provided!

Tracy
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#14 of 14 Old 10-04-2005, 03:25 AM
 
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Mommyof6
Here are some excellent articles to introduce you into the world of unschooling. All by my favorite Jan Hunt. (The Natural Child Project)
Get hubby to read them as well. See what he thinks. I say this because if this feels right to you, it's always a good idea to have both of you on the same page.

Enjoy!

Deschooling a Parent: Learning to Trust
by Jan Hunt
http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/deschooling.html

How do Homeschooling Parents Know their Children are Learning?
by Jan Hunt
http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/evaluation.html

Nurturing Children’s Natural Love of Learning
by Jan Hunt, M.Sc.
http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/unschooling.html
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