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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need to vent big time. I'm in tears here! I am so frustrated - I just got home from our city's big homeschooling curriculum fair and I'm more confused than ever. My plan was to come home with a curriculum in hand - not with a sore brain!
I have NO idea what I want to use for DS (first grade, will be 6 in Nov.) next year.

Here are some conclusions I've come to: (currently) he's somewhat behind in phonics/reading and letter writing (of course, depending on what curriculum you compare him to), ahead in math - totally ready for 1st grade stuff, he hates handwriting stuff and his writing is pretty sad. I honestly couldn't tell you if I think unit studies would click better with him rather than classical worksheet stuff, or if we should go with a big name curriculum like Bob Jones. At times I think maybe I should just go with what's popular/recommended because it's "safe" but I don't know if he or I would even like it! Ah, the woes of having done Kindergarten on our own!
If I had started him with Bob Jones K5 then he'd be ready for BJ grade 1 = easy decision. I don't think I can go with a complete curriculum from anywhere because it would be too discouraging. I guess I'm gonna have to swallow my pride and pick and choose some subjects at Kindergarten level and others at 1st grade level.

Another factor is cost. That stuff is so stinkin' expensive it's ridiculous. When you look at the # of books that you'd get in a box...outrageous. I guess I could comfort myself in that we didn't hardly spend anything for K5. I so want to be done with this and have in my possession next year's stuff so I could be familiarizing myself with it (and relax!). I feel like I did a lousy job this past year. I shouldn't have been so wishy-washy when he didn't want to write his letters. Or maybe I should have been creative and made it fun. That's how I would want to learn.

I need an expert to come live with us for a week and tell me what he needs! My brain is too tired for all of this. I'm starting to get a lousy attitude and forget the reason behind all of this. HELP!!!!!!!!! Someone come kick me in the butt or something. This mama is malfunctioning! I think I'm short-circuiting!

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Okay, take a deep breath, you've done fine.

As you've already noticed, he's only "ahead" or "behind" depending on which curriculum you're comparing him to. Your ds is right on track for himself. There is no universal bar with which to measure him, at any age. You already know this, but as a reminder, these publishers of school-books are there to make money. They have a vested interest in making you think you *NEED* their materials. It's easy to get caught up in that, but fight it.

"Ah, the woes of having done Kindergarten on our own! If I had started him with Bob Jones K5 then he'd be ready for BJ grade 1 = easy decision."

Not necessarily. Just because you would have covered certain material, doesn't mean he would have mastered it. This is what happens in school--kids finish a certain number of pages and then get sent on to the next grade, ready or not. One of the benefits of hsing is that kids can learn at their own pace!

"I don't think I can go with a complete curriculum from anywhere because it would be too discouraging. I guess I'm gonna have to swallow my pride and pick and choose some subjects at Kindergarten level and others at 1st grade level. "

Well, you don't have to choose ANY curriculum, but if you really want to, maybe you could reframe this. Where is the "pride" in knowing that your child fits the cookie-cutter mold of curriculum publishers? He's an individual and by hsing, you're allowing him to develop into the unique person that he is, in his own time, in his own way. So what if he doesn't write at the age of 6? If he's got the opportunity and tools to do it, but doesn't, most likely he just isn't ready yet. Forcing the issue will only make it frustrating for both of you and he may learn to dislike writing.

Now that you've seen many of the products that are out there, take some time to just see your son--where he's at, what his interests are. Throw away the idea of what he "should" know at this age. It's fabricated. For now, if he wants to create a story or a letter or whatever, you can take dictation from him. When he wants to learn to write, you can show him how if he needs it. It will come easier and more quickly if you wait until he's ready.

It'll be okay.

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I just want to say I sympathize!
Sometimes the thing I dislike the most about HS is that I feel so freaking responsible for her failures. (but why I dont take a compliment about her strengths, i dont know!)
Anyhow, When I feel like this the most, I try to relax, write out a list of what we do do- (and then I realize we are doing lots of great stuff). And I do my mantra of worrying is not helpful.

Also, remember that some kids develope things at diff rates. In my expereince boys develope writing later. If he isnt interested- i think you willhave ahard time getting him to do it regardless of what curriculum you use!
Our major writing thing is writing letters to family and friends. its the only thing thats motivated her. the rest just annoys her!

Try ebay for lower curriculum costs. My library does interlibrary loan from other libraries, and I have gotten curriculums to look at and decide what I think. Also, do you ahve a homeschool bookstore you can go to for awhile and try to talk to them/ look at the curriculum more.

I have never left a curriculum fair with anything but a headache too. There is not enough time to decide, and there is always a pressure (internally) to buy, and its such a commintment!

take care

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How about choosing something simple and cheap like Five in A Row ? Literature based , very easy and it's FUN. Our library has copies of the curriculum that I then photocopy on their machine. Then we borrow the book we need and we spend the next week or two having great fun.

When you homeschool there is no such thing as behind or ahead. It's what works for your individual child. You'll also find as you go along that re-teaching concepts is a big part of hs'ing. We go over nouns/verbs it seems like every month. It just comes up. "mom is 'boat' a verb ?" Things like that. Take it as it comes. You are on the right track.

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my advice is when you don't know what to buy, don't buy anything at all & count your blessings you did not get talked into an $$$ boxed set of books just to make yourself feel better like you have met dc needs through buying stuff for him

if you had seen something that was right for your ds you would have brought it home with you
trust your own judgement here no reason you have to buy right now, there is no deadline for bringing home books

you have the freedom to select/tailor materials for your ds and focus on that as a gift, a blessing not a burden KWIM??
your ability to discriminate what will be good fit and what will not is shown in your post

we have hsed long enough and I have abackground in el ed, when I looked at materials this year for my own dc, it is plain to me that one man's idea of Kndgn curricula is another man's scope & sequence for 1st grade

many curriculum companies objectives for P/K/1/2 materials overlap
many items out there marketed as 1st grade curricula are actually 2nd grade working level, some Kngdn materials IME are at a 1st grade reading level
the whole shebang depends on the company marketing it

your dc has not failed ********the stupid system has failed ALL our dc these days by pushing them in certain subject areas, focusing on remedial areas, instead of in depth meaningful learning activities in other areas, by trying to make their learning experiences into labeled defined age/grade groupings
take pride in your happy healthy well adjusted child

the best way to get ready for next year is to look at what you did this year before setting new goals and write out for YOURSELF not ds what worked and then what seemed to work for the dc

what did you use last year? for reading and math
what did he like most about that, was he happy to be through witht he curricula or sad the book was finished?
what were his three fave things he remembers doing last school year that he talks about now?
what was your fave thing the two of you learned together?

build from the foundation you started last year to make a strong base

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I agree with Joan. Your son is only "behind" according to curriculum developers, and a bunch of suits in government buildings who have no relationships with real children, or real teaching.

If your son is going to be 6 in November, that means he would be starting Kindergarten this fall in 42 out of the 50 states. Kindergarten - not 1st grade. He is not behind in reading, or phonics, or writing, because beginning Kindergarteners are not expected to be reading, or doing phonics, or writing.

If you are homeschooling, you do not have to assign him a grade level anyway. Many many many homeschooled children do not start reading until later - 8, 9 or older, and studies have shown that homeschooled children who have learned to read later catch up with and often surpass their schooled peers.

Have you read Dorothy and Raymond Moore's information? I gained a lot of confidence in our approach from reading their books. A good one to start with is "Better Late Than Early." They were pioneers in the homeschooling movement, and speak from decades of experience guiding thousands of homeschoolers through their journeys. They recommend starting formal academics with children between 8 and 12 years of age, depending upon the child.

I hope I'm not coming on too strong. I just feel so frustrated with curriculum developers and standard keepers who make parents feel that their children are behind. It's just not true!

At the turn of the 20th century, children were not expected to start to learn to read until 7 or 8. At the turn of the 21st, they are expected to learn to read at 5. The shift toward early reading is political in nature - it's not because our brains have evolved in that short period of time! LOL!


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This is why I avoid curriculum fairs -- I find having too many choices stressful. I think that's why small catalogs like Timberdoodle do so well. You just have a few choices of curriculum per subject instead of dozens upon dozens.

I think Vanna's Mom had some excellent ideas, as usual. Analyzing what went well and why is very helpful, as is analyzing mistakes. There's no shame in making a mistake, btw. That's how we learn.

Another random comment -- the other day at the post office I was standing behind a guy who said he didn't start school until he was 8. He looked to be around 80 or so, so that would put him in the group Laura just mentioned (turn of 20th century).

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh, you gals are making me cry! You are so sweet, I just wanna hug each one of you.

Thanks for bringing me back down to earth, friends. I think I was just SO frazzled from that stupid curriculum fair that it was hard to see the forest for the trees! I have to keep focus! But sometimes ya just need some friends (albeit strangers
) to remind you.

I think I feel a lot of pressure from my mom. I vented to her last night about not being sure whether to buy K5 or gr1 stuff and her response was "you mean he didn't finish all his Kindergarten???" I think she's stuck in the mindset that HS'd kids are automatically more advanced (in academics). I need a good book to throw at her (um, I mean ask her to read!)

Thanks again for the kind words of encouragement. You Mothering Mamas sure know how to pick up a wounded fellow mama!


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I agree with those ladies but I would like to recommend a few things. For K make your focus main goal the basics, reading, writing, and math.

1. Phonics Pathways by Dolores G. Hiskes. Work through it and see what and if your child is missing any basic reading skills. Then decide on "readers" there is Bob Books and real books. Don't forget to check your library for phonics readers. Good set of alphabet magnets might be nice.
2. Handwritting Without tears teachers manual for "Letters and Me" There are a lot of tips in there to help with actual penmanship. I know someone on this board dislikes the program but it goes give a lot of good information on how to get good writing. I would not doubt that your child is NORMAL for his age and you have unreasonable expectations, boys often lag behind in this area. You can print stuff off the net if you want for other programs and you will be two will be fine. Chalk board/art easle I would strongely encourage if you don't have.
3. For math go to your library and find books on math games. Make investments on manipulative like geoboards, some type of cuisenaire rod, tangrams (SP), and a few I cannot think of right now. Use math in everyday language and games. Let him play with these things.

Take time to learn were your child's strength and weakness are. Learn which ways he learns best. If writing is a struggle then work on fine motor skills (there is plenty of activities on the net that are free to help build these). Many kids (boys esspecially) lag behind in this area. Do things orally!

Read, Read, Read to your child. Get out of the age group he is in. He can understand more than you think he can. By picking "harder" books you can cover a wide array of history and science.

*********I agree with the others about Better late than Early but I also use The Well Trained Mind. Even if my children are not on the writing level it is a good source books titles and topics. It has given me a general idea of which way to go but I still am flexible to my kids desires to what to learn. I don't use it as a bible, and I take the aurthors advice (REMEMBER THIS: YOU CANNOT DO IT ALL!) Five in a Row might help you get some guidance.

Dorling Kindersley, Usborne, National Geographic, and Kingfisher all have history and science encyclopedias. Check them out from library books see which ones you like and dislike. Explore them with your child and find the topics and interest you want to learn about. Your library most likely has book for craft (or science) project ideas that will match your child far better than a boxed curriculum will.

There are many books like this one, Ancient Greece!: 40 Hands-On Activities to Experience This Wondrous Age (Kaleidoscope Kids) by Avery Hartthat can give you ideas of projects you can do with your child to learn what he is interested in. (I used that book as an example. I am neither recommending or discouraging it. I just want you to realize there are free, cheap, and better options out there than the boxed curriculums. Your library most likely has something similar to it on the self. Ask your library for help.)

Remember no matter what curriculum you use you won't cover it all
Not even schools cover it all.

In K most of the learning should be done by playing.

Edited to add this though: None of my kids have ever match the boxed curriculum either. I think your child is normal.
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