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Homeschooling

The First Three Months: what we’ve been doing, and how far we’ve come

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I was intimidated to start homeschooling. Teaching the kids read and put their thoughts down on paper is probably the thing that stresses me out the most concerning homeschooling. I want my children to be voracious readers, to write clearly and willingly, and to enjoy doing both! I figured that at the least, I couldn’t mess up kindergarten THAT bad, considering Bug already had all the “required” kindergarten knowledge down before I started.

With Bug, I had the benefit of not having to do the work from “scratch”. He attended a head start preschool for 8 months before I pulled him out (issues with bullies, both students and parents) and he attended kindergarten at a public school for two months before I decided that I was done thinking about and wishing I could home school him and just DO it. It wasn’t an easy decision to make.

When we started with him, he had a strong grasp with phonics, could write 95 percent of his letters clearly, was able to count to 10, and was very well spoken, with a fantastic vocabulary. Today, after three months of diligent work, he can write and spell simple phonetic words independently, can read simple sentences and picture books (think hop on pop and the foot book). He can also count and write up to 100, and today, tested out of (proved mastery of) addition facts to 12. I cannot believe how far he has come!

He’s done such an amazing job that we have run out of kindergarten resources, so I am taking the lead from some of my awesome new home school friends and moving him along to new materials based on his readiness, rather than what the public school kids are doing.

We have found many fantastic resources to help us along, and I’ll admit, we have spent a pretty penny on curriculum and aids to teach. I have tried very, very hard to only choose materials that I can reuse with Little Man and Miss Em when their time comes, or use “spines” that will last us through elementary school. We are planning on homeschooling as long as it is going well, ideally through middle school with all the kids (I’ll talk about high school when we get there, but I’m not sold on THAT yet). It helps a little bit to divide the cost by three when I talk to Dad about getting materials!

For Language Arts, we have been using Handwriting Without Tears, Explode the Code, TAG Learn to Read Books, Leapfrog Phonics movies, Alphabet Magnets, Duplos blocks turned into letter builders, Progressive Phonics Readers, and Starfall.com with their workbook and some of Moving Beyond the Page 5-7 Environments.(oh my gosh, it looks like SO much when I type it out like that).

For Math, we have been using Math Mammoth 1-A (light blue), Dreambox Learning, a good old fashioned 100 bead abacus, Base 10 blocks, and some of the principles from Math U See Teachers Guide (alpha).

I’m working on a review of these things for you, but in the meantime, let’s just say I am thrilled with the results. I don’t know if it’s the curriculum, the kid (who is pretty amazing if I do say so myself), the dynamics of our homeschooling situation, or what, but I have absolutely no complaints about our homeschooling journey so far.

Dad may have a few, but only if you count the state of my Kitchen, which was never that clean before we started homeschooling, so it doesn’t count.

Bug isn’t just learning, he’s thriving. Little Man is maturing (oh so slowly, he’s our wild child!) and is learning as well. Our relationships have improved, our whole family has benefited from embracing a lifestyle of learning, and we are all happy with the big changes we’ve made (more on those changes later!).

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