a new adventure: homeschooling

Now that we’re home, we are enjoying our final days of summer before school begins.  This year, along with getting Ace ready for fourth grade, we’re also beginning a new adventure–homeschooling Lucky for Kindergarten.

It all caught us by surprise, but we are preparing ourselves and plan to tackle the challenge head on!  It’s a bit of a story…  In order to get accepted into Harvard, where Ace attends, the students are tested and have to score a certain amount of points, even if they are a sibling.  So, Lucky tested, and did really well, but was placed on a waiting list.  We were hopeful he would get in, since being on the waiting list is fairly common.  Unfortunately, there was yet another budget cut at the end of the year and an entire Kindergarten unit was cut, eliminating 18 spots and placing him even further down on the list and basically making it highly unlikely to get in for the 2013-14 school year.

So, my options were either sending him to another elementary school or homeschooling.  Having them at two different schools was virtually impossible.  I have a hard enough time (and a long enough commute) taking Ace back and forth from different activities and school functions, as it is.  Especially, since DH travels so much throughout the school year.   I thought about just pulling Ace and sending them both to another school, but the programs at Harvard are almost untouchable and I felt that if I transferred him, I would be cheating him in the long run.  His FCAT scores and grades for this coming year will determine if he gets into the IB program again for middle school and I didn’t want to compromise that.

Shopping for School Supplies

Ultimately, (told you it was a long story), we decided homeschooling Lucky was the best option, at least for this year.  We’ll see what happens by June.  Maybe, I’ll love homeschooling and decide I want to do it long term or maybe I’ll decide that public school is the better option.  Only time will tell.  Personally, I’m elated to have him home for another year, but I’m being very careful to make all of my decisions based on what is best for him in the long run, not myself.  As a mom, it’s so easy to develop unhealthy attachments, isn’t it?  There is such a fine line between keeping them close to protect them and not allowing them to gain independence and experience life.  It’s hard letting them venture off into life when we know how unfair it can be.

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We’re also getting ready for our Night Before School party.  Lucky is super excited to be officially participating this year and even though he’s not attending school, I want to make sure that his first day of Kindergarten is as special as it should be!  I’m making sure to do all of the traditions I started with Ace for both of them this year.

We went to the outlets and got both of them new school shoes, and we raided Target for school supplies and new backpacks.  On Friday, we’ll head to the supermarket and the library to pick up all the things we need for our party and we’ll spend Saturday getting it all ready.

I’m also trying to figure out the best place to create a school room.  Our guest room isn’t used that often, so I might arrange his desk and everything in there.  Or maybe in my new office.  We’ll see.

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Of course, this all called for an extra large planner, which I picked up on sale at Barnes & Noble the minute we got back into town.  I’ve been googling the keys off of my computer trying to figure out which curriculum to use, or if applying for virtual public school is still considered homeschooling…  Lists are my saving grace, and my desk is now covered in them.  I’m just trying to patiently figure it all out before the first day of school…

In the meantime, I would LOVE some suggestions and tips from all of you who are seasoned homeschoolers!  I am in completely uncharted territory here and need all the help I can get!   So, HELP!

Comments

  1. Genevieve says:

    First of all, you can do this! Nobody knows your child better than you do!

    My suggestions for Kindergaretn (I have to think back… It’s been a few years)

    Math: We like Saxon. The Teacher’s manual is scripted, so that helps me a lot. It’s pretty comprehensive and hits all kinds of math topics. The workbooks aren’t colorful and there are no pictures, but it seems to work well for our family.

    Language Arts: I taught my kids to read using BOB books which you can buy at Costco, but there are books like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and The Ordinary Parents’ Guide to Teaching Reading which some families use. These books are also scripted.

    For handwriting, Imdont think it gets better than Handwriting Without Tears

    Are you planning to do History and Scoence as well?

    One more quick recommendation… Confessions of a Homeschooler has a comprehensive Kindergarten curriculum for download: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/k4-curriculum

    I love her materials. It’s pretty inexpensive too and might provide a gentle introduction to school for Lucky.

    There also an Eastern Orthodox Homeschoolers Facebook group… Oh yes, and the St Raphael Orthodox School which is an online program.

    Good luck!

  2. I am so glad to see this post. I, like you, wanted my kiddo to go to a great school (ours was a montessori school) and he didn’t get in (they use a lottery system). I went with a ‘K12′ curriculum based virtual public school. I thought that it would give me a chance to see how I did with the ‘homeschooling’ thing without having to chose my own curriculum just yet. My biggest fear about homeschooling is/was the curriculum.What does he need to know??? About a week before school started, I found the core curriculum for our state. Of course, after that I was finding it everywhere. You can search pinterest for ‘core curriculum’ materials and find a lot. There’s tons of good stuff on pinterest from teachers and other homeschooling parents. Also, http://www.teacherspayteachers.com is an awesome resource.
    We are doing ok with the virtual school, but I feel held back. My son is a fast and advanced learner. I also have a 4 year-old that I am wanting to homeschool in pre-school. So I’d really like to create my own schedule but because our school is a public school our kindergartener has to attend 5 days a week.
    Also, if I do/did homeschool, I would like an Orthodox curriculum or at least time to teach our faith. There are Orthodox homeschoolers and Orthodox virtual schools. One blog I found said they use A Beka curriculum. They are based in Pensacola. So maybe this year will give me a chance to work on all of this.
    Finally, there are homeschooling laws in your state/county?/city? that you have to follow. You can look up the homeschooling association and they will help you. If I had it to do over, I would just flat out homeschool this year.
    Good luck in your homeschooling. I can’t wait for more posts. I am 7 years new to the Orthodox faith and I am a deacon’s wife. This has been a steep learning curve between learning the faith, how to be mother and a deacon’s wife. Your blog has helped me tremendously! Thank you! Yours in Christ, Elizabeth (Erica)

  3. Rebecca S. says:

    Your comment that you want to do all the traditions even though Lucky isn’t attending school … but he **is** attending school, it just happens to be at home! :-)

    Having done both having a “school-room” and schooling in the living room and at the kitchen table, I would say that it depends on how compartmentalized you want your school to be. I find for our life, as long as everything gets picked up and put away at the end of the day, it works well for us to do a lot of our school day at the kitchen table, and a lot at a little floor table (daughter has one where she sits on the floor and her “desk” is a table that looks like a bear). This way I can be working at what I need to do during my day, while she is doing the self-study portions of her work, and I can be readily available when she has questions, and to make sure she stays on task.

  4. Mat. Melanie says:

    We are also homeschooling. For our family it’s a yearly decision. For now we are using My Fathers World for second grade and kindergarten. We looked at virtual schools but being that we are unsure how long we will be in Pa since hubby is in his last year at seminary we thought have an actual homeschool curriculum would allow us the flexibility to adjust to his schedule. Next year we will reexamine based on where we end up.

  5. I feel that is among the so much important info for me. And i am glad studying your article. However should statement on few normal things, The website taste is ideal, the articles is truly nice : D. Good task, cheers

  6. You’re so awesome! I have no idea about homeschooling, but I read a blog called Bleubird Vintage, and she homeschools all her children and has written about it. Best of luck! You’re such an inspiring mama!

  7. How exciting! There are so many resources on blogs and pinterest these days. For K, focus on letters, phonics, simple math, etc. Since Ace as already gone through this school, you should have a good idea of what to expect for Lucky’s next year once he gets in. Try not to work too far ahead if you are planning to re-apply for next year. All the best!!

  8. I’m a fairly new reader here and had to click back to the “Harvard” post to get some background on the school, but oh man! I am so interested to see how you will supplement the kindergarten homeschool curriculum with the background knowledge of actually having your other son enrolled previously. So excited to see how it progresses and may God bless this new journey for you!

  9. My humble opinion about homeschooling is that it is so much more that academics. It is building a bond with your own children. God has entrusted me with these, his little children and it is my obligation to return them back to Him knowing I have done my best. Children’s Garden of the Theotokos is a brilliant curriculum and along with a solid Math curriculum, such as Math-U-see, you should be just fine. Don’t get trapped into thinking the more he knows the better it is. Children need love and a and to know God. The rest, they will learn as they grow….

  10. The Orthodox classical homeschoolers Yahoo group is very active and has a lot of great resources. Since you’re doing K I also highly recommend the Children’s Garden of the Theotokos curriculum that can be found at anaphorapress.com It’s absolutely wonderful and can be adapted for many ages.

    There are so many curriculum choices out there that it can be overwhelming at first as you try to figure out what will work best. A commetor above recommended Saxon math, but I would recommend something very different, so you’ll have to figure out what you want and what really helped me was Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 Homeschool Picks. She outlines all the major homeschool philosophies/methods and lists curricula that fit pretty well into those categories. She also recommends further reading for each different style to learn more about each one.

    One other resource that had been really helpful for me in helping me to form my philosophy of education, especially as an Orthodox Christian, is the circeinstitute.org website. There are lots of great posts and lectures available there that really help to verify what I want my goals in education to be. I hope you find some of this helpful. Good luck on your journey!

  11. http://www.nathhan.com/featseason.htm

    Around the time I began homeschooling, I encountered this site. It says this “It’s interesting that while the research says that 70-88% of “Christian teens” leave the church by the 2nd year of college— 94% of homeschooled children stay in the faith.”

    Knowing this, I cannot imagine leaving my kid out there to be educated by the world rather than in my home & in our Faith. If I want to do what is best for my child in the long run, I cannot imagine anything more important than this.

  12. My printer just died as I was trying to find some materials for our Sunday School so I ended up here (again) :D We are also homeschooling this year for the first time – our only child wasn’t thriving in the way we had hoped at a local Montessori school: she had managed, in only two years of the programme for Children’s House, to build up so much anxiety about her reluctance to read, her passionate temperament (cough) and other issues that we decided very reluctantly to homeschool. We tried the wonderful St Raphael’s but to be honest she’s not got the patience to sit while we go round the other students. Instead, we’ve tried three types of reading programme – and found one that finally hits all her buttons. She’s racing along. Maths we are taking slowly – baking, counting the plants in our garden, etc, all are involved. Best of all, even though she is now five, we can attend our weekday Liturgies and be more involved in our Church. She isn’t stressed or anxious so we can do short morning and afternoon prayers, bless our meals and she no longer is made to feel awckward if she says “something about God” (according to a teacher, they had to point out other people didn’t believe the same and that made her so sad!). I’m so, so happy to have my child back. Yes our house is a bomb site. Yes I am missing some of my quiet time – I really need it and not just for practical reasons – but most of all I’m just enjoying a new level of connection and security with our lovely girl. I truly believe it will be worth it and although we’d planned for her to start ‘regular’ school next year, I’m seriously reconsidering now that we are started and making such good progress. Can’t wait to hear how you get on!

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