Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Homeschooling On A Shoestring...

As promised, today I am sharing a bit about what we are using for homeschooling curriculum, and how we've kept the cost to a minimum for our family. 

But first, I thought I'd share a few pics from a recent field trip.  We've been reading the book, "The Story About Ping," which is a story about a duck who lives with his family on a boat on the Yangtze River in China.  To go along with the story, we talked about China and what it's like to live there, identified the Yangtze River on a map, made Chinese flags, and learned about the missionaries from our church who are based in China and talked about ways we could be praying for them.

Des Moines has a really cool pagoda located near the river, so we decided to take the kids so they could see a structure that is similar to many traditional structures in China and other parts of Asia:
After the pagoda, we took the kids to a couple of Asian markets in town so they could see how they are the same or different in comparison to American markets.  It was a whole new world.  The frozen food section was eye opening with bags of frozen chicken feet and other delicacies.  The kids had a blast, and we let them choose a few food items to take home and try.  A favorite was Lychee, which is a small fruit that we thought tasted similar to ripe pear. 

While strolling the aisles of the market, this product sort of stood out:

Is it a drink or an exercise regimen?  The packaging is oddly unclear.  Either way this coffee product seems to insinuate that your rear will be toned and perfect after consumption.  Sold.

Now that you have indulged me in gratuitous family photos, I will share how we are homeschooling on a shoestring and what we are using.

First, let me state that there are amazing curriculum sets out there that are already pieced together for you (covering all subjects) and laid out in advance so you have very little prep.  Unfortunately, the sets are very pricey, and after much research, I decided to piece together my curriculum instead of purchasing a set.  If you are interested in a set, ABEKA, My Father's World, and Sonlight are a few of the most popular Biblically based curriculum and each are really wonderful.

We are blessed to live in a school district that makes homeschooling really easy for families and has an abundance of resources.  I checked with our district, and we have a program called the Home Instruction Program, which allows families to check-out curriculum for a small fee, and provides a teacher who visits twice a month.  Really, this program has been key to saving us money. In addition, the little Mr. attends a block class every Wednesday for two hours, where he is paired with other homeschooled children in a K-2nd class.  He loves going every week and is learning some really advanced things (right now they are studying the body systems).

Below I have listed what we are doing for Kindergarten.  I indicated curriculum that we have checked-out through our home instruction program with an asterik*, and have provided links to each item so you can look up any that interest you:

  • Math- *Math-U-See-I can't say enough how impressed I am with this curriculum.  The little Mr. loves it, and I love teaching it.
  • Reading-*Explode The Code I love that this curriculum is fun and stresses not only reading but early reading comprehension.  We also checked out a set of scholastic early readers that the little Mr. loves.  He's doing so well, that we are almost ready for the next set!
  • Writing-I chose not to use a handwriting curriculum, and instead have the little Mr. do copy work in his journal each day.  We use sentences from his children's Bible or his Awana verses, or sometimes we focus on a particular character trait...like respect (not that it's necessary or anything).  Before copying he sight reads each sentence to further emphasize that reading and writing go hand in hand.      
  • Social Studies/History/Geography etc.- Five In A Row I love FIAR...I am a FIAR groupie now.  Really this curriculum is sort of a catch all.  It can be used to teach anything from social studies to art to math, hence the 'etc.' in the description.  Basically FIAR provides a book list to choose from (most if not all can be checked out from your local library) and then provides lesson plans to go along with each story.  Each book is read five days in a row, while completing the corresponding lessons.  I am only using the list as a spring form, and am creating my own lessons (our 'Ping' lesson and field trip was part of FIAR).
  • Science-The Usborne First Book of Knowledge this book was  given to me by a friend.  It's perfect if you have a little one who asks, "Why?" as it covers how things are made and how they function.  It's a fun read with bright pictures and my kiddos love it.
  • Bible-Each week we work on scripture memory through the Awana program at church.  We also use the Children's One Year Bible for story time and I typically look online for craft ideas to go along with our story.  
Friends, this sort of just scratches the surface.  We have more that we use to sort of fill in our day and keep things fresh, and I'll share those tidbits later on.  I've had so many friends share links for free printables and so much more, but to list all of that today may leave you feeling as though you're drinking from a fire hose...

I am surprised by how much I enjoy homeschooling my children. I had never thought of myself as a person who would homeschool, but it's been a very good decision for our family thus far.  But, we are also realistic and are willing to be flexible should our lives change later on down the road.  Tomorrow I hope to share a bit more in depth as to why we came to the conclusion that homeschooling was the right fit for our family.

Happy Tuesday Friends!

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