Homeschool has always been an idea that I casually tossed around. As the years went on and my oldest approached school age, I was pregnant…a lot. (Understatement of the year.) I’ve had five babies in six years. So, time got away from us and the idea of keeping everyone home to school seemed daunting and the unknown has always seemed a bit scary. I was never homeschooled, nor was my husband; we were public-schoolers.
Fast forward to 2020 and COVID-19. I am approaching fall with a first grader and two preschoolers (ages three and four). Distance learning was awful, and if I am being transparent — we don’t really believe in a lot of screen time. Not in a “high and mighty” way, so calm down with any judgement. We are just outside a LOT and after going screen free “cold turkey,” I realized it was actually amazing for my family.
We knew we wouldn’t attempt virtual classes, and, going back to school mid-pandemic without many answers didn’t work for my family. Months before any plans were made for back to school, we decided to homeschool. <Insert dramatic music here.>
So, we made the choice to traditionally homeschool our crew…now what? Where was I to start?
Seek Wise Counsel
The very first thing I did was connect with a few homeschooling friends whom I really admire. Their parenting philosophies are similar to mine, I really respect their opinion, and I knew they would guide me to the right place. I asked them every question imaginable. I asked how they got started, what they were using and what they wish they would have done differently. Use this time to make connections and ask questions! Remember, no question is a dumb question! This is a great time to network for resources.
I started researching how I wanted our homeschool to run. I was pulling them from public school and knew that I didn’t want to just recreate that 9-4 atmosphere in my house, I wanted something that was OURS. My friend recommended this quiz.
After taking that quiz, I researched and learned about myself and what I wanted from an education philosophy standpoint.
I read books such as:
- The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life
- The Call of the Wild and Free
- Homeschool Bravely
I listened to podcasts:
I even interviewed a homeschooling mama friend on my own podcast:
Hold on to your hats, because this was the part that intimidated me. There are so many types of curriculum, aimed at so many different kinds of philosophies, ages, religious affiliations, etc. The list goes on, and on, and on. There are even homeschooling families who don’t buy any curriculum at all. While I was researching it, I had to keep in mind what kind of learners my children were.
Cathy Duffy is a great resource and place to read reviews on curriculum. If you check out the curriculum on YouTube, you can usually find reviewers or unboxing videos!
Learning through play is important for our preschoolers. I want our home to be a place where exploring, imagining, and just overall “childhood” are abundant. I took into consideration the personalities of my three-year-old and four-year-old and knew that just having something on hand would be fun and get them excited to try new things. We chose the Timberdoodle curriculum and also the 4 Weeks to Read set.
Having multiple kids in the house, I knew that being creative with how I did things would help to get a good groove going. We found a few games to encourage hand/eye coordination, cutting skills, and, of course, all the art supplies in the world.
There are many homeschool families and philosophies that will encourage that no curriculum is needed for the early years, and, while I agree with that, I knew that for the structure of our house, I needed to get what I was comfortable with and discover for myself what worked and what didn’t.
These are a few other preschool curriculum kits that I looked into:
I have a first grader and her learning style is much different than my preschool son. I researched Themwildwoods’ curriculum for quite a while. She is an amazing homeschooling mom and, luckily, one of my good friends. Her oldest is close in age to my daughter. Someone gave me the advice as a first timer to “buddy up” with another mama for curriculum support—someone I could ask questions to, discuss options with, and have on my team. I researched several curriculum choices and viewed most of the samples. I sat down with my daughter and ventured through the assessments which helped in placing. (I learned so much about placement help through reviews on YouTube.)
Homeschool curriculum is very unique in content, timing, material, and what the company offers. Some companies offer printed versions. The Good and The Beautiful has spiral bound books and reading bundles available on their site. You can buy the entire unit kit for grade level. We decided on this company for a few different subjects.
Other curriculum offers PDF printouts like Torchlight, with book lists and reference material.
Here are a few other curriculum that we picked:
I know that curriculum can seem overwhelming! There is so much out there, and honestly, it’s all so beautiful! The opportunity to learn at home and dive into so many exciting subjects is fantastic. You can absolutely get curriculum FOMO, but I am realizing that my choices don’t have to be concrete. I am learning right alongside them.
Take a Deep Breath
Take a big breath…you are homeschooling! You CAN do this. You birthed them, stayed up all hours of the night, kept them alive and thriving—YOU can teach them, and it can be beautiful. Remember, you have this opportunity to learn right alongside them. There isn’t a mad rush to hit goals and ace tests. Homeschooling in Michigan is easy peasy. You can check out our state laws here.
There are so many opinions, rumors, stereotypes, and helpful tips out there. You just need to know where to look…and also where to avoid. You are not recreating school in your home. You are learning inside of your home, in a way that is suited for YOUR family. You do not have to have a pinterest-perfect house, a degree in education, or a perfect schedule.
You are learning inside of your home—things will throw off your days, and there will be good and bad, but you can totally do it.