Step 5: Choosing Curriculum

decide on curriculum, or not

 

If you’re new to homeschooling and you are already looking at resources and curriculum, but haven’t figured out your child’s learning style or how you imagine your homeschooling style….STOP! GO BACK! You MUST do these steps in order, or you’ll end up with a bunch of books and activities that won’t suit you or your children.

If you’ve gone through the previous steps, then please, read on!

Here are some things you’ll need to ask yourself when looking at curriculum….

  1. What subjects will we be covering? – There’s a LOT of topics you could cover.
  2. Does this resource fall into my child’s style of learning? – It’s great if you think a resource is perfect and had the right amount of depth and visuals and color and fun activities. But if if comes with 500 worksheets and your child is going to be bored to tears and not retaining anything because they need more activities or visuals, then it’s a waste of money. Remember: You aren’t the one learning, your child is.
  3. How much time do I need to put into this resource? – How many children are you schooling? What other commitments do you have on your plate? If the resource is too teacher intensive, or requires too much prep work, it’s only going to get put on the back shelf – again, waste of money. This includes curriculum for older children that may be able to work more independently.
  4. How much will this cost? – And is that cost prohibitive? Will you be able to use it with more than one child? How will it resale? Curriculum shouldn’t put you in debt. And when you finally decide you’re ready to buy, used curriculum can be a huge money saver.
  5. What do other families have to say about it? – READ REVIEWS! Google “[curriculum name] review” and see what you get. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a few blog posts from various homeschoolers that include more photos of the program and valuable insight as to if it may work for you. Cathy Duffy is also the queen of homeschool reviews.

A note about history

Hip Hop Homeschoolers doesn’t recommend any of the widely available history programs for homeschoolers when it comes to Black children. They do not accurately portray the history of our people or speak to the greatness of our accomplishments. If you need history curriculum, I suggest heading over to my curriculum page and checking out what is out there for your students.

<<Go back to Step 4: Your support network

>>Go to Step 6: Relax

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Step 4: Your Support Network

discover your support network

 

I hope you’re not burnt out after taking in all the information you’ve read so far… Are you taking notes, at least? Good! Let’s move on.

Anyone with kids knows that you need a support network. Someone, ANYONE that’s going to be able to understand what you’re going through when you’re feeling unsure of things. Trust me, homeschooling is NO DIFFERENT! In fact, the people in your general circle will most likely think you’re about to ruin your kids and raise a bunch of unsocialized weirdos.

This is where Google becomes your new bestie. Go there, and type in “homeschool group [your city, state]”. Anything? Look at you! You can also check MeetUp, just type in homeschool in the search bar. And of course, there’s the All Mighty Facebook. You should be able to type “[your city/county] homeschoolers” and come up with some local groups. Also, don’t be disappointed if the group page for your local group is relatively quite. Groups that meet regularly in person don’t always have a lot to chat about online.

Having trouble finding Black homeschooolers? Join the African American Homeschool Moms on Facebook. You may find some homeschoolers near you!

<<Go back to Step 3: Your homeschooling style

>>Go to Step 5: Choosing curriculum

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Step 3a: “Deschooling”

if you're pulling from school take a break

 

So you’re ready to homeschool. You’ve decided it’s the best decision for your family, and you have taken the steps to pull your children from their classrooms. What’s next?

Nothing.

You’re going to do nothing right now.

In order for homeschooling to be a a fun and natural experience for your family, it’s important that you all forget everything you know about school. You need to learn to find your own “normal”. From schedules, to grading, to curriculum, to textbooks – you “unlearn” it all. None of that applies to you any more.

This is ‘deschooling’, coined in 1971 when Ivan Illich, an Australian philosopher, wrote ‘Deschooling Society‘. The book took shots at traditional education methods and touted the idea of self-directed learning. Insane, right? 1971. Absolutely pearl-clutching. Quite scandalous.

So what do you do in this time?

Again. Nothing.  Have fun. Watch some educational movies. Go to the zoo. Read some awesome books together. Play board games. And while you’re doing this, keep an eye on your child. Determine their passions. What do they spend their time doing when they don’t have homework? When they’re not being rushed to bed because it’s a “school night”. What are they chattering to you excitedly about in the car? Knowing what drives them can help you work out what curriculum to focus on when it’s time to get started.

How long you take to deschool really depends on your family. The longer your children have spent in a traditional school setting, the longer it will take you all to get out of that mindset. It could honestly be anywhere from a few weeks to an entire school year….and that’s OK.

 

<<Go back to Step 3: Your homeschooling style

>>Go to Step 4: Your support network

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Step 3: Your Homeschooling Style

decide what education method works for you

 

So now you know your child’s learning style. Great! Now how are you going to use the ways in which they learn best, in order to facilitate learning? There are a bunch of homeschooling styles that you could use. Look over them, I’m sure you’ ll find an approach that stands out to you.

  • Charlotte Mason Approach – This method of homeschooling was founded by Charlotte Mason, a teacher in Victorian England who guided learning gently, with daily observations of nature, exposure to fine music and art, and the use of living books, as opposed to textbooks, and other high-quality activities that provide the child with an appreciation for the life that is all around him/her.
    – Ambleside Online is a Charlotte Mason, free, online curriculum.
  • Classical Method – This method aims to teach children in the three stages of learning based on the “liberal arts” of the medieval university in Europe. The stages are: Grammar (elementary), Logic (middle grades), and Rhetoric (high school). The Grammar stage involves learning facts, memorization, and gathering knowledge. Logic is when reasoning and logic begin to be applied to the knowledge previously learned. And during Rhetoric is when students learns the skills of wisdom and judgment. The Classical Method is very popular among Christian homeschoolers and often includes the practice of having children learn Latin or Greek.
    Classical Conversations is a common, Christian-based classical curriculum. There is also The Well Trained Mind, which leans more secular.
  • Moore Formula – Started by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, as a result of their childhood development studies, their “formula” says that work and community service, along with study from books, provides a balanced education. The Moore Formula also advocates not forcing academics until the child is mature, which is not before the age of 8.
    – You can read about the Moore Formula here.
  • Unit Study – Method of study by which an entire program, with a unifying theme, is created to study diverse topics across all subjects. Students can spend days, weeks, or full semesters centered on a single topic (example: The Harlem Renaissance), while also studying math, reading, spelling, grammar, history, geography, government, sociology, etc . . . all centered around that time period. The Unit Study approach can be a very rich one, because it captures and holds the child’s interest and offers real-life applications for academic skills.
    KONOS is a popular unit study curriculum and is considered the very first homeschool curriculum
  • Eclectic Approach – This method uses materials from any and all sources, rather than following a pre-set program or curriculum and can even include a variety of other homeschool styles. Eclectic homeschoolers may use home made materials, library books, textbooks, unit studies, classical education books in some subjects, and unschooling methods for others.
  • Unschooling – With this method, students are encouraged to pursue their own interests without the backing of formal curriculum and texts and are left to explore the every day learning opportunities that present themselves.
  • Worldschooling – Is a fairly recent term that you may come across as well. Worldschoolers often travel heavily and let their travels serve as their educational guides. Like with unschooling, children learn at their own pace from the world around them.
  • Public school at home – This is exactly what it sounds like 🙂 Sometimes families just find it better to pull their children from the classroom, but want to maintain the connection to the public school system. In these cases, the child can still participate in school activities, has a dedicated teacher, and completes the same work their peers are doing, while at home on the computer.
    K-12 is a public school from home program

<<Go back to Step 2: Your child’s learning style

>>Go to Step 4: Your support network

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Step 2: Find Your Child’s Learning Style

figure out your child's learning style

 

Here’s the deal with homeschooling. If you’re going to turn your back on the traditional style of schooling, you’ll need to make it worth while. How do you do that? You make sure that your child has the best possible chance of getting the best education possible. This is easily done by determining your child’s learning style. Most children lean naturally toward one of the four main learning styles, meaning they take in and retain information more effectively when it is presented to them in one of four ways.

There are four main learning styles: kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and tactile.

Kinesthetic

Kinesthetic learners are active, hands-on children that learn best through movement and activity. These children learn best by moving and tend to be good at sports, dance, and drama.

I stand in firm belief that the majority of Black children are kinesthetic learners.

Visual

Visual learners best take in information in ways that they can see. These children need images, videos, drawings, diagrams, maps, and artwork. Drawing pictures can help them to remember vocabulary words and making diagrams to drive home math facts are helpful tools for these learners.

These children need to take notes, make lists, highlight concepts, and sketch ideas. They also need their learning environment to be quiet. These children may process information well with notebooking and lapbooking.

 

Auditory

Auditory learners learn best through sound. These are the children who do well with lectures and read-alouds. They talk a lot and like to listen to music. They’re the learners who do well putting facts to music to study for a test and who respond well to oral directions.

Auditory learners may read out loud to themselves when trying to understand something. They tend to be good with words and foreign languages and are abstract thinkers.

Tactile

Tactile learners are sometimes grouped with kinesthetic learners because they, are hands-on learners. The difference is that tactile learners learn best through exploring with their senses.

Tactile learners are the kids who like to manipulate things – blocks, math manipulatives, models, and puzzle pieces.  These kids learn by doing and touching. Good tactile teaching tips include letting a child “write” out their spelling words with their finger on sandpaper or in shaving cream, using beans as counters when practicing math skills, or building salt-dough maps when studying geography.

Assessments

Now that you’re familiar with the basic learning styles, you probably have a good idea which one best suits your child(ren). If you still have questions, I recommend reading The Way They Learn.

There are also several online learning style assessments, such as the Vark assessment for kids 12-18 years old and EducationPlanner’s online assessment tool. Eclectic Homeschooling also has a great little quiz for determining your child’s learning style.

 

<<Go back to Step 1: Your state laws

>>Go to Step 3: Your homeschooling style

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