We get a lot of questions about what materials we use to homeschool. I am by no means an expert! But I’m happy to share what I do know. 🙂 There are literally hundreds of curricula and items on the market now that are geared toward the home school. For most of our homeschooling years we have used Sonlight Curriculum. But we’ve also been known to take a break and just let the kids explore their own interests for a while. This has developed into some fascinating unit studies. Mary Hood has written an excellent book about this sort of schooling called The Relaxed Homeschooler. I would recommend reading that book before reading any other. Oh, and she has a PhD in Education!
The main thing I can say about what and how to teach your children at home is this: don’t try to turn your home into a school. I believe the ideal homeschool is flexible and spontaneous. Let me try to narrow that concept down a little. Everything you do with your children translates in to some sort of learning experience for them (and often, for you!). If you take them to the grocery store, they are learning nutrition, home economics, budgeting, menu planning. If you let them help you bake cookies, they are again learning nutrition (if you bake healthy cookies, that is!) as well as math and chemistry. My boys helped my husband build our barn. They learned algebra, geometry, the importance of safety in the work environment, how to order supplies from Lowe’s, and how to work all sorts of power tools, as well as a good ol’ fashioned hammer and nail. They also have a great sense of pride in having done something worth while.
You probably get the point by now. Anything can be a learning experience. How sad that we’ve come to believe that the only way a person can learn is to sit in a classroom and read a book, listen to a lecture, or watch a video. That is certainly not how God instructed the Israelites to teach their children. (And it certainly doesn’t sound like classroom learning to me!)
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ~
We have found that one of the main ingredients in our home has to be fun! If we enjoy something, we remember it. When children are toddlers, we stop to explore every flower and insect with them. We take them to the library. We take them to plays for kids. We play funny children’s songs on the stereo. We follow their lead, and do what we can to encourage their natural enthusiasm for learning. Don’t buy the lie that when they turn five years old you have to send them off to the “experts” because you’re no longer qualified. Nothing could be further from the truth. We still drop everything and gather around our kitchen window with the ‘Bird Book’ to try to identify what sort of bird is at our feeder. That’s home schooling!
(Update 2011) Now that I only have one child at home, we have chosen to use an “Umbrella School” that will keep all of our records for us, and issue an accredited transcript. It also helps us to stay a bit more focused, as, left to our own devices, Abby and I would spend all of our waking moments quilting, or playing Plants vs. Zombies! So, we’ve acknowledge our limitations and character defects (as it were) and enrolled her in Mother of Divine Grace. 🙂 This has slowed, but not stopped, the quilting!! LOL