Although I don’t see myself as an “expert” in homeschooling, I have been doing it long enough (9 years) to feel like we have the swing of things. That makes me feel pretty confident in what I am doing with my kids. The first year I homeschooled my daughter, I was overwhelmed by the catalogs, conferences and online information. After all, she was in kindergarten (and brilliant if you ask me!). How hard could it be? By the time child number 2 was ready for school, I had been homeschooling for 5 years. I think it was my 5th year of homeschooling that I finally stopped changing the curriculum every year. I finally purchased the same books as the 4th year, only for 5th grade. I was so excited to finally get into the groove of homeschooling. . . when the bomb dropped. With my oldest daughter, things were a breeze. She caught on to reading, writing and math very easily. It hardly took any effort. With child #2, something wasn’t quite right. She’s very smart, and is VERY creative, but for some reason she just wasn’t getting it. I also noticed, even before kindergarten that it took her a very long time to answer a question, and that she would write all of her numbers and letters backwards. I know this can be normal for a child, however, God gives parents a special insight on their children. I knew something wasn’t right. I called around to get her tested for dyslexia and was SHOCKED to be told numerous times that they do not test until second grade. WHAT?! By second grade, do they know how far behind she would be? It was a constant struggle to hold myself together and not get upset with her for not knowing how to say the simplest words. I am not a quite, soft spoken person by nature. Could this be why God gave me a child that has dyslexia? Well, I decided I would not sit around and wait for second grade. I did the self diagnostic tests online, which confirmed that she did indeed have dyslexia. Her whole first grade year was a nightmare trying to figure out how in the world I could teach her how to read and write. At the end of her first grade year I was at a loss. I felt defeated. It was then that I talked to my aunt that was a teacher for years. I don’t know why I didn’t think of talking with her sooner, but God has His reasons for timing. She told me to redo first grade, afterall, her birthday is after the cut off and she never should have been in first grade to begin with. Also, it would be less stressful on her to redo it, rather that having to work extra hard to keep up. I decided to let the choice be hers. I offered to teach her through the summer, or hold her back. She didn’t hesitate to say she wanted to try first grade again. I got the curriculum my aunt suggested, I took slow, deep breaths while helping her read. I made sure I praised her for her efforts, instead of getting upset when she didn’t do it right. I would tell her she did a good job but that she needs to turn around whatever letter/number was written backwards. We took it slow, we repeated A LOT of the books until they were mastered. I talked with her church teachers and told them she did not like to read in front of class, so they would not unintentionally embarrass her in class. She is now finishing second grade and I cannot believe the change. She still struggles, and she hates it when her younger brother corrects a wrong word (we now read in private), but she is doing a phenomenal job. Especially since half of this year has been more of an unschooling year, than a homeschooling due to a number of deaths, illnesses and situations in our family. I don’t feel like an expert at all, but I do feel like I am trying my best and that my kids are learning. Every time they take and pass the end of the year test, it makes me feel like I did something right. I have done a lot of wrong things, got the wrong curriculum, expected too much from them and so on, but I feel that we are past that. That we can move forward and as long as they are learning, I am doing a good job. After all, we homeschool because we want what’s best for our kids. To be raised in a safe, loving environment.
Here are some of the curriculum choices that are my favorites:
Sing, Spell, Read, Write: Great for dyslexia and any child.
Mystery of History: You can use this for multiple grades at one time
Math U See: Manipulatives are very helpful with teaching. It also includes an instructional DVD for each chapter that the kids love to watch.
God’s Design for Science: You can use this for many grades at one time
Wordly Wise: Great vocabulary curriculum for kids
Vacation Station: It’s supposed to be for in between grades, but I like it for vacations and when I’m sick and can’t pull out all their books. The kids love the colors and that they only have to do 2 pages a day!
Switched on Schoolhouse: I like this only for Science and Bible. Too much computer time hurts their heads, and I don’t feel they learn enough writing with the English CD’s.
Bob Jones University English: I love that this curriculum is written out pretty much word for word what you should say to teach them the lesson for the day. This is what I used for the full curriculum the 2nd year of homeschooling.
Curriculum I don’t really like:
AOP Lifepacs: No pictures or colors, very basic and boring. The kids didn’t like this at all
Abeka: This is great if you have an overachiever, however, I feel they require way too much busy work.
Saxon Math: Again, no colors, lots of repetition. The kids did not like this at all.