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Baby & Kids, homeschool

July 14, 2020

Why we chose to homeschool + Curriculum choice.

Homeschool. It actually doesn’t sound that foreign of a concept to me. My sister-in-law was homeschooled through grade school, and I’ve always idealized being able to have the flexibility that homeschool brings.

Obviously, that quickly became less of an idea and more of a reality when the coronavirus hit. Having a 1st grader, preschooler and toddler at home made for interesting times while remote learning through the district. I’d almost say we all thrived off the routine of knowing we had school every morning. But, there were some things that made it more stressful ie: having to attend zoom calls with a toddler crying at my feet and a five year old begging for another snack. That part I did not like. I also didn’t like the “remote learning” plan put in place by the NC Dept. of Public Education. Prior to that our teachers had put together virtual lesson plans, videos and had specific worksheets to get done. THAT I could get down with. The NCDPE plan was basically just instructions on how to teach our kids. That I was not prepared for and didn’t enjoy.

As the months went on, the kids didn’t return to school and the fall was looming ahead, and we ultimately decided to homeschool.

Why? For a few reasons:

  1. As mentioned above, if I was going to have to do some variety of remote learning, I would rather do homeschool on our own terms. No zoom calls, no boring lesson plans.
  2. The obvious: what are we exposing our kids to in the fall… we’re already one of those crazy germaphobe families that tries at all costs to avoid illness. I don’t have a strong stance one way or the other on the “emotional impact” of wearing a mask, or not seeing friends, etc. I feel like we’re all just doing our best and that none of these factors will be things our kids can’t overcome and still thrive. This is unfortunately our “normal” for the time being.
  3. Our oldest is advanced and we were a bit concerned she was being held back in the public classrooms. This will allow us to see where she shines and foster that.
  4. The requirements put in place for Plan B in our state are less than desirable: all kids K-12 must wear a mask all day, temperature checks upon entry of school, 50% capacity on buses and in buildings. They are offering the option to chose remote learning; but back to my first point above.
  5. I’ve always wanted to try homeschool, so this seemed like the perfect time to do it!

As far as curriculum, y’all there are SO MANY. My SIL did Sonlight growing up, so that was on my list to research. I also have a couple of friends who have done My Father’s World, Abeka and some of the non-kit curriculums, like Singapore math, etc. One friend also mentioned The Good and the Beautiful, which is a curriculum one of her homeschooling friends loved.

This friend also told me about Cathy Duffy Homeschool Curriculum Reviews. She reviews literally every homeschool curriculum and you can find them all there, just don’t get lost down the rabbit hole, because it can get overwhelming!

I did research for a couple of weeks and when I had narrowed it down to Sonlight and The Good and the Beautiful. I was definitely more interested in a curriculum that offered a kit, or was easy to build your own. I took to YouTube to watch reviews of each, read sample pages if they were available, joined homeschool Facebook groups to hear what others were saying about their experience with them and started following people on Instagram based off homeschool and curriculum specific hashtags to read their thoughts.

Ultimately we decided on The Good and The Beautiful. It is beautifully illustrated and looks much more “fun” and “engaging” than some of the curriculums. It came in an easy-to-piece-together kit to hit all of the areas we wanted to education on: language arts, handwriting, math and science. I especially loved that the science and history units can be taught as a family. That way I wasn’t having to teach lessons to each of the girls separately. Another thing I loved is that art and music are combined in their core curriculums; so they use beautiful works of art, poems, songs, etc to learn language arts and math.

We chose not to use The Good and The Beautiful for social studies. It seemed a little in-depth for K and 2nd grade. Technically, they recommend science and history not be done until 1st grade, but if you have an older child, they encourage you to teach the younger ones with them.

We have almost all of our curriculum and I am very impressed with the quality and the customer service. Everyone I’ve spoken with has been very helpful and kind.

A few things to note about The Good and The Beautiful Curriculum:

  • You can purchase PDF versions of all of the curriculum which makes it very affordable, however you need to have them printed and bound. We found that our local stores would have made it more expensive than buying the physical books through TGATB.
  • There is prep work to be done and extra supplies needed! Depending on your level of perfectionism (hello, me.) it may take you a couple of hours to assemble some of the science units. Language arts and Math also had some prep work to be done, but less than an hour. For many of the lessons you may also need supplies. Most items you likely already have in your house, but some you may need to purchase.
  • The “level” of a curriculum may not be equal to your child’s grade level. There are assessments to help you determine this. Our oldest ended up being between a level 2/3 for language arts. We ended up doing a level 2. Our youngest was between level K primer and level K. We purchased both and will start the primer a bit early and maybe double up on lessons to finish K by the end of the year.

For our social studies/geography/history we decided to do the The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A and matching activity book. I wasn’t impressed with any of the social studies homeschool curriculums, as I wanted them to be similar to what our 2nd grader would be learning in public school, since it’s likely she will return next year. We plan to do the 50 states book, and then will also work on timelines. Many of the other economic topics covered will be covered during her math lessons.

For S.T.E.M we’re using monthly KiwiCo subscription boxes. We’ve gotten these for the last there months and have loved them for our oldest (7)! They have the coolest activities and I feel like it’s a good substitution for the STEM activities she would be doing in school.

You can easily find your states standards for curriculum by going to your state’s department of education, or just google “YOUR STATE YOUR GRADE standards of curriculum” or something like that and you should be able to find it! I found this very helpful when deciding what to cover.

If you are considering homeschool, or The Good and The Beautiful Curriculum, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned thus far! I am not an expert, but I’m happy to share our experience thus far!

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