Comm Central. You don't have to use a co-op, but there are a lot of benefits from it: enabling moms to teach the subjects they are most comfortable with and giving their child the opportunity to learn from another teacher who is strong in their subject area, giving moms a break while the kids are at the co-op, giving the kids social time, and in the high school years items like transcripts are made much easier by the use of the co-op. Personally, I see co-ops as a good balance between home and school. For people who are skeptical of parents who homeschool their children, co-ops create accountability for the students and the parents.
Our co-op is based around the classical approach to education. If you are interested in this, I highly recommend the book The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical education at Home because it walks you through each year of education, offers suggestions/details about curriculum, and is just practical. You can also go here to learn more about this. I think if you are skeptical about me teaching my children at home, you can rest assured after examining these materials that my kids are going to get an amazing education. I know I'm excited about it! :) I think it's amazing that God has led me here, led me to this curriculum that is rhetorically based (which is what my degrees are based in), and allowed me the opportunity to start with them young so that we can tip toe into the water, rather than diving in head first. It will be good for all of us this way. Baby steps. ;) I'm grateful because I know He is going to show up and do awesome things in all of us and I can't wait to see it.
I had an adventure today. Mardel (the Christian bookstore) has an annual sale on a certain day for all homeschooling and educational supplies. Graciously a friend told me about this, and today was the day of the sale. I expected it to be a little crazy, but I didn't expect the parking lot to be full when I got there an hour after they opened this morning. I was SO OVERWHELMED. There are so many different books, posters, handouts, organizers, maps, visual aids, and for some reason I felt like I was supposed to use all of this stuff. I forgot the plan. The plan on the piece of paper with only a few things written on it. Fortunately I remembered the plan before I spent oodles of money. Here's what I came home with (at 20% off!):
- a tiny globe
- a US map
- a World map
- Handwriting Without Tears: Get Set for School (PreK)
- Handwriting Without Tears: Letters and Numbers for Me (K)
- 2 4x6 chalk slates
- a mini Judy clock
- The Story of the World: The Middle Ages
- a big calendar with seasons, months, days, weather, etc.
Not too shabby considering how overwhelmed I was. :) I also ordered these items online:
- Math-U-See Primer (teacher's guide, student guide, and manipulatives. I'm going to make copies of the student guide for Alaya to use so I don't have to buy two.)
- additional paper to practice handwriting from the Handwriting Without Tears website (they use a special lined paper for preK and K)
- Five in a Row Volume 1 (this is the one thing that may be a little overkill as it covers all the subject areas, but it came highly recommended so I'm going to give it a shot)
Our main focus this year will be on reading and writing. I will supplement with math and history a couple of days a week. We'll also probably do a science lesson once a month or so, just for fun. I love how The Well-trained Mind eases the children into education. The authors recommend focusing on the reading and writing, but mostly reading in the preK and K years. Mostly I'm doing the "extra" stuff for exposure and fun. If they aren't into it, we don't have to do it. But I know my kids and they like learning, so I imagine they will love whatever we get into. ;)
I felt like I needed to get all this down so I can look back and see what we did and how I felt about it at the time. Also I hope that if anyone else is considering homeschooling, these resources might help you.
More to come... :)