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How to start a HS?
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RSTX



Joined: 15 May 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Temple, Tx

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 3:12 pm    Post subject: How to start a HS? Reply with quote

I am very seriously considering homeschooling my children, but I have no idea where to start. First a little background...

I have been a stay-at-home-dad since April, 1999 when my son was born. I was an X-ray tech and had a very bad experience with a small baby that came into the ER dead from daycare. That tore me up as we were expecting our son in about six months, so I decided to do something. My wife was in medical school and could not quit due to the student loan repayment, which was about 75% of what I made. So, I started changing diapers and making bottles full time while my wife finished school. We now have three kids - Will (7), Jill (4) and Abby (3). I do almost all of the cooking and cleaning, although we do have a cleaning lady stop by once a week. I run the errands and do everything a woman would do, except for the "girly" stuff. Very Happy My son is about to finish up first grade at a nearby Christian school, and we are pleased with it. My two girls are still home with me.

This past weekend Tiffany (wife) and I attended a homesteading course (see www.homesteadheritage-homesteading.com for more information) and it was an eye-opener. We have 4.5 acres of good fertile soil that we hope to build on in a couple of months. We went to the course hoping to learn more about being less dependant on the "system", and it was great. I was absolutely blown away by the children there. They are all homeschooled and very well behaved.

I have been thinking and praying about this for several days and would love to learn more about home schooling. I admit that I am pretty nervous about it, but I want to have a positive impact on my children. This seems like a great start.

Now, where do I start? I would assume I need to pick a curriculum and get the materials needed. Any thoughts?

Thanks for reading the above novel. Smile [/url]
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Rick
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Rich



Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 173
Location: Coastal New England

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Rick,

Welcome! If you're still feeling a little funny about being a SAHD, dont. Your story sounds pretty much like most that you will read here so, know that you're in good company. I think we would all agree with you on the subject of daycare and public school. How a family begins homeschooling seems to vary but there are several constants. What you are doing seems to be pretty much what we all did; going from hearing about it and thinking the idea was either crazy or too much to undertake to when do we start? That progression can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years. It took my family about one "school" year. If you do decide to school your kids at home, the next step is to learn about the regulations which vary depending on the state you live in. You may not be surprised to hear that some states are very amenable to this while others are downright hostile. Regardless, I think we would all recommend that you join the HSLDA immediately. This is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association; see <www.hslda.org> Meanwhile, there are probably other Texans here who can direct you through the application process for your state. The next thing to do is to look at curriculum. You indicated that you already began this process and probably found it to be a bottomless pit of material. There are many excellent guides available as well as personal networks. A number of us work with homeschooling support groups and/or attend conventions. The support groups can be both bad and good for you depending on how progressive minded the members are. They can be a little unkind to SAHDs and their kids. Conventions are a good place to gain exposure to the curriculum vendors, get on mailing lists as well as attend workshops. You can hear the prevailing thoughts and ideas of some current homeschooling authorities. I personally find this tedious sometimes but do glean some good ideas. Now is a good time of year to catch these conventions although it may be just a little late for them. They usually come near the school year end but keep an eye out for them in the fall. Finally but not lastly, you can search the web. If you've found this site, you've already been busy there. The homeschooling network is virtually invisible in person but very present online. Good luck and stay in touch.

Rich
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edtheredhead



Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 81
Location: Northwest PA

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that one of the neatest things about homeschooling is when you see the light go on in their eyes and they really begin to "get it".

One thing I would recommend (besides checking out HSLDA), is to figure out your teaching style and your kids' learning styles. We're really big on books here, so we use a literature based curriculum (Sonlight). We absolutely love it and wouldn't trade it for anything.

There are also textbook based programs, video based programs, computer based programs, unit studies, etc. etc. There are an incredible amount of options that are now available and weren't available even 5 or 10 years ago.

Anyhow, that's just a few thoughts. Please feel free to ask more specific questions as they come up.

Godspeed All!
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Ed
Married to Margaret (1996)
1 daughter Belinda (1999)
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RSTX



Joined: 15 May 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Temple, Tx

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the great replies. In the two days that I've been talking to friends I've found several that homeschool. I did not know there are so many HS'ers out there. They have been very encouraging and supportive of my "quest".

I'm hoping to pick my curriculum in the next two months. Several friends have mentioned Saxon and Abeka. My son's Christian school uses these as well, so I'll probably stick with them.

My next question for the group:

when do you start? Do you follow the local school district's calendar? I assume you can start whenever you want.
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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RSTX wrote:
Thank you for the great replies. In the two days that I've been talking to friends I've found several that homeschool. I did not know there are so many HS'ers out there. They have been very encouraging and supportive of my "quest".

I'm hoping to pick my curriculum in the next two months. Several friends have mentioned Saxon and Abeka. My son's Christian school uses these as well, so I'll probably stick with them.

My next question for the group:

when do you start? Do you follow the local school district's calendar? I assume you can start whenever you want.


Hi again,

The two curricula that you mentioned are two that we use. We use others in conjunction like Total Language, Apologia, Beautiful Feet and Rosetta Stone for Spanish. Additionally, we work with a homeschooling Co-op for a series of middle and highschool tutorials as well as a support group for phys-ed and art enrichment. To answer your question about when to start, it's up to you. In our state, we're required to school for 175 days and we have always begun early like in August, and we typically ended in May. The school week has varied in number of days and frequently we do summer unit studies so, we have taken long breaks throughout the year. We've taken the entire month of January off several years in a row because that has been about the time when burn out started to happen. Currently we follow a fairly typical school year because of our connection with the co-op. Frankly after the freedom of control over the schedule for so many years, having that restriction is a burden but it's worth it.

Take care,

Rich
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edtheredhead



Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 81
Location: Northwest PA

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RSTX wrote:


I'm hoping to pick my curriculum in the next two months. Several friends have mentioned Saxon and Abeka. My son's Christian school uses these as well, so I'll probably stick with them.

My next question for the group:

when do you start? Do you follow the local school district's calendar? I assume you can start whenever you want.


I would strongly encourage you to look at Sonlight as well. It is a literature based curriculum and, quite frankly, we enjoy it much more than any textbook we could ever pick up. My daughter is also getting an incredible education at the same time. She's not yet seven and she can already tell you the difference between the Pelopenesian (sp?) and Punic Wars.

As far as when to start, that's the beauty of hs'ing, you can start whenever. We actually school all year round, but take a couple of months at the end of the year (i.e. June & July) to do some unit studies. This also allows us to take weeks off whenever we want to (i.e. to visit grandparents or for a vacation).

The other nice thing is that almost anything can be turned into "school". A few weeks ago, we had just finished studying Ancient Greece, and I was scheduled to run a half-marathon in Nashville TN. Unbeknownst to us, Nashville has an exact replica of the Parthenon (in its original form). We combined the origins of the marathon and the Parthenon into a great field trip.

Anyhow, I'll quit babbling and go to bed.

Godspeed!
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Ed
Married to Margaret (1996)
1 daughter Belinda (1999)
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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good advice. Thank you. I like the idea of taking January off. Here in central TX that is one of the best times to get outdoor projects done. I will look into Sonlight. My daughters love to read and all three kids enjoy being read to.

What is a "unit study"? A stand-alone topic? Something other than math/reading/spelling?
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RSTX



Joined: 15 May 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Temple, Tx

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Good advice. Thank you. I like the idea of taking January off. Here in central TX that is one of the best times to get outdoor projects done. I will look into Sonlight. My daughters love to read and all three kids enjoy being read to.

What is a "unit study"? A stand-alone topic? Something other than math/reading/spelling?


Um, I had a little brain drain and forgot to log in. The above post is from me. Embarassed Embarassed Laughing
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Rick
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RB



Joined: 06 Apr 2006
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 10:21 am    Post subject: Welcome! Reply with quote

Dear Rick:

My name is Richard and I am a home schooling father of three children (only one is school aged) as well as a full-time stay-at-home dad. We are completing our second year of home schooling.

One of the first things that you need to do is to research the laws in your state to find out what you have to do in order to home school. Your state’s website should have information. I strongly encourage you to research on the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association website at www.hslda.org . They can provide a brief explanation of your state’s laws and procedures to begin home schooling. You might consider joining the group for their legal protections.

Home schooling is more of a life style than a “thing to do” during the day. It does take total commitment and a fair amount of organization, both in the school and in your home. One of the best things that we did for ourselves was to join a home schooling group and meet other home schoolers. “What curriculum do you use?” is the number one question asked amongst home schoolers when we get together. The second question seems to be, “Are you teaching all summer or taking a few months off?” Meeting others is a great way to get ideas, share experiences, create co-operative activities for the children, etc. Don’t be afraid to steal an idea from another parent – it’s the best way to add to your classroom repertoire.

We tried, mainly for financial reasons, to build our own curriculum during our first year of schooling. We did it, but it was time consuming, difficult work for us. I wasn’t as organized as I needed to be. Other people might be able to do it well. We discovered that using prepared curriculum is very good for us.

As to what curriculum works best…that’s an individual choice. We love Saxon math and A Beka for both history and English. We used a McGraw-Hill spelling book and a Scott Foresman spelling book for our spelling lessons. They were very good. We found a load of used Houghton-Mifflin reading text books from public schools at a few thrift stores. They were excellent, and only cost 25 cents per book. We used Bob Jones “Science for Christian Schools 3” for science. It was okay. Our on-going dissection unit with another family is great science. Yesterday we dissected a frog. The two oldest boys (ages 10 & 9) did the cutting – all four did a lot of hands-on exploring. Exploring the inside of a crawfish was by far the most fun dissection exercise.

Our friend Jane caught a snake on her driveway. She dissected it on the spot for her boys. They loved seeing a beating snake heart. It was a fantastic, impromptu science lesson. Home schooling offers loads of opportunities to do the unusual, the offbeat, the unexpected. Look for them and seize the opportunities.

This year we are going to try A Beka for English, spelling, reading, history, and science because it is integrated. We will stick with Saxon math. Jane swears by Shurley English. I suggest that you find a home schooling group near you, join, and ask the questions that we are all asking. Find out what curriculum is out there, who is using it, how they like, etc. You can find Shurley English, A Beka, Bob Jones University Press, and others, on-line. A simple Google search will yield loads of information. We buy a lot of our materials through ebay, which saves us a ton of money. There are some tricks to know if you are not familiar with ebay. We have also used a lot of reading books that we pick up in thrift stores.

Once you get your materials, write your lesson plans, prepare your lessons, and teach away!

Have fun with home schooling. Be patient with yourself and your children as each one of you discovers what works best. There is a learning curve that you will experience that involves learning how to home school for your family as well as learning the content material for each subject.

Enjoy the time together. It’s incredible.

Ask a lot of questions. If I can help you in any way, e-mail me at richardbarrette@yahoo.com or drop a line on these boards. I check them regularly.

Good luck!

Richard
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Rich



Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 173
Location: Coastal New England

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RSTX wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Good advice. Thank you. I like the idea of taking January off. Here in central TX that is one of the best times to get outdoor projects done. I will look into Sonlight. My daughters love to read and all three kids enjoy being read to.

What is a "unit study"? A stand-alone topic? Something other than math/reading/spelling?


Um, I had a little brain drain and forgot to log in. The above post is from me. Embarassed Embarassed Laughing


Hi Rick,

A unit study is exactly what you said, a stand alone topic. Generally, you would incorporate the major elements of academia like math, reading and writing into a more comprehensive learning experience like the one that Ed described, of ancient Greece. You might study the land geography, the language, culture, religion, history, science and so on. A unit study can take as long as you would like it to from a few weeks to a quarter of a year or longer. Some teach their entire year in a series of unit studies. It comes down to what system works best for you and your kids. Throughout the years, we've done unit studies on Native American cuture, America's Freedom Trail, Black American History and segregation, the Great Depression, weather forcasting, vernal pools, marine tidal pools, astronomy, aviation, and space travel to name a few. They're a great way to shift gears a bit and still continue schooling. Just ask the kids what they are interested in learning more about and they will tell you.

Rich
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homeschooling since '97: daughter, 18- away at college, son, 16 and daughter 13
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RSTX



Joined: 15 May 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Temple, Tx

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard and Rich (are there a lot of Rich/Richard's on this site or is it my imagination (I'm a Richard, too, I just go by Rick)),

thanks for the great replies. I just informed our Christian school today that I would be HS'ing my kids next year. They were very supportive and encouraging. I'm getting more confidence about this.

I'll probably stick with the Saxon math and A Beka spelling/literature. That is what the school teaches and my son has done well with it. I will check eBay. Thanks again.
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edtheredhead



Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 81
Location: Northwest PA

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:


What is a "unit study"? A stand-alone topic? Something other than math/reading/spelling?


A Unit Study is where you dedicate all your subjects to a single subject.

For example, one of your kids might be interested in aeronautics.

So, for history, you study how airplanes affected WWI. Science, you learn how airplanes work. In spelling, you learn things like "Fuselage", etc.

It allows you to integrate all your subjects into a single focus.

They're a bit harder to organize for the parents, but the kids do tend to really enjoy them.
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Married to Margaret (1996)
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RB



Joined: 06 Apr 2006
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 10:05 pm    Post subject: Unit Study Versus Integrated Thematic Instruction Reply with quote

Ed - what you are describing is integrated thematic instruction, not a unit study.
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Rich



Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 173
Location: Coastal New England

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again, Rick,

Sorry there's confusion over names, I'll always be "Rich" from New England but I suppose that there may be other Richs. At any rate, I offer congratulations for having decided to take on the task of homeschooling. I'm glad too, that the school that you've been working with is supportive because it makes the break a little less painful. It also sounds like you've chosen some solid curriculum with ABeka and Saxon. I'm inclined to believe than you will pick up some other curricula and/or unit study material along the way to "flesh out" your next school year. The beauty part is that it's all up to you and your kids. Let me quote some homeschooling sages of bygone days; they said that the worst day of homeschooling is still better than the best day of conventional schooling. Strictly speaking, this is very true if you have at your heart the goal of teaching your kids how to learn. This is TRULY the goal of any homeschooler. Please humor me by allowing me to offer a humble blessing for you as a homeschooling dad and your kids as new homeeschooled kids.

May God bless you and your children as you embark on the most awe inspired and funfilled experience that could be had; the oddessey of home education. May your kids absorb the energy that you offer in teaching, for it is from God. It is theirs for the taking and may they apply it to their learning thereby, returning it to you as their loving parent and teacher. AMEN

I've found this to be THE cycle and the one that I live by.

Pax Christi,

Rich
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RSTX



Joined: 15 May 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Temple, Tx

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rich, thank you. I am a born-again Christian, as is my wife and our son (Will, age 7), who just accepted Christ in March. Your blessing is heartfelt and very welcome.

To all, thank you so much for your help and encouragement. I feel certain that this is the path I am supposed to take. I'm still nervous and probably will be for a while, but I'm comforted by the promise from God that he won't give me anything I can't handle.

Grace and peace to all of you Dads!
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