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  #1  
March 18th, 2010, 12:18 PM
frgsonmysox's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I'm currently going through some health issues that is making it difficult to get my son back and forth to school. He's very bright and a great independent learner so Chris and I have been considering pulling him out next year (For first grade) and homeschooling him ourselves. CAn you point me in the direction of ANYTHING... I have no idea where to start. I don't want a religious based curriculum either.
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  #2  
March 18th, 2010, 02:30 PM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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Looking at the location in your profile...... I'm ASSUMING you'd go by the state laws there? Does anyone know if a military base has it's own laws about homeschooling? I doubt it. Here's the law for NE. http://www.hslda.org/laws/analysis/Nebraska.pdf

Anyway... for 1st grade, you'll want to focus on reading, writing, and math. Everything else is icing on the cake. For reading, I like Explode the Code. For writing, I like Handwriting w/o Tears. For math...? The only ones I can personally recommend are Christian-based. I've used Abeka, which has very little reference to God in it, so you'd be able to use that one, probably. I've used Rod & Staff. I love it, but it has a little more religious reference in it than Abeka does. I also like Horizons, but I can't remember if it has anything religious in it. Nothing sticks out in my mind, so I'm thinking if it does, it's less than Abeka. Something to consider, though... R&S is slow moving, and is on par with most state standards. Abeka is accelerated. Horizons is very accelerated. When choosing curriculum, the grade level on the cover of the book really doesn't matter. Go with your child's level, even if it means you're teaching from different grades per subject. Every curriculum has their own idea of what a 1st grader should know.

A lot of people LOVE Singapore and Math-U-See, but I've never tried them. I looked at them and decided I didn't like the style, but again... very popular. I don't think either is religiously based, either. Singapore has it's own style, so if you try it and then go back to public school later, you'll want to look at the school's standards to make sure there are no gaps in the curriculum. Math-U-See is hands-on math. Jenn (in_mommy) uses Mammoth Math, so she could tell you about that one. I really don't know much about it.

You can find stuff online for science/social studies if you'd like. Most of the stuff online is either free or cheap. Any ideas what you want to work on? Most kids that age are learning about communities (landmarks, intro to maps) and community helpers (who does what, how to call 911, etc.) for social studies, and they're learning about an overview of several topics for science (animal habitats, the 5 senses, etc.).

Last edited by BensMom; March 18th, 2010 at 02:34 PM.
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  #3  
March 18th, 2010, 05:08 PM
dalynnrmc's Avatar pronounced (day-lynn)
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First, congrats!! Do you plan on continuing to home educate after the first grade year?

I have a first grader and a kindergartner. I also have a fifth grader that we started homeschooling in the second grade. My grandma taught 1st grade in the ps for over 40 years and now substitutes full-time. LOL First grade is something I'm super familiar with!

Second, I always like to tell first timers to find out about learning styles FIRST. That's the most important factor in figuring out a curriculum for your child! When you start looking you may feel overwhelmed at all of the options, because there are TONS!! The place to start is reading about learning styles and finding out which your son is, as well as figuring out what your preferred teaching style might be. From there, you'll be able to quickly nix any given curriculum if it doesn't fit your needs. The ones you have left to choose from will surely be less overwhelming!

Third, I recommend a book - Well Trained Mind, by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. When you find it, don't be intimidated! It's super-thick, but you need only read the intro chapters and the ones for the elementary stage. It talks about so much more, but for a beginner, really - stop there!


A few of my favorite secular curricula include:

Math-U-See - use it, love it, don't recommend anything else! More than willing to answer questions about it as you go along - just PM me.

Handwriting Without Tears is a great one for the elementary stages. I don't like the cursive print, but you can jump that hurtle when you come to it. Don't worry about trying to get the full package (unless you discover yours is a kinesthetic learner); just get the teacher guide and the student book.

McRuffy stuff is excellent. Readers, etc. Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading is a great phonics extender, and Explode the Code is a workbook series that will complement it well. Modern Curriculum Press is another fantastic phonics workbook series. Other than that, for reading, just lots of practice. If you go the phonics route (most homeschoolers do, most public schools do not), look for decodable readers. Dr. Seuss, BOB books, MCP readers, and more; look for the ones that start with three letter words and short vowel sounds and build on that foundation. Levelled readers use sight words and are often difficult for the phonics learner, but in the long run children who learn to decode with phonics are better readers! /end rant.

You'll find great suggestions for science in the WTM book. We don't use a curricula at this stage; the world teaches science quite well on its own to a curious 6 year old!

I prefer something different for religious reasons, but for a secular family I highly recommend Story of the World. This is by the same author as the WTM book I recommended (as is the phonics teacher above). It does have some Biblical lessons in it, like who was Abraham and where does he fit in history, but only very, very few and only in light of what we know about them from secular history. And you can always skip that part if you want to. On a side note, I really don't think history is needed at this age, and we do a modified version of what is recommended in WTM since we don't start history in 1st grade. If you do this one, I suggest history "light". Do it when there's interest and don't worry if you don't get to it. It'll happen.


School for my littles only takes about an hour each day, give or take, and we only "do school" 4 days a week usually. We don't cover history, but we do plenty of social studies type activities in our scouting program. We cover science as the interest strikes, and for my kiddos that often revolves around the seasons - animals, plants, bugs. Lately, since I'm expecting, it's been about human anatomy. We jump on it and run when the kids are asking about it. Totally works for us, and many people are impressed with my kids' science knowledge. It bumfuzzles me, because I'm SO not a science person, but apparently they have enough interest and ask enough questions that they know more than the ps kids do. :shrug:

It's a lot delight-led learning for us right now. There are certain things I make them do - reading is the main one - but mostly we go with the flow at that age. Not worth pulling teeth over, I've found, as they learn what they learn anyway! LOL

Speaking of kiddos, I gotta go check on them! This was a novel of a post - hope it was helpful! Feel free to ask away, even PM me if you'd like.
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  #4  
March 18th, 2010, 05:35 PM
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I think the main problem with answering that question is I could point you to SO MANY things.

If you're looking for something that's all put together for you, you could look at
K12
Oak Meadow
Calvert
Sonlight - which is religious, but I've read that it's very easy to tweak it to make it
secular
Moving Beyond the Page

You might want to look at some books on how to homeschool - different homeschooling methods - some suggestions are

The Well Trained Mind
The Unschooling Handbook
Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum
Everything You Need to Know about Homeschool Unit Studies

Some of those books are Christian (especially the last one), but have great information for anyone.

For first grade for my oldest child the only thing we used that I would use again is Saxon Math - and I'm not sure it's my favorite math program, but I can't afford to try them all. A lot of people like Singapore Math. My personal opinion is that it's not very parent friendly, but maybe it's just me. I intend to check out Right Start Math and Math U See at the Ohio convention in April and maybe I'll have a new recommendation, or maybe I'll be more sure about Saxon.

For my middle child, who will be in first grade next year, I intend to use Moving Beyond the Page, Noeo Biology 1 (Christian company with secular curriculum), History Odyssey Ancients 1, Writing With Ease, Grammar with a Giggle, Saxon Math.

This sounds like a lot to swim through, but take your time. You can go with one of the curricula I listed above that have it all together for you and you would have all school year to decide whether or not it is working for you and your child, and to read and look at other curricula if you decide you want something different.

Last edited by crstarlette; March 18th, 2010 at 05:38 PM.
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  #5  
March 18th, 2010, 06:46 PM
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Finding a non-religious curriculum that works for us is hard.

URL="http://docsdomain.net/blog/?page_id=711"]Secular list[/URL]
Secular boxed curriculum
Oakmeadow
Calvert

Math
Math-U-See has a religious letter in the front to the parents that's it. I don't like the program.
Singapore math- I really like but I only buy the work books
Saxon math- never used it possibly will after 6th grade Singapore math

SS
Stories of the world- is NOT secular could not get passed the first chapter before realizing it was to religious.
We've used time4learning, brain pop, college review books, Complete book of US history, books from the library, sonlight, Graphic novels, fairy tales, fables, myths and a young peoples guide to history. I have to mix and match history because I want it to be more like anthropology.


Science-
Singapore science- I like a lot very light though and science kits

English-
singapore- grammar
Explode the code-writing, phonics review and spelling uses god once in a word search.
Spectrum Reading- reading, and writing
Painless grammar
excellent in writing- fables, Myths and fairytale religious opening letter
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  #6  
March 18th, 2010, 07:02 PM
in_mommy's Avatar I am just me
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Hey Beth! Happy to see you over here!! Choosing curricula is actually the hardest part of hs'ing! I would totally recommend the math that we are using, it is totally nonreligious, its called Math Mammoth. If you ever had a question or anything, the lady who wrote it will respond to you personally within the day, and she even has some youtube videos showing you how to do some of the more advanced stuff I just cant say enough about it, it really helped out Whit. I would also highly recommend using Explode The Code and Sequential Spelling, both are excellent for phonic work and spelling and they are both totally nonreligious. How long are you planning to hs for?
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  #7  
March 18th, 2010, 07:25 PM
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Just thought I'd say Saxon has both a math AND a phonics/reading program, both are supposed to be quite good. I personally prefer ABeka's standards for the early years in math (and honestly, ABeka math is really easy in the elementary years to ignore/remove any religious content) and haven't used the Saxon phonics myself, but have heard it is good.
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  #8  
March 18th, 2010, 07:45 PM
dalynnrmc's Avatar pronounced (day-lynn)
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LOL SOTW is one of those that is often "too religious" for the secular and "too secular" for the religious. It's a great basis though, and from what I've seen the Biblical references can easily be skipped.
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  #9  
March 18th, 2010, 08:13 PM
in_mommy's Avatar I am just me
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I personally don't find SOTW to be very religious at all LOL but Mystery of History is very religious IMO.
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  #10  
March 18th, 2010, 08:15 PM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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Duh! I completely forgot about Saxon! *smacks forehead* I also like Sequential Spelling, and while I prefer Mystery of History (religious), Story of the World is good, too. It was my second choice, but I wanted one that mixed religious and secular together. I also forgot to mention Spectrum. Love the Spectrum stuff! They offer all subjects, but the only ones I'm hands-on familiar with are reading and geography (what we'll do over the summer this year). I've seen the others in person and remember liking them, but I wasn't in the market for those subjects at the time, so I didn't get an in-depth look at them. KWIM?

Last edited by BensMom; March 18th, 2010 at 08:21 PM.
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  #11  
March 18th, 2010, 09:00 PM
frgsonmysox's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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So.much.information. I'm feeling so totally overwhelmed right now. I'm really trying to decide if I want a program that will walk me through this, or if I want to mix and match. About how much money do you guys normally spend?

For Anthony it's quite difficult. He's very advanced in school and quite bored. He's already reading on a much higher grade level, around a 5th grade level at least - but he loves non-fiction/science reading more than fiction. Would you still recommend a phonics type program for a child who is already reading at a much higher level? For math he can do addition and subtraction and has the fundamentals down for multiplication. The law requires we also teach Social Studies, health, science, and art. I figure art won't be so difficult, but I'm stumped as to what is appropriate for the other ones. Honestly I have no idea what is and is not appropriate for him. I worry that I may end up screwing up his education rather than enhancing it.

Right now we are only looking at homeschooling for next year. This may change depending on how we feel after we do this.
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  #12  
March 18th, 2010, 09:16 PM
in_mommy's Avatar I am just me
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It can be VERY overwhelming as there are so many choices out there. If he is that advanced, then getting something that is put together for you is not going to be all that practical, as what may work out for him in reading, may not work out for him as well in other areas. You could do a placement test for him on the Explode the Code and for the Math that we are using to find out what level he should be placed in. The math mammoth costs $29.99 or something like that and you download it in PDF form or for a few bucks more you can have it mailed to you or bought in hardback form, she also has several examples or what the work/tests are like. She gives out LOTS of free worksheets too.

The amount that you spend really varies from person to person depending on if you buy your stuff new, if you download things, use free books/curricula, etc. I would guess this school year on curricula I have spent under $250. I bought a couple of things new, but mostly I bought used books and then we used downloads.
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  #13  
March 18th, 2010, 09:16 PM
Sandra314's Avatar Homeschooling Mom
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Hi Beth,

First off, many wonderful ideas have been said already so I'll mention what I can add to the dicussion.

One book I can recommend to design your homeschool curriculum is
"Home Learning Year by Year: How to design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool through High School " by Rebecca Rupp.

Unlike many other homeschooling books we've read, this one does not use religion as a basis for choosing curriculum. You can preview the book on Google and decide for youself it it is worth your money to buy it.
Home learning year by year
I have used this book for over two years and still continue to go back to it for reference.

Also, read reviews online on curriculum. I did but still at times I find out that what works for everyone may not work for us.

The sites that come to mind on Curriculum reviews are:
Curriculum Choice
Homeschool Reviews
TOS Homeschool Crew (click the category of curriculm and product reviews on the right side bar)
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  #14  
March 18th, 2010, 09:47 PM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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Definitely don't get a boxed curriculum if he's not on the same level for all subjects! We made that mistake. I had no clue what I was getting into last year, so I bought a boxed curriculum (around $300) for kindergarten (knowing we wouldn't use the reading part, but not knowing what else to do). We didn't use it. Turns out, he was ready for 1st grade and was already on a 4th grade reading level. I just had him tested again last month (after going through explode the code, actually!) and he's on a high school reading level (3rd comprehension). Finding something that caters to a 4 year olds' lack of writing skills and that is on an emotionally appropriate level is very tough, though!!

Explode the Code only goes through grade 4, but I'd still recommend at least taking a peek at it, even if you only do books 7 & 8. There are other books by the same publisher, too. Beyond the Code has 4 books (grades 2-4) that are for comprehension and thinking skills. We did one lesson a day and finished the series in 6 weeks. It was fun, but I didn't like it nearly as much as explode the code. Right now we're doing Early Reading Comprehension in Varied Subject Matter. LOVE IT!! It's for 2nd thru 12th if I remember right. It gives you a short story (usually 3 paragraphs or so) followed by about 5 multiple choice questions, a section for putting the sentences in story order, 3-6 vocabulary words from the story, and a thinking question at the end. It takes us 10 minutes to do it, and we do one a day. It's his favorite subject. (Any type of language arts is his favorite subject. LOL!) We'll also be doing Spectrum Reading for 2nd grade this summer. It's very similar. Varied subject matter, short stories, a few review questions. When I say "varied subject matter", I mean that the stories can range from biography to science to math. Really, anything goes.

For health, you could do things like making healthy food choices, taking care of your 5 senses, hygeine, physical activity, and maybe even safety. I think that counted as health when I was in school? Are you given guidelines about how often you have to include health? If not, you could do just one semester of it, doing a weekly lesson, or all year doing a monthly lesson. You wouldn't need to buy a book, either. Just take pictures of things like cooking and brushing teeth, and then make a scrapbook about it.

Don't worry about screwing him up. He's your kid. He doesn't belong to the government. You know him best, and you know best what he needs to learn. If he wants to learn multiplication, do it. Start with skip counting. I taught Ben his 3's and 4's using the tune to Jingle Bells. He learned his 2's using the theme to Thomas the Train. Really... anything you want to do is fine.

One step at a time. Ask all the questions you want. There are no stupid questions.
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  #15  
March 19th, 2010, 06:41 AM
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We use reading as our core source of information.

Miguel reads at a high secondary level but we used explode the code for foundations in writing and spelling. You may want to try using the DORA to figure out what level's in reading, science, spelling and social studies to get. DORA tests High Freq. Words, Word Recognition, Phonics, Spelling, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension. If I would have used it at the beginning of the year I wouldn't have him flying through curriculum that was to easy.

Each math has a placement test to it find one you like and just continue with that. If you are thinking he may return to public school look for a spiral or semi-spiral math curriculum.

You may want to look at the magic tree house for science and social studies. Miguel really enjoyed it when he was in first. We cover health in science, cooking, and sports. My biggest downfall in curriculum buying is mid-year test freak out, and feeling what he's doing isn't enough. I wast about $400 on extra things that I know deep down will not work for him. I only spend $600 a year or less.
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  #16  
March 19th, 2010, 06:53 AM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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Oh... forgot to talk about cost. If we do language arts (reading this year, english next year, whatever... plus comprehension and stuff), spelling, latin, writing, math, science, social studies, art, music, and Bible, and we go year-round, it costs us about $400/yr. I could do it for way cheaper than that, but there are certain subjects and/or publishers I'm not willing to budge on. I also prefer to buy certain things new rather than used.

If you want to find used stuff, look at Used homeschool curriculum, and homeschool groups, events, and activities.
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  #17  
March 19th, 2010, 07:17 AM
frgsonmysox's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Thank you guys so much! So after talking to Chris we think we are leaning towards purchasing our lessons separate. We have the Rosetta Stone so we were hoping to use that for him for Foreign Language, and we are going to purchase him a recorder/music also. I guess I need to get him formally tested to test his levels prior to buying anything. We'll also be talking to the school to see if they suggest anything.

I can't quite recall what is encompassed in Social Studies, I know it's not quite history yet.
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  #18  
March 19th, 2010, 08:02 AM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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Have you actually used Rosetta Stone yourself yet? It's really geared toward high school or adult. It's kinda hard for elementary or younger to follow. I guess it probably depends on which language you choose and how familiar your child already is with that language, though?

I also recommend testing through LetsGoLearn (D.O.R.A. for reading and D.O.M.A. for math). They're only $20 each, and Ben loved them. They give great details in the assessment, too.
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  #19  
March 19th, 2010, 10:28 AM
frgsonmysox's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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We have. A friend of ours who homeschools uses the Rosetta Stone for her young children, obviously not as in depth as an adult would.
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  #20  
March 19th, 2010, 11:37 AM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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Oh, ok. Cool, then. Rosetta is good. I hope it works for you.
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