This is it. It's here... our LAST summer before we enter our "schooling" years! And honestly, I couldn't be more excited. In fact, I wouldn't mind at all if we just skipped July and went straight to August (talk to me mid-October and I may be singing a different tune).
After one year of private school at three, and two years of "preschool homeschooling" at four and five - our oldest, Micah, turns six in September and will finally, officially be registered for Kindergarten! I will still be doing preschool with our 4 year old, Hannah, but Micah will be the only one reported to the state this year, so it definitely feels more "official." If you've been following our journey so far, you know that we have felt called to homeschool in this season. I went through every level of indecisiveness about this for years, and now I'm fully committed and confident that it's the best decision for our family. I could list all of the reasons out for you, and I may do that in a future blog post, but for now - if you are curious and have any questions for yourself about this option, please feel free to message me privately or comment below! I would love to try and help encourage you to do what God is leading you to do for your family, whatever that looks like! But for this post, specifically, I wanted to talk about how we chose our curriculum for this upcoming school year.
Step one: Gather Resources
First off, let me say, I knew nothing. Sure, I have heard the terms "Abeka" and "Saxon" thrown around whenever the homeschool conversations came up. But for the most part, I entered this homeschooling journey with no personal experience. So I relied heavily on the internet as my guide. I welcomed any and all suggestions from friends, compiled a list together and then did my research! These are special days we live in, where we have no shortage of information at our fingertips, so this was actually, really time-consuming! Youtube was probably one of my favorite resources. Being able to see the curriculum and hear straight from the people who have used it, helped a ton! Last year, my research led me to start with a literature-based curriculum called Sonlight. This was a really great starting point for us and it was worth the money alone in books! But I realized pretty quickly that my children - like most four and five year olds - enjoyed keeping their hands busy. We only lasted about two months following their schedule, until I scrapped it and just started doing my own thing. I thought I would need a schedule to keep me accountable (because "winging it" comes a little more naturally for me) but, I realized I already have a huge accountability built into me as their mother. I WANT them to learn. So however it happens, whether we do 2-3 hours of bookwork one day and 30 minutes the next day - you can be sure this mama's gonna make it happen!
Step two: choose subjects
Once I had gathered together a list of some of the top curriculum companies recommended to me - this is where I got overwhelmed. There are SO many good choices out there! How would I ever know which one would be just right for my children? I started by looking at the state requirements for Kindergarten and then making a list of subjects that I knew I wanted to cover. I categorized each curriculum option under each subject. Doing this helped me visually see that I had a TON of recommendations for language arts curriculums but not that many for math, for example. It didn't seem as overwhelming to choose our Math curriculum, once I saw the shorter list.
Step three: compare value
The next step is important for our family - getting our money's worth. I think cost is a major factor for most families choosing to homeschool (since they often have to sacrifice one income) and thankfully homeschooling can be done on the most simple budget! There were a few companies that stood out to me specifically because of cost. I absolutely loved that the number one recommended curriculum to me this year, was also one of the most affordable! I also discovered that our top choice for a math curriculum offered a pastor's discount, so that pretty much solidified that choice for us too.
With all that said, I am excited to announce our curriculum choices for next year... (drum roll please)
I love that this Language Arts curriculum incorporate: phonics and reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation, literature and art all in one! I ordered the Level K course set for Micah and the Level K Primer for Hannah. They will only be one school grade apart, so it will be fun to teach them both at a very similar pace! This program also comes with mp3 songs to teach them the days of the week and months of the year (we've only listened to them a few times and my kids already have them memorized!) So fun! This is a newer curriculum and was recommended to me by SO many people, so I'm super excited to try it out!
I haven't received the full curriculum yet (so no pictures), but we did receive a sample packet and amazingly my kids already loved it! We are ordering the Primer Curriculum set for Micah and adding on an extra Primer Student Workbook for Hannah. I can tell they are going to love the hands-on approach to learning math. I also appreciate that this program comes with video tutorials that can help me communicate the lesson, or we can even watch together! I really enjoy math, so it was important to me that I chose a math curriculum that would help foster a love for math in my children. This one has been around for many years and seemed like a perfect fit (it also comes with a pastor's discount, so win-win!)
The great thing about homeschooling is that I can work at the pace of each child's learning. I know a lot of experienced parents have told me not to rush the preschool and kindergarten years - that they learn mostly through play. And we plan to incorporate lots of art and crafts, explore days and music into our everyday life. Anyone who knows me, knows that those things come most naturally to me anyway! But my children ask to sit and do workbooks nearly every day (they don't care that it's summer!) so we go with it. I never want to stifle their love for learning. This is why I choose curriculum - to keep track of progress and stay on course. Each year we can evaluate and next year may look differently. These are fun times! And I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to get to do this schooling thing with my favorite little people.