Friday, August 17, 2012

Homeschooling Noobs

In keeping with the 'all new for the first time ever' theme in our current lives, we have decided to home-school this year. Truthfully, we had decided this before we found out we were moving, and we had registered at a home-school based public charter school in the area that was going to really be ideal. Now that we have moved, we can't attend that charter school, and have to figure something else out since homeschooling will be even more ideal in our new surroundings. There is another home-school based charter school in our new area, but it does not offer comparable extra curricular activities as the one at which we were registered, and I kind of figure that if I have to pay for these activities myself now, perhaps I should be choosing my own curriculum and cutting the state tests and other requirements out entirely. I haven't decided yet. I have also totally  dropped the ball on getting anywhere close to making any decision beyond 'we are home schoolers now!' I am dragging out the same i've-been-moving-for-an-entire-month excuse and conveniently use it here to fit my needs.

I know the whole half dozen of you (if that many!) who might read this may have some homeschooling experience in your lives, so I am appealing to you to point me in the right direction. Your top three favorite tips, a few linky online resources, favorite curriculum, perhaps? There is just too much out there, and I don't need my head swimming while I try to narrow things down on my own with no reason to choose one thing over the other.

Here are a few of my thoughts right now:

Charter school advantages:

  1. They give me the curriculum and help me make a lesson plan for each child
  2. FREE
  3. Resource teachers and tutors available, as needed, FREE
  4. The keep track of grading, testing, official report cards, makes it easier to possibly transition later if/when needs arise
  5. Some extra curricular activities, classes, labs offered, some free, some at a discount
  6. Easier transition from quasi-involved parent to primary educator at home

Charter disadvantages

  1. Public school curriculum, with public school textbooks
  2. Some schedule/lesson plan requirements that are non-negotiable throughout the year
  3. Still have to take state tests
  4. Generally not as freeing/flexible as doing it yourself, but maybe I need the structure to get me started, but maybe I will resent it just because I like to complain....not sure yet

The charter school office opens this Monday, then I will know more details about this particular school. Until then I am on the fence about it.

What I want out of homeschooling:

  1. Better quality family time that includes Erik, who will probably have mid-week days off and odd shift work hours the whole of our children's schooling years.
  2. Solid Catholic faith based knowledge relating to the world in which we live.
  3. Better understanding of history, esp. related to our faith and the saints
  4. Keeping them home keeps them more innocent, longer. It's a fact.
  5. I want to impart to my children the things that are truly important in life, and learn to better appreciate those things myself.
  6. Flexibility. If we want to go visit our family or take a trip overnight in the middle of the week when Erik is home, it shouldn't be a problem. Our time should be our time.

So, can I get what I want out of homeschooling from the charter school, I don't yet know. But if I choose to do it on my own, which I really want to, I don't know where to start. Where do I go to keep it simple, cheap, and cover all my bases? Where do you get your stuff? What curriculum do you use? Is there anything online based?

Please, just hold my hand, tell me it's going to be ok, and point me in the right direction for success. I know it's a highly traveled road these days, and there are lots of different ways to do it, just give me something good to start with.

P.S. I have used St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in the past, for half a school year, for one child. While it is fantastic material and curriculum, and I might use some of their books this year, it's not quite what I think I am looking for right now. Lots of work. Unless you think I should look at it again. Do you think I should? I'm desperate people, can you smell it?


  1. Hurray for homeschooling!
    Speaking as both a former middle school public school teacher and a mom starting her 6th year of homeschool, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I STILL don't know anything.

    But nevertheless, here's my thoughts:
    1. We've used Catholic Heritage Curriculum (CHC), Seton, and a mishmash of various secular sources. While Seton is very thorough, I find the workload to be heavy to the point of crippling. I really really like CHC's more gentle approach, and have not seen the kids' education suffer for it.

    2. You can order CAT tests through Seton. You give then at home, mail them in to Seton, and they score AND rank your kids. We give them at the end of the year as a diagnostic tool.

    3. Find a homeschool group nearby. Doesn't have to be a Catholic group, but in my experience, the Catholic groups have been preferable to the secular ones in some aspects. I don't know if this is close to your new house, but a quickie search found this group:

    4. Again. Find a homeschool group. I can't emphasize this enough. There is nothing more valuable than meeting with veterans so you can pick their brains, get their advice, and have them talk you off the homeschool ledge when you're convinced you've ruined your children for life somehow (you haven't).

    5. Relax. Pray all the time. Go to adoration whenever you can. Try an have fun. Cliche, cliche, cliche. Platitude, platitude, platitude. Sorry.

  2. Also, if the yahoo group "Cathswap" is still operational, you can find lots and lots of used Catholic curriculum there. One year I got all my books that way, and saved a lot. Downside is that it takes a while to find everything you need, since it's not a company, it's just people selling their used books.

    Online things- what grades are you teaching?

    1. thank you! I knew there had to be another option out there over Seton. Seton was just too demanding and set me up for failure. This year we are doing pre-k, 1,3,4 grades. I have already met a few families in my new parish who home-school, so hopefully I will be getting to know them soon and won't be all alone out here.

  3. I sent you an e-mail! Look she recommended CHC too! ;0)