Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Homeschooling: HOW We Do It, part 1 of 3

How do we homeschool with 9 children?  *smile*  We currently have a plan for our family that is working beautifully for us, and the curriculum is a new type as of these last 2 years.  We spent our first 6 years homeschooling one way (watch for a future post on how we began), but as our family continued growing and our oldest children were needing the freedom to become more independent we developed our current plan, which we've been implementing for two years now (as of summer 2011).  We've grown with the process over time and have enjoyed homeschooling more and more.  Not that homeschooling is always easy-breezy (well, academics are easy, it's the character growth that's harder!)  But with all of the hard work and our leaning on the Lord for strength, perseverance, faithfulness, creativity, there is abundant blessing, well-being, success, vision and encouragement for the future, and peace in knowing that we're within the Lord's will.  Continuing my homeschooling series I'll share with you how we homeschool currently with 9 children.  In this part 1 we'll look at:
  • The blessings in using Christian textbooks
  • What about learning styles? 
  • What our school day looks like 
  • Making time for school
In part 2 we will look at:  managing our school days, Daddy - how he is involved, Mommy - how I manage myself, and our annual first day of school.

    For the first 6 years of our homeschooling only our oldest 2 daughters needed my full attention for school (younger kiddos were productively occupied, and loved on, some doing preschool activities, but not needing curriculum).  But two years ago I found myself unprepared for the fact that I suddenly had two more children ready to begin kindergarten and first grade curriculum.  I hadn't even realized or planned for them to be ready that year; they had shown absolutely no interest in those types of schooling activities seemingly just the week before!  I needed a totally new plan.  The curriculum we had been using simply would not work for the four oldest children going in to grades K, 1st, 5th, and 6th simultaneously.  I had no alternative plan to the curriculum we started with loved, and thought we'd always use.

    I began reflecting on how other large families we knew homeschooled and realized that most of those moms were using Christian textbooks.  Now this was not an option I thought I would ever consider because my only experience with textbooks was my own public school experience growing up.  Those books taught me next-to-nothing (even though I was a 3.9 GPA student), they were dry, dry, dry, and booor...ing.  But I also thought about the fact that these moms I was looking to were very good moms, were established and successful at homeschooling and discipling their children.  So I decided to do my homework and find out why they chose the Christian textbook method.  I went to a very trusted resource and author, Teri Maxwell (mother of 8), and read her book Managers of Their Schools.  Having read nine of her other books I knew this would be very informative, encouraging, and would give me vision for our family's future.  Having loved the book, as always, I ended up very much patterning our homeschooling after Teri's methods.

    The blessings in using Christian textbooks
    The main curriculum we chose to use is called Alpha Omega Press Lifepacs.  A set of 10 work books per subject to be completed over the course of a school year.  Right now I'd like to share with you what we learned about Christian textbook curriculum in general, and later in the section of this post, "What our school day looks like", I'll share with you which subjects specifically we do each day with textbooks..


    Alpha Omega Press sells both textbooks and computer based learning called Switched On School House for school-aged children 3rd grade and up.  I purchased the 3rd grade science curriculum for our 7-year-old son (at the time) who was very computer proficient and he just had help from an older sister to do some of the written/typed answers and the experiments.  The program is really impressive, and students can choose to highlight parts of the text and have it read to them by the computer; this was good for Brandon when he first started so that he could focus on the learning and not yet have to work on his reading skills simultaneously.  (This photo of Brandon working is of computer learning but not of SOS).


    I was completely unaware of how many blessings there are by using Christian textbooks!  Here are some of the ones we experience:
    • they have the materials presented clearly and in an efficient way for learning, broken in to reasonable 'chunks' (assuming you choose good texts)
    • they save me a lot of preparation time, making it possible for me to teach children at different levels easily
    • they provide an orderly, logical sequence to move through materials year-to-year
    • they provide the tools of learning and a core of knowledge my children use to build onto with their own interests and strengths
    • they help my children learn that learning requires discipline and is not always entertaining
    • they make it possible for me to teach things in which I have little or no background
    • they offer structure
    • transcripts and records are easier to keep
    • they enable me to teach a large number of children more easily
    • they enable earlier student independence
    • In most cases teacher's manuals, answer keys, and other teaching aids are available
    Many moms have idealistic mental images of what school will be like, but in reality it is unattainable and exhausting, especially with a larger family. With textbooks there is no making trips to lots of extra stores for the materials needed to do school.  There is no dependence upon the library to have what we need.  It is paralyzing to the flow of school when the library doesn't have what we need when we need it, and it is a common problem because many moms in the area are following a similar purchased curriculum or are focusing on a similar season of the year or holiday and everyone needs the same books.  With textbooks there is also only one financial investment, rather than having an ongoing expense.  And textbooks and workbooks do not have to be consumed; they can be re-used for other kids as they grow in to those grades - again, a financial blessing.  We have our older daughters answer the workbook questions into spiral notebooks (they each pick out their own picture theme/style of notebook which they love), but our 8-year-old son who is in varying grade levels depending upon the subject, just consumes the Lifepac workbooks because he is not proficient enough yet in his handwriting to be copying all of his work to a notebook.

    Textbook learning is easily measurable.  I know exactly what the children have accomplished, it can be easily checked and evaluated, and I can measure their comprehension; it is objective.  The material is presented in an orderly fashion, and chronologically, which makes sense to children and they can easily build upon their learning as they go.  Through textbooks children develop good life skills of taking written material and pulling out the key information, then impressing it in to their mind through study, discussion, and projects.  Children can become independent learners, which was something I needed our oldest girls to do (and it was time anyway as they were ages 9 and 10-years-old) so that I could devote my attention more to the younger children, their schooling, and to the toddlers and babies.  The girls were thrilled to become self-paced, not having to rely upon my time or availability.  They were then free to complete their work at their own pace and get it done earlier in the day.  We've found that textbooks are not too difficult for slower learners, or too easy for faster ones.  A slower learner can take the time he or she needs to master the concepts while still keeping up with the year's curriculum, and it's easy to go back and re-do work they didn't quite grasp as measured by quizzes and tests. 

    Textbooks have also become associated with classroom problems that parents desire to avoid.  But the problems are not necessarily stemming from the textbooks themselves, but rather from the classroom.  When the schools take out morals, ethics, character, and prayer - surprise - they fall...apart.  We can take the textbooks out of the classroom environment, however, and use them as a tool to provide a beautiful, effective, thorough education at home.  This is one mom who, with text books, has become so much happier and accomplished, and so have the kids!


    What about learning styles?
    There has been a great deal of focus given to learning styles in the academic community:  auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.  Focusing on teaching to and purchasing material for such individuality, however, is not emotionally, practically, or financially conducive to homeschooling 9 children.  However, parents we've known (and from our own short experience) have been able to teach all of their children from textbooks, not just the visual learners.  Auditory learners can read their material aloud or have it read to them; kinesthetic learners always have writing to be done in their assignments and can always do more writing if they need to.  Learning styles have actually begun being questioned as to their validity.  What do learning styles do for a child who then comes to believe that he has to be taught in a certain way or he cannot learn?  Sometimes learning is difficult in life, but people need to learn to persevere, and learn strategies to help themselves learn however material is presented.  These skills are learned, habits are formed, and expectations of them selves and others are set during this time.  Textbooks have been used in schools for many years and children have been able to learn.  In fact, the Bible has been used as a textbook for thousands of years prior to formalized schools.  Apparently God intended us all to learn from that and He was not negligent in His understanding of people.  When moms feel they have to discover their children's learning style and then have no choice but to acquire materials and time to each each student a specific way this can become an overwhelming burden, and it keeps the students dependent upon her now, and upon others in the future. Learning styles teaching may also lead to parents enrolling their children in public or private schools because they falsely believe that they can't teach their children well enough.


    What our school day looks like
    Below is our weekly schedule from last fall (how and why we do scheduling) if you would like to see it.  For some of you visual learners like myself it might be useful.  *smile*  (Double click on the photo to enlarge it one or two times if you'd like to actually read it - ha ha.)  The dark shaded areas are meal times so that I can easily see at a glance what things happen in which blocks of time during the day; and the light shaded areas are the babies feedings, so that I can see across the span of children what each person is doing while I'm occupied with feeding.


    Our days of homeschooling the children include studying math through a great curriculum called Math-U-See, which we have used since the beginning of our homeschooling career 8 years ago, and we LOVE it.  The children do history & geography and language arts via Alpha Omega's Lifepacs; the two oldest children were doing LA via the Lifepacs but we recently switched them to Alpha Omega's computer-based learning,  Switched On School House (or SOS), for that subject upon their request.  Our 8-year-old son has had great success with SOS as well, and he even asks to use it in his free time!  So we use SOS for language arts, science, and Spanish.  The children study Bible with their NKJ study Bibles, and they play violin taking private lessons twice a month. 

    The textbook and work book learning happens primarily at the kitchen table for the sake of having nice handwriting, space to open books, for accountability on quizzes and tests, and because the kids always like to "be with everyone" - love that!  The older girls also work in their room at a desk sometimes, or at the playroom / computer room desk, sometimes on the back deck when it's warm and dry outside, sometimes in mommy and daddy's bedroom where it's quieter, and sometimes, in December, by the Christmas tree.  *smile* 


    We have some homeschool drawers beside the kitchen table where we keep all of the curriculum currently being used (additional curriculum, like the rest of the workbooks for the year are kept in the playroom on shelves).


    The oldest girls with the most curriculum have the large bottom drawer, mom has the next-up large drawer, then upper drawers are for smaller supplies, pencils/erasers/glue/scissors, and math manipulatives.  On top of the drawers are more school books, the electronic pencil sharpener, a bucket of colored pencils (love-love these; no ink to get anywhere, and the kids like that pencils don't bleed like pens do), and there's a 3-ring whole punch.  We get out school supplies and put them away as we use them throughout the morning, keeping our table free of clutter and maintaining a plenty large usable work space.  

    We use a 3-foot by 2-foot size magnetic white board to do some teaching, to keep track of what everyone has accomplished in their day with check boxes and to be able to see at a glance what is still to be done without my having to interview people.  


    We also use it to display some of the children's work, and to keep our sticker charts handy for rewards (see photo below).  The children earn rewards for different things: drinking their whole 24 oz. water bottle in a day, sitting on bottoms an entire meal (for those who struggle with this), completing work in an unusually timely way, and anything else I desire to reward them for.  *smile*  They can earn .50 cents for completing one row of five stickers (equaling $2.50 for the whole chart) or one Jelly Belly (for those who don't realize the value of money yet).  Sticker charts can be purchased online for $3.99 for a package of 24 from Shapes, Etc., and stickers for these charts also from the same company.


    I also give the children scratch-n-sniff stickers as rewards when they're younger (or if they still want them when they're older) and they complete their workbook page for the day; they used to stick them on the actual workbook page they just completed, but eventually they started sticking them on the front of their workbook so that they could enjoy seeing them accumulate, and enjoy smelling them all each day.  These stickers can be purchased online at Stickers Galore, in small quantities($2.29 for 60 stickers), or in a large variety pack (of both pictures and scents, $11 for 435 stickers) which is a couple years worth supply, and very cost-efficient.  I wish I still had one of their completed school workbooks to show you that is covered edge to edge with stickers - it's so cute!  But here's the beginning of the next workbook's sticker collection.  *smile*
    You can see on our weekly schedule (above) that the oldest girls school independently.  I just check that their work is completed each day, and I correct their quizzes & tests, then I rotate my time through all of the seven younger children, doing school curriculum with some, preschool activities with another, holding time with toddlers, and feedings and snuggles with babies.  Our oldest daughter finishes her school very early in the day so she also spends much of her morning helping with the other kids school & activities.  

    I created a grade sheet to help me keep track of our 7th graders' progress this year (our 11 and 12-year-olds both completed 7th grade this year); each of the girls has her own page.  I do not start giving letter grades for the children's work until about 4th or 6th grade, depending upon the child.  There's no need, and it can put undo pressure on them.  I do always correct all of the children's work and have them redo problems they got wrong, but I don't assign a letter grade to the assignment until they're older.  So each of the 10 workbooks for one year has 3-5 quizzes before that book's final test.  I grade 30% of their final grade from quizzes and 70% of their final grade from tests, using the typical grading scale:  90% and above A, 80% and above B, 70% and above C, etc.  Here is my grade sheet for next year (the math section at the bottom is a completely different curriculum and type of grading).



    I hand write into the left column which Lifepac book they're working in (i.e. for 7th grade there is book #701, 702, 703, etc.), and then I record their grades for each quiz #1, #2, etc. (example: 93 pts. - A) as they take them.  I then average those point scores and multiply the total times 30% for their final overall quiz grade.  When they take the final test for that book I multiply that score of points (total of 100 possible) by 70%.  Then I add their final quiz points to their final test points to determine their final points/grade for that book.  At the end of the year I'll average their book grades down that vertical column on the end to find their final grade in that subject for that year.  The SOS computer-based curriculum keeps track of all of the students grades within the curriculum for me.

    I also pull out the final test from the center of each workbook before the student begins that book and I keep it in a clear plastic sleeve in a three-ring binder with my grade sheet, totaling 10 final tests in sleeves for that one subject.  When the student is ready to take a final test she just gets the test from my binder and does the test at the kitchen table on notebook paper and then turns it in to me for grading; I then record her grade on my record sheet.


    Making time for school
    We have found that it is crucial for us to be home during the week in order to complete our school.  So much gets accomplished by doing this simple thing!  We do school 4-5 days per week, depending upon whether or not we have any fun, unusual plans for Friday that week.  We love to take field trips as a family periodically, but our week is not full of outside commitments.  Even our wonderful music teacher comes to our home to give music lessons.  Also, three of the kids at a time spend Tuesday afternoons at Grandma & Grandpa's house, but we still complete most of our school those days in the morning.  And Fridays we sometimes choose to have friends over to visit and play and have lunch; if no one is scheduled to come then we do school, and perhaps add in an educational video documentary via the Netflix online library as a treat.  Because we try to be home during the week without filling that time with lots of outside commitments we have time for a couple of these pleasant activities with family and friends.


    So here's the beginning of how we do homeschooling.  *smile*  I hope you'll look forward to  part 2 when we will look at:  managing our school days, Daddy - how he is involved, Mommy - how I manage myself, and our annual first day of school.  And I have a bunch more posts to write specifically for our homeschooling series.


    Blessings on your efforts!


    My other posts on homeschooling:
    Click Here - for more posts on homeschooling


    Recommended Resources:

    32 comments:

    1. Wow! Wonderful to see how you manage your school. Did you do school 4-5 days a week when you started with your girls?

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    2. Erika,

      I really love you posts, but they have so much information and are SO overwhelming. Would you ever consider writing them as you do, but simply breaking it down into five days and posting a different portion each day. That would keep people coming back daily which would help your blog grow. For people like me who are easily overwhelmed by such a quantity of quality information, it would help us see each piece of the puzzle instead of having to look at the forest instead of seeing the trees.

      I do appreciate what you write, but I don't think I get quite as much as I could if it were slightly otherwise presented.

      Thanks for your sharing your heart with us in your posts.

      Karen

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      1. I actually just kept the page in my tab and read the material over the course of a week. I'm a blogger and with six 8 and under I could never write such a lengthy post, but I'm thrilled that it is here in one spot rather in multiple links for me to keep tracking down. I can certainly understand your perspective so I definitely recommend just taking your time reading through it. Hope that helps!

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    3. Karen,

      Thank you so much for taking time to comment and to give input not only on what Eika posts but also on how the information is presented and transmitted.

      We have struggled with this issue since starting this blog and will likely continue to struggle with it for some time to come.

      On the one hand, we dont really like the idea of hitting peoples email inboxes with something everyday. That is too much like spamming and we think it would dull peoples senses to the emails they do get from us if they were coming everyday.

      But, we also feel your pain where the length and depth of the posts. We work on them for some time prior to posting, working through drafts, edits and re-writes to get it as close to how we like it as we can. Then, on larger posts like this one we labor over if, and where to break it into componant parts not just for you but for us as well.

      We will definately give your suggestion some thought and try to work out how we could make the posts smaller and perhaps a little more frequent. And, dont forget that our posting is about our daily/weekly/monthly life and not just reflections on a long ago past from our rocking chairs. Erika spends much of her spare time (and sometimes all of it and then some) writing these posts and we struggle with keeping ballance in our own lives as well.

      Thanks again for your input, we sincerely appreciate it!

      Bob

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    4. ERINCOSTA - Thank you! =) No, I schooled 6+ days a week! Yikes! When we started schooling our oldest in kindergarten, I thought I really had to accomplish our entire year's curriculum within that year, so I was trying to get way too much done with her (at age 5!). And when real life got in the way then I was trying to make up time in the evenings and on weekends. Mistake. ;) Totally burned me out, naturally. As I got to know more homeschooling families I calmed down, let go of 2/3 of what I was trying to do, made sure we only schooled until lunch at the latest and then stopped for the day, and never did weekends and holidays. LOL Seems pretty basic, but I just couldn't relax and just do as much as was practical at first. =)

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    5. KAREN - Thank you so much for writing your thoughts! =) My husband, Bob, spoke so well for us as always. It's tough to write in depth, thoroughly, detailed, and of rich value we always hope - and yet in small, manageable chunks. So far we've been hoping that by posting the way we do and then giving people time to digest it (or revisit the post a little at a time), then they'll have time to process on their own time. Like Bob mentioned, I'm spending all of my free time working on the blog - which I love! - but we're still trying to get a feel for what will work best for us and for our readers. *hugs* Thanks for your patience and again for your input.

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    6. Hello again, Erika! I can't tell you enough how much I love reading your posts! It is amazing how God works; I have recently been praying about changing some things up in our homeschool, I just re-read Managers of Their School, and I have made the decision to switch to textbooks for most of our school subjects. I had already slowwwly been switching them out but now I am making the jump!
      I had to finally come to terms with the fact the I do not like teaching science, and, because of that, science was not being completed in a way that satisfied me! God showed me that it is OKAY to use a textbook for this! I have to ask you, how do you handle the projects/science experiments for this subject? That is what seems to throw me off track the most. Making the time and gathering all of the materials really seems to hold us up from moving ahead since I have to find extra planning/shopping time. How do you handle this?

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    7. JESSICA - Oh, I'm so excited for you! =D Yes, I'm the same way...never did get to doing science, and I always felt guilty about it! Until a couple of experienced large families told me that kids really don't need formal experiments until about 6th grade - oh good! - *whew*. So then in 6th grade we purchased the SOS curriculum, and *ta-da!* it has videos for the kids to watch for the experiments! *cheer!* You can do the experiments if you want to, they give all the supplies listed, but I really, really don't want to. And they're learning beautifully.

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    8. I have really enjoyed finding your blog and getting so much info. I also have those books that you mentioned. One of my all time favorites was reading Keeping your Children's Hearts several years ago and then my husband and I have read it together many times since then. I believe that was a start to many changes we made in our family. Looking forward to more good advice in part 2.

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    9. MISSY - Thank you! I'm so pleased you've been encouraged and/or affirmed. =) Yes, isn't that book life-changing?? We made several big changes in our family, too, such as how we spend our time and what our future plans would be for our family. Good, good stuff! It's probably time for a re-read for us, too; just a refresher. =)

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    10. Yay! Thanks again for sharing with others what you guys do! We switched to mostly worktexts this year, and the kids have loved them! I also just read Managers of their School; what great help! And I totally cheat and let my father (who has 2 PhDs) do week-long science lessons with the kids when he visits. They all enjoy it!

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    11. JENNIFER - You're welcome! =) It feels like there's soooooo much to say, so I've written down about 6 more posts I could do eventually on our homeschooling practices. And I wouldn't say that utilizing your father's knowledge is cheating! Wow - what an awesome resource to have! =D

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    12. Hi Erika & family , I'm new to your blog but just want to say it is good to meet another homeschooling mom. I have 6 children although mine seem to be older than yours, my youngest is now 11. We do ACE mostly, & 3 of my children are on Math U SEE. I struggled the same way whether to go with a more/less structured school program, but I have settled with ACE for basically the same reasons you list. God bless you and be sure I will continue to read your blog..

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    13. Erika,

      Thank you so much for this post. You are such an inspiration :) We were also blessed by Managers of Their Schools. We decided to make the switch to textbooks this past year and it was a wonderful year full of so many blessings for us and our children (and a rich opportunity to work on character development!)

      I wanted to thank you specifically for sharing about your reward stickers - I would love to see an in-depth post on that. I feel I've gotten "consequences" down fairly well with the children, but I think that rewards for some things would be good for them. I know the stickers would delight them :) I think I will order some and work on thinking up some things they could earn them for in our home.

      Do any of your children struggle with a poor attitude when they *don't* earn the sticker? My children enjoy little rewards but I have one who really struggles with sulking and poor attitude when he doesn't earn a reward I set out (or when he's not "first" in a clean-up game or anything similar). I am hoping that perhaps a regular, predictible reward system could help this child with overcoming this particular attitude struggle (he is really a "glass half empty" kind of person and I would greatly like to help him overcome that!)

      Thank you again for the thoughtful post, it is always wonderful to see what is working well for large families and schooling!

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    14. Bob and Erika,

      Thank you so much for taking time to respond to me. I really do appreciate all you do. Being the mother of a "large family" (though not quite as large as yours) I know you all can appreciate the little chunks of time that we, as Moms of those families, get.

      Thank you for taking us, as your readers, into consideration as it works out for everyone!

      Karen

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    15. KRISTEN - Hmm, yes I've made a note to myself to do a post on incentives, thank you for the suggestion. =) Right now I'll try to answer your questions. Yes, stickers do delight them. =) I try to bring as much delight as I can with all of the training. I really look for the little things to praise for and jump on those. Someone sitting at the table when they usually struggle with that; completing assignments on task or more quickly than usual; perseverance when something feels hard; volunteering to aid someone else. And I do offer one Jelly Belly (they delight in trying to figure out what flavor theirs is) once in a while, but that's not so much as to spoil their appetite. I also always try to have them compete against their own selves instead of against each other. For example, trying to do 2 lessons quickly today compared to the 1 they did quickly yesterday, or sitting for a longer portion of the meal, or picking up a whole room instead of just part of one. Whenever I set out a reward before the whole group then the ones who don't get it are defeated and sad instead of motivated, so I don't do that. When I offer one sticker there are lots of other people who didn't receive one either so it's not just one person who's "out". And when/if they say, "Hey, can I have a sticker??" I always tell yes, when they have their own successful achievement, too. I'll explain that Brandon has been sitting on his bottom all of lunch time, and if they choose to do that tomorrow then they can earn one, too. Incentives are earned. If I hand them out to everyone when only one person actually earned it, then the person's effort who earned it was just nullified. I also try to shoot for non-candy item incentives, but rather stickers, maybe a cracker, a "smackeroo kiss" as we call them, a squeeze hug, etc. Is that a good start for an answer? =)

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    16. Hi Erika
      Thanks for another fantastic post - I look forward to part 2. I really needed to read this as I love our current curriculum (we used a Christian computer based one only available here in Australia), but I have been wondering about changing. With our hopes of adding to our family in the near future (if it's God's Will) I think it would be best if I stayed with what is working for us. I guess just reading your post just made me feel happy in this decision we'd already made.
      I hope you have a wonderful weekend & I thank you for the time & effort you put into your blog!
      Blessings
      Renata:)

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    17. Erika, I am interested in what made you choose Lifepac/SOS for the majority of your homeschooling subjects. Could you share what led you to deciding on Lifepac versus other Christian textbook companies? Thanks so much! Beth

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    18. BETH - Oh sure. =) I read reviews on all of them in the "100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum" (linked above in recommended resources) and liked what I read about them for us. I also asked moms of large families in the HS co-op we were attending what they use and why, and they use AOP (Alpha Omega Press, who produce the Lifepacs and SOS). I read the "Managers of their Homeschools" book by the Maxwells (also linked above), whom we greatly admire and respect, and they use some AOP, too. I looked at each curriculum choice online of the 4 or so main choices and like the visual appearance and teacher provisions and Christian emphasis of AOP. Then I borrowed some of the curriculum from a friend (mother of 11) and we loved using that at home and loved it's appearance and ease of use and quality of education it seemed to produce. And I liked how AOP gives free online placement testing for their curriculum so I could determine which books to start them in, etc. It seemed the best curriculum for us all around.

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    19. Thanks, Erika! That is helpful. We are moving toward textbooks for history and science this year (in addition to our core subjects that we are already using textbooks for). I am taking a good look at AOP. What did you think of the 7th grade Lifepac History this year? (My oldest will be in 7th this year.). Thanks for sharing what is working for your family. I just ordered Managers of Their Schools a few days ago and can't wait to read it! -Beth

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    20. BETH - You're so welcome! I'm so pleased you'll read the Mgrs. of HS's - I think you'll find a wealth of information there. I borrowed it from a friend initially, but when she offered to sell it to me I was glad to buy it and own it as a resource, and to have to loan out.

      We liked the 7th grade Lifepac History. They learned a lot, shared exciting and interesting things with me along the way, and tested very well. They have had to study harder for hist./geo. tests to do well compared to LA, butI think that's just because LA is easy for them.

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    21. Erika, thanks so much for your thorough overview of what your homeschool looks like. We're very glad to be a big part of what you're doing!

      - Ryan from AOP (Alpha Omega Publications)

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    22. You might be pleased to know that "learning styles" don't exist. This video has a pretty good explanation of why that's the case:


      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIv9rz2NTUk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      That said, I do think that textbooks alone make for poor learning, not because they cater to "visual learners" only- but because they lack saliency and can make retention and application of the material more difficult.

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    23. RYAN - You're welcome! Thank YOU! =)

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    24. Thank you for this post!
      We are currently using k12.com for a curriculum. I am not a fan of using a public school for our homeschool curriculum. My husband and I would both prefer to use a Bible bases curriculum with our children. k12 was our only current option when we started last year due to financial reasons. I would like to eventually switch to lifepacs. I used them when I was younger. I liked them.
      I enjoyed seeing how you set it up. It is very organized. I may be copying your methods in the coming years.
      k12 is ok but it is so involved. I am not sure I am able to, or even want to try to teach 3 or more children using their program. lol It takes our kindergarten student 4-6 hours to complete his work everyday. IT is very overwhelming.
      Thank you again for sharing your methods! You give this unorganized homeschool mom hope! :o)

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    25. HOMESTEAD MOMMY - Praise the Lord! And blessings on your efforts in using that which the Lord has provided for you THIS year, and not letting that situation deter you from homeschooling! God will honor your faithfulness I have no doubt; and He cares when you ask Him for different teaching tools.

      ReplyDelete
    26. Hi Erika,

      I've been following your blog for a few months now and after much anxiety about sending my 4 year old to Kindergarten i feel like we've been called to homeschool him. Since then the anxiety i have felt over the last 6 months has lifted! i'm sleeping better, eating better (and less!) and actually enjoying time with my children again.
      I read that you use lifepacs with your children. Do you use them right from kindergarten up to grade 6 or do you use something different for younger children?

      TY
      Cole

      ReplyDelete
    27. HI Erika,
      Did you answer this post privately? I am curious also.

      Thanks

      Cyndi

      ReplyDelete
    28. Sorry, I'm referring to Cole's post.

      Thanks

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Cyndi - I'm sorry, I don't see a comment by some one named Cole. Could you please "reply" to the specific comment you're asking about? =) I'm happy to try to answer your question.

        Delete
    29. I am also wondering what exactly you do for your younger children. Especially learning to read age. I am using Rod and Staff for my 1st grader and it takes 4+ hrs to complete what she needs to every day and I need to sit with her for most of that.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Here are posts on occupying 3yo boys:

        http://www.largefamiliesonpurpose.com/2012/05/productively-occupying-3-year-old-boys.html

        And here is one on occupying young children in general:

        http://www.largefamiliesonpurpose.com/2011/02/young-children-inclusion-in.html

        Boy...that sounds like way too much time for a 1st grader it seems to me. =) I would encourage you to focus on learning to read and doing some math and a little handwriting. But keep it very simple. If she spent about 60-90 min. a day that would be plenty, with educational play sprinkled through out her day.

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