Now that my son is in the middle school years, I thought that it might be nice to look back on how we homeschooled during the elementary years to see if our experiences can help folks who are starting out on their homeschooling journey. My intention was to put it all in one post, but there is so much to say that I’m going to break it down by subject into a series of posts. As you read these posts, please remember that there are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers, and just because something worked for our family, doesn’t mean that it will work for yours. That’s one of the great things about homeschooling—if something isn’t working for your child, you can always change it. One thing that I highly recommend for any homeschooling family is to join a homeschooling group so that your children can meet other homeschoolers, and so that you can meet other homeschooling parents who might be able to give you ideas for methods or curriculums that you hadn’t even thought of. In my homeschooling group we have pretty much the full spectrum of homeschoolers—from unschoolers, to kids taking an online curriculum, and everything in between.
In the beginning, as many new homeschoolers do, I purchased a curriculum, (Calvert) in this case a kindergarten one. Then I proceeded to not use it. Oh, I did use some of it, especially the reading books that it came with, but I didn’t follow the lesson plans. Instead, I taught my son to read using the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (Which a fellow homeschooler had recommended to me.) This book made teaching reading very simple. However, I didn’t even follow this book exactly. When I noticed that my son was getting bored and restless during the lessons, I realized that he didn’t need to complete each lesson. He was understanding the lessons so well that we could skip a portion of each lesson and go on to the next. After every lesson, I would have him read something to me from one of the easy reader books that I had collected. I found the Bob Books helpful for this. I also started going to garage sales and purchasing as many easy reader books as I could find. Later, we moved on to the Magic Tree House series.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I also made sure that our house was full of books for our son to read on his own. I read to him at bed time and during the day. I would give him reading assignments in books that I thought that he would enjoy, and often he would get involved in the books and continue reading them on his own. My main goal wasn’t just to teach him to read, but to get him to love to read. If you can do that for your child, then you have given him or her a gift for a lifetime.