Sunday, January 31, 2010

How do I know what to teach?

That's the topic question for this week's Blog Cruise (a new weekly carnival/meme hosted by the TOS Homeschool Crew.)  It's actually a tough question for me, and one that requires a bit of thought before answering.  I can't just say "I know how to teach because . . ." or "This is what I choose to teach so you should use it too."  Instead, I'll just share a few points that have helped me to know what to teach, and when.  Hopefully they will help you too.

  • If you're new to homeschooling (or even if you aren't), let me say that it's ok to choose a boxed curriculum.  When we started homeschooling many years ago (when my now 10th grader was entering kindergarten), I purchased a boxed curriculum from Abeka.  I was familiar with it, having gone to a Christian school that utilized a lot of Abeka curriculum.  And, having something prepackaged assured me that I was "hitting all the bases".  It was a nice way to get started, and a good starting point.  We realized, after a few years, that everything from Abeka wasn't a good fit for Ashley (she uses nothing from Abeka anymore); some things (math) work great for Gracie and we continue to use that.
  • Go to your local homeschool convention.  I shied away from convention for many years. I was afraid I'd be overwhelmed by all that is available.  A good friend encouraged me to go; and I'm so glad she did.  I love convention now and can't imagine not going (as a matter of fact, this year I'm going to 4 conventions!)  If you've never gone, you'll be amazed by all that is out there for homeschoolers, and you'll also enjoy rubbing shoulders with fellow homeschoolers.  It's quite an experience!
  • One thing that I did when I was preparing to start homeschooling was to search for an online support group of like-minded people.  I found a message board for Christian homeschooling moms and I joined up.  Several of the ladies that I met on that board have  become some of my closest friends.  We still keep in touch online, and I've met several of them in person as well.  It's nice to have that support system - people that you know you can go to with your problems and/or questions and they won't judge you, but will answer you and help you.  
  • If you have a local support group and/or co-op, this might be a good option.  I don't have this as close as I would like, which is why I recommend the option above.
  • Read, read, read.  This is one of my personal favorites because reading and researching are both major hobbies of mine!  What should you read?  One great resource for homeschoolers is The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (and I'm not just saying that because I work for them - I was a subscriber long before I was an employee!)  Another is homeschoolers' blogs.  A great place to start is the TOS Homeschool Crew.  The Crew is a group of product reviewers/bloggers who review many of the latest and greatest products for homeschoolers.  
  • Join HSLDA.  Or, at the least, read their website.  They have some great resources.  I especially enjoy their information on homeschooling your high schooler. Check the laws for your state.  Make sure you're teaching what is required.
  • And the most important thing I can suggest - do what's best for YOU and YOUR KIDS.  Don't get caught up in what others are teaching/using.  Use what you like, and teach to your kids' strengths and interests.  Homeschooling can look different to each family - and it should!  My school shouldn't look like yours and vice versa.  That's one of the highlights of homeschooling! 

So how do YOU know what to teach?
Be sure to check out the Crew's blog.  Each week (on Tuesday), you'll find a brand new Blog Cruise topic and links to our answers.  Next week's question: How do you know if your kids are keeping up with their peers?


Jodi said...

Great post Heidi! I think you gave a lot of good ideas and starting points for how to know what to teach. Especially the part about doing what's best for you. What I do, won't work for everyone, and vice-versa. Good reminder:)

Jessica S. said...

Yes, that is what I forgot to mention on my post. Being our first year and overseas..there's no HS conventions, Co-ops, or the like. :( But, I have been thriving! :) Because of on-line support, being on the TOS Crew (THANK YOU!), and researching online (like you mentioned)! There are about 10 HS families on this we've created a HS group now! YEAH! Small but glad it has commenced. Thanks for your post! I am loving reading about these topics!! ;)

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