The post you’ve all been waiting for! Despite the fact that I’m not at an expert in the least bit when it comes to homeschooling, I have gotten numerous requests for a homeschool post. A lot of people want to know the curriculum we use and how I homeschool the kids (especially while also having younger children vying for my attention.) And since today is our official first day of homeschool, I thought it would be the perfect time to post! P.S. This picture was supposed to be humorous but the first day has actually started out quite chaotic so the joke’s on me.
Last August I wrote a blog post sharing why and how we homeschool. So if you’re interested in WHY we homeschool, that would be a good place to start. A lot of what I wrote about HOW we homeschool will be repeated in this post, but with a few changes. This year we will have a 4th grader, 2nd grader, and 2 Kindergartners! Evangeline is only 4 but she was begging to start school and I feel like she might be ready. So we’re going to try. If it doesn’t go well, we’ll hold off until after Christmas break and try again. And if she still needs more time, we’ll probably wait until next school year. But it doesn’t hurt to try!
I just want to repeat that I am not an expert. I’m laid the laid back homeschool mom. I pick out and order our curriculum in August when I see the school supplies filling up the aisles at Target and think “oh yeah, I guess we should probably start thinking about school.” I choose it based on friend’s recommendations. When I’ve struggled with finding a curriculum that I love for a particular subject, I hop on Facebook and ask for recommendations (the majority of our church homeschools so I have a LOT of people to ask for help!) I don’t attend classes or meetings or co-ops. Basically, I’m the shining example of “if I can do it, anyone can.”
I’ll start by sharing the curriculum we use and then I’ll share a bit about how our school days go. (This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Purchasing through these links provides me with a small commission at no extra cost to you. But feel free to shop around for the best price!) I do my best to try to find the best options for cheap homeschool curriculum that don’t skimp on quality. And I’m pretty happy with what we are currently using!
For Kindergarten through 2nd grade, we have used Horizons Math and have loved it! It’s easy enough for the kids to do with minimal assistance from me. Sometimes I just have to read instructions for them and they are able to do the rest independently. Kai will be in second grade math and Kingston and Evangeline will be in kindergarten math. (PS I don’t think you need the Teacher’s Guides for any of those grades! It’s very self explanatory.)
Liam started using Teaching Textbooks last year. It’s a computer based program that talks him through each lesson. Meaning that he doesn’t need anything from me. The earliest grade for this curriculum is 3rd grade or we would do it for everyone. We LOVE it! Seriously, in my opinion, it’s the best homeschool math program. Liam gets excited to do math every day and he’s learning and retaining everything really well. I definitely recommend Horizons for K-2nd and Teaching Textbooks for 3rd grade and up.
If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about homeschooling, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard me rave about the best homeschool reading curriculum, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It really is my favorite! When we started our homeschool journey 5 years ago, a friend recommended this book to me. I’ve used it to teach the two older boys to read (Liam learned to read at 4 years old!) And this year I’ll be going through it with the next two kids.
It takes about 15 minutes a day (or less.) The entire book is scripted so you know exactly what to say. I totally, 100%, love this book (even though teaching a child to read sometimes makes me want to rip out my hair. For you moms asking how I have patience…THIS is how I learn patience haha.) But seriously, it’s so rewarding to hear the boys reading and know that I helped get them to that point. It’s encouraging to know that what we’re doing is working.
For years, I’ve searched websites looking for good English homeschool curriculum and haven’t love anything we tried. This year I just picked a random English book and decided to try it with Liam. Honestly, I have no idea if we’ll like it or not. So I’ll have to get back to you. But I needed something and this one looked decent enough, so I decided to go for it. If I think it’s helpful, I’ll probably order a second grade book for Kai. I LOVE being able to pick curriculum based on my child’s needs but that’s also the tricky part because not every curriculum works for every child. So sometimes it’s just a matter of trying something and either deciding to continue or to try something else next time.
This year I’m also going to add in a reading time every day. The older boys will be required to read on their own (currently working on reading lists. I’m always open to hearing suggestions for 2nd and 4th grade boys!) and the other two will look at books quietly or sometimes read with me. It’s just a way to add some reading and some quiet into our day.
The past three years we’ve used Apologia Science, a Bible based homeschool curriculum. My kids love Science days (we do Science twice a week.) They are always eager to learn and they retain things very well. They still remember and talk about the things we learned 2-3 years ago. We also like to look up and learn more in depth about whatever we’re studying in Science. This year we will be working through Apologia: Swimming Creatures. Each book has an accompanying journal that you can purchase, but we just work through the textbook together as a group , without the journal. I will have my kindergartners listen while we do Science but I don’t expect them to retain very much from it.
Last year we worked through Mystery of History. I have friends who really love it. But I can say that we did not. I mentioned that the kids loved Science days. Well, they (and I) dreaded History days, that we also did twice a week. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this–but we were just bored. This year we’re going to try The Story of the World. This one is aimed for younger students so I’m hoping it holds our attention much better. Like Science, we will also just go through the textbook in a group setting.
We never did finish the Bible curriculum that we started last year. So this year we’re continuing with Long Story Short. And as the name implies, the lessons are very short. It usually is done within 10-15 minutes. We all really like this book!
We’ve been using A Reason for Handwriting for the past few years so we will continue on with that. The kids really love it because at the end of each week, they are able to write a Bible verse on one of the back pages and color a picture. I love it because it’s improving their handwriting 😉
Thanks to his Abuela (Don’s mom) purchasing a subscription box for him, Liam has been using Bitsbox to learn coding. He is very passionate about coding so we definitely encourage him to learn it. I really don’t know much about coding so I personally don’t have much of an opinion. Don knows more about coding and thinks it’s a great program and Liam absolutely loves it. So I’d say it’s definitely recommended from the Roberts’ household.
A Typical Homeschool Day
I’ve mentioned before that we don’t do breakfast until 8 every morning. Setting the time prevents them from waking us up to ask for food. When the two big boys wake up, they will get out their Math, Handwriting, and English books out to start working. They don’t need any help from me so this is the perfect time for them to get a head start on the day. If they get to work and don’t get distracted, sometimes they are done with all of that before we even eat breakfast. At least that’s usually how it starts out in the beginning of the school year. Then as the year goes on, they get more distracted and become a bit slower.
After breakfast, I will attempt to sit down with my two kindergartners to work through their Math and Reading. Notice I used the word “attempt.” This is where flexibility comes into play. A lot of times, we get distracted by a crying baby/toddler and I have to stop to tend to them. If we get too distracted during this time, we put the books down and wait until the baby and toddler are napping. Nap time is when we are able to be the most productive, with the least distractions. So I will sit with Kingston and Evangeline to finish their work, if they haven’t already finished it. This is usually the time we sit down and do our Bible lesson too.
Like last year, we’ll do our Science on Mondays and Wednesday and do our History on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes the days just get crazy and we don’t get to one of them. So we use Friday to make up what we missed on the other days. We usually just try to fit it in either when the younger kids are content and playing or when they’re napping.
So if you haven’t already noticed the key to making it all work, I’ll tell you the big “secret.” Flexibility. So many people have asked me how I homeschool the big kids while taking care of younger kids. And honestly, it’s just like any other part of motherhood, you just adapt to what works best for you. You have a clingy baby who keeps interrupting school? Just take a break and do school when the baby is napping. Your school day doesn’t have to function like a public school. You do what works, when it works. We have good school days and bad school days. Sometimes I just say “we’re done” and have them put their books away for the day. And some days we do extra lessons because we zipped through everything so quickly and we have the time to do a little more work.
Obviously my way is not necessarily the best way. But it is the best for us. I am constantly faced with the fear that I’m not doing enough and that I’m failing my children. But as I’ve seen my children grow and learn, I am encouraged to know that we’re doing something right. Homeschooling for you may look a lot different than what it looks like for me. And that’s okay! The beauty of homeschool is doing things your own way, with whatever suits your family and your children the best.
You may find it easier (especially as you’re starting) to find one company to order all your curriculum from. You don’t have to pick and choose from different companies like we have. Do your research and ask around to other homeschool moms and see what others are using! And if you don’t like something this year, try something else next year. It would be much easier if curriculum was ‘one size fits all,’ but it’s just not. So keep trying new things until you find what works!
I feel like I left out so much because there’s honestly so much more I could say! But it’s already a long post so I’ll stop here. But if you have any specific questions that I didn’t talk about (or that something that you’d like me to better explain) please leave a comment! I don’t expect anyone to click out of this post feeling in awe of me. Quite the opposite. I’m hoping that this leaves you realizing that if I can do this, then you can also do this! I have gotten many emails from women who want to homeschool but don’t feel like they can do it. And I really want to encourage you and let you know that you CAN! It can feel so overwhelming at first but once you find your curriculum and your routine, things get so much easier…I promise!
Anyway, I hope this post was helpful in one way or another and I look forward to hearing what you think!