If you can read, write, and do simple math, you’re all set! Keep it simple to begin with as to book work. You are NOT competing with public or private classroom studies. Three subjects a day to master the basics is fine. A couple of hours in the morning should be sufficient for “bookwork” - less than that for young children. Then they are free to pursue other interests and help with housework or yard work, etc. They need to know that it is a privilege to be homeschooled, and that all the family must work together to keep things organised and running relatively smoothly.
There are tons of materials to aid you if your family has decided to homeschool your children. It has been forty years since we began our journey, and more than 20 since we finished, so I have nothing specific to recommend as far as textbooks are concerned. It was only several years after we started that ABeka or Bob Jones University would make their curriculum available to homeschoolers, and those were the two main offerings for a while. A friend recommends material from the Bluedorns, and here is a link to a little review of some of what they offer. We used Saxon math for several years and really liked it. There are probably hundreds of choices. As I said, and I add a PLEEEEASE... keep it simple.
Let me add that you have many choices of textbooks. You WILL have to make your own decisions about what you think best for each child, and you WILL be disappointed in some of your purchases through the years, but you WILL really like some of your choices.
And be thankful that you have cell phones and the internet to aid in your search!
Your youngest children you can teach simple math to by having them count dried beans or small stones or canning jar lids or whatever you can easily lay your hands on. You can teach the child to write the numbers on a piece of notebook paper as you teach them to add and subtract. Division and fractions? Cut up an apple or orange. When you let your children come along beside you to bake, you can find fractions in the measurements. Measuring cups and spoons are perfect for that. Keep a small white board handy. You’re teaching ALL the time.
Reading good books aloud to your children will naturally increase their vocabulary and interests. You can make a list of spelling words from anywhere you want…the current book you’re reading aloud…recipes…an old letter from an ancestor…the sky’s the limit here, folks! I’m sure there are spelling, phonics, grammar, etc, workbooks to use if you want to.
I’ll touch just a bit here on unit studies. I don’t have a formal definition but if you take ONE subject and expand it into SEVERAL subjects to study, that is a unit study. The first “for instance” from our own experience that comes to my mind is William Tell.
I wanted to formally introduce my little boys, then about six and four, to classical music, so I chose Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture’ for a beginning. (I can see them now galloping all over the house to the finale! Their enthusiasm knew no bounds! I digress.) What all can you study with this one topic? Well, there’s the story of William Tell himself, a short explanation of folklore vs historical fact, and how God always knows the truth about EVERYTHING even when we don’t! "Where did Mr. Tell live?" brings in geography, using a large world map which you will sooner or later have on a wall somewhere in your house, and/or a globe. And what about the Swiss people and their government and the Alps, and Rossini himself, his country, his history, his gifts and interests from God? Well, my people, the list is limited only by your imagination and creativity. The ripples in the pond keep a’going for a long time!
A second idea involves music also. Another classical piece that introduces children to the different sounds of instruments in an orchestra is ‘Peter and the Wolf’ by Prokofiev. I think our tape (Yes, cassette tape. We’re THAT old!) featured Peter Ustinov as the narrator. We were also blessed in our town to have a good orchestra that once upon a time had a little show and tell of instruments before some of their concerts. At any rate, this is another fun piece of classical music.
And then the unit study mindset kicks in and…Russia…Prokofiev…Ustinov…geography…topography…a bit of history…
This is enough for now. More later Lord willing.
Katie O'Neal is a Georgia native living in the Heart of Dixie. She is a Christian, a widow, a mother, and a grandmother. She was a homeschool mama in the 80s and 90s, and is currently a homeschool grandma. She is rabidly in love with her immediate family, her blood kin, and her Southern folk and their history, culture, and future. She has been a reader from childhood. She is an agrarian-minded homemaker, and more…but this’ll do for now.