Just Getting Started – a Homeschool Question

This is one of those “frequently asked questions” about homeschooling by newcomers.  The choices are so overwhelming that it’s difficult to decide what to concentrate on and where to begin.  I gave her my best answer, and I thought it might help someone else in the same situation.


I am marking this fall as the beginning of our official homeschooling
trek. With my son being six in a few weeks, I am lost and very
confused and overwhelmed. I am not sure what to start with or how to
begin. I have found many different sources that tell me what he needs
to do, but they are all different. So, what did you all start with? I
have heard that at this age there isn’t really a lot to do and that I
really don’t need a full curriculum right now, but I become very
overwhelmed when trying to find the who, what, when, where and how.

Thanks in Advance!

My answer:

Bless you, girl, we all know EXACTLY how you feel.  There are so many choices and so much conflicting advice, how do you ever decide where to start?  I’m going to let you in on a secret…the reason that different sources disagree on what you should teach when is because none of the experts agree.  There is no one absolute standard.  Even from public school to public school, there’s no universal agreement on which approach works best.  That “one right path” doesn’t exist.  That’s a bit frightening, but it’s liberating, too.  That means you have a buffet of “right” choices to pick from.  Whatever you decide, there will be “experts” who will back you up and homeschool mom veterans who will say, “Yes, that’s how we did it.” 

So you choose by taking a long look at what your family wants to accomplish, what your values and goals are, and what type of support you need to get there.  Do you work best with rigid guidelines?  Do you prefer step-by-step instructions?  Or are you more flexible?  Do you prefer spontaneity and the freedom to chase your son’s interests as they arise? 

Then take a look at your son.  How long is his attention span?  What’s his energy level?  Is he a constant mover and fidgeter?  Does he need his hands on a project or does he learn better by listening, drawing, talking? 

You can choose an approach that best fits your family.  Here’s a decent summary of the most popular approaches: http://www.homeschooldiner.com/guide/intro/main.html/  It will also tell you which curriculums or resources you might want to look at for each type of approach.

Do you need a full curriculum for kindergarten?  Not necessarily, but you might be the kind of person who functions best with one. 

Here’s what I did for kindergarten: Five in a Row unit studies, Alphaphonics for teaching how to read, BOB books and lots of easy readers for practicing reading, and then a big fat workbook from Sam’s for math.  We started a “traditional” math curriculum with Making Math Meaningful level 1.  What I loved about this approach was that it was simple for me, not a lot of teacher prep time, it was gentle, and the FIAR encouraged such a love of reading and an ability in my children to learn from real books and make connections rather than learning each subject separately. 

We also played a lot in kindergarten. J  Lots of puzzles, lots of fingerpainting, lots of puppet shows and nature walks and listening to music.  I miss kindergarten, sniff sniff.  Of course, since it’s been several years for me, I’ve managed to mentally gloss over the day to day frustrations of teaching a 6 yo to read and do math. LOL 

I highly recommend reading anything by Ruth Beechick.  She has an amazing set of three short books on the 3 Rs.  I think our library has the one on language and reading, but not the one on math.  They’re pretty cheap to buy, or someone here might be able to loan them to you.  She has a simple, commonsense approach and doesn’t require anything complicated or expensive.

And if you can, get yourself to a support group activity!  There’s really nothing more comforting than spending some time with other homeschooling moms. J 

You can do this.  You will be outstanding.




2 thoughts on “Just Getting Started – a Homeschool Question

  1. Definitely check out Sonlight. It may not be right for you, but it is certainly worth looking at. And there are advisors available to talk through any specific questions you may have. A tremendous resource as you figure out what works for you and your family.


  2. I agree with the answer above – it really depends on your goals, your children’s skills and interests, and what learning style works best for you. Take a look at my web page: Choosing Curriculum. There is a Step-by-Step guide that might help you get started.
    Choosing Curriculum

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