Monday, November 19, 2012

Homeschoolers: Give Me Some Advice

If you homeschool and are interested in giving me some advice on the subject, I'm all ears.  It appears that the option to homeschool the girls has been put back on the table by my husband and I'm once again exploring the possibility and weighing pros and cons.

To give you some background, both girls have attended private school, public school and are now enrolled in our local Catholic school.  Since we live in NJ we have the luxury of not being required to have the girls enrolled in an accredited school for homeschooling so that pretty much leaves me open to the possibility of picking and choosing what curricula I want for each subject.  I'm intrigued by the idea of getting all of our materials from one place.

A year and a half ago I went to a homeschooling conference which soured my husband on the idea of homeschooling the girls.  Part of what turned him off was how some of the curriculum seemed to be saturated with Catholicism in every single subject, so I need help finding materials that offer balance.  His concern is that we will turn the girls off of their faith and send them screaming into the hills if we ram religion down their throat at every turn.  I see his point and think it's valid.  Even the Catholic school doesn't have every subject dripping with religion.

For Math, I want something that is straight up math that is easy to understand.  We have used workbooks from Seton and Saxon in the past.

Grammar needs to be something that is solid.  I like CHC's Language of God series and have been using it with Madeline at home for a couple of years now.

I'd love to find a good vocabulary program that incorporates greek and latin roots, prefixes and suffixes for Madeline.  I learned so much from a program like this when I was in 6th-8th grades and it carried me through high school and college.

I need suggestions for a good science program that incorporates hands on experiments and labs.  It can be a faith based text or something secular.  I do not want anything that denies the existence of dinosaurs or claims that carbon dating is inaccurate and that the world is only 6,000 years old.

How important or unimportant is it to find or join a homeschool group or co-op?  My girls do have friends who are homeschooled so it's not like they'd feel like they're the only ones.

I feel like the decision to homeschool or not to homeschool is just huge.  I've have felt like I've been called to homeschool my girls since Madeline was about four years old, but I haven't had the easiest time convincing Bryan that it's the best decision for the girls.  Now he's the one suggesting that I homeschool them so I'm once again contemplating what we should do regarding the girls' education.  I think the thing the holds me back the most and causes me to worry is I'm afraid of what happens if I'm a failure at this endeavor.  Part of me feels like this is one of the most crucial decisions I can make as a parent.  It's odd, I can't imagine doing anything but homeschooling Katie when the time comes since she misses the NJ school cut off date, but I worry so much about how the girls who have been in school will adjust.

My biggest concern is for Ellie.  She has been in three different schools over the past three years and homeschooling would have her once again switching to a different learning environment.   I suggested possibly keeping her at the parish school for another year or two and just homeschooling Bryan but he's concerned that Ellie will resent that decision.  All I know is I want some continuity for her with regards to school and moving from one school to the next year after year simply isn't the best thing for her.

So please, if you can offer me any advice or words of encouragement please leave them in the comments or email me.


  1. Dear Karen,
    As a recent homeschooling veteran (not really, but I "home schooled" my daughter in Preschool for one year), I would vote not to do it. I think that homeschooling embittered me toward my daughter, rather than helping our relationship to blossom. I wanted to be everything to her, but I was not sufficiently trained to do that. I had experience teaching at a homeschool co-op, but that was only for a couple of years. All in all, I learned that homeschooling was not for me. I will let you make that decision, but I felt that with all I had going on... personal ups and downs, hormones, and my own professional goals, homeschooling was sucking me dry rather than building both of us up. Now, take that with a grain of salt. I know many amazing homeschool Moms. I am obviously not going to force my way on you. That would be weird! You must make your own decision. And sometimes those decisions come with time.
    I love your blog, by the way, and if I were on Facebook I would like it there too!

  2. I just found your blog through Like Mother, Like Daughters. I know this is an older post and you may no longer be considering the idea of homeschooling (I like reading through past posts when I find a new blog), but decided to respond just in case you were still thinking about it.

    I homeschool my four (well, the fourth is still a toddler), and have since the beginning. My oldest is now in 6th grade. I have the same concerns as your husband in terms of making sure I'm not shoving Catholicism down their throats at every turn, so I try to be picky about what I use when it comes to Catholic resources.

    For math, we use Singapore. I'm not sure how easy it would be to start mid-stream, but starting with first grade, it has helped me be a better math teacher. It leans to the conceptual side - helping the student see the "why" behind the math. But it can also be weak on the amount of problems to work, so we tend to supplement it with their extra materials. I have never used Saxon, but I do know many families who like it for their kids.

    For grammar, we have used (or are using) the First Language Lessons series. I have to admit I tend to skip most of the first book and the second book because it seems repetitive (my husband loves it though). But, level 3 and 4 are both excellent and very meaty. I also teach grammar through Latin (Getting Started with Latin now and we'll move onto the Latin for Children series). I've heard good things about English from the Roots Up for vocabulary.

    History is the one place where I feel comfortable bringing in Catholicism, especially when it comes to teaching the Middle Ages. I have a few resources (Catholic Schools Textbook Project as well as a couple other smaller books), but I integrate them with K12's Human Odyssey (middle school) and Story of the World. I have yet to find a science curriculum I really like and tend to shy away from blatantly young-earth perspectives.

    For coops and groups, I have to admit I tend to be more introverted and shy away from big groups. We do have friends who homeschool and try to get together once in a while. But, our days are full with school (6th, 4th, and 1st, plus a toddler with special needs) and I try not to give that time up. That said, the boys attend Religious Ed at our parish and are involved in sports through our city's park department. They also have friends in the neighborhood they see on the weekends. Overall, it seems to work for us all.

    I hope you do not mind a reply to an older blog post. If this is all irrelevant to your current situation, I apologize. But, I felt it better to reply just in case instead of passing by the opportunity. I have enjoyed poking around your blog (and I happen to have a little Katie too!). If you have any questions, feel free to email me at brit montrella @ (without any spaces). I'd send you to my blog, but I took it offline for now as I can't seem to make time to ever blog.


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