Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's that time of year again

It's time for us to start looking at new homeschool materials, evaluate what worked or didn't and see what new things we want to add to our schedule. It's a daunting task, to be honest. While the Virgo in me loves the planning, sifting through enormous amounts of online materials searching for that gem of a workbook or product to fill an educational need makes me want to pull my hair out.

There are times when a box of curriculum looks really tempting. Everything I'd need to teach all wrapped up in a neat little box. I know families that have found these boxes work well for their kids. And I sometimes envy them. But we started out five years ago with a four year old that learned how to read all by himself. Spelling and writing shortly followed and before I knew it the five year old Alex was getting into first grade materials.

I didn't hold him back. I didn't want to.

Part of our reasoning for choosing homeschool is to allow them to grow and develop at their own paces. Similar to a Montessori method of education where the are allowed to progress as they grow and learn instead of enlisting rigid parameters based on the calandar year or age. But I now have a nearly nine year old that is in third grade for somethings, fourth for others and even fifth on a few which makes coordinating his school a tad difficult.

I also do not use the exact same things for each child. Since they grow and develop at different rates, they also have different learning methods. Alex is very literal, he can take written words and follow directions to complete tasks with minimal assistance and retain the knowledge. On the other hand, Olivia is very tactile needing to see with her hands how something is done or should be. Videos and manipulatives work better for her, workbooks and texts work better for Alex. Then Cordelia (6) is more like Alex but enjoys the tactile or visual learning aids as well. And I still have two other kids to figure out over the next few years.

All in all, it makes for a very hectic time of year in which I try and take a small budget and wrap it around learning styes and materials. Our favorite website http://www.rainbowresource.com/ has a huge library of materials at discounted prices. We also go through a Homeschool buyers co-op and  have gotten some really great prices on http://www.ixl.com/ and http://www.brainpop.com/ Right now the girls are working at http://www.headsprout.com/ which matches up with Olivia's need for tactile and visual aids for reading comprehension.

But it's hard to know what will work and what won't.  There are many things we've invested in that have failed miserably. It makes the decision-making just that much harder. Since I'm also a tactile person (it drives hubby crazy that I like to physically write lists out on paper instead of using the computer or my phone) purchasing online has it's own difficulties for me.

Does anyone have any tips on purchasing materials? I'd love to know!


Sarah said...

I think Circle Christian School in Orlando has a homeschool curriculum store. It is open even to families that don't use CCS. You might be able to go there and see some of their curriculum if you wanted to. I am still trying to figure out if I want to homeschool next year. I think I've decided an then I change my mind again. My boys are really loving the public school that they are going to this year. It's within walking distance and I've been really pleased with their teachers. I hate these big decisions :(

Crystal said...

I think the most important part of learning is that the children enjoy it and do well in the environment. That everyone is happy in the choice. Homeschooling works for us. When or if it doesnt we will evaluate sending them to school. This has been our major conflicting thing now since we've been going through a bit of a bad patch but I think we'll stick with homeschooling for now.

Next time I'm down that way I'll have to check out CCS.