Hi friends! Today, I just wanted to take a few minutes to update you about my latest semi-crunchy adventure – homeschooling 6th grade.
Here’s a quick recap of where we’re at (or read our in-depth story here):
My 6th grader was bored and loosing her mind with the monotonous, online schoolwork from her blended school (1/3 of the week’s work was done in public school and the other 2/3’s online at home). I kept thinking there has to be a better way. Then, 3 weeks into the school year we took the plunge, and withdrew from public school.
It has been a crazy month finding our way, but we are finally getting into the swing of things. We have our curriculum, a weekly plan, a daily schedule, and a cozy little school work area. I am sharing all of this because I’m hoping it will be helpful to others considering leaving public school and switching to homeschool.
First, here are a few tips that helped us get started:
Know that the transition from public school to homeschool requires a lot of time and energy.
This has been the hardest part for us. Homeschooling and planning is time consuming on it’s own, but throw in the fact that we jumped in with very little planning time (since the school year already started) and things become even more complicated.
The couple of weeks before we decided to withdraw from public school all of my free time I spent learning and researching. Every night I stayed up long after my kids went to bed researching- Looking at our state’s homeschool laws, curriculum, schedules, and enrichment programs.
There is just SO much info…which leads me to my next tip.
Know that at first it is overwhelming.
But I’ve learned that’s okay. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed about something like your kid’s education shows your child how important their education is. It also proof of how much you care about wanting to do it right.
The key is to accept this as the challenge it is. Yes, it’s a lot. Yes, it can be overwhelming. But, don’t let the overwhelm take over and wear you down. Make sure your still taking time for yourself, eating, sleeping, exercising, drinking lots of water- doing the things that fill your cup.
It’s okay to ask for help.
Yep, I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: Ask for help! Talk to your friends and family about your plans to transition to homeschool. People that care about you will always be willing to help, with ideas or advice or maybe even pointing out resources you may not have thought of.
Okay, onto the real question here…
How did we start homeschooling?
First, I checked my state’s laws to make sure we were legal (if you’re in the U.S. you can check yours here.)
Next, I researched homeschool enrichment programs in my area. Enrichment programs aren’t required, but as a newbie homeschooler I feel that this is a big help because many enrichment programs offer help with choosing curriculum and some even have a curriculum library. Also, I know my daughter enjoys the break from me and spending time with her friends at school.
(I just want to note that there are many other ways to start homeschooling – there are umbrella schools and online schools and many other options- but this seemed the most logical route for us.)
We ended up finding a great one day a week program through our public school district, which meant it’s free. They did have a curriculum library and even a consultant, which has been such a great help with choosing my 6th grader’s curriculum. In most cases, curriculum libraries won’t be able to cover all of your curriculum needs but they can help offset a lot of the cost.
Why did I choose secular 6th grade curriculum?
Originally, I wasn’t going to talk about this, but I feel like it’s important because secular homeschooling is such a small (but growing!) niche. When we first began this homeschooling adventure, I had no idea how difficult it would be to find secular curriculum and how common it was to homeschool for religious reasons.
We chose secular 6th grade curriculum simply because we don’t practice religion in our home. We chose to homeschool for scheduling reasons, and because our hybrid/online school was lacking. Although, we are open to learning about different religions and teaching our children about them.
What secular 6th grade curriculum did we choose?
This may not be common (or necessary) to combine these two programs, but I really like how it’s working for us. Spelling Workout is a paper workbook, and Spelling City is a website. I’ll explain how we use them.
The Spelling City website allows you to import a spelling list from their site or create your own list. After creating the list, you assign it your student. Then, there are about 40 different games/activities they can play to practice and learn the words.
My daughter used this program at her previous school, but since she gets tired of the online work I like that we have the option of using the paper workbook.
So, each week I create her word list in Spelling City from the words listed in the Spelling Workout workbook. Then, she has the option of the workbook or the online activities. And after she’s done the activities online and/or in her workbook, on Fridays she is takes a test on the words.
I probably made this more complicated than necessary with both programs, but it’s working so far and we both like the versatility of it.
We actually just started with WriteShop last week, and it’s definitely a winner. This is a program I heard a lot of good things about and had to purchase, because our curriculum library didn’t have it. The lessons are fun, engaging, and have thorough explanations with each lesson. Also, we both love that even though it’s a writing program, not every activity involves actual writing. The games and brainstorming activities are inspiring, and great confidence builders. They also have a great Facebook page with other writing tips and ideas to help your homeschooler.
One thing to point out if you’re considering WriteShop, is that it requires a lot of parent involvement. Although, it seems like most other homeschool writing programs are very parent involved, too. Even so, the extra time spent is worth it because writing well is such an important life skill.
Our writing curriculum, actually includes some grammar work, but it’s not a complete grammar curriculum. So, we’re also doing a few pages out of the Easy Grammar workbook each week. It’s laid out in a simple, no frills kind of way, making it feel “easy.” It has a page or two grammar rules, and then a page or two of worksheets to practice following the rules. Overall, it seems like an effective program. While my 6th grader doesn’t love it, she tolerates it and gets it done without much complaining.
This was an easy choice because she was using Aleks already at her previous school. It’s user friendly for both of us, and the progress and performance tracking is great. We also use Kahn Academy occasion for extra practice with difficult concepts, and for their thorough video explanations. By the way, Kahn Academy is completely free and an excellent resource for other subjects, as well.
History is not my daughter’s favorite subject, but so far A History of US books actually keeps her interested. They are written in more of a “story” type of style, which makes it more fun than the usual history textbook. The chapters are short and the study guide has fun activities to reinforce what we read.
Map Skills for Today is a slim workbook (about 30 pages) that covers, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, map skills. It seems effective, but also a little boring and my daughter isn’t a fan. I feel like geography and map skills could be more interesting. There are so many exciting places in our world, so there must be a funner way to teach this. We plan to complete this book, mostly because she’s already half way finished. But I also plan to look at other options for the future.
- Real Odyssey Astronomy by Pandia Press
Such a fun program!! This is by far both mine and my 6th graders’ favorite of everything homeschooling so far. The labs and even the lessons are interesting, engaging, and fun. It’s also full of recommendations for outside resources (via YouTube, podcasts, and books). We were fortunate enough to borrow this from our school’s library, but it’s definitely worth the money if you have to pay full price.
So, I hope you guys found this useful. Let me know if you’d like to hear more in depth about the programs we’re using. Do you have any other public school to homeschool questions? Are you new to homeschooling, too? Or are you experienced and have other tips to add to my list? Feel free to say hi and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
Hope you’re day is beautiful!