Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How I got started in homeschooling, and where we are now!

It was suggested to me to create a post on how I got started on homeschooling.  So, I will post what "I" did, this is not necessarily how everyone does, but it's how I got started in my hometown in Florida.  I will post links below so that you can view the homeschool laws for your state.  

The first thing I did was send a Declaration of Intent (DOI) to the local school board, in Florida that is what was required, we are in Georgia now, and here we have to send a DOI to the State.  In Florida you are not required to send attendance records, but are required to have a certified teacher evaluate your childrens' work every year, and this must be done according to the date on your DOI.  In Georgia we send a DOI every year in August to the State and keep a record of attendance to be submitted to the state every summer (that's when I send mine).  Florida does not have a required amount of time that school work must be done every day, however, In Georgia we are required to teach a minimum of 180 days in a school year with each day consisting of 4 1/2 hours of school.  This sounded like a lot to me when we first moved here last year, but I learned that we school a lot more than I thought we did!  We have 4 hours set out of each day for school and the kids read an hour each night.  

I use HSLDA for the laws on homeschooling, every state has different laws and regulations regarding your homeschool, be sure that you read up on them and plan ahead.  If you click on HSLDA, it will take you to a map of the US, from there just click on your state and then "A Legal Analysis" to find out exactly what is required.  Don't let what you read scare you, it's REALLY not that hard.  

I started homeschooling Twinkle Toes when she was in Kindergarten, I was determined that I would use programs that had everything all set out for me, as with my busy life I didn't think that I could create my own curriculum. 

 I used My Fathers World Kindergarten for the first couple months, but soon learned that Twinkle Toes was beyond that, and it was just too laid back for our preferences, so I then decided to purchase aBeka Kindergarten.  Much better choice, we loved aBeka for Kindergarten, but soon learned that it was just too much work.  It's laid out for classrooms, and classrooms have a lot of "busy" time to fill, when homeschooling we don't need a bunch of worksheets to "kill the time".  So, we used aBeka for Kindergarten and 1st grade, the think I loved most about aBeka is that is has a very strong phonics program.  Along with aBeka math, we used Math U See for our math curriculum.  We used them both slowly for those two years, and then in 2nd grade we decided to switch things up a bit.

In second grade I decided to switch back to My Fathers World, I wanted a strong history based curriculum, and MFW was certainly the choice for it.  We loved MFW for 2nd grade, just a great way to learn about the history of our Country!  However, I found that MFW was just too planned out and found that I was constantly feeling like I had to do everything in the book, get all of the suggested books, etc.  I was overwhelmed and so was Twinkle Toes, so...away it went again.

Fast forward to what we use now, Twinkle Toes is in 3rd grade (about to advance to 4th grade in a couple weeks).  We use Math U See (gamma) for math
LIFEPAC through Alpha Omega Publications for Language Arts
A Living History of our World through Queen Homeschool Supplies, Inc.
Apologia for Science (Astronomy)  

Now, we don't have a set curriculum for Bible and Spelling.  For Bible we have weekly verses, studies, etc., I am still in search for that perfect curriculum for Bible.  For Spelling, we also don't use a curriculum, we use printouts offline for spelling words, we are currently printing out spelling lists each week from Home Spelling Words, I haven't found that perfect spelling curriculum as of yet either!

Because I work a full time job from home, we do have a pretty set schedule, she has her  daily chore and to-do lists for Monday through Friday and is normally very good at sticking to them.  Her charts look like this...

Twinkle Toes' Daily Chores

9:15-9:45am                         Make breakfast, eat, clean up after breakfast

9:45-10:00am                       Brush teeth

10:00-12:00pm                    Math, language arts, spelling, reading

12:00-1:00pm                       Lunch, free time

1:00-3:00pm                         Science, history, catch up anything not done

7:00-8:00pm                         Shower, brush teeth, get ready for bed

8:00-9:00pm                         Read in bed quietly

Daily Chores
Wipe kitchen table after each meal

Vacuum bedroom

Feed and water birds and guinea pig

Make bed

Sweep front porch

Wash Dishes

Put dishes away

Clean room

Weekly chores
Monday                     Vacuum living room, dining room, and hallway
Tuesday                   Clean bird cage, help mom with Guinea pig cage
Wednesday              Help mom with any inside extra chores
Thursday                  Clean your bathroom
Friday                        Wash/dry/put away your laundry and bed sheets

We started these charts a few weeks ago and they have been lifesavers for our sanity!  We even started giving her a small "incentive" to get her to get herchores done every day without being reminded over and over.  She is given $2 a week, now, this might not sound like much, however I am not one that feels that children should be paid for doing their part around their houses, but sometimes as parents you just have to do what works, and right now, $2 a week is working!

(Oh, and I had a question asked to me of, what we did for preschool, and I actually put Twinkle Toes in a VPK program at one of our local Preschools, It was ok, and I met some great people there, but I'll homeschool for Preschool for any other children we have.  We did use Math U See for Math while she was in Preschool and worked on handwriting and basic reading while she was in Preschool at home.) 

I am currently doing a review on a Homeschool Planner that is AMAZING, so you can look forward to that review coming up in the next month or so!!

I guess that about sums up how we handle things around our home.  Until, of course some bigger and better curriculum comes along!  

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