Getting Started in Home Schooling: Selecting Teaching Resources

In my younger, pre-kid days, my idea of summer fun was lying in the sun with a good book, taking breaks only to dip in the pool or grab a bite to eat. My lounge lizard days have been put on hold as I chase after my littles, keep track of my bigger kids, and attempt to keep the house ship-shape. We do go to the pool almost every day, but I do anything but sunbathe.

One of my favorite pastimes of summer, however, is to plan for the next school year. I am a school teacher at heart though I have ditched the brightly colored, embroidered cardigan sweaters.

Yet I am the ultimate curriculum geek. I love books. I love browsing catalogs. I love Back to School sales!

I get so excited about all the things that we could learn in the coming year!

Yet, having made plenty of unwise book buying decisions over the years, I recommend caution before you go buy a load of books. Think carefully about the topics you want to cover and what experiences you want your children to have in the coming school year.

Ask yourself these questions:

What fits your philosophy of education?

Once you determine your ideals and goals for your child’s education, you will know better the path to take. Spend some time reading up on the principles of education that you’re going to build on. Chances are in your reading you will find references to great book choices.

What fits your season of life?

Some math books are more parent-intensive than others. Some reading programs demand more than perhaps your family’s lifestyle will allow. Know that about yourself and choose wisely.

What do friends recommend?

There’s no reason you need to reinvent the wheel. Go to people that you respect and find out what books have been helpful to them. Read book reviews and do some research about the books and resources that interest you. Browse the Curriculum Fair at Simple Homeschool and check out The Happy Housewife’s round up of curriculum reviews.

What can you afford?

Homeschooling is not free. Not only will it sap your time, energy, and brain cells, but eventually it will tap into your cash. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to educate your children well, but you will need to think (and budget) carefully for school expenses.

Our school costs have fluctuated over the years depending on how many children were actively schooling, what cash I had to spend, and what new curriculum we needed to buy. Since I have made it a point to buy stuff that is reusable, I am not having to re-buy everything for each kid that comes along. I recently added it all up; we’ve spent $6,500 over the last nine years of homeschooling, with up to four students actively studying.

What fits your kid?

Not all learning resources fit every kid. I’ve exchanged different books throughout the years, as I’ve now folded four children into our homeschool. It’s imperative to find out how your kid learns, how you best teach, and what works for you all. Be sure to read Joy’s How to Choose the Right Homeschool Curriculum for Your Family for more ideas.

Rejoice in your custom-made education.

Remember that nothing’s perfect. Try as you might, you probably will not find the perfect math program or your dream history book. Don’t feel bad if you take the best from several programs and put them together for a custom-made education. I think that’s one of the beauties of homeschooling. You get to give your kid the best that you can find.

What we do

For the curious, you can browse past posts where I’ve explained our resources for different grades and disciplines. This is always in flux and reevaluation, based on what fits our season of life, where teacher and student are strong or weak, and what our budget allows.

I’ll be posting this year’s resources just as soon as I figure them out!

How do YOU choose your school books for the year?

About this series – If you’re interested in getting started in homeschooling, this is a series recounting our experiences in teaching our children at home, the things that I’ve learned, and some resources I’ve discovered along the way. But this way isn’t the only way. Your mileage may vary. Coming up next time – Homeschool Law

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  1. Just made friends with a mom who home school’s now. I am very interested in this and will seriously consider it once I have kids.

  2. I use the K12 program, it technically is a public school system that they do at home. They mail all the books and supplies and even a computer for you to use. The teacher assistance has been great and I have been very pleased with it. I have 3 kids who have done this the last 3 years and even though middle school and algebra have become involved, it isn’t overwhelming and it’s going great. There still are a lot of choices in novels and science experiments as well as choices in composition material.

    I appreciate the tips for regular homeschooling as well, thanks!

  3. I was excited to see your pictures of The Well-Trained Mind. This will be my first year as a homeschooling mom (nervous!), beginning with first grade, and I’m planning to use WTM as my structure, but I’m also trying to figure out how to sprinkle in some Charlotte Mason (for a bit more Bible/character focus). Between the two methods, I have PLENTY of book recommendations, so I’m scrambling to narrow things down. Look at me trying to sound like I know what I’m talking about.Thanks for the post!

  4. Thanks for the resources. We have 5 children, 4 still in school and one has special needs. I am toying with the idea of homeschooling our son with autism who is 10 and with certain laws passed here in CA, I may decide on all of them.

    I love the resources you posted and will look into all of them. I may use a charter school or K12 program too. Thaks agin!

  5. Danielle says:

    For The Story of the World, do you recommend getting the book, the activity book, and the test book? I have a 1st and 3rd grader. Thank you for your help. I’ve spent the past hr going through your past posts and recommendations. Such great info!

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