Thursday, August 2, 2012

From Teachable Moment (Jan.1996) Curriculum Advice

I am finally starting to blog about the homeschooling years (almost a year after I last announced I would do this! Give me a break....a lot has gone on with my health and our family). I had the idea to reprint some of my articles I wrote for Tallahassee Homeschool Group's newsletter over the years. So I decided to start with 1996. Note: You can tell how dated it is with the plethora of computer programs available to help your child learn 16 years later. Back in 1996, this was all exciting and fresh!

 " I haven't been able to come up with a single idea for this column, so I've decided to share some of the curriculum products we use that I feel have been helpful to our homeschooling.

I am frequently asked what we do for math. First of all, everyday situations are great! Let your child read the power meter and then subtract from last month's reading to figure kilowatt hours. If you receive your cancelled checks from the bank, let a younger child organize them by number. Have them guess how far a distance you're traveling by car, set the odometer and check estimates. Don't forget the grocery store and its numerous possibilities. There are so many things we do on a daily basis that our children could participate in and learn from.

As far as bought curriculum, we use the Saxon Math Series. First of all, let me inform you it's not a visually appealing package - no bright, colorful illustrations. Its appeal is that each lesson reviews previous material learned, so old concepts are retained as new ones are learned. We supplement with other workbooks, especially the Key to ...    series for the older kids. The Key to series zero in on specific concepts-such as Key to Fractions, Key to Decimals, etc. This just gives them a little more practice.

Also, I have heard criticism of the Saxon Math series for the upper levels as far as the geometry skills go.  Parents and students who have been all the way through the series feel some geometry supplementation is needed.

For spelling, this year we began using the Spell-It 3 computer program. It has word lists to fit all ages and fun games to play while you learn the words. We also use the method Ruth Beechick recommends, lots of writing and correcting for misspelled words and keeping a spelling journal.

We also like the Learning Literature Through Lanaguage Arts series. Many of these lessons involve dictation and then letting the child check himself. Each lesson will teach something involving language arts. Another program our kids have enjoyed is the Editing Adventure books (2 volumes). There's a daily passage and the kids try to catch the mistakes.

The children do their own checking of their work. In math, they go back and correct missed problems and come to me if they can't figure out why they missed it. I periodically check in on their work to see what they're learning and if they really are getting it.

This is some of what we do in our homeschooling. There's really too much to write about in one column. One book I recommend is Ruth Beechick's 'You Can Teach Your Child Successfully'. She gives many practical ideas and lots of reassurance. Happy Homeschooling!"

Follow up: I do believe most of these products are still available with many others, of course, out there too. I went through 2 volumes of Ruth Beechick's verse and called it my homeschooling bible. It was the number one book I recommended all the years I answered homeschool calls.


  1. I'm excited for these posts, miles is almost old enough to start! scary close...

  2. I am hoping that as I go through the articles, there will be tips that can help anyone who wants to read. Even if someone is public schooling, there are still good tips they can utilize to focus on education at home. Thanks for taking the time to read it! It was a wonderful trip down memory lane last night as I started reading the articles. I had truly forgotten so many little things! So glad I wrote these articles years ago!