Home Education

The DIY Homeschool Curriculum Method

Everywhere you look you can find something related to DIY – do it yourself. From garden landscaping to home upgrades, doing it yourself is no surprise. What about when it comes to planning your own homeschool curriculum? Before you panic and leave, allow me to tell you five reasons how planning your own curriculum can be a game changer for your homeschool (and your sanity).

Voice

Planning your own homeschool curriculum gives you a voice. Each and every homeschooling family has unique children with unique learning styles. Moms (and dads) are also bringing their unique [teaching] styles to the table. When you are in control of what you want your children to learn, and what you want to teach, you are exercising your right to voice that!

Choice

As mentioned a little bit before, planning your own curriculum gives you the freedom to choose. Of course people choose different boxed [pre-set] curricula because something resonates with them and the company who made it… but what if this isn’t your case? What if you are having a hard time finding curricula to accommodate your homeschool? Now enters the next game changer…

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Accommodate

By planning your own homeschool curriculum, you are able to accommodate the varying abilities that each and every homeschool encounters at some point in time. Whether you have a reluctant reader, an active kiddo who only sits still for 5 minutes at a time, or an eighth grader struggling with math – you can accommodate that.

Versatile

Versatility is one of the most important reasons why moms [and dads] choose the homeschooling curricula they do. But what happens when you get that boxed curricula in only to find out it’s not as versatile as was advertised? The wallet may not be as versatile to keep affording to switch things up until you find something that works. Planning your own curriculum allows a versatility like no other.

Affordable

There is no question about it that planning your own homeschool curriculum is one of the cheapest routes to take when trying to save a buck. With the proper resources and support, countless of homeschooling families are finding out that they can homeschool for free!

I just so happen to be one of those people who have a tried and true system in place for DIY Curriculum Planning. I started planning my own curriculum from the beginning and haven’t deviated from it going on six years later. From online resources to books schools are about to toss in the trash – I started gathering and doing things in a way that has me spending less than $100 on curriculum each and every year.

 

You can do this too! Just ask me how!

CHIME IN: do you plan your own curriculum? What are some resources you can’t homeschool without? Share in the comments!

Home Education

Back to Homeschool with the Right Curriculum

Back to Homeschool with the Right Curriculum is part of the Back to Homeschool: Mind Over Matter blog series. This post has been provided by Yours Truly (Michelle) from With the Huddlestons.

There is good curriculum. Then there’s great, amazing, and wonderful curriculum. I’ll never call one bad because although it may not have worked for one family, it could be just the thing another family is looking for.

I’ve been blessed thus far in my six year homeschooling journey to not have come across something that just absolutely didn’t work (and may have left a bad taste in my mouth). It’s probably because there are a few key things that I keep in mind when searching for and using resources.

The Child’s Unique Needs

This is a big one, especially for those of us who are homeschooling multiple children who span across various age ranges. I currently have a 6th grader, Kinder-schooler, and two Play-schoolers. This means looking for resources that will accommodate their learning needs at these particular stages.

Taking it a step further, I also want to ensure that I am going where their needs lead. For example, one of my Play-schoolers (the 3-year-old) is in a repeating phase. This mama is thinking, “Okay buddy! Let’s repeat the words on these flashcards!” Playfully, he does all while I have building his vocabulary in mind.

The Child’s Learning Style

I hate to say it but my firstborn was the guinea pig in the beginning of our homeschool journey because he was the only child at the time. Not to mention I had just traded in my brick-and-mortar teacher hat to become a work-from-home, homeschooling mom. Put those two things together and you get a funny memory to look back on and lessons to learn from.

Fast forward five years, I like to think that I may have this part of homeschooling down. I’ve learned to not give a hands-on, let-me-get-dirty child a stack of worksheets and say, “Do them.” or we’ll most likely have a meltdown.

I’ve also learned to let a lesson be extended if the kiddos are enjoying themselves and want to learn more. If she wants to write, let her write. If they want to color, let them color. If he wants to touch and feel (versus just looking at it), let him do it. This makes learning fun and real to them.

Spending vs. Investing

Unique needs and learning styles aside, understanding the difference between spending and investing was a huge money-saver for me. I admit that at the beginning of this journey I already had a do-it-yourself mentality and was set on spending less than a certain amount on resources.

However, this isn’t always the case for some homeschoolers. Sometimes you may feel like forking out hundreds of dollars on curriculum is what you’re supposed to do because that’s what so-and-so did.

Simply put, I’ve learned that spending doesn’t always mean that it’s a wise investment. When I invest in something for my children’s educational needs I want it to be reusable and have longevity (to say the least).

The question now becomes, “Where do I find the right curriculum for my family’s needs?”

I’m glad you asked. While I don’t know your family’s unique situation, I do know of and want to tell you about a few curriculum resources that I highly recommend (and have heard other’s raving about too)!

Curriculum Resources the Huddlestons Trust

Hoffman Academy

Hands down, this online piano lesson program is the best I’ve seen. The teacher, Mr. Hoffman, is an amazing teacher who is even more amazing with children. His teaching style makes learning fun and engaging. And the best part is the lessons are totally free. 

There are premium perks that can be unlocked for only $18/mo (still cheaper than any piano lesson I’ve ever found)! Oh, and they are having a piano camp until September 1st!

WriteShop

When I was first approached about trying out WriteShop’s curriculum, naturally I was skeptical because it seemed like one of those boxed curriculums that I [personally] tend to stay away from (because we are too eclectic for that). However, after looking it over I said yes.

I first said yes to trying their WriteShop I & II for Middle and High Schoolers. Then I was asked to give their WriteShop Primary a try. So far I have been very pleased with these resources. My 6th grader is able to work independently on his lessons while I am able to work one-on-one with my Kinder-schooler.

WriteShop Primary helps me to teach her simple writing skills that match her [already] love for writing and continue to build her confidence. It also offers:

  • No-pressure activities that eliminate stress
  • Incremental lessons that build slowly
  • Multisensory appeal for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners
  • Picture book suggestions for each lesson
  • Crafty publishing ideas children love
  • Oral activities for kids who aren’t reading or writing yet
  • and much, much more!

Check them out and even get a free sample (immediate download)! In the meantime, hop in their back to school giveaway (time sensitive)!

RELATED POST: 12 Back-to-School Tips That Make an Impact for Your Homeschool

Teachers Pay Teachers

This is the hub of all things educational resources. There are hundreds and thousands of resources to choose from! To make your search easier, use the tool in the left margin to narrow down what you’re looking for – and whoolah, hundreds of options pop up!

While you can get your hands on some incredible (and free) resources, if you decide to make a purchase, you are supporting a teacher who is also a lover of education and passionate about providing you with great resources!

Oh, and yes, I also have a TPT Store, although all the resources there can also be found in my Shop here.

Xtra Math

This resource is exactly what its title says, extra math. Conveniently online, this website is a great program for students (parents and teachers) to help with building math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

I personally enjoy the teachers way of presenting each lesson and the quizzes given. Student reports are emailed to the parent (and can be printed) to show progress. They also give certificates of completion!

Even MORE Resources

Other resources that I’ve used and/or heard are good and worth a look-see:

To get your hands on even MORE resources offered by us, consider:

  • Subscribing to our email community and unlock our Free Resource Library (sign up in the right margin).
  • Joining our Homeschool Library Membership with perks that include hundreds of curriculum resources, tools for parents, access to our virtual COOP program, access to past events, conferences, seminars, and so much more!
  • Purchasing our highly sought-after FREE Resource List bundles (currently available for High School and Middle School).

I wanna hear from you!

What are some of your go-to choices for great curriculum?! Let me know in the comments below!

Before you go, don’t forget to enter the back to homeschool bundle giveaway!

[giveaway id=9402]

 

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Home Education, Reviews

Tips for Homeschooling an Advanced Child

Families homeschool for various reasons, and meeting their child’s true academic abilities is among the top. You may hear a lot about special needs homeschooling when it comes to developmental delays, disorders, or other seemingly negative diagnosis. But what about the other end of the spectrum? The children who seem to be advanced.

I knew we had an advanced child on our hands before we decided to homeschool. While in public school, our oldest son thrived. I’m thankful for his preschool and kindergarten teachers who saw that and allowed him to participate in accelerated learning. That is not always the case for most students, hence, why homeschooling becomes a valid option.

Now that your advanced child is home, the question becomes – How in the world am I going to teach him/her… and what?

What I’m going to share with you in this post are two main ways to encourage the advanced child, tips on how to do, and the curriculum resources I highly recommend. I also offer a product review* for a curriculum we recently started using (and love)! Oh, and there’s a YouTube video + GIVEAWAY (scroll to the bottom if you want to see and enter that first *wink*)!

When it comes to being advanced, there are two main categories: subject-specific advancement and superior level of mental processing. I am more experienced with subject-specific advancement as that is the category our son falls into. He is “up to par” in certain subjects, while in others, he is grade levels ahead.

Having identified the appropriate category for your child, it’s time to consider ways to encourage them. Keep in mind that every child is different, so no single option will work for every situation. Not allowing flexibility for change is a sure way to reach stressed and overwhelmed with the quickness!

Accelerated Learning

Accelerated learning is usually a homeschooling parent’s first thought to consider when teaching and advanced child. This method says, “I’ll just keep jumping up grade levels until I find one that challenges you.” That is totally fine; however, there is the concern of age-appropriate concepts.

Curriculum and resources are typically written with a child’s developmental stage in mind. What that means is what a tenth grader can handle, a ten-year-old may not be mature enough for. Of course this is all at the discretion of the parents, but totally worth noting.

We have chosen to incorporate accelerated learning in the subject of ELA (English-Language Arts). He uses a High School-level spelling list and recently started a writing curriculum geared toward 6th-10th grade-levels. In other subjects such as Science and Social Studies, he averages at a mid to high middle school range… so we make appropriate accommodations for that too (keep reading for my list of go-to resources).

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Deepened Learning

Deepening the advanced child’s learning experience can seem difficult to do, but in actuality it isn’t. This is where finding a flexible curriculum, incorporating extra resources, considering a multi-disciplinary approach, and maybe even doing project-based learning comes into play.

Flexible Curriculum

This type of curriculum allows you to have your child work at a different grade level in a single subject. It also helps to keep them engaged and challenged.

Incorporating Extra Resources

This method keeps the child within the grade level, but allows you to deepen their learning by providing additional resources to expand on. This typically results in a more complete understanding of material.

Multi-disciplinary Approach

This method incorporates several subject, which is quite easy to do. Take the study of Thomas Edison, for example. Instead of just learning a bit about who he is or what he did, the advanced child may dive into what life was like in his time. They may write a report on how lives were changed. Perhaps they will to an ancestry research to see who in their family was alive during that time. They could add in math by calculating additional hours worked because of electricity. And so on…

Project-based Learning

This method allows children to explore a subject from many different areas. It’s where experiential learning meets practical knowledge combined with academic study. There are a number of ways to make this happen. From community service to 4-H related activities, this is can sometimes be an advanced child’s favorite way to learn.

Resources to Consider

Over the years I’ve built up quite a stash when it comes to keeping my son challenged. Below is a quick-list of resources we actively use and that I highly recommend (watch video to see them):

When it comes to my last suggestion, Write Shop I & II, I want to expand a bit. You see, I’m one of those homeschooling mamas that hears, “WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!” when I think about using a pre-made, detailed curriculum. So, when I was approached to try Write Shop, I was a little reluctant.

I wasn’t sure what I would be getting my son and I into, but I told myself – either it will work, or it won’t. Well, I’m happy to tell you that it is working! With this subject being one of our son’s advanced areas, I am actually quite impressed that it is offering him a challenge, but not too much to make him cry. A motto I’ve adopted when it comes to homeschooling is – no tears, ALL CHEERS! And this couldn’t be more true when choosing a curriculum to use for teaching your advanced child.

I chose to use Write Shop I & II because it helps with developing a strong writing foundation. As a writer myself, this is super important concept that I want my children to learn and know. This writing program is:

  • clear
  • concise
  • focuses on developing a strong paragraph
  • has a wide-range of writing activities
  • focuses on teaching how to refine work (A++)
  • helps parents know exactly what to teach and to evaluate their child’s work

These are key things I want to teach my children and they are all wrapped up in Write Shop I & II. Something else worth noting is the flexibility this program offers. I mention in the video that I like knowing what to do, but not being tied down to having to do it on certain days. There is a mapped out plan for parents who do like to have it laid out, however, we have found ourselves completing several exercises in one day, or taking a day or two longer with others.

Regardless of what we choose, we can stay on track because the student assignments are organized in the student workbook by lesson number. The teacher’s manual lines up with that as well. I also love the fact that the set comes with a teacher’s manual, a student workbook, AND a copying and dictation exercise booklet PLUS The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation!

I’m actually glad that I took the leap of faith and said, “Sure I’ll try it!” because now I can tell you that if you’re reluctant to purchasing a curriculum or aren’t sure where to start – when it comes to ELA, I highly recommend Write Shop! If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend checking our their samples. You can click and download immediately to see what you’d be getting before you buy.

If you’d like a chance to WIN a set or bundle of your choice, then hop in the TIME-SENSITIVE GIVEAWAY (below)! After April 17th it will disappear!

In the meantime, tell me in the comments below if you’ve ever tried Write Shop (any level). Did you like it? Why or why not? If you’ve never hear of them, will you check them out??

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HERE TO HELP!

If you need help with finding curriculum and resources to fit your child’s unique academic needs, I have a few limited (and time sensitive) spots for personal homeschool consulting. Fill out this form to get started!

Review Disclosure: We received a free copy of the Write Shop I & II set in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own and were not persuaded in any way.