Homeschool Helps

Bates Family General

   Some of the most frequent questions I get asked are about homeschool suggestions. There are so many curriculums available now days that the choices have become exciting! You can spend a lot of money, however, experimenting with various curriculum that goes unused, so be wise in selections! Opinions of others are helpful, but realize that opinions vary! There are different learning styles, different family sizes, different teaching abilities, etc. All of those factors play a huge role in a mom’s opinion about a curriculum’s strengths or weaknesses. If you are not mindful of that, it is easy to be swayed to purchase curriculum that another family loves, to only find that in your house, it just doesn’t suit the needs and tastes! So, with that in mind, most of my suggestions are going to be for the frazzled mom that is overworked, over scheduled, that needs something easy to use.

    I’ve tried a multitude of curriculum choices. Some I love and still use to supplement with for certain learners, while others simply sit unused because they don’t meet our expectations or busy schedules. When my junior high and high schoolers reach a subject they’re struggling with, I involve them in helping research and select their curriculum, based on their learning styles. In the past, we’ve used ABeka, Bob Jones, Paces, Switched on Schoolhouse, The Teaching textbook (for Algebra 1 and 2), Wordsmith (for writing), Apologia Science, Precepts of Anatomy and Physiology, Principles Precepts and Theories of Biology,  Grammar Key, Easy Grammar, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, etc…

   But for my family, I usually keep returning to the curriculum that matches the teaching style I’m most familiar and comfortable with. Over the years, with only a few exceptions or supplementations, that has consistently been ABeka. I remember when Erin nervously took her first college classes, wondering how she’d do in a totally new world of demands. Half way through the first semester of English Grammar and Composition 1, when other students were struggling to keep their heads above water, Erin would come home thanking me for using ABeka with her. She has maintained an A average throughout her 31/2 years of college, but we give the credit to a strong foundation from ABeka.

   But having a good curriculum alone doesn’t meet the needs of a busy mom with multiple students, who is struggling to find time to cover every subject with every child, plus be mom, wife, cook, and homemaker! Over the years, I’ve relied more and more on tutors and technology (DVDs and computer) to lend a hand in the teaching. Consistency can be hard to maintain, however, and non aggressive learners can fall through the cracks, not getting the help they need.

   This year we met a very large family whose children impressed me immensely. When I discovered her twin 4 year olds were reading and each child was well versed in Bible knowledge, and was above expectations in their education, I began to ask questions. I quizzed the kids thoroughly, then I began to quiz the mom! She was just as busy as me with a super large family, but seemed so organized in her life and schooling. Her secret?? ABeka DVD and video streaming from K4 up! ( I love Abeka, but I had been doing it the hard way! Immediately I began to watch the sample video lessons for every subject and every grade! Wow! I began to pray and think of ways we could cut costs to switch to DVD school! Is it expensive? Yes, all home school curriculum can be pricey from my view point! But is it worth it? Well, for consistency alone, for me, yes! Add to that the fact that hard to teach subjects that are often put off to the end of the day are covered for me effortlessly…Wow! Too good to be true! I still can be as involved as I want to be, yet I’m also free to enjoy my role as mom without being overloaded as teacher! It might not be for everyone, but I told my children who are preparing for marriage, “My advice to you if you want to cover all bases thoroughly, plus have house time, hubby time, kid time, and Bible time, is to start with ABeka DVD and stick with it!” It’s an answer to prayer for us, because keeping up with everything I keep up with is almost impossible, and I don’t want schooling to ever take a back seat to other priorities. This might be a help to other moms who feel that they just can’t keep up with all the demands, and feel as though they’re always trying to play “catch up!” If it could be a help, it might be worth cutting the costs in other expenses in order to free up time and gain a very Biblical based, well rounded education! Happy schooling!!