What homeschool program worked best for you and your child?
April 17, 2017 10:25 AM   Subscribe

We are investigating homeschool programs for our 13 year old. We want some help as far as workbooks or textbooks and I definitely need help in quizzes and tests (with the answers). But at the same time, we don't want an online program where the online teacher is giving us deadlines and we also do not want them grading our child, even if it is for 30 percent of the grade.

One of the appealing things for us for homeschooling is that we can provide education at our own pace.

Also, I know some people use one program for math and then use something else for the other school subjects. If anyone has any further insights into a math or science program we welcome your opinions. I understand every child is different; and for us personally, Everyday Math at our child's public school did not work out well at all. There were way too many "ways" to show her how to do one problem.

Any personal insights are welcome.
Thank you.
posted by lynnie-the-pooh to Education (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
One of my favorite bloggers homeschools her kids, and here's what she uses. I respect her opinions, and enjoy her writing, but otherwise have no ties to her. The comments section also has other recommendations. Sorry it's not a personal recommendation.
posted by hydra77 at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't know about science, but there is a Singapore Math homeschool program. Here's a short article outlining basic curriculum design differences between SM and Everyday Math. I totally get your pain with EM -- it's a very frustrating program for lots of learners; kids end up combining all the different ways of solving problems, just as you saw.

You may also want to investigate Saxon math. I used to teach it to kids with non-verbal learning disorders, language-based disabilities and kids on the spectrum, it's a good fit for kids who need less language.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 10:54 AM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some science curriculums are creationist, which you may or may not want, depending on your family culture. If you are looking for secular curriculums, this website collects reviews from many homeschool families in the English-speaking world.
posted by xo at 11:01 AM on April 17, 2017

Newsela and ReadTheory would be good for ELA.
posted by chaiminda at 11:07 AM on April 17, 2017

Oh, also -- search for other homeschoolers/unschoolers in your area. Some families group together for science, but also form their own community. If anything, you may find you don't need to reinvent the wheel!
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 12:03 PM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, also -- search for other homeschoolers/unschoolers in your area. Some families group together for science, but also form their own community. If anything, you may find you don't need to reinvent the wheel!

Absolutely seconding this!
Both our kids do at home virtual school (similar to home schooling, except with State curriculum online), and we hang out a lot with the home school groups. They always have some fun curriculum, the cost is low, and it gets our kids away from their rooms and desks and out into the world.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:32 PM on April 17, 2017

I do unschooling but two resources I found helpful were Khan Academy (I log in to see how much time my children have spent on specific topics, to see what their marks are, etc) which is great because your child tests themselves on lots of topics and then uses gamification to encourage them to focus on the area they need support (such as algebra). However the teaching style is pretty specific and if your child has a different learning style (such as kinetic) it may not work for them.

I also strongly recommend "A Well Trained Mind" even if you aren't doing classical education. Your public library should have it.
posted by saucysault at 3:36 PM on April 17, 2017

Saxon Math worked for both of my kids. It sequences things a little differently than the school system typically does, but it never seemed to cause my kids a problem. "A Well Trained Mind" is awesome, will give you lots of ideas even if you aren't doing a classic education. We used something called Rainbow Science (I think) for science and labs. It was technically Christian, but more from an isn't evolution a neat way for God to work standpoint. It was easy enough to skip over the religious bits, and I got the feeling they were only included to make it easier to sell to the majority of homeschoolers. My daughter got a 5 on her AP Biology test, so clearly it didn't cause any harm. I think we used something caused Writing Strands for English and Grammar. As we got into the high school years we were pretty much unschoolers, as long as the kids were studying something we didn't worry too much about what it was.
posted by COD at 6:28 PM on April 17, 2017

Another unschooler reccing Khan Academy for math and science.

Also, depending on how math has been going, you might want to look into Danica McKellar's math books, which my kid found more tolerable than most approaches. (Math has always been the sticking point for us--if your kid loves math and isn't intimidated, you can ignore this.)
posted by mishafletch at 7:17 PM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I both teach middle school and was homeschooled for middle school, so I've got a pretty unique perspective on this, I think.

For me, Saxon math was terrible. The solutions guide didn't exist then, but I REALLY struggled to learn from it, and ended up going from completing 2nd grade math in two months to almost failing Algebra and Geometry a few years later. Now, if I had Saxon math AND Khan Academy and all of YouTube (never underestimate the variety of teachers using YouTube to give away their class content for free - I do it!) I may have been okay.

For science, there aren't great programs out there pre-packaged. At least not that I know of. But again, YouTube is your friend here. There is SO MUCH science content that I'd be tempted just to use that as my curriculum. Between CrashCourse, SciShow, Veritasium, V-Sauce, MinutePhysics, ASAPScience...and SO MANY MORE, you are spoiled for choice. Plus, they're actually interesting. The Next Generation Science Standards are changing textbooks/programs (they've been gradually rolling them out for a few years) so you may want to keep that in mind if you go with a program. Especially if your goal is to send your kid back to public school at some point.

I actually teach English and History, and you're welcome to the materials I use. My email is in my profile. I also use a program that I LOVE - Membean. It's a vocabulary program that is 100% differentiated to the student. It's also based on really solid research about learning.

Newsela is good for non-fiction. For fiction, just let your child read and talk to them about what they're reading. Get them to empathetically connect with the characters. Make sure they know what a metaphor, simile, and symbol are, and how personification and foreshadowing are used. That's 95% of the reading standards right there.

For writing, get a book full of creative writing prompts (like the Write Brain Workbook or Wreck This Journal) and encourage your kid to write. It doesn't matter if the writing isn't great - just write a TON. If you're reading and writing a lot, you'll get better. Try not to micromanage with grammar - focus on content in your feedback. Support claims with specific details. Expand stories with specific details. Explain connections using specific details (notice the theme?). That's basically what I teach ALL YEAR: using specific details.

Feel free to email me if you want more suggestions!
posted by guster4lovers at 10:06 PM on April 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

I could almost have written the math section of guster4lovers’ comment.

In middle school my daughter has had success using Art of Problem Solving prealgebra and Schoolyourself.org algebra. (Both online-corrected-by-the-program with higher levels we have not gotten to) She says Schoolyourself is her favorite. Probably because AoPS is unusually challenging. I throw in additional review problems.

For writing she does a lot of creative writing with Writing with Skill for formal writing. There is a grammar program—Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind—corresponding with Writing with Skill and coming out this fall.

I have been writing our science and history as we go along, so there isn’t a program I can direct you toward there (but writing it myself has worked best). And we are just getting to the point where specific courses for college are a concern.
posted by rai at 11:23 PM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

The homeschoolers and unschoolers I follow seem to like "project based homeschooling" stuff the most. Give that a google to see if anything looks interesting to you.
posted by jillithd at 1:00 PM on April 18, 2017

definitely need help in quizzes and tests (with the answers

Not necessarily.

I assessed my kids twice a year. At the time, I was able to easily find a list of grade level based competencies for my state. I used the grade they would be in for their age. I checked of competencies I knew they had, then observed them for a few days or talked with them to determine if they could do the other things.

I then wrote up a curriculum for each child. Areas where they were well above grade level, they got to pursue their interests. Areas where they were at grade level, I tried to find a happy meeting of the minds and tried to come up with resources they liked. Where they were below grade level, I chose a thing to serve the goals and they did not have to like it. They could be rid of it when they had mastered enough to meet grade level standards.

I belonged to some email lists and I had a file for emails that had interesting and relevant tidbits. I kept my eye out for math books on the dollar table at bookstores and we went to the library regularly.

Some resources that get raved about may not work for your child.

Tests are necessary in school so that one teacher can assess multiple students they do not know well. Testing is not necessarily import for assessing accomplishments in your own homeschooled kids. Learning at home does not need to resemble public school.
posted by Michele in California at 3:09 PM on April 19, 2017

Response by poster: But I think it has to resemble public school a little bit when you are contemplating college. I called one of the community colleges in Iowa and also a state college and they both said that a lot of data goes into their acceptance of a student that is homeschooled. One thing they like to lee are the lists of textbooks they used, and also, if the parent has any data written for grade-like information, they would look at that as well. They stressed the textbooks used helps them see what the student has been studying.

But I thought the whole idea of homeschooling was to venture out and learn in our own unique way, totally outside the public school "box"
posted by lynnie-the-pooh at 9:13 AM on May 2, 2017

You can do both things. You can create a record of their work that will help them get into college and also venture outside the box.

You can keep a log book where you write down what books they read, what educational shows they watch, what educational software they use, state learning goals and track progress. You can print off a list of expected competencies for grade level and indicate whether or not they have currently mastered them. You can write down information about field trips, such as visits to local museums, and projects, such as their ginormous k'nex bridge and all the math it required to accomplish it.

A lot of educational software has printable progress sheets. Print them out and add them to your log book to show daily math practice and the like.

I started the sign up process for college classes for my then 13 year old homeschooled son. He was accepted by the college, but the classes we wanted fell through. Then we talked and he said he didn't really want to do college right now. He was beyond my ability to teach him in some subjects, but I agreed to just guide his studies and get him learning resources and we backed off on college enrollment.

I also did some related volunteer work as Director of Community Life for The TAG Project. I would be happy to help you find current email lists and the like where folks can help you figure out how to homeschool your way and also check off bureaucratic boxes for future educational and life goals.

Actual legal requirements vary by state.

posted by Michele in California at 10:21 AM on May 2, 2017

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