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Homeschool Help!

by Kelly Crawford

Every year our home schooling looks different.  That’s the beautiful thing…depending on the stages, seasons, needs and demands we can tailor our learning to fit those.

This year our oldest is taking an in-depth World History “co-op”  class, taught by a friend/church member.  She will be covering a lot of material and reading some heavy literature, but we are all looking forward to the challenge.

In addition to that, my husband and I talked about what the rest of her education should look like.  Since we are such “relaxed learners“, it’s always a struggle to find the balance between academic expectations and our educational goals.

And with the assumption that the government will be increasingly more “involved” with homeschooling requirements, we have become a little more concerned with making sure we can jump through their hoops if required.  I believe with a little forethought, relaxed learning can accommodate the possible need to be able to answer a test, and certainly we can wait until they are older to focus on that aspect.

I was so excited to find a few great websites that we will be using as her “tutors” this year.  They are math.com, nationalarchives.gov.uk/latin/beginners/ for Latin, and dowlingcentral.com/MrsD/area/literature/Terms/alliteration.html for teaching literary terms and uses (actually this site is all things related to English, grammar and composition).  We still take a literature-based approach to learning, but we’ll use these resources to help fill in those testable areas.

Not only do these seem to be simple yet thorough instructional sites, she will be totally “self-guided” through her work this year, freeing me up to concentrate with the little ones more.  She’s looking forward to the variety as well.

Just wanted to share those few gems with you.  By the way, if you don’t already know, there is enough information and resources on line that you could get away with never buying anything.  There are flash cards, writing paper,  alphabet charts–I just printed off a US map that we’ll tape together and hang up–just about anything you can imagine is available for free!

(For more about relaxed learning, check out Think Outside the Classroom.)

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Lori August 24, 2009 - 7:14 am

Don’t forget Kahn’s Acadamy online – free math lesson videos up to calculus!

Marci@OvercomingBusy August 24, 2009 - 8:16 am

Thanks for the links. We start homeschool today. I’m just checking the reader for some last minute inspiration. I love your relaxed approach and want to incorporate some of that into our homeschooling experience.

the cottage child August 24, 2009 - 9:36 am

Thank you, Kelly – I am a recovering overspender when it comes to school in general – too many clothes, supplies, kleenex, you name it. Being new at home schooling provided kind of an “excuse” to buy lots of this and more of that, whether we needed it or not.

I’m so happy to know of the resources you’ve discovered – we’ve been blessed by the Ambleside Online site for lots of free resources, too, including Pilgrim’s Progress and many other classic works. Between the selfless contributors to many of these sites and the library and museums where we live, you’re right, besides the occasional pencil and paper, you really don’t have to buy anything. Okay, maybe kleenex.

Lori August 24, 2009 - 9:53 am

I was just thinking about trying to print off a map for our wall….could you share where you got your printable map??


Kim M. August 24, 2009 - 10:11 am

I mentioned Google books recently, and you know I called our local copy shop and they said they would bind books I print for less than $3!!!!

Thanks for those links!

Kim M. August 24, 2009 - 10:17 am

Thanks Lori. I hadn’t heard of Khan Academy!

Word Warrior August 24, 2009 - 11:22 am


I actually couldn’t find the site I printed mine off, but I think I like these better…

A search for “printable maps” turned up a bunch.

Word Warrior August 24, 2009 - 11:22 am

Cottage child,

Yes, Kleenex for Mom, right?

Amy August 24, 2009 - 11:48 am

I just printed a map…turned out great! Thank you!

I was wondering…when you get a chance, can you tell me how your school day looks? For example: when do you do certain subjects (how long do you spend on them?), housework, grocery shopping, etc? What are the little kids doing when the others are doing school?

Looking for ideas. My kids are 3,3,6(1st grade), and 7(2nd grade).

Terri August 24, 2009 - 12:20 pm

I agree with not spending alot on homeschooling, i.e. consumable workbooks, but also feel like we should be building our libraries. We spend lots on books. Not to sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist BUT… I want great hard copies of books that may be hard to find someday. I don’t like the idea of my children reading books on the computer. Prefer they take a hard copy to the hammock in the pasture over-looking the pond!! I also want primary source documents like the Constitution, Declaration, Federalist Papers, Of Plymouth Plantation, etc… We give books for birthdays and Christmas. Just a thought!

Word Warrior August 24, 2009 - 12:39 pm


I totally agree 😉

Kathy @ Teaching Good Things August 24, 2009 - 3:17 pm

Here is a good free spelling curriculum:


Lori August 24, 2009 - 3:34 pm

This posting is definitely going into my favorites file! Bring on the free downloadables!

Kelly L August 24, 2009 - 4:35 pm

thanks for these. I am wierd in that I feel like a relaxed HSer, but have a sched everyday..I finished the lesson plans last week. I guess that is not so relaxed? No wonder I feel the stress coming on! I cannot decide if I am “crazy HS mom” or “go with the flow mom.” And my parents are coming to live with us for a month…both high school teachers that think (out loud, mind you) that HS should look exactly like PS. If led, pray for me. It is my chance to reflect Christ or really blow it.

Word Warrior August 24, 2009 - 11:18 pm


Our days vary depending on how “organized” I’m feeling at the moment 😉

I’m actually working this week on a new schedule (yet again)…I have made chore charts and such to try to self-motivate the kids.

A typical day is rising around 7:30, breakfast, Bible reading and then an hour of chores. After that, the older ones do their “seat work” (English and math). During this time I may read to the younger ones, work on letters with them, etc. Then, I try to gather everyone for reading (we try to keep at least one book going)…I may send the little ones to play while the older ones are working, or I may let them color, do puzzles, etc. It’s a real challenge to keep all the plates spinning, so we’re always looking for a good system too.

I’m thinking I’d like to start grocery shopping every Sat, or maybe make it a Friday night “date” with my husband. I fluctuate so much between a “go with the flow” kind of day and a structured day. I’m learning that we’re not so much schedule people as we are “rhythm” people, if that makes sense. There needs to be some sort of predictable pattern to the day, even if it’s not a rigid schedule.

Learning like everyone else *grin* And changing with the seasons. Flexibility is key.

Jessica August 25, 2009 - 2:51 pm

We use & love My Father’s World. It is very Christ centered yet does not take but a half day as they believe kids should be kids! It is perfect for large families! They wrote it w large families in mind! You school all your children grades 2-8 together outside of math, English & spelling. It is very relaxed, but the children are learning great wholesome things (& doing all the state requires) We can’t say enough about MFW. My kids love it. We learn but have fun & are done in enough time to enjoy the day!

Natalie August 25, 2009 - 7:41 pm

We use ambleside online for a guidline for our kids. We do leave off some suggestions and sometimes add others that are not on the list. We are book shoppers however. I love buying books and with seven children I figured they would be well read over the years. I stopped using the library because I was paying too much in fines.:) Here in BC, Canada our homeschooling laws are very relaxed which is wonderful. I do however keep a written record of all the books my children have read in any given year incase there is some inquiry for whatever reason. I never did that when starting out, but I quite like it now, because you get to see just how much each child has done each year.

Stephanie August 25, 2009 - 9:48 pm

Great posting. I haven’t bought curriculum since I began homeschooling my first year, over 10 years ago. One of my favorite resources is Google Books. Great classic literature there.


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