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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m sharing tips and ideas that I’ve gleaned through my Working while Homeschooling time this past year. (If you would like to check out Day 1 of this series, please click here, day 2 here, and day 3 here)

TIP #5: DEAL WITH YOUR HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM PLAN.

You need to make your curriculum choices with your schedule in mind. For us, we went with My Father’s World Adventures program, along with Saxon Math. One of the things I truly love about these programs, is that they do the teacher’s work for you. I love the teacher manuals. I love that they do the planning and I don’t have to. I just want to teach my kids, I don’t want to do the planning! So, now that I’m working, that saves me TONS of time.

I have just three hours to get all homeschool work done each day. And most of the time it works out okay, but sometimes it a bit of a struggle. Since my girls are young, but of the homeschool work still needs a great deal of teacher/mom involvement. Perhaps when they are older we might look into doing some online computer programs, looking into co-op or outside class options. Long-term, part of our homeschool goals is to create independent learners who take ownership of their education. So, I can see our homeschooling evolving as they age, and they start to do more and more on their own.

But, in order to give me some of that independent learning time NOW while they are young, I am trying a number of different ideas. #1 is the public library. My favorite local one has a fabulous video section. I try to find “science” topic videos based on whatever we are studying at the time. Or, last year when we were reading through the stories of the Bible, we did a lot of Bible videos of the story we read that day. We even did some cute ones about Jewish holidays as they related to what we were studying (Passover/Easter, for example). This year, while studying American history, I’ll be taking advantage of that section of videos as well. And I’ve been known to record kid shows on the DVR that relate to something we’re studying – one we watched last night dealt with learning about pulleys.

I also bought a huge stack of “kid” magazines at a curriculum sale a few years ago, and have a massive kid book library at home. Many of our toys are imagination-based, and when reading Little House on the Prairie last year, I found paper dolls for the story, and some Lincoln logs for them to play with from the thrift store. Not always what you think of as “school” time, but it does help to reinforce what you’re studying. Puzzles, some games, etc can all be used as “school fun” as well.

We do not currently have a “kid” computer in the house, but I am considering getting that at Christmas.

TIP #6: GIVE UP ON REINVENTING THE HOMESCHOOL WHEEL.

Now is not the time to try to create everything yourself. All that extra “creative” planning time you had, is now probably gone. Oh, and stay away from Pinterest!

This is the time to employ a very effective method called, CASE. As in, Copy and Steal/Share Everything. I learned about it in scrapbooking. Basically, it means that you don’t HAVE to come up with your own ideas, or be Ms. Martha Stewart in your school. You just have to copy them.

Honestly, I’ve gotten to the point where I do very little of even that.

And I don’t create my own worksheets or projects. I never really did, as I don’t really enjoy that very much, and it seems like others do such a better job than I could do, anyway! For extra supplemental ideas, I use Confessions of a Homeschooler, and then I also watch Scholastic Teacher Express very closely, and jump at their $1 deal sales. (Really, those are AWESOME, and happens a couple of times a year.) Those alone have been enough for me.

And I don’t go crazy trying to invent crazy cool field trips, either. Whenever possible, I try to join up with the local homeschool groups on the ones that someone else has already done the work to organize. When I am required to volunteer with these groups to participate, I try to organize a SIMPLE, non-time-consuming activity that many will enjoy, and I try to make it relate to whatever our personal homeschool plans are. Last year we did a gardening class through my church’s food pantry garden. This year, I might be doing a State Geography night, since we will be studying geography. (I’ll be copying our already existing “International” night, and just applying it to US geography. Should be very easy. I think.)

And since hubby enjoys it, I let him take the lead on a lot of field trip stuff as well.

I know that there are several really cool ideas floating around in my head, and that one day I’ll be able to implement them all, but today is not that day. Or even that year. Right now is the time for me to let other experts take the lead.

So, I stick with following the curriculum program that I like, and supplementing with extra where I feel necessary. It’s really more important that we focus on getting the basics completed and completed well during our limited homeschool time. Everything else is just gravy.

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