Simple Homeschooling: What My Kids Need to Learn

Homeschooling is a lot of wonderful things, but sometimes it can be confusing, even for (especially for) veteran moms, staring at the ocean of curricula, the endless teaching possibilities, and the myriad of styles and approaches.

It is helpful for me to go back to the basics sometimes, and reevaluate what an “education” is, what we want our children to know and the simplest way to accomplish those things.

So the following is an approach to simple homeschooling. I hope it will help you sift through the noise and distractions, and come to a stress-free approach to education.

What do they need to know and what are the simplest ways to accomplish learning?

Math

We use a math curriculum (mostly A.C.E.) starting about the first grade, or maybe second. Before then, math is learned through every day life.

Sometimes we take a break from text books and focus solely on multiplication tables, or counting money or some other specific exercise.

To have our children become numerate–that is the main goal in math. Also, for children who have intense struggles with higher math (who obviously aren’t headed for a STEM career) can develop the same reasoning skills through brain puzzles, according to mathematician, John Bennett

Reading

According to extensive research, nothing is more important to a child’s education than reading aloud to him. Young and old children alike benefit greatly from having their imaginations piqued, their vocabularies grown, and their souls enriched by the bonding experience of reading together.

History

We read for history, and try to enrich our reading by documentaries found on Netflix or Youtube.

This year, I found an incredible resource my 13 year old and up are using for American History. I wanted something simple, something they could do on their own, and something that was ACCURATE and from a Christian perspective. Enter, Compass Classroom American History, with Dave Raymond. Answer. to. prayer. If you want to try a lesson for free, click HERE.

 Historical Books for Kids (include Amazon affiliate links)

Educational Videos on Netflix

PBS Documentaries

Nature Documentaries

Historical Documentaries

Animal Planet

Wild Kratts

Mighty Machines

Moving Art: Flowers

Science

We do most of our science from reading and videos as well. We love Apologia Science and I have found lots of printables on Pinterest to coincide with our reading.

My kids love to watch the Crazy Russian Hacker’s science experiments. We also love browsing National Geographic magazines and Nature Readers from Christian Liberty Press.

Other Stuff

We do copywork from Kindergarten through around 7th grade and so far, it has proven an effective approach to grammar, spelling and sentence structure. If a child seems to struggle in an area of language arts, I may have him work through a grammar or English text book.

I have all my kids work through Type It at about the age of 12.

We approach geography organically, referring to our map when we read about certain states or countries. There are also some fun online geography games for memorizing places and names.

Ultimately, we should desire to see our children become self-learners, giving them the tools (literacy, numeracy, reasoning skills) to learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it.

That’s not so very hard, mama. You’re doing great!

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17 Responses to “Simple Homeschooling: What My Kids Need to Learn”

  1. Brandi says:

    Thanks for sharing. How does Type It work? I’m assuming it teaches typing skills. Amazon indicates this is spiral bound so I’m not sure how this works. One of the reviewers says this is great for dyslexics. I have a house full of them so I’d like to know more about this resource. Thank you for any help you can give.

  2. Nancy says:

    Oh wow! Thanks so much! Came at the perfect time!

  3. […] Simple Homeschooling: What My Kids Need to Learn […]

  4. Brandi says:

    So, do you prepare college prep transcripts for your high schoolers or do you write transcripts for minimum requirements to graduate or do you ask the child what they intend to do after high school? I don’t believe every person needs a college degree to be successful but i have been conflicted on the high school schedules that leave no alternatives but those two options. I just am curious how you specifically prepare them for post high school and if you do the same for every child.

    • Deborah says:

      I went to a class on writing a high school transcript if you do relaxed homeschooling. The idea was look at the hours per week in a requirement ( i.e. One economic credit is maybe one hour a week) and see if through reading, discussion, real life you covered that topic for the required amount of time. Then in good conscience fill in the ” class”. My daughter read about European royalty for several months. All our discussions on these books always ended up covering government . On her transcript I listed a government credit. The “class” was often discussion in the laundry room but so what? Hope that helps:)

  5. melissab says:

    My husband and I just watched John Bennett’s video about math – we agree! Thanks so much for helping us enrich our children’s education!

  6. Danni Matias says:

    Ace has typing too. I loved it as a kid

  7. Kim M. says:

    I enjoyed this post. Thank you!

  8. Carolina Jackson says:

    Historical fiction is also a great way to learn History. My son surprises me answering Jeopardy questions of many things I have NOT taught him!
    Answers in Genesis, kids has videos where our children can learn some science from a biblical point of view.

  9. D. says:

    Kelly,

    Have you tried “The Mystery of History” to cover both Biblical and world history in one?

    Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know, but I read a few reviews saying that “The Story of the World” had quite a few historical errors.

    I really enjoy reading to my kids and am learning right along with them!!!

  10. 6 arrows says:

    I enjoyed checking out those links in your “Math” and “Reading” sections. Hmmm…I might have to knock that $150 geometry program off my list of things to order for my teenager, after seeing the John Bennett video…

    We’re slowly integrating a Charlotte Mason approach into our homeschooling, and a number of the resources available through Simply Charlotte Mason, as well as the weekly newsletter I get from them, look to be / are quite helpful.

    Speaking of CM, and her encouraging the reading of “living books,” I recently found a great book at our local library that my four youngest children and I read together — Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Family’s Farm — that fits the “living book” description well, IMO.

    The author/photographer, Michael J. Rosen chronicled a year in the life of a farming family in Ohio, mostly told through the eyes of the five children, ages 4-17 at the time. The author would provide brief introductions to each section, and a variety of photos with captions, but most of the story was written as direct quotes of the children (and occasionally of each parent), with the name of who was speaking placed at the head of each quote, like how a play is written out, with the character’s name followed by a colon, then what that person says.

    In our read-aloud, I would read the author’s comments, and the parents’, and my four children who participated in the reading would read the featured family’s children’s part who most closely corresponded with their ages.

    This was an enjoyable way to read a book together, where it would get passed from one of us to another, and so on in a fairly unpredictable sequence. My 12-year-old reluctant reader did very well with this arrangement, and did great reading the parts that were quotes of the featured family’s 10-year-old son.

    We laughed with some of the family’s antics, cried (a few of us) with the part where a pet died, and learned a lot about this very close-knit family and how they worked together on their farm.

    An excellent read, and now that we are finished, it has inspired a lot of creative play for our 8-year-old, who gathers her littlest pet shop animals and acts out what everyone in the book is doing or saying — even the 17-year-old’s parts, and the parents. 🙂

    To me, a great educational resource is one that deals with real life, and has the potential to open up a whole new world to the children in a memorable (not dry) way.

  11. This is an old post, but I have such a clear memory on how my parents handled this. For my Mom, the waters were always muddied. One day, though, our Dad told us that we get allowance because we are part of the family, and we do chores because we are members of the family.

  12. Ruth says:

    Thanks. This was most helpful. We are currently considering home schooling our girls aged 12, 10 & 8 and I was feeling very overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available. It’s good to know what other people use.

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