Looking back, I really wish I had been able to connect with someone who would have been willing to give me a few tips, suggestions, and help getting started homeschooling. When we started, I had never heard of lapbooking, notebooking, unit studies, or had any clue about sites where I could find curriculum to homeschool our son.That was about six years ago and I have made connections, found homeschooling groups, and wonderful websites to help with homeschooling him.
If I were to give advice to someone who is starting to homeschool their child(ren) now, I would tell them that homeschooling is totally different from public school. For one, you aren't teaching a whole class of children so you don't have to spend an hour teaching each subject, making sure each of those students understand what is being taught. Instead, you can teach until your children "get" what you are teaching, let them do a few problems, half a page, or all of a page of of whatever you are working on. Go at your own pace instead of what some school district or department of education tells you to. You can teach the basics of the three "Rs" or teach your child what he or she wants to know about a certain subject, like dinosaurs, robots, or princesses for example. Above all, you can have fun with your children while they learn too. That's probably the most important thing about homeschooling I think, finding fun in learning!
I think it would be really hard to say that I have one specific site I love to use while homeschooling. However, I think I could say I have two favorites with several taking a close second to them. One favorite site currclick.com. It's really great for free and low cost curriculum but it also has some wonderful free downloads that really helped me to learn a few things about homeschooling, like lapbooks, notebooks, and unit studies along with some really great tips for getting started homeschooling too. I finally found the site in our second or third year of homeschooling and probably visit the site on at least a weekly basis. My other favorite is gutenberg.org/ which is a site where you can download an unlimited number of absolutely free books. The only thing is, the books are so old that their copyrights have expired. Even with that stipulation, I have found numerous books we have used through the years while homeschooling. I've downloaded curriculum like the entire set of McGuffey Readers, books about classical composers, and also inventors to name a few. Also, I've downloaded several books just for reading too. Our son really liked Tom Sawyer but didn't like Alice in Wonderland as well.
I've mentioned lapbooks a couple times and you may be wondering what they are. I've used them two ways that I can think of while homeschooling although I'm sure there are probably other ways they could be used too. There are some wonderful companies out there that sell premade lapbooks but there are also many people who put them together for their children, then offer them for free download for others to use to their hearts desire too. Here's a list of sites where you can find lapbooks. I would strongly suggest trying one from a company that sells them before trying one by someone who is sharing because they usually give really good directions on how to put them together. Then, you could either look around to see what you can find that someone has posted or even give it a try making one of your own. Of course, that's my suggestion which you don't really have to follow if you don't want to. Here's my list:
Hands of a Child (handsofachild.com) a company that sells them.
A Journey Through Learning (http://www.ajourneythroughlearninglapbooks.com/) a company that sells them.
Knowledge Box Central (http://knowledgeboxcentral.com/) a company that sells them at great prices.
All three of these companies have some kind of free lapbook. Either a free lapbook every quarter or one if you sign up for their newlsetter.
http://www.homeschoolshare.com/lapbooks_at_hss.php a site for free lapbooks people share they have created.
http://www.heartofwisdom.com/homeschoollinks/homeschool-share-over-500-free-lapbooks-unit-studies/ a site where someone shares the lapbooks they have created, mostly religious but beautiful.
http://dynamic2moms.webs.com/ a site where two ladies share the lapbooks they have made with their children. One of my favorites!
http://www.lapbooklessons.com/ a site where people have posted lapbooks they have created to download for free.
Notebooks are also good to use with children while homeschooling although personally, they are better with older children who are able to write to an extent. After all, if you think about it the name implies to me that there is writing expected to get them done. Again, there are quite a few sites out there. Our son isn't much of a writer so I don't have much of a list yet. I'll probably find more once our son is older and can be expected to write more.
Hands of a Child (handsofachild.com) a company that sells them.
http://dynamic2moms.webs.com/ a site where two ladies share the notebooks they have made with their children.
http://marinecorpsnomads.com/tag/notebooking-pages someone who makes her own notebooks for her children and shares them to download for free.
Personally, I think unit studies are FANTASTIC! I really love them and our son seems to like them too. Basically, you can pick a topic and teach or learn with your child all kinds of information about that topic. Many times, you can incorporate many different subjects while teaching or learning about that subject too. For instance, a short time ago our son and I did a unit study to introduce our son to classical composers. During that time, not only did he learn about the composers and some of their music but he also learned about musical instruments, the orchestra, some geography, and history. It was great because while we did our study, our son went from not being interested in classical music to actually liking it. Right now, we're doing a unit about the seasons and US geography at the same time so you can actually do more than one unit at the same time or you can just focus on one unit at a time. You can also either purchase a unit study that someone else has already put together or do one on your own. Here's a list of sites I have gotten unit studies from although I'm sure there are others out there:
Currclick.com You can find units created by several different publishers. Some of them are really great but some could be better too. Many are offered for a really great price though.
Intellego Unit Studies (Intellegounitstudies.com) a company created by a mom of a special needs child. The units cover the basic subjects like science, government, and history. Many of their products are also offered at Currclick.com, some of them in bundles where you can get a discount for purchasing more than one study. Our son loves several of the studies we have done so far but there has been one or two he didn't like. We have used these unit studies for several years.
Amanda Bennett Unit Studies (http://www.unitstudy.com/index.htm) a company created by a homeschool mom. Our son has enjoyed most of the unit studies we have tried so far but we have only done them for a few months. Check out the weekly specials!
Hopefully after you have read this article, you have found something useful to help you homeschool. I know I would have appreciated reading someone's blog years ago when we started but I don't think I even knew what a blog was then and even if I did, I didn't know how to go about finding one specific to homeschooling. Although I know our son has learned quite a bit over the years since we first started homeschooling, I have too. I've learned how to find materials I need to teach our son a subject, how to search for sites with downloads that are helpful too, also I've learned to be patient with our son more too. Lastly, I've learned not to worry the big things because they will fall into line most of the time while we deal with each day, learning together as it goes along.