As a former LAUSD teacher who began homeschooling for high profile families over 10 years ago, I have used a variety of educational material depending on a student’s abilities. Today many parents are taking the homeschool route for a variety of reason, but don’t know where to begin. Here are the basic non-traditional schooling options along with resources to make your journey less stressful. Keep in mind, these choices require your time and patience. If your child is struggling with school and/or suffers from a learning disability or emotional disorder, I suggest speaking with a educational therapist or specialist to help you discover the best schooling option for your child. Each child is unique and resources in US region vary so please contact someone in your local area.
FOUR MAIN HOMESCHOOLING OPTIONS
1. Enroll in an independent studies or homeschool program at your local district. The school will provide the curriculum, a teacher to review your student’s work, and testing to verify your child is learning to move on to the next grade. If your child is not an independent learning, you will need to teach them the material or meet with independent studies teacher on a consistent basis. The curriculum will typically involve the same district textbooks used at your public school. Some district programs like Las Virgenes Academy K-12, gives students an option to take courses on or off campus. These programs tend to be great for serious athletes or young performers who need to balance school with their passion. If your child struggles with traditional classroom textbook learning, you will want to try another route.
2. Enroll in a K-12 online school program. This is the free public online program that uses online lessons to teach your child. You will need to monitor your child for younger grades, but older grades can complete on their own. Go to K-12 site then choose a large affiliate so you have a strong support system that promotes socialization with other students in the program. An example is CAVA in California. A wide variety of charter and even private schools use the K-12 software. Don’t get sucked into paying for a private school with the same software used at CAVA that is free.
3. Build your own homeschool curriculum and keep your kids socialized with local homeschool groups, sports, and the arts.
First – Read about the homeschool laws in your state at USLegal.com. For example: California residents need to complete a Private School Affidavit Form.
Next – Find your state’s homeschool network such as the California Homeschool Network. They can help you complete affidavits or forms required by your state.
Last – Build curriculum (see below), get a teacher planner, set goals, create a classroom environment, and sign up for social activities. Here are a few reading suggestions: 1. The Ten Most Important Things You Need to Know About Homeschooling 2. How to set up a classroom by WellnessMama to give you ideas for younger grades 3. Read my curriculum choices below or use CathyDuffyReviews to build your own curriculum.
4. Mix it up! Enroll in a K-12 online program so your child proves grade level standards. Supplement their curriculum with items your child excels in or has a passion for. Be sure to include hands on activities to spark lifelong learning. Find a local homeschool group to share lessons and take field trips with. Set goals and make a yearly plan so your child stays on track and/or excels above grade level standards.
STANDARDS: Get to know the grade level standards in your state and nationally: Common Core Math, Common Core English Language Arts, Next Generation Science Standards, C3 Framework for Social Studies
CURRICULUM REVIEW: Go to CathyDuffyReviews. My personal favorites are below.
Kumon & Tiger Math – Pre-K to 6th: Both workbook series make math basics simple. Skills range from cutting to multiplication. I promote their workbooks to all my pre-K students then use as supplemental work with Singapore math.
Singapore Math – Textbook & workbook based program that teaches kids to use abstract thinking and think mathematically. The program teaches students to break problems down using abstract thinking with drawings. I use for math basics K – 5th or 6th depending on student’s progress.
CTC Math – Fantastic online program for grades K-8 then as a supplement for upper grades. Pat Murray, an Australian math teacher, clearly explains math with simple and concise online lessons. The program is remarkable and his accent is pretty cool too.
TeachingTextbooks – My favorite for upper elementary through high school. They do the teaching, you do the organizing. Very simple & clear.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS
Overall ELA: Logic of English: Foundations, Essentials & Handwriting series
Reading: All About Reading series
Spelling: Spellwell series, All About Spelling series and/or English from the Roots Up
Vocabulary building : Vocabu-lit – integrates reading into vocabulary (purchase individual workbooks); Vocabulary From Classical Roots (upper grades)
Grammar: Easy Grammar series for elementary then Analytical Grammar for upper grades
Composition: Essential in Writing (K-12th), Writeshop (upper grades)
Real Science 4 Kids – Science is broken down for kids so they can actually understand and enjoy it at all grade levels. I like for elementary grades and supplement with fun daily science experiments because everything around you can be made into a science lesson. Think… How does your television work? Why is baking soda or powder used in baking? Why is cornstarch used in cooking? What is yeast? Why does silver tarnish? What bugs, bug you? Allow your kids to create their own questions, research them, and do an activity or experiment that engages them.
Time4Learning – Online science curriculum for all grade levels K-8th (20 month) and high school ($30 a month)
Community College – Enroll in science courses to replace high school courses if your child is academically strong. Each state has different rules but most states have open enrollment for individual courses if your student is 14 or older. Read US News Article for more information.
A few online science resources: Brainpop, NASA’s SpacePlace, KidsKnowItNetwork – [kidsbiology kidsastronomy kidsgeo], Makemegenius – science videos, National Geography Kids. Check out additional resources here.
ONLINE MATH & ELA SUPPLEMENTS
ABCMouse – kids ages 2-7, subscription needed after 30 free days
BrainPOP – BrainPOPJr. and BrainPOP are filled with lessons on all subject matter (Family subscription about $99 a year)
FunBrain – It’s free and a personal favorite due to games like grammar gorilla
Redbird – Stanford’s online math and/or English program that is part of their Giftedandtalented program. There is a quarterly fee of $60 or $90 for the English/Math program. My daughter began this program in 1st grade as a supplement to what was being taught in school. It is highly interactive and students must master skills before moving on to new skills. This is a perfect program for students to move at their own pace while being challenged with stem based projects.
IXL – I view this as an online reinforcement tool for math or ELA skills already taught, AKA, homework. $79 a year or $9.99 monthly
Khan Academy – The best free SAT prep website because they basically got married when the new SAT was released. It’s a good, yet rather boring site for upper level math skills: algebra, geometry, calculus, etc.
SpellingCity – Create spelling list & use their games to have your kids learn the vocabulary. Free or $30 a year options
LYF Teacher’s List of Online Educational Resources
Drawing Made Fun, AKA, when you need a break
Art a la Carte or Art a la Carte (YouTube Channel)- Valerie’s calming personality makes drawing doable for even the high strung like me.
Art for Kids Hub or Art for Kids (YouTube) – Rob is an artistic, fun dad who introduces art by drawing with his kids. Fun to draw with your kids and have another family member vote on your creations.
How2DrawAnimals or How2DrawAnimals (YouTube) – Because all kids love animals! Their Tutorials Library is jam packed and their steps are super simple to follow.
Fun2Draw or Fun2Draw (YouTube) – Mei Yu is talented and brilliant due to her drawing skills and marketing. She has APPS as well.
K-12 offers Spanish, German, French & Latin for K-5 plus Chinese for high school; can get for free if you enroll in program or buy individual courses
Read LYF Teacher’s Learn Another Language as a Family post
Enroll in local language program or community college for older grades
One Minute Music Lesson – Leon quickly and clearly explains music theory
MusicTheory and Teoria – better for older students or adults due to reading
eMusic Theory – great for teachers with students
List of additional music theory websites by eMusic