New homeschooling parents are always overwhelmed by all the choices of curriculum that are available and many make bad choices based on ignorance or bad advice.
After over 20 years of homeschooling my own large family and being a part of the homeschooling community as well as a consultant, I have observed many pitfalls of choosing the wrong curriculum.
While every family is unique, using products created specifically for homeschooling by homeschoolers generally results in a much more enjoyable learning experience for both the parents and the children, than using a school-at-home programme that has been adapted from the mainstream classroom-based system.
Family education is not school at home. Eclectic education, where you create a customised learning experience to suit each child, is what I recommend.
One of the most precious aspects of homeschooling is the interaction between parent and child! At this age, they only need about 20-30 minutes each of formal lessons in reading, writing and maths if they are ready, then LOADS of reading aloud together and even more time to PLAY.
This generation spends enough time on screens, they don’t need to be on a screen to learn in the early years.
This page gives recommendations but DO NOT RUSH TO BUY A CURRICULUM. First take time reading 4 Steps to Start Homeschooling and deschooling your own mind. And give your child/ren a few months to chill out and deschool. You no longer have to keep up with that system once you take them out. You will give your child a customised education and let him/her progress at his/her own pace. You will know when s/he is ready to write a matric or equivalent and when s/he is ready to be released to the next step on his journey. It might be at age 16 or 18 or 20 or anywhere in between. There is NO DEADLINE!!!
Buying a curriculum is the LAST THING YOU NEED TO DO!
RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS FOR STARTING HOMESCHOOLING – Grades 1-3
These products are tried and tested by my own family and well-loved by many other experience homeschooling families too!
Math-U-See which you buy from www.oikosfamily.co.za
Here is a link to download the placement tests with instructions how to use it.
Once you have worked out which level to start at, create a customer account profile and go to the Maths page to buy it:
You need the Instructor Guide and DVD and also the Student Workbook and Tests for whichever level it is. You will also need to buy the manipulatives for the appropriate grade level. These are bought once-off and re-used in subsequent grades.
Footprints Nature Quest – Junior Package
Footprints Nature Quest is a story-driven learning adventure to explore the wildlife and natural environment of the nine biomes of South Africa. The junior package is made up of beautiful picture books aimed at young children between ages 4-8 years. You can use it for more than one year and with more than one child!
Junior Science– Exploring Creation series by Jeannie Fulbright. Let your child/ren choose which book to start with according to their interests.
These are available from https://zastore.creation.com/
3. SOCIAL STUDIES
Social Studies for ages 4-8 Years Little Footprints – South Africa in Stories – learn about SA people, geography, nature study, art, crafts, cooking, etc through lovely picture book stories. I co-authored this favourite South African curriculum with Wendy Young in the early 2000’s. Child learn effortlessly when read them stories about their country.
Order online at the link above
Barefoot Days is a new Charlotte Mason-style home education programme for little ones that you can also use between the ages 4-8 years. It doesn’t matter whether you do Little Footprints first or Barefoot Days first. Whatever you do – do both!
For Language Arts in the Primary Grades, I recommend Developing Language Skills or Simply Phonics – available on the same website
Also free printable beginner readers from www.progressivephonics.com for grades 1-3.
If English is your child’s second language, only start at about grade 3 when they have mastered reading and writing in their mother tongue.
For Afrikaans Second Language (I don’t recommend starting until grade 3 or higher, when the child has first mastered reading and writing in English) – go to http://sahomeschoolsuppliers.blogspot.co.za/p/products-by-grade.html
Afrikaans First Language
myafrikaanseavontuur.co.za is great for beginner mother tongue Afrikaans learners – grade 1-3
6. FOR PARENTS
Consider this a new ‘career’ and get yourself better informed to make good choices for your family. If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any!
My online presentations are at Teachable.com. Create a free account and then you can view them. Some are free, some are paid for:
- 5 Vital Lessons for Every Homeschooler is free – 1 hour
- Preschool Homeschooling – free 1 hour
- I recommend you also watch Starting Homeschooling – 6 x 1 hour presentations (R400)
- Homeschooling High School – 6 presentations on various options for high school and matric
You can download them to view at your convenience.
I know this is a lot of information at once, so start with the 4 Steps to Start Homeschooling – read the articles. Then slowly start looking at the curriculum options so that you are not overwhelmed!
It is so worth it to invest some time and money learning more about how homeschooling works best as it will build your confidence and equip you to make good decisions for your family.
ALSO – whatever you choose initially is not a permanent decision.
Often families try a few different curriculum options during the first few years and eventually settle on their favourites after they have more experience – this is normal and will not harm your children. It is all part of the learning process – about learning what works best for YOUR unique family. However, I am very confident, that like hundreds of other families, you will enjoy the products listed above as most of them were created specifically for homeschooling by home educating parents who understand this educational choice. They are not SCHOOL-AT-HOME.
Don’t start with too much. Buy one product at a time and ease into homeschooling gently. Don’t feel under pressure.