Friday, July 18, 2008

Choosing Curriculum

I think maybe I should have wrote this blog first. It is very overwhelming when choosing curriculum this is true for not only those new to homeschooling but veterans also. There are web sites where individuals have posted reviews for the different publishers they have used. While this is a great resource you need to make sure both pros and cons are listed. Then it needs to be determined if the information applies to your families situation. For instance Saxon is a popular math curriculum which I used one year with my daughter. While it contained the repetition needed for making sure old concepts learned were maintained it lacked in providing exercises for new concepts learned. Not only was there not enough practice for new concepts learned a new concept was introduced every day. For children who are gifted in math this is a great program, but I would not suggest using this if you have a child who struggles with math. You see how I gave information on what I liked and didn't like and what type of child it would work best for? Those are the types of reviews that will help to make curriculum decisions.
Know how your child, this is important when choosing curriculum. If they are a hands on (kinetic) learner a text book alone is not a good choice. It is also important to know what type of method you want to use to teach your child. Fortunately there are places on the internet were you can go to find these things out, plus there are also books if you have the time to read (I don't.) I am including links for the places I have been which were useful to me, hope they help someone else as well.

A to Z Homeschooling

Here you will be able to read articles about the different learning styles and methods for teaching such as unit studies, unschooling, Charlotte Mason etc. Also includes sites to purchase used curriculum, support groups and much more. This site is the best site I have ever found for homeschooling, everything you want is right here. Bring your favorite beverage and kick your feet up you will be here for awhile.

Homeschool Reviews

This site has the most extensive reviews for curriculum I have ever seen. Not only are there many reviews to read there is a great deal of curriculum being reviewed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Buying Used Curriculum

Here in TN we start school in August, but we end in May. Well it is time again to purchase the curriculum. I am trying to find as much used as I possibly can leaving the last two weeks of July to order the items I can not find used. We will be using Math U See this year, I found a great deal on the Epsilon which my eleven year old will be using. I am having a hard time finding used materials for this program priced well. The teacher's editions are $35.00 each, they are selling used for $30.00 postage paid. While this is a $5.00 savings along with shipping and tax I would like to get it at $30.00 and pay media shipping. When purchasing used there are a number of things to be aware of. First make sure you have the catalog number or ISBN number, this will allow you to make sure you are getting what you want. I have seen a number of individuals selling items they say are current but are not. I don't think they are trying to be deceitful they are just unaware there have been changes. Bob Jones updates and revises their materials on a regular basis making it harder to resell. Know how much the item you are seeking are new and visit a variety of used curriculum boards, this will help you to see if the used prices are consistent. Ask questions remember you are purchasing the materials and have a right to know just what you are getting. Decide what condition you would like the materials to be in, no writing or markings, no water or other liquid damage, no tears etc. Most student consumables will have some type of writing in them decide if this is a problem or not, for me I purchase these new. Others use white out and copy or scan the pages to use, not a bad idea but I do not have that kind of time. I prefer to stay away from ebay for used curriculum and use a variety of yahoo egroups and a variety of used homeschool boards. While Vegsource is a great site for finding curriculum I prefer to stay away from them for a variety of reasons. First the web site for me on dial up takes way to long to load, second they monitor who posts and have put up blocks which block others from posting. I am not sure how this is possible but I have experienced it. Before this happened I did all my business on Vegsource and never had a problem buying or selling with the other posters. Visit yahoo groups to find used homeschool curriculum groups set your mail to daily digest or you will be overwhelmed with emails. The used curriculum boards I frequent are listed below along with comments on each one.

Homeschool Christian
Registration is required to post includes message boards for advice, buying and selling used curriculum, easy to navigate.

Used Homeschool Curriculum
Also requires registration to post easy to navigate each subject has its own board includes a board for discussing curriculum.

Homeschool Reviews
One of the unique aspects of this site is the reviews tabs. Registration required discussion boards and buying and selling board.

Homeschool World
This site has an extensive message board section for not just buying and selling, but for special needs, laws, getting started, portfolios and so much more. Easy to navigate registration required.

Homeschool Classifieds
This site is just as active as Vegsource. Searches are conducted by either subject, grade or author/publisher, you can also conduct a search by title. Each subject is listed in alphabetical order making it easier to search through. I also like that when you wish to contact an individual you are taken to a new window to send your message. You will also receive a confirmation email of an email sent.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chemistry for Middle School

My eleven year old announced he wanted to learn chemistry this year. I wanted to find something that both of the boys could use together, especially since they are only two years apart. I started my search at Home Science Tools looking under the science curriculum tab. That is where I first saw the Real Science for 4 Kids chemistry curriculum. This site does not allow you to look inside the book, but the home site does and the materials are cheaper. Also at the home site you have the option to buy the teacher's editions separately for each of the topics which include chemistry, biology, and physics. You also have the option of purchasing the teacher's edition and laboratory pages on CD. The most impressive aspect of this program for me was viewing the connections to language. This reviews the Greek and Latin root words used in science. We will be studying Greek and Latin roots so I feel this will just add to it. I must also mention that chemistry texts are available at different levels so pre K can learn just as well as the middle school children or jr high. Each book is geared to specific grades allowing for teaching more than one child at a time. I will be using chemistry level 1 which is geared toward 3-5 grade. The other program I considered was Christian Kids Explore Chemistry geared towards grades 4th - 8th. Though I like that this curriculum is done from a Christian perspective I feel Real Science has more to offer in the way of chemistry and learning it. To view Christian Kids Explore chemistry you can visit the Timber doodle web site. While there are a variety of other companies which distribute this curriculum you can look inside here. I want to add that if you are interested in chemistry look under Home Science Tools tab chemistry. This is a great site for science altogether, they also have science items put together for a variety of the popular science programs homeschoolers use.

Home Science Tools

Real Science 4 Kids

Timber doodle