In case you missed it, we recently made the decision to homeschool our oldest, who is entering kindergarten this year. Homeschooling our children was never in our plans, so this has been eye-opening and a bit overwhelming, to be honest.
But, after a few weeks spent looking into various homeschool options and philosophies and curriculums and such, I’m feeling confident that we can do this, and I also discovered that a lot of what we’re already doing IS a kind of “homeschooling.”
The #1 advice I seem to have come across from parents who have been doing this for a long time is to not become too rigid about it— to truly embrace one of the best perks of being a homeschooling parent, which is the ability to really be flexible and mold your child’s education to their needs and likes and interests and such. So, while I do still plan to actually HAVE a plan, I’m open to the idea of things changing over time.
Because of that, I didn’t want to spend too much money at the outset, especially since I didn’t really know where the rest of the year was going to take us. While I’m planning on this $160 “starter kit” (if you will) to last us throughout this whole school year, we shall see if I end up adding to it as our needs dictate. For now, here is my tentative plan for the materials and curriculum (I use that term loosely) that we’re going to use this year:
Note: There are affiliate links below, which means I may get a small commission on any purchases made through these links, at no extra cost to you.
Second Note: You’ll notice that a LOT of my resources (the majority, in fact) are from The Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle, which is on sale for just $29.50 for FIVE DAYS ONLY (the last day you can purchase it is FRIDAY 7/31). In case you’re unfamiliar with how Ultimate Bundles works, you pay a one-time purchase price (in this case $29.50), which gives you access to literally hundreds–sometimes thousands–of dollars of high-quality digital resources. In this particular bundle, you’ll get a wide range of homeschooling materials, printable planners, online courses, etc., from preschool-age all the way up to high school. I was able to purchase my bundle early because I’m an affiliate, and trust me, if you’re looking for a way to save yourself a ton of time and energy planning and making your own curriculum (not to mention money from having to buy expensive curriculums), click HERE to take advantage of this deal while you still can! (Also, all Ultimate Bundles come with a 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t 100% satisfied!)
Language Arts / Reading
Perhaps because I used to teach English Language Arts, this is the subject I’m the least worried about, though I’ll admit that it will definitely be a new challenge to teach someone to read (since I taught 7th graders before). The first book on my resources list came super highly recommended by several bloggers I checked out, and it breaks the whole teaching reading process into bite-size little chunks that don’t require a ton of materials or prep work to do. The second book is a workbook with tons of activities to practice the letters and sound combinations. The third is a printable zip doc that includes everything you need to make a miniature little “book” for each letter that includes multiple ways to practice and rehearse it.
In addition to the resources below, we’ll obviously be utilizing our library to check out tons of picture books to read, as well as using the Libby app to check out audiobooks.
- The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise – ($18, Amazon)
- At Home Reading Tutor: Grade K by Evan-Moor Corporation ($8, Evan-Moor)
- Alphabet Mini Booklets – Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
Both of these resources are fairly similar—each has pages of penmanship practice for each letter of the alphabet, as well as animals or objects to color that start with the same letter. My daughter loves to do these while listening to an audiobook, so that’s my plan with getting her penmanship practice in.
Note: Even if you’re NOT homeschooling, these penmanship resources (as well as many others listed here, such as the Evan-Moor activity books) are still AWESOME to have on hand, especially if you’re not sending your toddler to preschool or if you want to help your kids have some more structured time during the summer or holidays where they can work on skills in a fun way.
- Phonics With Penmanship – Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
- Free penmanship printables from Year-Round Homeschooling
Although I’m fairly good at math myself, I was unsure of how to tackle the subject of teaching it formally to someone so young. One of the resources in the Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle—called I Can Teach My Child: Benchmarks for K-5—has been HUGELY helpful in breaking down all the standards for each grade level, as well as giving several ideas and tips and strategies when it comes to teaching each one. I have it permanently open in my Internet tabs now, just because I refer back to it so much in my planning!
Anyway, thanks to that resource, I decided to purchase many of the other things you’ll find below, like the manipulatives (counting bears, pattern blocks) and magnetic ten-frames and such, as well as the Evan-Moor curriculum and activity books, which are fairly inexpensive as far as homeschooling curriculum goes for math.
Much of the math at this age should be kept pretty informal and fun, and it mostly involves learning basic one-to-one correspondence for numbers to objects, basic addition and subtraction concepts, shapes, comparing, and then eventually learning how to count to 100 by multiples (such as 2 or 5).
- Everyday Literacy: Math by Evan-Moor Corporation ($22, Evan-Moor)
- At Home Math Tutor: Grade K by Evan-Moor Corporation ($8, Evan-Moor)
- Growing Tenderly (a Charlotte Mason-based curriculum) – Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
- Year-Round Count and Graph Bundle — Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
- BMAG Counting Bears + Matching Sorting Cups – ($23, Amazon)
- Magnetic Ten-Frames – ($18, Amazon)
- Plastic Pattern Blocks – ($13, Amazon)
Science / Nature / Agriculture
Most of our science study will be combined with outdoor play and learning about nature through things like gardening, nature walks, weather study, etc. I plan to do a target science lesson once or twice per week with an in-depth look at one specific principle, and then I plan to make sure my daughter gets outside most days to play independently, to go on walks (with me), or do some outside time as a family (such as a hike). We’re already in the habit of doing a good amount of outdoors time, so this will just be tweaking it slightly so that our walks and hikes together will include some discussion and identification of the principles she’s learning, too.
- The Peaceful Preschool: Farm Guide — Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
- Weather Bundle for Young Learners — Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
- Animal Life Cycle Bundle — Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
- Sunflower School – Ultimate Homeschool Bundle
I’m not one to do a ton of super-planned arts and crafts, so the easy-to-implement ideas in the resources below fit my style really well, as they’re pretty hands-off and require minimal prep or involvement on my part. We already own quite a lot of art supplies (thanks to Santa bringing Raven this easel from Melissa & Doug a couple years ago that we absolutely love, along with your basic markers, crayons, paints, paper, etc.). I plan to have art time almost daily since my daughter loves to listen to audiobooks for an hour or two every afternoon while she paints, draws, or colors.
- Scissor Skills and Cutting Bundle — Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
- Mega Art Journal Pack — Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
A lot of our geography lessons will simply be about introducing our daughter to the idea of different cultures and places, which we’ll do through books, some videos, food, etc. I do plan to use the European Adventure resource below from the UHB as well, which includes ten 30-minute audio stories for each country, as well as a curriculum guide of the food, discussion points, activities, etc. that you can do with each one. I plan to choose a different country every month. I also plan to use some of the info from the North America resource below to start out with the countries closest to us, though I’ll have to find my own little recipes/audio stories/etc. to supplement it with.
- European Adventure: 10 Audio Stories — Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
- North America: Country by Country Bundle – Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
Raven LOVES to cook and bake with me—in fact, it’s one of her favorite things to do. I wanted to make sure that at least some of our homeschooling focused on basic beginner kitchen skills, and I just know that she will LOVE having her own cookbook to learn from and look at. I’ve been so impressed by everything from America’s Test Kitchen so far (and trust me, I own a LOT of their cookbooks!), so they were my first choice of publisher to look at.
The second link is kind of funny—this is actually a YouTube channel that I like watching for my own homemaking inspiration, but my daughter adores it, and she actually picks up quite a lot of cleaning/homemaking/cooking information from it, as well. I’ll take it!
So I’m definitely too new to this homeschooling game to know which “philosophy” (if any) that I subscribe to, but I can tell you some of the ones I’ve been most drawn to in my initial research into the whole thing. I’ll largely be doing my own thing rather than following any one particular model (just because I’m a rebel like that), but a lot of the practices and suggestions in the Lifestyle Homeschooling resource below resonated with me, and I’m regularly checking the Benchmarks resource to make sure that I’m hitting all the standards as I plan out my weeks and months. The first book is one that I’ve actually had almost since I first became a parent, just because I’m drawn towards the rigor of a classical education and wanted to see how I could encourage that in my own children (whether I was homeschooling or not).
- The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer — (thrifted for $2; similar found on Biblio for $4)
- Lifestyle Homeschooling — Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
- I Can Teach My Child: Benchmarks for K-5 — Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle
And there you have it—my very rough plan and list of resources that I’ll be using for this first (and probably only?) year that I homeschool.
(Although who knows? Perhaps I’ll love it so much that I’ll decide to keep on doing it. I’m willing to keep an open mind!)
Total Cost Breakdown
- Ultimate Homemaking Bundle ($29.50)
- Evan-Moor Everyday Math Literacy ($22)
- Evan-Moor At Home Math Tutor ($8)
- Counting Bears ($23)
- Magnetic Ten Frames ($18)
- Pattern Blocks ($13)
- Evan-Moor At Home Reading Tutor ($8)
- The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading ($18)
- The Well-Trained Mind (thrifted for $2, can find for $4 on Biblio)
- My First Cookbook ($16)
Grand Total: $157.50
Not too bad, eh?! I’m feeling pretty good about the year ahead, and my daughter cannot wait to dive into all the plans I’ve started to pull together!
Are you homeschooling your kids this year? What are some of your favorite free or low-cost resources? (Trust me, I’ll take all the input I can get!)
P. S. If you decide The Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle is a good fit for you, don’t forget to order it by midnight on Friday 7/31, since the deal will no longer be available after 7/31! You can get immediate access to all of that by clicking HERE.
P. P. S. If you end up ordering through Evan-Moor directly, you can get additional cash back and save yourself even more money if you sign up for a free Rakuten account. Also, if you end up spending $30 through ANY of the sites that offer cash back through Rakuten (which most retailers do!), you’ll get an ADDITIONAL $30 in cash back if you sign up through my referral link. So that means, if you spent $30 at Evan-Moor and used Rakuten’s cash back app AND signed up through my referral link, you would get $30 bonus cash back plus whatever percentage is being offered that day through Rakuten (which can be up to 10% back!).