Know your passions and evaluate your abilities. Depending on your skill set and time constraints, you can determine what teaching materials to use with your child. For instance, do you like the thought of creating your own ways to explore, or would you prefer taking another person's ideas and customizing them to work with your child? Are you an orderly person who needs structure, or would you enjoy impromptu teaching, using whatever the day brings? Would you like getting your hands dirty when teaching projects, or are you the type of person who wants a more organized schedule with time for preparing materials? Do you want to be actively involved in teaching each lesson, or do you want your child to be more self-directed when homeschooling?
As a parent, you have a preferred way of teaching, but your child also has a preferred way of learning. Not only does this learning style determine how he best processes information, but it also helps him with retention and the ability to perform better on academic tests. After observing your child, which of these learning styles best describes the way your child likes to learn?
Kinesthetic - Does your child have a need to touch everything? If you have a tactile learner, he won't be content to learn with worksheets or listen to lectures. Rather, this child needs to manipulate his environment in order to learn by feeling textures, weight, and shapes. To help this child better absorb what is being taught, homeschool parents need to take lessons off the page and bring them to life!
Are good at sports
Can't sit still for long
Aren't great at spelling
Don't have great handwriting
Like science labs
Study with loud music
Like adventure books and movies
Like role playing or pantomime
Need breaks when studying
Build models and love construction
Are involved in martial arts or dance
Are fidgety during lectures
Struggle with reading for information
Curriculum should allow for
Shorter study periods
Field trips and visits to museums
Study with others
Use of memory games
Use of flash cards for memorization
Worst Test Type: Long tests, essays
Best Test Type: Short definitions, fill-in-the- blanks, and multiple choice.
Encouragement Method: Responds best to a pat on the back
Auditory - Listening is key for auditory learners. Whether you put facts to music, assign books on CDs, or just read lessons out loud, an auditory learner needs to have his ears energized to retain information in the brain. Asking your child to verbally restate what you have just read to him along with lesson repetition are great techniques to help this type of learner.
Like to read out loud to self
Are not afraid to speak in class
Like oral reports
Are good at explaining
Notice sound effects in movies
Are good at grammar and foreign language
Follow spoken directions well
Can't keep quiet for long periods
Enjoy acting and being on stage
Are good in study groups
Curriculum should allow for
Word association for remembering facts and lines
Music, rhymes, rhythm instruments, and echo games
Repeating facts with eyes closed
Participation in group discussions
Using audiotapes for language practice
Taping notes after writing them
Worst Test Type: Timed reading passages with written answers
Best Test Type: Oral exams
Encouragement Method: Responds best to verbal praise
Visual - For a child who learns visually, to see is to understand. Preferring to process information using pictures and images, spatial learners easily remember where things are and need to have everything in its place. They flourish best when demonstrated the skill to be learned ("show me") and find written directions, well-defined assignments, and workbooks most appealing.
Are good at spelling, but forget names
Need quiet study time
Have to think awhile before understanding a lecture
Are observant of details and visually organized
Have a large reading vocabulary at an early age
Doodle on note paper when talking
Are easily distracted by visual stimuli
Are aware of spatial relationships
Function best when they "see" what's expected
Like colors and fashion
Dream in color
Understand/like charts, diagrams, puzzles
Are good with sign language
Curriculum should allow for
Drawing maps of history events or scientific processes
Making outlines of everything
Taking notes, making lists
Color coding words, researching notes
Using highlighters, circling words, underlining
Worst Test Type: Listen and respond tests
Best Test Type: Diagramming, reading maps, essays, showing a process
Encouragement Method: Responds best to visible rewards like stickers, stars, etc.
When planning your homeschool year, you should first consider any required subjects included in your state's homeschooling laws. Some states are more stringent and require specific subjects like health, state history, or traffic safety for certain grade levels. Other states only list a general set of subjects that should be taught each year, such as math, science, history and geography, and English. The good news is that most state requirements are only for basic subject areas, so you get to decide how you want to teach it and which homeschool curriculum you want to use.
A sample of subjects for an elementary third grade student might look something like this:
Bible - (Parables of Jesus)
Math - (Advanced operations and fractions)
Science - (Basic life science - plants and animals)
History - (Regions of Earth)
Phys. Ed. - (Tennis and swimming)
Art - (Piano lessons and basic music theory)
If your state doesn't require particular subject areas, then you are free to customize your child's education with topics that develop his unique skills and abilities.
Note: Because most colleges require a certain number years of study in English, math, and science for admission, read Countdown to College for more examples of subjects to include when homeschooling your child during his high school years.
After you've considered teaching and learning styles and the subjects you want to teach, it's time to look for curriculum that meet your homeschool family's needs. A handy way to touch and examine curriculum hands-on is to attend a homeschool convention in your area. With hundreds of vendors displaying their products, you can save the time and energy you'd spend researching online or browsing through catalogs. Plus, many homeschool conventions also host a used book fair, which adds up to substantial savings on curriculum costs.
Finding the right homeschool curriculum is also easier with consumer report websites, informative books, such as Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, and helpful advice from veteran homeschool moms and dads.
When you're finally ready to make your purchase, stop and ask yourself these questions:
Is this an impulse purchase?
Have I compared and researched this product, asked other homeschool parents to rate it, and read reviews?
Can this curriculum be used with more than one child?
What is the curriculum's resale value?
Have I prayed about it?
Whether transitioning your child from a traditional school or starting his homeschooling journey in kindergarten, it's important to first test your child's academic abilities. Not only can you avoid the possibility of learning gaps (a problem that occurs because concepts are not uniformly presented at the same time within all curriculum), you can also determine if your child is being challenged too little or too much. For instance, your 5th grade homeschooler may be at his grade level for science and history in a particular curriculum, but need a 3rd grade level for English and/or a 6th grade level for math.
To avoid return headaches with extra shipping expenses and a frustrated homeschool student using curriculum that's too easy or too hard, determine your child's placement level in a homeschool curriculum with that curriculum's diagnostic tests.
Every homeschool parent knows that correct educational placement testing is a key component to successful homeschooling. At Alpha Omega Publications, we want to improve your effectiveness as a teacher and promote your child's academic enjoyment. To accurately place your child into our Christian homeschool curriculum, we offer free placement test resources for Monarch, LIFEPAC, and Horizons.