Relaxed Elementary Education (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY

Ages of my children: 12, 10, and 8

Educational Philosophies I pull from: Leadership Education, Literature-Based, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling

When Jamie first proposed this series I thought, “That will be easy to write. We don’t use much.”

Then I saw all the questions from the introductory post and realized I might actually have something useful to say.

A few of your comments jumped out at me:

  • The repeated request to know what has worked and what hasn’t, and why.
  • How to “make your own” curriculum.
  • How to use readily available resources (like the library) and literature as materials for learning.

I can answer these because of our own eclectic and interest-led elementary homeschooling experience.
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Resources for Early Learning (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

Ages of my children: 7.5, 6.5, and 6
Educational Philosophies I Pull From: Waldorf, Leadership Education, Unschooling

When I had two children, both still toddlers, I planned out their entire education for the next 15 years. I spent hours drawing charts, researching, thinking about socialization, and narrowing down curriculum options.

We haven’t followed any of it.

Since then I’ve found a better strategy is to plan for tomorrow, not next week or next year. I don’t mean you should never look ahead; I just mean that when stress or overwhelm kick in, that’s your clue to stop.

Today I want to share not only the resources we’ll be using in the upcoming year, but also what we’ve used in the past. Hopefully this will help those of you with younger children as well.
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Don’t Know Much About History Resources (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by Simple Homeschool contributor Amida of Journey Into Unschooling

Ages of my children: 12, 9, 4, and 5 months
Educational Philosophies I Pull From: Unschooling, Eclectic

History was never my strong point. I blame it on all the instructors who pretty much killed the subject for me, like elementary school teachers who had us read and respond to the social studies textbook questions without a single explanation on how it related to the rest of world chronology.

Plus the grad-school student-teacher who had us studying Machiavelli’s The Prince for a whole semester in high school because that was her dissertation work. And although she was totally enamored with the subject, it just didn’t rub off on me.

Thankfully, there were two teachers who did bring some light into those Dark Ages, and both had one thing in common — they told stories and they told them with enthusiasm.

On days when we probably should have been reviewing declensions, our Latin teacher, egged on by students who knew his weakness, would spend the entire period telling us stories from Roman history.

Another instructor acted as our tour guide to all the must see Wonders of the World — from Pyramids to the Taj Mahal, he shared with us the stories behind all these architectural marvels as we zipped through different time periods in history.
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Choosing Curricula for Multiple Students (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom

Ages of my children: 13, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2
Educational Philosophies I Pull From: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Literature-Based

I don’t know if it’s my academic background, my penchant for planning and dreaming, or my love of learning, but exploring curriculum choices makes me happy. Like a kid in a candy store, I eagerly look forward to this time of year when our current books and resources fade in excitement and freshness, and I start thinking toward next year and all the wonderful, new things we’ll be studying.

I admit it; I am a planning geek.

Back in the early days of our homeschool when I “just” had three kids, I mapped out the rest of their school lives, calculating what grade each of my sons would be and what curriculum we’d be using. I wanted to be able to build our school library over time, as finances were tight, and I was, of course, dreaming big dreams.

Over the years our family has grown. Now as I approach “formally” schooling five children in grades K, 2, 4, 6, and 9, I find that my plans crafted many years ago have changed. Big surprise, eh?

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2011 Curriculum Fair on Simple Homeschool

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

I vividly remember the moment I walked into my first curriculum fair at a homeschooling conference. 250 exhibitors had tables lined up side by side, there to show off their stuff (and convince me to buy it.)

In a word, it was overwhelming.

What I really wanted, what I really needed, were experienced friends who could let me in on what they’ve already learned about the curriculum-buying process. What worked for them, what didn’t? What resource was worth investing in–and what wasn’t?

Starting today on Simple Homeschool we’re doing just that–kicking off our own curriculum fair, simple style.
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