2020-2021 Homeschool Planning: Resources

To understand how we choose homeschool resources for the new year you need to understand how we started homeschooling to begin with.  When Emma was 21 months old, I ordered our first homeschool resources.  Yes, I was that parent.  I thought that the earlier we started, the better.  At that point, Emma knew her letters, and seeing as how she was my first child, I obviously knew what a genius she was at that age!

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As I started to research homeschool resources, I found Sonlight, a literature-based homeschool curriculum.  This is exactly what I was looking for – a collection of books and stories to read with my daughter.  I had exhausted my own collection of children’s books pretty early on and instead began reading aloud the books that I wanted to read.  Mainly Harry Potter and Jane Austen.  And so, I purchased what was then the P 3/4 (toddler/pre-school) package they had available.  To me, it was a gentle introduction to homeschooling.  Since I already knew that I was a book person, I assumed early on that my kids would also be book people. 

Homeschool Planning

Homeschool Resources after the 1st Year

After that first year my homeschool purchases went something like this – buy the next level available from Sonlight.  And this is how I have continued to purchase homeschool resources over the past 10 years – purchase the next level.

This has worked really well as a starting point for us.  We have gone through every HBL (History, Bible, Literature) core from Sonlight from the P 3/4 program all the way through H.  We only skipped HBL F which is the Eastern Hemisphere.  The reason we skipped that was because we are required to have Maine Studies at some point between grades 6-12, and so we replaced F with Maine Studies. 

Homeschool Resources – the Starting Point

We have loved all of the books from Sonlight so much, this is always our starting point when I plan our resources for the next year.  This doesn’t mean that we use Sonlight exactly as it is out of the box, and that is totally fine.  I realized after the first couple of years that for me to be able to check off every box was going to be very difficult.  There are people that use Sonlight exactly as it is written in the Instructor’s Guides, and that is awesome.  However, I need to move things around to fit our family (which is why I use an Erin Condren Teacher Planner).

I know that I have a great resource when purchasing the next HBL level with Sonlight, and then I am able to start looking at other resources that we will need throughout the rest of the year.

Homeschool Resources – Science

I have tried to keep my older two kids together when it comes to science.  We have used Apologia as well as Sonlight science programs.  We have liked things about both.  I like apologia because I can get the textbook on audio and have my kids work together.  However, I am not great at getting all the supplies needed for experiments ahead of time.  This is why Sonlight science programs are sometimes a better fit for us – they provide all the supplies you will need for the experiments.

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Homeschool Resources – Everything else

From there we add in math, spelling, and writing.  We love both Singapore math and Teaching Textbooks.  Spelling is something that we have had a bit of trouble with.  Of my older two, one is a natural speller, and one is not.  We have used Spelling You See, All About Spelling, as well as Sequential Spelling.  I realized that one of my kids was not ready developmentally for spelling, and as they have gotten older it has come easier to them.

For writing, we LOVE Brave Writer!  We have used their Partnership Writing and Faltering Ownership writing projects and loved them.  Then, depending on the books that we have from Sonlight, we usually choose some of the Arrow Guides to go with them.  This helps give them a rounded English Language Arts program for the year in addition to the wonderful books that we read together from Sonlight.

The 4 Learning Styles

After 10 years of purchasing resources for homeschooling, we already know the direction that we want to go in.  But, when you are starting out, it is important to know how you plan to teach.  You want to find something that works for your child, but also that works for your teaching style.  Look for help in the places you are not strong in.  Teaching Textbooks, for example, takes a lot of effort off of my plate because it is an all online-based math curriculum – I don’t have to do anything.

What kind of learner is your child?  Do you know if they fall into one of the 4 main learning styles?

  • Visual
    • Process information visually with charts, graphs, and pictures
  • Auditory
    • Process information through the spoken word (ie lectures, reading aloud)
  • Read/Write
    • Process information through reading it themselves; enjoys reading and writing activities
  • Kinesthetic
    • Process information through tactile processes and physical activity

If you don’t know what type of learner your child is, or the type of teacher that you are, that is OK!  What type of learning appeals to you most?  Start there.

A Great Homeschool Planning Resource

Last year I did a review for Pam Barnhill’s Plan Your Year. She has completely reformatted that entire program and it now is a package of her book, e-course on how to use the book, downloadable printable forms as well as her Plan Your Year Community. You can learn more about that program here:

The Bottom Line

When choosing homeschool resources for your homeschool year, you will want to make sure that you leave flexibility.  There is the change that a resource does not click with either you or your child.  That is OK.  It doesn’t mean that you failed, it means that you need to try something different.

However, you will want to give it a good try, and not immediately write off a resource because you didn’t like it the first few days or weeks.  Although, sometimes it isn’t the resource that is the problem, it is that you need to take a step back and work on heart issues with your kids.

There have been numerous times where we have had to take a break from math so that we can reconnect, figure out the problem, fix it, and then get back to math.  It is OK to take a break when you and your child are butting heads!

I am a firm believer in not fixing what isn’t broken.  So, we continue to purchase Sonlight books, and then I create the schedule that we will use for the year.  We round out our resources from that starting point.

That doesn’t mean that you have to purchase Sonlight for your curriculum, this is just where we start.

Have you started looking at resources for the coming year?  Are you ready to put this year to rest and move forward into a new school year?

Homeschooling Resources

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