Texas Homeschool Basics Where to Begin

So, you’re thinking about pulling the plug on your child’s public education and teaching them yourself? Kinda scary. Or maybe you haven’t yet sent your child to school and are facing the Kindergarten Round Up season. Either way, this can be overwhelming to think about. When our oldest was little, I read an article about boys and schools. Basically the article said that boys don’t do as well in a traditional school environment as girls do. Homeschooling was always in my mind as an option for us, especially after reading that article. As my little guy grew,  I realized that a typical 7 hour day of being in one room wasn’t going to work. Neither was being confined more or less to a chair and desk. We were definitely going to have to do something  besides a traditional school method.

 

I went the local elementary school on Kindergarten Round Up night as well as a small church school that had a Transitional Kindergarten program. The teaching him to read part of homeschooling really made me nervous. I struggled with phonics when I was little and could see he was going to have the same issues as I did. Ultimately decided to put him in the Transitional Kinder program to solve this problem. It was a great in-between and I think a viable option for anyone who is nervous about this HUGE task of reading and writing. He went 3 days a week from 9-2pm in a class of 12 students with 2 teachers. He loved it.

What if this isn’t an option for you because you just plain don’t want to, can’t, or your child is older than Kinder? Don’t worry! It’s still not bad! We didn’t utilize the Transitional Kinder with our middle child and it’s  been just fine!

Here is a break down to get started:

  1. Different kinds of homeschooling
  2. Choosing curriculum
  3. Are co-ops right for us?
  4. I’m still overwhelmed…help!!

 

What is a University Model?

I’ve heard people argue that if you use a university model, you’re not really homeschooling. There’s possibly some truth in that, but you won’t hear that sort of argument from me. A university model is a cross between private school and homeschool. Students go to class 2-3 days a week for formal instruction and are sent home with required work to complete on the days they are at home. We did a one day a week university model for a year, and it did help us get our bearings. The school model was smaller than most university models so we were able to work with our son’s teacher to change the curriculum that we needed to for his learning issues.

I don’t know if the bigger university models are open to parental suggestions, so if you want to pick and choose, this may not be the best method. If you’re okay with someone picking out all of the curriculum and helping with pacing and taking some of the teaching load, then university models may be a great fit for you!

I’d encourage you to visit some if you’re the least bit interested in them. You’ll get a better feel for the idea and see if it would be a good fit for your family. I have some listed here among the co-ops.

Are Co-Ops Right for Us?

This really is a question only you can answer, but let’s look at what a co-op is! Typically a co-op involves the parents as teachers and other roles and all of their children. Co-ops usually provide a nursery room for children too young for school and some of the moms’ “jobs” is to supervise the children in the nursery. Other parents will be teachers, helpers, monitors, and on cleaning duty. If you want to dive in and get your hands dirty, a co-op may be a great way for you and your children to make new friend in the homeschool world. Many have outings and other activities for its members as well.

Here’s an ever growing list of DFW area co-ops. Some are secular. Some are religious. Some may require a membership to a particular church or organization. They’re listed by city so start by exploring the ones closest to you!

If you don’t want to join up for academics or extra curricular activities, some co-ops are play based only! You’ll have to go explore the list and check out each group’s website to see what kind they are.

Although a lot of families are involved in co-ops if this sounds like an awful idea to you, that’s okay. You don’t have to join any!

Choosing Curriculum

I found that choosing curriculum was one of the most overwhelming yet freeing decisions. The best part of this whole subject is that you can ALWAYS change it. We have had to change curriculum on a few subjects as we figured out how my son was going to learn those subjects best. Take your time on choosing and realize you can always choose something else if you don’t like it!

For example, we started out with Saxon Math. The private school I used to teach at used it and its known to be a solid curriculum. We got about 1/3 of the way through it and realized, we couldn’t get any further without tears from my son. He HATED it. So we changed. And then changed again and settled on Teaching Textbooks which has kept his focus the longest and I think he likes to have a break from listening to me as it teaches him the lessons on the computer.

I have friends though that have loved Saxon and it’s worked great for them. So just like the idea, don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a curriculum on the basis that your friends adore it. Ask for their suggestions, ask to see their books, and figure out which works best for you and your child.

Check the Product Review and Resources categories on this blog for reviews on different materials. More being added as quickly as I’m able to get reviews.

In the DFW area, there is a store named Mardel, they have a fair amount of curriculum available to flip through. It is a Christian bookstore, so all of the science will be creation based.

Then there’s the Home Educator’s Resource store in Lewisville.

If you want to make a trip to Houston, there is a VERY big store you can visit with new and used curriculum called The Homeschool Store.

And then there’s always Amazon and eBay, curriculum B/S/T groups on Facebook, and homeschool book sales which seem to happen around April. Check the calendar for details on those once they’re announced.