Thursday, August 25, 2011

More about Home Learning

I have had several questions about what I like and don't like about various curriculum, so I thought I would share more about what we do.

First, we don't have a large budget to spend at all.  Some years I have prayed that God would provide some materials from somewhere and then I would be blessed to find a whole stack of home school books at a yard sale.

This year I don't think we have spent over $1,000 for all five of our children.  Cost is still a very large factor in our decision making.  I do think, though, that even if we had lots of money to spend, I would want to be a good steward of our money and consider each item carefully.

I do enjoy many aspects of Oak Meadow.  However, buying it new is out of our budget for sure.  This year I was able to buy some used materials.  I like their more varied, hands on approach with very little "fill-in-the-blank" kind of work.

We do follow much of the Waldorf inspired home learning in the early years by not stressing academics and instead letting the children be creative and artistic as much as possible.

This year I have been using some Rod and Staff with Sarah (age 7), because the lessons are quick and reading lessons are simple and repetitive which she needs.  I also appreciate the Christian point of view.  We have never had to actually "teach" reading with any of our other children so this has been a new process for me.    I am also using Five in a Row with her as I think reading the same story to her each day for five days will help with her reading confidence.   I also like the lessons idea that go along with each story.  For example, we will read Ping on Monday and talk about China - look it up on the big roll out map on the floor, talk about how long the Yangtze River is and how many trips to Poppa's house that would be, etc...

For high school literature, we have been using the Learning Language Arts through Literature series.  Thomas is doing British Literature this year and thoroughly enjoying it.

We were blessed to get two complete Saxon Math sets at a yard sale this year for only $20.00 which saved a lot of money.

I also really like the philosophy of Charlotte Mason.  Thus, we add nature study, short lessons and the formation of habits in the younger years.

As you can see, we are truly eclectic home learners that keep ourselves open to what comes our way curriculum wise to keep spending down, while integrating educational philosophies that I agree with into what we have to work with.

I would love to hear from other home school families.

Warm wishes, Tonya


  1. This is only our 2nd official year as Logan will be going into 1st grade. I also do preschool stuff with Felicity, but never buy curriculum for preschool. Last year, for K, we did My Father's World. I liked the Christian aspect, and it was cheap, but we got bored with it. I hear the K year can be slow and it gets better but the other thing I didn't like was feeling locked into one all inclusive program. So this year we are trying something a bit different. We were handed down the whole set of Math-U-See manipulatives, which is worth a lot so we decided to give that a try as we will only have to order the work books. For reading, spelling, language, and phonics, we are doing Abeka because we were handed down the reader set and the other books didn't add up to much as I have a teacher friend who tacked our order onto hers. She can order wholesale + no shipping. So those are the only two book led stuff we are doing. While I was credentialing, I was given an amazing science study book full of great activities. We plan to do activities from those books. So that's science, and its free. Same deal with art...using a free book my credentialing advisor gave me upon graduating. Its not book work, its activity ideas and similar to Five in a Row. For Bible, my mom found "Hooked on the Bible" at a yard sale so we plan to work lightly with that while incorporating some Godly Play aspects into our days with a Bible play table. I'm printing a free Waldorf studies on the seasons thing that I plan to do with both kids, but for the sake of my preschooler and those lessons will incorporate our nature table. I look forward to this plan as we can get some book work done, but look forward (and reward ourselves) to the lighter "go with the flow" type learning we will do with Bible, Art, and Science. Oh, and for History we are going to continue our nightly read alouds of Little House on the Prairie.

  2. We are ecclectic too, using charlotte mason, waldorf, and montesori LOL. Pretty much whatever works. We definitly try not to spend much and use a lot of resources from our library and that I can pick up at sales and find for free on the internet. I love your blog. It is so inspiring.


  3. Dear Tonya, It's always nice to think of you and your big family learning together at home.
    I have finally gathered most of our materials for the year. I am always grateful for the guidance and inspiration of Waldorf, and thank goodness for used books and curriculum. I usually mostly put together our year myself, never buying a complete curriculum package (I only did when Chloe was in 1st grade, we used Christopherus, and this year I do have some pieces of the 5th grade..)
    It is always exciting to have the new year ahead, we haven't quite started yet...
    I am thinking of you so often Tonya and wish I had been able to be in touch more lately. I hope all is very well. Love to your family, Renee :)

  4. Hi Tonya, Thanks for this post. I have three children so far and this will be our first year homeschooling as my daughter will be entering K this year. I am starting with the Charlotte Mason approach and have purchased the Living Books Curriculum (teacher's manual and assessment but not most of the books). I am going to follow it loosely (I think) and I am pretty nervous about the whole thing. What do you do in terms of formation of habits? I have a lot of thinking to do around that one...

  5. Right now it's just my girl who's "in school." She's 4 1/2 and we are just finishing up our first week of first grade. She already knows how to read, so there was no point in doing a kindergarten curriculum. We're using Calvert -- definitely not cheap -- but familiar to me since I was schooled with it as a child and very well put together. I don't know that we'll be doing it throughout, although if we can afford it, I'd like to! We don't keep a very strict schedule...stopping for snacks and breaks and playtime and naps as needed. She is still very young, after all! I enjoy hearing how other homeschool families do things!

  6. We have always used Abeka with our daughters now ages 14 and 17. We are now done buying books because I will pass on my older daughters books to my younger daughter. Hand me down books are the best:) I have found great buys for Abeka books on Ebay. This year I bought all my daughters 12th grade books for under 200.00.

    I am also very loose with their schooling...they started out in public school because I didn't know about homeschooling at the time. I was at the school more than I was at home so I really saw what they actually did in school...not much:(

    So..when we brought them home to homeschool them I knew what ever they learned through-out the day would be more than what they would get on a average day of learning in a class room.

    I try to focus on their God given talents along with Bible, Reading, Math, Science History, Literature/Grammer.

    Today: is Art we are going to spend most of the day making Thank you cards for my husbands Aunt that is in the hospital she asked my daughters to make them for her instead of us going out buying a bunch at the store for her...that will be fun.

    I love homeschooling and will miss it after they are both out of school....

    Blessings to you Tonya


    A Knitters NOtebook

  7. Dearest Toyna, We are very ecclectic as well. After so many years of homeschooling I have learned that you nned to be flexible and seek out the path best for each individual child. I love Waldorf and Charlotte Mason. We are using some Oak Meadow as well, and I agree with the hands on approach. My middle one really needs this. She has been having fun doing the projects with her dad. Yesterday the built a boat! For our budget, buying used is always the way to go. I also love the free resource for Waldorf and Charlotte Mason on-line. ( and

  8. We haven't used a set curriculum so far (last year was our first year). As I mentioned I have been tempted by Oak Meadow and am hoping to get the 6th grade ancient civ/english second hand as I think it would be fun for the kiddos.

  9. I think our kids could cheerfully slide into your schooling family, as so many things sound familiar! They're highly envious of your farm setting, though... we have a large backyard, and hens, but there's currently a quiet campaign amongst the rest of the family members to get "just one goat" to cut down on lawn mowing duties. :)

    We're quite relaxed about learning, and have been for... goodness! 11 formal years now? I like the educational philosophies of Charlotte Mason, so that's how we lean, and I find it suits our family culture all the way to the top. We're not quite *fully* unschooling, but nearly so. (I love Holt's ideas and practicality!)

    This year I have a 15yo, 12yo, 6yo and 3.5yo. We're going to take a tour of world history, with stop-offs in myth, food, music, art, government, and anything else that catches our fancy. We're looking at the natural world more and more, and have a brand-new reader in our 6yo, and a practicing reader in our 3.5yo, who wants to do everything the Big Kids do. :) We're using free on-line resources to help us explore math, and the library for everything else. I tend to reserve our little budget for buying hardcover copies of books we want in the permanent collection.

    This weekend, we're exploring culture, music, and botany... traveling north to a Scottish Games. Better grab a nap before the 5 hour drive!!

  10. I love hearing from families who've been at it a while, I love waldorf and montessori both so I plan to incorporate both for the first few years at least. I also love that you don't spend a ton of money on it, I see a lot of people get really carried away buying things for learning and spending way more than necessary.

  11. I love to find used curriculum to use. We also use a variety of curriculum. I am always finding books from our local thrift fit into our literature approach.
    I'm enjoying your blog!