To begin homeschooling a young child who has never been to school a simple routine of handwriting, simple math, being read lots of stories, coloring pictures, singing songs and playing should be sufficient.
Whether or not to ‘schedule’ depends on your personality and that of your child. Handwriting is easily done with workbooks such as the Italic handwriting series by Barbara Getty and Inga Dubay. These books have entertaining and educational exercises for the child to write. Other names to look for in the search for handwriting materials are Zaner-Bloser, D’Nealian, and Palmer. A web search using these names as search terms will return many handwriting websites.
You can begin math using simple workbooks from the grocery store and a cheap manipulative such as Fifteen Bean Soup. I found the soup mix to be an excellent manipulative because it is so versatile. ‘Beans’ represent the ‘whole’ yet the ‘parts’ can be easily seen.
4 pintos 8 beans
+ 4 limas – 4 pintos
8 beans 4 limas
If you are teaching multiplication, 6 x 4 is easily illustrated by four rows of six different beans and then allowing the child to count the 24 beans. The ‘six’ is obvious, the ‘four’ is obvious and the ‘twenty-four’ is obvious.
For more technical math advice read the Math Whiz Basics in Ann Lahrson-Fisher’s, Fundamentals of Homeschooling.4
I found that reading is best taught through the parent reading aloud while the children are very young and continuing until homeschooling is finished.5 Young children love listening to the same stories over and over so recording the books is a voice-saver. I’ve found that newer tape recorders with microphones pick up the recorder’s motor hum so making tapes nowadays is a challenge. A superior method is to record stories onto a digital voice recorder and save the file to your computer’s hard-drive. Convert the proprietary sound files to MP3 or WAV files and then burn them to a CD-ROM.
Science for a young child can be introduced by reading magazines such as Your Big Backyard or Ranger Rick 6. Highlights for Children 7 has a good range of articles as well.
I don’t care for ‘social studies’ and preferred history and geography. For this you can look for magazines from the Cobblestone publishers8. Historical fiction is another relatively painless way to learn about The Story of Mankind 9as is reading the book of the same name by Hendrik Willen van Loon, the winner of the first Newbery Award in children’s literature.
Geography can be studied by familiarizing the child with maps. One way is to make your own atlas of your house, your neighborhood or your town. You can make the book before it is illustrated or bind together pages that are already filled in. The library has books on simple bookmaking. A nice addition to the study of Geography might be a coloring book of the state where you’re stationed. Sometimes the state’s department of natural resources publishes such books and some can even be found online.
Children often enjoy drawing their own pictures and looking at those drawn by others. A nice little series for simple art appreciation using postcard size reproductions of famous paintings is Mommy, it’s a Renoir! by Aline Wolf10.
Notes to How to Start Homeschooling
4. Ann Lahrson Fisher, The Fundamentals of Homeschooling: Notes on Successful Family Living, Nettlepatch Press, 2002
5. Valerie Bonham Moon, “Reading Lessons,” Home Education Magazine, March/ April 1997
6. National Wildlife Federation
7. Highlights for Children
8. Cobblestone Publishers
9 Hendrik Willem van Loon, The Story of Mankind, W.W. Norton & Company; Millennium edition , 1999 http://www.soemadison.wisc.edu/ccbc/newb1st/vanloon.htm
10. Aline Wolf, Mommy It’s a Renoir, Parent Child Press, 1984 http://www.kidsart.com/store/csm.html
Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon
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