Survival Mom: Thanks for your email. It sounds like you’re very excited about homeschooling! The first thing you should do is slow down and take it easy! Your son is still in preschool, and the two of you can enjoy making learning a relaxing, everyday experience. At his age, just run with whatever fascinates him. He’s at that ‘sponge’ age, ready to soak up every bit of information he can. If you can tap into that natural love for learning and nurture it year after year, you’ve already done far more for him than any school ever could.
One program we used when they were in that pre-schooler age, was Five in a Row. The concept of this program is to use a different children’s picture book each week and read it aloud every day for five days in a row. Each day you pull different lessons from the book. The child really enjoys the repeated readings, and you get a chance to draw lessons from every subject area from a single book. You can talk about the artwork, or the location of the book (find it on a map, globe, maybe make a recipe from that town/country, etc.), the characters, nature lessons from the book, etc. There’s a different content lesson each day, all pulled from the same book. The main problem with the program is that many of the books are out of print, and it can take quite a bit of effort to track them down. However, once you see how the author creates her curriculum for each piece of literature, you could easily replicate it yourself using different books.
Friends of mine who have done this eventually drop out. One friend complained about the massive amount of time involved. Longer than a public school day sometimes. When you think about all the classroom crap that doesn’t exist when you homeschool, e.g. taking roll, lining up to go here and there several times a day, time consumed with discipline problems, etc., it mystifies me why so much work should be piled on homeschoolers using these programs. Unless the ploy is to actually lure them back to the public schools in frustration. (Disclaimer: I taught school for numerous years and was a teacher trainer for several more. I may be a little more critical of public schools than the average mom.)
A: Books. Lots of books. A good math curriculum. Math manipulatives, although you can easily substitute buttons or beads or any number of manipulatives you already have around the house. You truly need so few materials that you’ll begin wondering why on earth our public school system needs billions and billions of dollars. As time goes on, you and your child will work on various projects together and you’ll need materials for those, but that really is about it. You’ll find many free materials and resources online, everything from handwriting pages to flashcards. We’ve enjoyed using a free
curriculum called Ambleside Online. The curriculum is free. You purchase the books (many are free on Kindle).
Just think. You can combine books, field trips, family travel, nature walks, visits with friends and family, camping trips, home routines and chores, and errands to create an amazing lifestyle of learning for your little guy! He’s probably a bundle of energy and will become even moreso. Sitting down with a pile of books will drive both of you crazy. That’s actually one of the main reasons I avoid recommending an all-in-one curriculum because they tend to be very heavy on the textbook/workbook system.