Great Places to Start Teaching Your Children at Home
Excitement is in the air. Your family has decided to homeschool your children. Maybe you have planned this since before you got married and now your oldest is ready to hit the books. Maybe you just pulled your children out of school and are wondering what to do next. You know that you want to choose homeschool curricula and resources that will help you teach your children effectively and train them up to honor the Lord. But where do you start? Where should you look for help in choosing your Christian homeschool curriculum and resources?Although actual curriculum choice is a highly personal decision for each family, here are five great places to start your research:
Christian Book Distributors
A perennial favorite in the online Christian book marketplace, Christianbook.com sells all sorts of Christian materials, from giant commentary sets to Christian themed greeting cards. They also have a robust homeschool section, which can be accessed from the tabbed menu on the top. You can search by publisher, such as Alpha Omega or Saxon, or by subject matter, such as Math or Language Arts. If you get on their mailing list they will regularly send you their homeschool catalog in the mail, which is fun to read and has some nice reviews of products in it. If you are on their mail and email lists they will sometimes send free or discounted shipping offers, which can cut down the cost of your order. Their website is www.christianbook.com.
Although the rise in internet shopping and websites has been a boon to homeschoolers, sometimes you just want to see, touch, and feel some items before you decide to purchase them. What do the manipulatives for that math program really look like? What can you really expect from that cool-looking science program? A great place to check out new homeschool curricula is at homeschool conventions. Conventions usually have a vendor hall with lots of major and minor homeschool vendors there to show you their wares. Many vendors offer discounts at conventions and/or offer free shipping straight to your house. You might even get to talk to the owner of the business in person and get his or her take on the benefits of the product. Plus, you get the benefit of attending the conventions and learning more about homeschooling from the speakers. There is not a comprehensive list of conventions online, but google “homeschool conventions + your city” and you should find some great regional options. Also, many well-known curriculum providers have a list of homeschool conventions that they will be attending on their websites.
Rainbow Resource Center
You have not seen anything in the world of homeschool catalogs until you have held the Rainbow Resource Center annual catalog in your hands. Or maybe you would prefer to rest it on the table – this catalog is huge! It is reminiscent of old-style phone books in size and runs over one thousand pages. The catalog is organized thematically, with categories from preschool games to homeschool planning to Latin and Greek. Even if you don’t use Rainbow to buy your core curriculum, it is a great place to order electives and extra fun items. They carry lots of things that are hard to find and browsing through the catalog may even give you some new ideas to add to your homeschool day. Many of the products are reviewed by their employees in the catalog, which make for fun and educational reading and helps make the choosing easier. Just plan to place a larger order or combine your order with a friend. Shipping is free on all orders over $150. Their website is www.rainbowresource.com.
Sonlight is great if you want an out-of-the-box solution for your homeschooling. Their cores, which range from preschool to high school, are literature-based and robust history programs. You can add on Bible and buy math, languages, handwriting and other electives from Sonlight as well. The price tags can cause sticker shock for some, since you are purchasing dozens of books for each level, but they can be a good buy for a family that wants to school this way and doesn’t want to try and piece together all of the books from the library. They also feature a number of books that aren’t available elsewhere. In some cases they have reprinted classic books that are out of print. Even if you don’t end up choosing to use a Sonlight core (look for the great articles on their website on why or why not to choose their curriculum,) just browsing through the booklists on their site can turn you on to some wonderful titles that you might want to add to your homeschool library. If you do order a core, Sonlight offers a subscription to their forums, which are large and filled with many seasoned and wise homewchool moms and dads. Shipping of their products is free on orders over $150. Their site is www.sonlight.com.
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and Website
The Old Schoolhouse has a highly-regarded information-packed magazine that has recently moved to digital format. Many well-known writers in the homeschool community, included Diana Waring and Karen Andreola regularly contribute to the magazine. In addition to the magazine, the website offers many useful homeschool helps, such as planners and e-books, and some curriculum options such as unit studies on a diverse range of topics. Between the magazine and the other offered products, you should be able to find curriculum options, information on homeschooling and encouragement for your journey.
Whatever curriculum you end up choosing to help homeschool your children, enjoy the process. As you continue to homeschool your children, you will learn what their strengths and weaknesses are and what types of curricula will work best for them. You may want to change up your curriculum each year, or you may find some items that you fall in love with and use for years to come. Either way, be glad that there are so many wonderful choices to choose from in the adventure of homeschooling your children.