Wednesday, July 15, 2020

For the New Homeschooling Parent

My husband was recently asked by a coworker for his thoughts on how to homeschool their third grader since school re-openings are so much up in the air.  I thought I would post my response and recommendations to them here, in case it helps anyone.  Note that since their religion is unknown, I kept my recommendations mostly secular.  If a family desires to include religion as a subject (as we do in a Catholic homeschool) a quick google search would most likely lead them to something helpful.  I will post our school plans soon (we are in our first week of school) and perhaps that will be helpful to some as well.  Also note that these are ideas to get someone started who has never homeschooled before.  If a person really wanted to dig deeper and become a long term homeschooler, I would direct them towards Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online.

And the very first step anyone should do is check out the Home School Legal Defense Agency to find out the homeschooling laws in their state.  It is also a good idea to become a member of HSLDA for added protection.


Here are my thoughts and ideas for homeschooling a 3rd grader. I've included links to the books I recommend.  Note that there are MANY options for each subject.  Cathy Duffy Reviews is a good place to read about different curriculum choices.

Here are two common texts.

Language Arts
A combined writing and grammar book at this level is helpful.

It doesn't cover spelling, so a separate book is needed there.  Spelling You See is a very good one and easy to use.

Many people really like the Spalding Method, so here is a program for homeschoolers.

A good list of books for both reading aloud and for independent reading can be found in a lot of places.  A good place to start is the 1000 good books list.

Memoria Press has the best handwriting books

History and Geography
It really depends on how and what they want to teach.  A simple thing would be American History using Stories From Great Americans for Little Americans

Well Trained Mind uses Story of the World

There are lists upon lists of historical fiction that can be added in to bring history to life.  A quick Google search can bring up many ideas.

Maps Charts and Graphs are very thorough Geography workbooks that are easy to teach.

At this age it's best to keep it simple.  Keeping around experiment books and doing them with the kids is fun (and messy :) ).

A guide to understanding the world around them is very good, and Memoria Press has several options

The other option is the classic science textbook (just not as much fun) Harcourt Science

There are many curriculum places where a parent can purchase an entire boxed curriculum as well if that seems easier.  

Now comes the meat of homeschooling.  A good routine goes a long way, balancing sedentary activities with physical movement.  A quiet rest time in the middle of the day where everyone settles down with a book, alone is key.  This gives the parent/teacher a rest as well, and a chance to get their own things done.

Including the kids in housework makes everyone part of a team. Even a 4 year old can make their bed and put their dish in the sink. 

Time spent outside everyday is very important. 

Most curriculums are built around a 4 day school week, with one day off for errands or playdates or park days or other fun. If the school work starts at 9am (after house chores are done), then a third grader will most likely be done with school by lunchtime. Afternoons are kept free for play, free reading, chores, music lessons and practice, service oriented work, board games, and any hobby type things the child is interested in doing. Getting them to work with their hands is important. Even the uncrafty parent can encourage this. Soap carving is simple and fun and could lead into wood carving. Crochet, sewing, embroidery, gardening, leather working are all things kids this age can try. Encouraging them to make things that are useful and beautiful instead of just crazy glittery is helpful for everyone. (Although sometimes there can be a place for those sorts of crafts.) For older kids there is Craftsman Crate.

In general, live life with your kids. Bring them into whatever you are doing and they will be learning. You may find after a bit that your family life becomes closer and you have more satisfying relationships.  This is a little talked about, but very wonderful, reality.

I hope something here helps.  Reach out to a local veteran homeschooler as a mentor.  Most are willing to help if asked.

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