As I make preparations to begin our first year of homeschooling, I am already learning a few things that I think will make our journey easier.
Don't wait until the last minute. With this being our first year, I was unsure about which curriculum I wanted to use. I looked at several and also considered creating my own. Eventually I decided on a curriculum that really appeals to me-- but it's quite expensive and I had to get creative (see the next paragraph). All things considered, I don't think I could have avoided waiting until the last minute to finally pull it all together. Hopefully by the end of our school year, I'll know from experience what works for us and what doesn't, and I'll be able to make decisions earlier.
Save money when possible. A brand-new curriculum can be pricey, and our budget necessitates that we find frugal ways to get what we need. Over the past few weeks, I've discovered several ways to save money.
-Borrow from a friend. If you know someone who has the curriculum you need, see if you can borrow it from them for the year. A friend offered to let me borrow her second grade curriculum. It was a different curriculum than the one I was looking for, and in the end I decided to find a way to locate the one I really loved, but her curriculum was a close runner-up (and it would have been free for us!).
-Buy used. This is what I ended up doing. I bought different parts of the curriculum from different places. Some things came from a friend at Gentle Christian Mothers, some from VegSource, and some from Homeschool Classifieds. I've also gotten books I need from Paperback Swap and from a local used bookstore. I may end up having to buy a few things new from Amazon, but they are kids' chapter books and they don't cost much. Hopefully next year I'll also be able to take advantage of local used curriculum sales; this year the sales happened before I had decided on a curriculum.
-Use the library. For the books we're going to read over the course of a week or two, the library is a good option, especially if we don't feel any need to add the book to our personal collection. Unfortunately, our library doesn't have many of the books we need, but I can always get an interlibrary loan if necessary.
Don't get too stressed out. One of the great things about homeschooling is that I can choose when to start school. We had originally planned to start on August 9, but because I'm still searching for a couple books we'll need that week, and because the science portion of our curriculum won't be here by then, we may start a little later than that-- and that's okay. I'm also not letting myself get stressed over not having every single book I'll need for the whole year; as long as I have what I need for the first month or two, I can look for the rest as the year progresses. (All I'm missing are kids' chapter books; reading is a huge part of this curriculum!)
Be flexible. The curriculum I chose includes a schedule that tells me exactly what we need to do every day, but I'm free to make modifications if needed (and I'm sure I will). I don't plan to jump in on day one with every single subject; we'll probably spend the first week or two on language arts, reading, and history, then add in math and science (and eventually piano lessons, karate, and Spanish). With this being our first year, I don't want to overwhelm us in the very first week. We can gradually ease into things and still get everything done. There's plenty of time!
So that's what I've learned so far. I'm sure I'll learn lots more as we continue on this journey. If you're experienced in homeschooling, what have you learned?