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Undoubtedly, the first concern parents have when just starting to home educate is which program or curriculum will I follow? This is definitely a carry-over from our school experience, but it is still a legitimate concern that must be quickly addressed. Let me start with the best advice I can give you; then I will make a few explanations to help put your mind at ease.
Find a reputable, prescribed program that will immediately fill the void you are feeling about where to start. There are two programs that immediately come to mind: Christian Light Education (CLE) and Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). Although these are not the only prescribed programs available, they are two of the best known, having been around for a very long time. Prescribed programs have everything you need, including plans, lessons, answer keys and tests for every subject in every grade. Best of all, they are mom-friendly. You can find these programs by going to our web page (www.educationunlimited.ca), clicking the Program Resources tab and then choosing Program Resources Listing. They are relatively inexpensive and we have Purchase Order agreements with both agencies.
While some may take issue with the fact that this programming comes from a Christian perspective, it fully meets the immediate need to start somewhere. There are no programs free from ideology, as there is no such thing as being neutral.
Now that I have offered the best solution to your immediate need for something to follow, let me address a few more things regarding how to move forward.
Schools do not take into account individual progress on an individual subject basis. Furthermore, students are passed on from grade to grade every year without considering the various skill levels attained by the student. This means that the longer a child has been in school, the greater the cumulative deficits in skills. More to the point, it is relatively safe to assume that a child leaving school in grade three can handle grade four CLE or ACE. At grade level six, things could be a bit more challenging. At level nine, there is likely a need to start a newly home educating student at level eight or even seven.
The challenge is not to get hung up on numbers. It does not matter what school grade they came from, but at what level they can handle the work. To fully explain this, let’s look at the three cardinal rules for home education, as applied to curriculum.
Rule #1. Don’t Push. If you get level six and it is too hard, get level five or four. This applies to all subjects, individually.
Rule #2. Don’t Hold Back. If you get level six and it is boring, get level seven or even eight. This applies to all subjects, individually.
Rule #3. Don’t Compare. If you have not already realized the uniqueness of your child, trust that s/he is unique and will never compare to any other child. This means if s/he is working comfortably at level six while others his/her age are at level 8, S/HE IS NOT BEHIND. If it is reversed, S/HE IS NOT AHEAD. Help each child find his/her level of skill and comfort in all subjects and don’t concern yourself with having all subjects at the same level or with what other home educating families are doing. It is best to focus on two subjects at first: Math and English. Until these skills are well established, the other subjects are unnecessary.
The thing I really want to impress upon you is that you need to start somewhere, so why not start with something that will immediately “mostly” work, and will give you time to learn and change as you discover more about your child(ren), yourself, and the homeschooling approach that best suits your family!
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