I homeschool our three kids—in as much as you can school, rather than just
be a mom to a one and three year old– but the five year old is doing fairly
well. From logging into the computer (with a password for her account) to
reading random short signs when we’re walking around and struggling with
reading a traditional clock, she’s learning. A lot of why we’re
trying to homeschool is safety related (we believe it’s a bad idea to teach
children that laws against assault don’t apply to protecting them, they only
apply to prosecuting if there’s a defense attempted) but a sizable chunk is
simply that it’s fun to feed her information as fast as she can chew
it down. Any mercy we’re taking on the poor teachers saddled with a child
that has that much pig headedness on both sides of the family is incidental.
So here’s a bunch of the resources I’d recommend, along with some that were
suggested at Ricochet.com; I hope others will add their favored resources,
since not everyone is doing elementary and pre-K education. All the
internet ones have good things that are free, although some sell additional
material. Mine are pretty heavy on print-outs. I’m thinking of making it a
“page” on my blog for easy sharing/updating, so please suggest new
additions. Title them something like EDUCATION RESOURCE and a short
Especially I’d like those who have a religious view to give the exact flavor
of their current observance, and what they consider a high quality source
for it. (I am an observant Roman Catholic, and would point to Catholic.com,
for example.) Likewise, if your job is one where there’s a lot of
misinformation, what the job is and a good resource; all those things where
you read something in the newspaper and growl about how incredibly
wrong what “everyone knows” is; please don’t argue with folks about a
source unless you share the belief/job it’s explaining, please, please!
My mom did the best she could to teach us outside of school, just like our
Hostess did for her sons, but my mom was greatly hobbled by the problem of
finding a source of information that was accurate and intelligible to those
who didn’t already know what was true. School really didn’t help,
between skipping subjects or leaving out very important bits. I have a
basic biology education that would make my science teacher sit down and cry
because it couldn’t be duplicated (in part because it was tied in with
emergency medical work on animals… you simply aren’t going to get 35 kids
in to help with a pig giving birth, or pulling calves, or even butchering a
bull that was hit by a car in the middle of the night) but there are a lot
of chunks of history where I simply don’t know a source I could trust.
ABCs – used their free part to start the kids on computers, ended up
subscribing to the entire site. (not expensive, once a year, multiple
computers) Good to just put the kids in front of with a mouse and
occasionally help with website navigation.
Learning Station letter printouts – Tracers, printing, matching, word
association, fill in the letter worksheets, some letter based games,
coloring sheets. Biggest complaint is that each sheet is one at a time, so
it takes a lot of clicking to make an A-Z book.
Kid Zone Tracer
Pages – Choose what they trace in block, script or cursive, has several
automatic options at a click, and can copy a line through the rest of the
page. Great for teaching “this is my name” type things.
Handwriting Worksheets – has reading and printing practice, with block
printing, Zaner-Bloser® Traditional Style script, D’Nealian® Style script,
cursive. Tons of cute pages.
All Kids Network
worksheets – letters, shapes, matching, spelling, reading, fill in the
blank, sorted by topic instead of what it teaches you. (ie, “summer” not pre
writing through word-search) Has pre-writing exercises that my three year
old can manage. Mostly.
Success With: Kindergarten workbook from Scholastic. I bought a bunch
of these from Costco several years ago and finally started on it– my
daughter mostly loves it, and if you add a basic 25c notebook they can copy
the letters more. Reading the directions can be reading practice, as well.
Bargain Bin dry erase boards from the Back To School supply bin, markers,
and permanent markers (I suggest something colorful for easier tracing).
Make your own “tracer board.” It’s fairly easy with a ruler, and rubbing
alcohol does nicely to erase the permanent marker if you’re quick.
Mead flash cards, or any other set that looks good to you; I spend a lot of
time at the bargain bin, and with a little ingenuity a lot of the basic
cards can be used for two kids at once. (Example: ‘younger, what is this
color? Correct. Elder, how do you spell red? Elder, what is this number?
Correct. Younger, count to sixteen, please.”) Use some sort of treat,
anything from sunflower seeds or goldfish crackers to jelly beans or mini
chocolate chips as a proportionate reward.
Have them tell you what random letters are, or what sound a letter makes, or
what letter makes a sound. “What is the first sound?” and
following questions are also helpful.
Starfall again, although
samples are very
Heavy on songs. A bit quick to “help” kids find the right answer, although
it seems to have actually helped my eldest figure out the right answer.
Kid Zone “math” sheets–
everything from associating the numbers with their written symbol to basic
word problems. Go to the bottom for more suggested sources. Again, lots of
Coloring Books– actually, lots of worksheets. Numbers, letters, math…
maybe I should make a section for “worksheets.”
Donald in Mathmagic Land- less for direct learning than for getting the idea
that math is useful, and as a mental health break for parents. (I suggest
House Rock– you can get a collection of all of the videos for about
Uno deck. For little kids, play in “teams” with mom and dad; when they’ve
got the idea, they can play against you on their own. (Thus far, a kids
only game isn’t happening.)
Flash cards. Both actual numbers or math related ones, and the treats from
them. It is amazing how high a two year old can count when there
are jelly beans on the line.
Randomly ask them how many of something there are; we’re working on
memorizing multiplication tables verbally, too, any time I think they might
be bored. Sorting things by size is also useful.
Khan– Need to be able to read, so
they haven’t tried it, but I tried some bits and liked it well enough.
Eclectic Primer. Check Amazon, we got the 1909 “revised” set up to
sixth grade for something like ten dollars.
Classic Dr. Seuss, both you reading and them reading.
Some good poetry, like Kipling.
Disney or folk songs- the rhyming and rhythm seems to help get the idea of
the parts of words, although I’m not phrasing that very well. I believe
it’s called “sound awareness” or something like that.
Drop the Tranny‘s
Dolche sight words. Found it as a Chrome extension, but the site works fine
on its own, too. Some of the words can be sounded out, some have to be
memorized, but they’re words that a kid needs to learn– click on the card,
it says the word.
Zoo membership. Our local flashy one is about twenty bucks a month, depends
totally on what you’re near; learning depends very heavily on the parent,
since every one I’ve been is so soaked in kool-aid it’s scary.
Obsessively stopping to look at the leaves on the flowers, trees, grass and
anything else that will hold still.
Find out if your local library has any online resources; it is
incredibly helpful to be able to “order” your books and pick them up
quickly when the kids want to go look at their books.
Randomly asking them to classify animals. Try not to laugh too hard when
informed a duck is a mammal.
Out Michigan– basically just a collection of links; some are very
Science.org – collection of links.
Eureka Physics videos –
educational videos, fairly basic. Not sure how well it sticks, yet.
Online Labs – have not actually
used it, but another collection of lots of free, online labs for various
science topics. Looks kind of advanced. (actual link is to chemistry)
of General Chemistry – free online book.
Logic, Rhetoric, Speech
to Logic, Fallacies – explains what fallacies are, a bit of history,
informal fallacies and false fallacies (reasoning that seems fallacious but
is, on consideration, not)
Memoria Press –
Saving western civilization one student at a time. Link to the
“articles” page; haven’t actually tried any of their stuff, but a
lot of different classically minded friends have suggested it.
The Internet Archive‘s
Digital Book collection
via the Kipling Society
Making of America primary
source digital documents collection (UofM)
Making of America
primary source digital documents collection (Cornell)
General or Other
Web Exhibits – “an interactive
museum of science, humanities and culture.” Has some very pretty stuff.
Education.com 10 sheets a month for
Homeschool Mom – massive collection of resources and articles,
sorted by subject. (the tags at the top of the lesson plan page are how you
find, say, general math)
Big FAT Homeschooling List – same thing that I’m doing here, but at
Typing Club –
learn to type, very basic
and Capitals – drag and drop names to places. Sticks surprisingly well,
although I don’t know if my daughter identifying Rhode Island as “the orange
one” will help in real life.
PBSKids.org – mostly helpful for learning
to use the computer, but has some relative size/amount games that seem to be
getting the idea across, several reading games, and my kids know an amazing
number of dinosaurs by species.