child-learning-math_RSMany beginning homeschoolers are filled with worries about how to do it, how to sit down on Monday morning at the kitchen table and begin school. Many parents want to buy a box labeled “Kindergarten” and “First Grade” and have it all done for them. There are companies where you can do just that, but in my experience, children seldom work on grade level in anything. If you’re letting them work at their correct pace, they will naturally move ahead quickly in some subjects and lag behind in others.

So, for those parents looking for a box, here’s an example of a box without a box. Many of the suggested programs are scripted, particularly in the early years, which means the curriculum will tell you exactly what to say and how to teach the program. Because each subject comes from a different company, however, your child can charge ahead in math, move more slowly in writing, or race ahead in reading and go more slowly in math.

This example program also eases in slowly to school, adding subjects as the years go by.

A Starter Kit: (Age 4-6)

  • 100 read aloud books (you can find suggestions in the store).
  • Wildlife identification guides (birds, mammals, insects, etc.)
  • A children’s science encyclopedia
  • Math manipulatives
    • Cuisinaire Rods
    • Poker chips
    • Base 10 Blocks
  • Paints and drawing materials

And only when your child is ready and interested … a phonics-based reading program such as:

After 6 months – 1 Year Add:

  • 25-50 easy books (2nd – 3rd grade level)
  • A math program such as
    • Singapore (mastery-based, not enough review for some; usually needs teaching)
    • Saxon (spiral, drill-heavy; scripted in the early years, self-teaching later on)
  • A handwriting program such as Handwriting Without Tears
  • Plenty of paper with lines in the same style as your handwriting program, in case the child wants to write

After 6 months – 2 Years Add:

  • A experiment-based or natural history based science program such as Pandia Press R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey’s Life, followed by Earth and Space Science, Physics, and Chemistry
  • Experimental tools such as the Young Scientists’ Club or the Home School Science Tools’ kit for the R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey books.
  • The Magic School Bus series of cartoon books
  • 25-50 children’s books (3rd -5th grade reading level) (See the store for examples.) And see my chapter here for why I think independent reading without a lot of add-on work is so important
  • Copywriting for children who haven’t begun writing on their own
  • A program of writing prompts or descriptive letters for children who aren’t writing on their own, or are not writing summaries several times a week about science or history
  • A history program, such as Story of the World or picture books, easy readers, and read alouds on the Homeschool Teacher sequence, with written summaries of readings and map sketches. (Note: the Story of the World series is not completely secular, although volumes 3 and 4 are almost entirely so.)
  • Re-evaluate math program – is it still working for you? Singapore students may need to add a daily math review, Saxon students may need less drill, enthusiastic math students may appreciate a move to Beast Academy. Don’t stop using manipulatives.
  • A musical instrument?

After 1 – 3 Years Add:

  • A second language program if one isn’t being learned from a parent. (Duolingo is very popular.)
  • A phonics-based spelling program for students who aren’t spelling accurately after a couple of years of strong reading and writing experience, such as All About Spelling.
  • Math facts / mental math emphasis
  • 25-50 more children’s books (3rd – 5th grade level) (See the store for examples.)

After 3 – 4 Years Add:

  • A writing program that builds on the summary work in history and the sciences, and includes imaginative writing and writing based on outside research, such as the one described here.
  • A grammar program if a strong reading and writing experience has not provided adequate skill.

For more information, you can see the first third of Homeschool Teacher, online at

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Order Homeschool Teacher on Amazon USA or from other vendors (including links to other Amazon sites). See for sample chapters.


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