I live in the San Francisco Bay area. I know several people who are homeschooling, and from what I can tell, there is a large support network for it. But I've also spent a lot of time checking out the online homeschooling resources. If you'd like to hear a rant, see the link to your left. If you just want some homeschooling information, check below.
Here's a summary of the rant, by the way:
The thing that really bothers me about the entire homeschooling thing is that DEFAULT seems to be Christian, so that if you want something racy, like a secular education, you have to actively look for things that say that they're not Christian. It's kind of like America, but with the volume turned up to about 8 instead of the constant level 2 of ambient Christianity. Why do I care? Oh, because I'll be going through an otherwise normal-seeming site and read the part telling me where I should ask God what to teach my kids. Creeps me out. Or I'll be looking through things and have to actively weed out a bunch of creationist garbage propaganda. Ick.
Local and California Homeschooling Resources
For the SF Peninsula area, the "Welcome Homeschoolers" group is very supportive, with park dates and other events. Their contact person is Lisa Liguori. Welcome Homeschoolers charges $12 per year to be on their email list and roster.
Homefires Calendar - They do "fun, educational field trips, classes, and events with other homeschoolers." Get the latest updates on Field Trips, Co-op Classes, Museum Days, Park Days, Educational Events, etc., for homeschoolers in California and beyond -- with special focus on the San Francisco Bay Area. To see a list of current Calendar Events visit Homefires website.
you'll get some duplicate messages.
Ooh. The Millennial Child looks really interesting. It's got a bunch of information for Waldorf schooling at every grade, including CD's for parents to listen to, etc. etc., and something called The Essential Conferences.
Palo Alto Homeschooling Support Line
According to the local Palo Alto online site, there is a homeschooling support line in Palo Alto that provides information, resources and support for homeschooling families.
California Homeschool Network
There is a grassroots organization called California Homeschooling Network, which provides legal and logistical information that is very valuable - filing your R4, etc.
classes for all California homeschoolers
General Homeschooling Links
Here's an interesting online teaching program for art, called arttango. Jon's Homeschool Resources says that it caters to all types of homeschooling. It's been around a long time, Jon's Homeschool Resources I just found Homeschool-world, although I haven't had a chance to check it out yet.
Secular homeschooling support
Ahhh. It's pretty darn hard to find secular homeschooling support groups. After some extensive internet time, I offer the following resource lists from some secular groups (most of which seem to be in Southern California -- go figure.) I just looked through the site and the materials look pretty meaty, even the pre-K.
Tammy, over at abassicurriculum.com, has a lovely website wehre whe, as a homeschooling mom, has put together language arts, science, history, and even her own reviews on homeschooling resources. Enjoy! Tammy's favorite homeschooling website, by the way, is The Military Homeschooler, which tells you all about homeschooling, including homeschooling in other countries.
Secular Homeschooling Education links
A reader just sent me the link to Calvert School, which they tell me is a nice, secular homeschool program. The reader was raised in a different country, but her mother used the Calvert school program to make sure that her kids would remain competitive in the US. Smart mom.
Lesson Plans (secular)
The AMA site is a bit odd. Don't know who does it, but they have very nice educational links.Language Arts has a ton of lesson plans for books: from Charlotte's Web to Nurdery Rhymes. Excellent Math Resources, too. I just wonder who they are? Mrs Proctor's Web Page is just lovely. She's an ordinary second/third grade teacher who has put together some lovely "webquests" for her students and others. On things like animals, spiders, egypt, and so forth. They are simple but your child can learn as much as they please through them, and she offers structure, links, and questions.
Online Classes for Homeschoolers (secular)
I am just tickled pink about this. It's called Brave Writer, and it's online courses for teaching writing to children. Check it out. They also have classes for homeschooling parents.
Tools and Software Programs
I'm on some wonderful email lists for homeschoolers. Here are some of the online resources and websites referred by various homeschoolers.
Here's an article about homeschooling a visual spatial (aka "right-brained") learner.
Reading and Writing
Spelling City lets your child plug their spelling list in and turn memorizing it into a video game. Time 4 Learning says that it's for visual-spatial learners. It's homeschool/after school learning that totally supports the standard curriculum, and you can track progress on it.Sunburst has a program to teach young people how to type: Write to Learn. Here is a list of mind mapping software from a UK dealer. If you're from the US, you should search for these products in the US. Here's a really fun "word mapping" service called Wordle. And here is how a teacher uses it to have her students write poems.
Numerancy has a set of software programs for dyslexic learners to learn math. When I was in fourth grade, my wonderful fourth grade teacher, Miss Ashmore, played records for us every day, with the times table on them. It worked like a charm. Here is the 2008 version musical math times tables!
Have you ever heard of a 100's chart? The 100s chart can be a wonderful tool for visual-spatial kids. Begin by doing some addition on the chart with your child--problems she can do easily already. Show her that when you add 2 you move to the right 2. Make sure she knows how to get from one row to the next, for example do 38+5. Place a finger at 38 and make 5 steps/hops to the right which will take you to the next row in the process. Next do additions with double digits. Take 21 +13. Place your finger at 21. For each hop of ten, you can just move straight down. Then move to the right 3 places. This will take some practice before she sees that each 10 moves you straight down. I would then attempt to do some simple subtraction, whatever she already fully understands. Of course with subtraction she will be moving to the left (backward from how we read and then up for each 10 that is subtracted, ultimately).
You can also do skip counting easily on the 100s chart. Count by 10s or count by 2s.
Math on the level lets you teach it yourself, only has 5 problems a day, and teaches through real life instead of textbooks. There is a yahoogroup for support of it. Look for Math on the Level at Yahoogroups. Sunshine math has been recommended, particularly for right-brained children. It uses a lot of higher-level thinking when solving math problems, and it's free. The site contains all worksheets and all teacher commentary. Very nice. Life of Fred sounds absolutely wonderful. Go onto the website and check it out. It's math, but fun. The first one is about Fred, who is 5 and needs to use fractions. Read the examples. I am going to go and buy this today!
If you have an advanced student who need a science lab, these folks can help. Look at this product called Phun. It's a 2D physics sandbox, and exactly what I've been looking for for years! There's another product called Roblox, which is great for kids who like to build things. Kind of a precursor to programming. It's an online community, with what looks like fairly stringent guidelines and monitoring to keep the kids safe.
Manipulatives and teaching
Especially for children with dyslexia or right-brain tendencies, manipulatives are a great way for children to learn. Although some manipulatives companies are listed above, in Reading and Math sections, here's a list of good companies to provide manipulatives.
ETA/Cuisenaire provides math and reading rods, together with tiles for learning reading and phonics.
The best online resource for Waldorf schooling has to be Kytka's site, called WaldorfHomeSchoolers. It's lovely.
Here's a new group that
To the best of my knowledge, a woman named Susan Wise Bauer(homeschooled rigorously in the classics by her mother) is one of the leaders of this movement. Susan's first book was called The Well-Trained Mind, Classical Education at Home. Susan's Well-Trained Mind website is set up to provide real support to people attempting to homeschool the classics. Here's the site map. One of the neatest things is the Sales and Swap board, where you can post which books you're looking for. The other half of the equation is her mother, Jesse Wise, who co-wrote The Well-Trained Mind, and is now writing more education books. In my opinion, The Well-Trained Mind, Classical Education at Home website is actually better than the book. The book is a little bit leaden and tends toward the didactic. Also, the authors are extremely Christian. What I call "thinking Christians," which is a nice change from many people spouting off in the news today, but it means that there is a non-secular approach to the information that their site presents, and it also means that a lot of the homeschoolers using the site are teaching their children religion as a core subject.
When it comes to teaching reading, there are many excellent homeschooling programs. Before Five in a Row, by Jane Claire Lambert, is a good place to start. It gives you, the parent, a method and background to talk about the children's books that you read to your little one, so that you can extend their brains.
The Five in a Row series is put together by very Christian people, but if you take away the biblical study sections, it's a fairly solid, conservative curriculum. (And I can't really understand why you wouldn't want to be conservative with a kid.)
As an example, although the Five in a Row series has a section linking a particular biblical excerpt to each book, it's easy to skip over that section if you'd like to.
I once talked with a woman who was unschooling. "They're going to forget all that history and stuff anyway," she said "so why teach it?" I was mystified, but my mother, the career teacher and principal, was absolutely livid. "That woman is bats!" said my mother. Doesn't she realize that any time you learn something, your brain is building a connection?" Mother couldn't continue on because she was too upset -- she had to hang up and do some vigorous gardening or something to calm down. I have one thing to say: My mom's right about an amazing amount of things, especially those related to education.
Probably closest to home is SUN, the Sacramento Unschooling Network.
Homeschooling the Gifted Child
Homeschooling the Special Needs Child
I just stumbled across GT-World, a group of mailing lists that support parents and family of gifted kids, including gifted kids with learning disabilities. The GT-Special list is for special kids, and the GT-Special-Home is a list for people who are homeschooling their twice-exceptional children. Here's a website called ld-resources, which talk about learning-disabled education.