Read “New Homeschoolers: How To Begin, Part 1.”
Continuing with specific suggestions:
You don’t need a teacher’s guide for anything. Don’t buy products out of your insecurity. Pray and ask the Lord and your husband. These are your children. No one knows them like you do. God will lead you. I believe that your family’s and your child’s needs will change somewhat from year to year. You’ll see a gap or weak area, and you’ll need something to address that need. At that time, look for the best and most appropriate resource, for the cheapest price.
Think and pray very long and hard before having others teach them anything. That teacher is teaching them a worldview, not only a subject. Will you have to unteach, deprogram and deal with the results of that teacher’s teaching and influence for the rest of your life? It’s not worth it. You don’t need co-ops. The disadvantages outweigh the benefits. When people ask you, “What about socialization?” answer them, “Yes, that’s one of the reasons why I’m Homeschooling.” You don’t want the negative socialization. Make your children each other’s best friends. Learn with your children. They’re going to have strong subjects and weak subjects, just like you did. That’s ok. They’re not going to remember everything they’re taught, just like you don’t. Make your foundation the principles of God’s Word. Major on character. Teach the basics, and make sure they’re strong in those: the 3 R’s. Then add in other subjects, skills, etc.
I believe that you will use and need different resources and teaching materials than any other Homeschooling family, because you are not them. Each individual child in your home will need their Homeschooling tweaked for their individual learning style and strengths and weaknesses. Designing your child’s education to his individual needs, one-on-one interaction and family interaction, and flexibility are the wonderful blessings of Homeschooling!
Warning: Don’t try to bring school home. I don’t recommend having a “schoolroom” because I don’t ever want to communicate that learning only takes place there. Did we start out having a schoolroom? Yes. Some things you have to learn yourself.
I do recommend reading “living books” (a “living book”–the term coined by Charlotte Mason–is one in which, when you stop reading, the child begs you to read “just one more”! One more page, one more chapter…); and, for Unit Studies, KONOS can’t be beat! (Read my post on KONOS to get an idea of what kinds of activities you might do with your children in a Unit Study on the character quality of Attentiveness and the study of the Ear.) You will have to supplement some subjects later, such as Math, and Art, and lessons in music.
As a Homeschooler, you will gain knowledge of your craft as you go along. One valuable resource is The Old Schoolhouse magazine, a favorite of moms. (Clicking the magazine’s link will take you to the review of KONOS curriculum that was published in their magazine).
The Three R’s, by Ruth Beechick (K-3) is a must have for beginning Homeschoolers. Ruth Beechick is a gem. She’s like the grandmother who understands what you’re going through, and the professional who knows what to do about it, in one. The Three R’s contains ideas you can put into practice while you’re making dinner! You may find these sold as three separate little books, but now they have been published together in one. What I love the most about these three little books: She gives easy examples of teaching in the everyday moments of family life at home, like her example of teaching “math” by counting the number of forks and knives as you set the table, asking questions using “math terminology” such as “how many more” do you need. The book is very affordable. You can get it at the link to Amazon.com, or you can find it also on SonLight’s website above.
An additional note regarding curriculum: I don’t recommend a comprehensive packaged curriculum for K-1st grade, especially. (Some “veteran Homeschoolers” recommend buying a packaged all-in-one curriculum when you’re starting out, just to get you going when you’re lacking in confidence and don’t know what to do.) It’s not wrong, but the drawback to this is you may get locked in to that mode, and I feel you miss some of the blessings and benefits of Homeschooling when you do that, such as spending time together with your children, seeing the excitement of hands-on learning in their eyes, the freedom to participate in everyday-life-learning, and flexibility. Whether you use a pre-packaged curriculum or not, you needn’t spend a wad of dough on Homeschooling, and especially in the early grades.
Teach your child the skills needed to read: Recognizing the letters, and knowing the sounds the letters make, and then connecting those sounds together. That’s reading.
Teach your child to love learning.
The most important thing you can do with your children is READ excellent books–living books–to them, and teach them to love learning. If you are excited about learning new things, they will be, too.