Tag: elementary school

elementary schoolGetting Started Homeschooling

Getting Started Homeschooling Part 6- Elementary School

Y’all! I have loved every stage my children have gone through. Truly… I don’t know that I have a favorite age or stage as far as parenting goes. But as far as homeschooling… elementary school is my favorite. It is just the best! There is so much room for creativity and child- led learning. It is a beautiful time to get to know your kids… to explore their interests. To try new things. You can find your homeschooling groove during these years without fear of failing.

These are the years your child will take off with reading. I liken teaching reading to a light switch. It will turn on… but the timing may be different depending on the child. Once that light turns on, it is amazing. A child who struggled and struggled to sound out words and read full sentences will suddenly be checking out chapter books from the library and reading through them … and retaining the information. It is a little bit magical. I have watched this happen with all of my children. I have one child, who through circumstances beyond her control has learning issues, gain the confidence to read and loves it now. Her light switch was more like a dimmer switch… the light would go on and off and have different levels of brightness… but eventually it clicked and she reads like a champ! Trust me… it will come. I have a friend who once said the greatest thing she could do for her child is teach them to read. Once you do that, they can take more ownership of their education and learning. It opens the world to them!

So… How in the world do you get started homeschooling elementary school??? With so many great curriculum options, programs, online courses, books… where do you start???

Two things to consider… What kind of homeschooler are you? And what kind of student is your child?

Do you want a box curriculum to tell you what to do? Do you enjoy piecing together your own curriculum? Are you a schedule person? A morning person? Do you prefer a more traditional approach to school? Is your child a tactile learner (they have to touch everything)? A kinesthetic learner (they move all day long)? An audio learner (they learn through listening and get distracted by visuals)? A visual learner (they need to see all the things)?

You need to know yourself and know your child as you move into homeschooling. The elementary years are the best time (in my opinion) to figure all this out. Let me share a little of my personal story and then I will give you some resources to help you out!

When my oldest was five, I figured it was time to get serious about homeschooling and look into curriculum choices. I went to a homeschool conference. I highly, highly recommend you find a conference in your area to attend. Unfortunately, most of the conferences this year were canceled due to COVID-19. Hopefully next year will be different. Conferences are great because you become immersed with people who are speaking the language of homeschool. You get to see and touch the curriculum and books. You can ask questions of the vendors and really gather information to make informed choices… or you can be like me and buy all the shiny, lovely things that have that new book smell… only to bring them home, put them on the shelf, and leave them there, abandoned with the lingering hopes of being used.

ANYWAY. I went to a conference. I settled on My Father’s World first grade curriculum. We loved it. For me, I was deep in the throes of young motherhood. At that time, I had a five year old, a three year old, and a one year old. The days were busy and the nights were not filled with the sleep I needed. My husband was in the midst of getting his Masters in Counseling. I needed a curriculum that was laid out for me. I needed a schedule and boxes to check off. I needed someone else to tell me what to do. My Father’s World was great. We went on to use it for the next 3 years. We used the First Grade, Adventures in U.S. History, and Exploring Countries and Cultures.

Fast forward three years from the beginning of all this. Another child has been added to the crew. My husband graduated from his Masters program and we moved to Western North Carolina. We have settled in and even completed a year with of a co op with other families. We all did Exploring Countries and Cultures together. It was awesome! One of my favorite years. We were together with three other families. We would meet once a week and do the fun stuff… the cooking and science and art. My older two remember that year fondly.

Well… I ordered the next level of My Father’s World… Creation to the Greeks. Another solidly put together curriculum. But as I sat there looking at it, I realized my heart wasn’t in it. I was not excited about using it and I knew my kids wouldn’t be either. I ended up making a bold and scary choice. I sold the curriculum. I called my older two (then 8 and 5) to the table and gave them each a piece of paper. I asked them to write down what they wanted to learn about. Now… I kept my math curriculum… because I know my strengths and weaknesses. Math is a weakness and I know that without a solid math curriculum for my kids, it could mean disaster for them.

My oldest wrote that he wanted to learn about “how things work” and the next oldest wrote that she wanted to learn about “pandas.” By the way… this is the method that I have implemented every year since and for at least three years, she wrote she wanted to learn about pandas. So… if you ever need to know about pandas… I’ ve got you covered. I took the things they wrote down and started gathering materials. I utilized Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, the library, YouTube… I gathered materials to help meet the desires of my kids. We read books and wrote reports (language arts), we made models using legos, cardboard boxes, Hot Wheels Cars (STEM- Science), we did virtual tours of zoos, watched documentaries, and learned about China (Social Studies and History), and we painted and drew pictures (Art). Once we exhausted all we could about “how things work” and “pandas,” I asked them what was next and we did it all again.

Y’all… they LOVED that year in school. I would hear them in their room in the mornings talking about how they were so excited to “do school.” It was a really fun year and I learned a lot through the experience of letting go and trusting the process.

Resources for Homeschooling Elementary School

Curriculum Options (There are so many out there. These are just a few)

My Father’s World– Christian Worldview, Literature Heavy. $$

Sonlight– Christian Worldview, Literature Heavy. $$$

Book Shark– Secular Worldview, Literature Heavy. $$$

Abeka– More Traditional, Christian Worldview- Online and Offline Options $$

Simply Charlotte Mason– Charlotte Mason Based Studies $

Moving Beyond the Page– Secular Worldview, Hands On for Creative and Gifted Learners $$$

Time 4 Learning– Secular Worldview- Online $$

Easy Peasy– Christian Worldview- Online and Offline- FREE

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Christian Hero Then and Now Biographies– We used these as the spine of our year once. We would read the books and talk about the people, places, and things.

Schoolhouse Teachers . Com- This is a great resource offering over 400 courses for Pk- 12th with TONS of Parent helps! You can read more about it HERE and HERE.

Teachers Pay Teachers– You can find a plethora of resources through this open marketplace created by Teachers and for Teachers. My shop has a variety of No-Prep Printables. Just download and go!

Drawing Notebooks– I cannot stand having thousands of pieces of paper around my house filled with my children’s most amazing artwork. So… I buy them sketch pads. The art is contained and the temptation to chuck it in the trash is decreased. Drawing notebooks can also make great Nature Journals.

Legos! Oh my word… there is so much you can do with Legos! You can have free build. You can create challenges (Check out these building challenge cards in My Teachers Pay Teachers Shop), you can learn about a city and then have your kid build it with Legos. They can play quietly with Legos while you read aloud. The open ended options are endless!!

The Young Peacemaker Book– These are great years to work on character development. This book is a great resource for teaching your children about character and how to interact with others.

Final Advice

Two things that I think are CRUCIAL for your elementary age student… PLAY and READ! Read, read, read… and read some more. You read to them. Have them read to you. Play… allow time and space for play- directed and free. Let your child be bored. Boredom leads to creativity. Play is important. Don’t buy into the lie that your child is wasting time when they are playing. They are learning. Their brains are building. At the end of the day… if they have played and spent some time in a book… it has been a good day!

As far as how your day should look when you are homeschooling an elementary age student:

  • Elementary age students can complete their daily work in an hour… maybe 1-2 hours for upper elementary. Focused academics does not need to take much time.
  • Children thrive on schedules. Make sure your student is aware of your expectations. Your day doesn’t need to be scheduled to the minute, but have consistent rhythms. Maybe have book work time in the morning, free reading after lunch, chores, screen time, etc. Maybe make Tuesdays a library day and Fridays a field day.
  • If something is frustrating to your child, take a break and step back to see where you might need to slow down or speed up.

Other topics I’ll be covering in this “Getting Started Homeschooling Series” are:

homeschool helpsiew

My IEW Wishlist

This is our first year using the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I have to admit that I have always been skeptical of IEW. Many of the parents I have talked to in my circles who use the program seemed stressed out and overwhelmed. To listen to them tell about their homeschool day, describing the subjects they were teaching and curriculum they were using was stressful to my delight directed ears. I made an assumption that IEW was busy work, time consuming, and stressful.

Thankfully, that assumption was dispelled when I was able to hear the founder, Andrew Pudewa, speak at our state conference, NCHE Thrive, last Spring. I really did not even want to go hear him speak… my goodness… how judgy of me! However, he was one of the keynote speakers so I decided to go. I was so pleasantly surprised and humbled as I listened to him speak. He articulated so well the hopes that I have for my own homeschool. He so eloquently described what I have come to know as interest led learning and delight directed homeschooling.

But what I was most impressed with was all the young students, middle and high school age, who lined up to shake his hand and tell him thank you. These children were so excited to meet Mr. Pudewa. Seeing how motivated and excited these kids were about the program sealed the deal for me… I had totally misjudged IEW and was ready to eat my humble pie, visit the booth, and ask some questions.

As I mentioned in the post about our high school plans, my oldest had expressed interest in diving deeper into the elements of literature. He has always been an avid reader and wants to learn more of what it would take to write his own novel. When I expressed this to my new friends at IEW, they suggested we start him on The Student Writing Intensive Level C. Noting what I said about his apptitude for grammar and mechanics, she said he could likely do level C during the fall and move into a novel writing focus in the Spring.

I am loving Level C. We sit and watch the videos together. Sometimes I feel like we are back in preschool watching Dora the Explorer… you know how she would ask questions and then pause for the answer? I was totally answering Andrew Pudewa during one of the lessons.

We also have Level A for my girls. We will probably start after Christmas.


While looking on the IEW website, I started putting together a list of things I would love to use in our homeschool. Here are a few that piqued my interest:

Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales

“This theme-based writing curriculum offers a full year of instruction for students in grades 3–5 and is perfect for homeschoolers, homeschool co-ops, tutors, and hybrid schools. Your students will work through IEW Units 1–7 as they learn to take notes, retell narrative stories, summarize references, write from pictures, and compose their own fables, myths, and fairy tales. Includes vocabulary cards, literature suggestions, and access to helpful PDF downloads.”

Following Narnia Volume 1: The Lion’s Song

“Using the first three novels of The Chronicles of Narnia® (The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Horse and His Boy), this series of 30 lessons (with two bonus lessons) beckons students to experience the enchanted land of Narnia through the Structure and Style® writing method.

The Student Book gives reading assignments from the novels, source texts on related topics, checklists, assignments, wordlists, and more! The Teacher’s Manual is a necessary component of the course, as it will guide the teacher/parent through each lesson with in-depth explanations, tips for teaching, checklists, and other notes that will ensure that you and your students are successful with Following Narnia.”

A Guide to Writing Your Novel

  • “Designed especially for teenagers and older hopeful writers, instruction is based on 30 years of proven, practical methods of developing an idea into a complete story.
  • This guide covers the common elements of all category novels as well as the special requirements of the key genres: suspense, mystery, romance, juvenile and others.
  • Checklists and helpful workshop suggestions can be found periodically throughout the book providing a distinctive and valuable feature.
  • This is the answer book to questions beginning writers have on all aspects of novel writing.”

Lemonade to Leadership

“This unique 12–25 hour curriculum involves students in grades 6–8 in real-world business practices: recognizing opportunities, record keeping, marketing, merchandising, and writing your very own business plan and implementing it!”


I realize that my biggest goals for my children as far as education is concerned are :

1. Develop a life long love of learning.

2. Learn to read. Love to read.

3. Be proficient writers.

We are 99% there on the learning to read. As far as I can tell, I have a crew of bookworms who appreciate and enjoy reading. We are moving into more of a focus on writing now.

Have you used products from the Institute for Excellence in Writing? Comment below and share your favorite.