Letters From Listeners: Homeschooling Older Kids For the Very First Time

Hey HIRLers! We are receiving more mail and questions from you than ever, and we think it's great! Enjoy this week's letter from listener Brandi. Some affiliate links included.

This is my first year to homeschool. My kids were in public school prior to bringing them home and they are currently 5th and 8th grade.

My question/concern: I am researching the heck out of curriculum for next year and am really having a hard time finding subjects (mainly history) that are not part of a series plan. If I want to use something for my to-be 9th grader next year for a high school credit, it's part of a 4 part series and not a stand alone. What about us who haven't homeschooled our kids from the beginning and started a series from the very beginning? I feel like my kids do not have the back history of events enough to jump in mid-sequence. I'm pretty laid back and not rigid about my curriculum choices, but this has my head spinning a bit. Maybe I'll just go have a cup of coffee and think about this later.

Any thoughts or suggestions would make this mama smile.


Hey Brandi-

Congrats on bringing your kids home! That's a huge step away from convention and we know it's not a choice you made lightly. We're happy to help in any way we can.

If you're talking specifically about history, then I can recommend a few resources. High school freshmen in the state of California where we are do not have a history requirement. If that's your state, too, then you could use that year to do a world history refresher. Khan Academy has great history videos and covers all of world history. They also have a survey of American history, if you feel that would be a better place to start. Their stuff is free, so have at it.

If you want church history woven into world history, we heartily recommend The Mystery of History. You can get the audio version and cover a lot of ground just by listening over the course of that freshman year. Bonus: it's great for both of your kids' levels, so they can learn together.

I wouldn't worry a whole lot about jumping into the middle of things unless that just leaves your students entirely perplexed. Most of us have so many "holes" left in our scope and sequence from our own traditional schooling, and we have been able to fit the pieces together and learn what was needed when it became important enough to us. 

The main thing here is to help your students regain a sense of wonder. What you want to see happen is an awakening of that love of learning they had when they were younger, before school probably snuffed out the little spark. Maybe it didn't; I'm making assumptions. Either way, what you really want to see develop over the next few years of homeschooling is an ability to teach themselves and to learn anything and everything they can. That may mean scrapping what "should" be done this year and allowing them to direct their learning based upon the things they're truly interested in. Obviously, there are subjects they must cover at some point, but as you're easing into a whole new way of learning, let their delight direct you!

Hope that helps,