My big girl is in her very last week of preschool (I heard about nothing but ballet recital minutiae last week, and I suspect this week I will hear about nothing except Thursday's ice cream party), and as that chapter of her young life comes to a close I'm busily getting prepared for the homeschool studies we have ahead of us this summer and fall.
There are many routes to take in home education, just as there are numerous schools of thought and practice in private education (far less so in public schooling, more so where there are charter options). Montessori and Waldorf can both be adapted for use at home; there is unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Classical education, unit study, learning centered around religious beliefs, and so on. And, because you're not part of any institution, you can mix and blend practices without anyone teling you that you can't do that. One of the greatest beauties of home education is the liberty to choose what is best for your child and for your family.
I am most closely aligned with the Charlotte Mason school of thought, which emphasizes "living books" (as opposed to text books) and I love unit study (the college I went to runs its classes primarily on a unit study model). What we're doing, beginning this summer, is a well-considered hodgepodge:
Math: We are working in the first half of the Singapore Math first grade curriculum. She loves it. I haven't used Miquon Math yet, but it sounds pretty cool. I love the idea of a "math lab". She also has Unifix Cubes and loooooves them.
Language Arts: We started the first half of the Headsprout reading program a very long time ago, but she just recently finished the last two episodes. Despite the enormous hiatus, which was really just us forgetting about it, she was really happy with the program. Although it is quite expensive we'll probably do the second half this summer. She will also need to do handwriting practice; we'll likely use Handwriting Without Tears. And! Books. Books books books books books. Out loud by mom and dad and her and audiobooks. Books.
Science: My kid sincerely enjoys every subject, but this is probably the one she is most passionate about. We were going to do unit studies based on her interests, but she rattled off a huge list of Life, the Universe and Everything, so we're going to use the R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Earth and Space Science curriculum for its comprehensive, developmentally appropriate content, great labs and library resource lists. This is an area particularly suited for field trips, which is, if you ask me, one of the crowning jewels of home education: the increased opportunity to get out there in the world and look at stuff.
Social Studies: This was really, really tough for me. I was a history major in college, and I am not happy at all with the curricula that are offered for home school. Maybe I'll write a children's survey of world history someday: Guns, Germs and Steel for Kidz!, or The Young People's 1491. As of right now, we're going to do social studies as interest-driven unit studies. She would like to study early humans first, which dovetails in a very exciting way with...
Art: ...art! She is developing an interest in visual art, and, somewhat amazingly (to me) art history. If we do any kind of survey of world history this year it will be through the lens of art history. HIstory of Art for Young People looks great, and she has a specific interest in cave art, so we will look at some library books on the subject. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is out just at the right time! We will also be doing an art project once a week or so using a new technique or interesting materials, plus all of the drawing and whatnot that she gets up to in her free time.
Music and Theater: She would love to play the cello, but we may not have the funds to make that happen (see Health and fitness below). We've talked about piano, too, but we'll have to see what works with our budget. Music appreciation is a very easy area for her, so that will unfold with her interests and passions. We'll get CDs, DVDs and books from the library, pay symphony, theater and opera visits, and take drama classes and theater performance, maybe, someday, if it's reasonable (three classes at a time seems like a sensible upper limit, and we're reaching that already).
Health and fitness: Another one of the nicest things about home education is that you can get kids out and moving a much greater percentage of their day than public schools can (I am absolutely appalled by the degree to which children's recesses and P.E. classes are being cut). She will take swimming lessons, continue with ballet and is pushing for Highland dance. This is where funds get tricky (although we have the time, which is the big issue for families with working parents and kids in school): cello or Scottish dancing? Hmm.
...and, that's us for next year, plus...geez...church, Girl Scouts, park group days, possibly group language classes?