I started out buying a whole curriculum. For the first few years, I was spending $300 to $400 or more!
I have now learned this is not necessary.
If you want to read up about schooling so that you can form a philosophy of your own, I suggest these:
The Well Trained Mind
Well Trained Mind getting started blog site - http://www.welltrainedmind.com/getting-started/ This site will answer some of your questions.
The "What Your ____ Needs To Know" series
Educating the Whole Hearted Child
I personally LOVE My Father's World curriculum for 2nd grade and above. It was okay for K-1st, but I have started some new things which are MUCH cheaper. MFW has GREAT books though, and are a very good curriculum if you want everything planned out for you.
I have now found that it is easier and less expensive to piece my own books together. Most books are a one time purchase that I can then use with each of my children. Also, they require little to no preparation on my part. I just have to open the book up to the next lesson. (I personally love that aspect.)
Below is simply what I use right now. It is not right or wrong, better or worse than something else. It has also changed and will most likely change again before I graduate my last child.
- Phonics for Kinder/1st (learning to read) - Ordinary Parent's Guide To Teaching Reading
- English - First Language Lessons 1-4
- After FFL 3 or 4, Easy Grammar
- In 2nd grade, we start spelling with Spelling Power, which is a great book that takes you through EVERY level and EVERY child, so it is a one time purchase as well as a great program!
- For writing, I have been using Writing With Ease, which is very good, but I think for my students, we need something a little different. I am having them journal right now, and I am looking into a new writing program. I will let you know what I end up with!
- We use Abeka K-3. All of my kids have done really well and loved these workbooks. They have tons of repetition and cover many concepts the whole time. I really recommend them!
- At 4th grade, we are switching to Teaching Textbooks.
- Just this year, we started reading Mystery of History Vol. 1 and LOVE it! I do love all the real, living books, but we just still do those as read alouds. Having a History textbook this year has helped my organization a ton! We read the weekly lessons at home and then get together with another family and do the activities for those lessons. It has been great for us!
- I have been using some of the Usborne books and casually been doing science with the kids. We would study different topics here and there and then do an experiment. Some times we would look up an animal to read about. I am really tired of this kind of science. Honestly, it is really easy for me to just push science to the back burner using books like these, and on a stressful day (which day isn't), I tend to just not do science.
- So, we are about to begin Apologia Science!!! I have ordered the Zoology one about the Flying Creatures of the fifth day and am so excited to receive them and get going!
- If you are just beginning, I would say hold off on science for a couple of years.
Right now, our family is going through 24 Family Ways in our Bible time as well as reading the Bible.
I go back and forth on art and music. I have some different curriculums for each and just kind of do my own thing off and on. A lot of the time, our History will give an art project.
I am investigating language programs. Most tend to love Rosetta Stone, but more and more don't. Tell Me More is another that has been suggested to me. I still have some research to do. I don't plan on starting language until 4th or 5th grade, which is where my oldest is now, so I need to get on this.
Typing and Computer Science are also subjects to look into. There are some good online programs, but we aren't doing this yet.
Again, if you are just beginning, and your oldest is just learning to read, keep it simple and inexpensive. Get a phonics book and a math book. You can even add in a handwriting book (grocery store ones work). If you are just eager to spend money, do it on math games, manipulatives, and toys that inspire creativity like blocks, Lego's, tinker toys, etc. Your day is still mostly play time, read alouds, and beginning chore training! Phonics, math, etc. should only take 1 hour or less. Really just 30-45 minutes. Then, color, cut, glue, etc.!!
Have fun planning!!! I always love this time of year when I evaluate what is working and what is not. The anticipation of a fresh start is always exciting! Happy schooling!!!