Homeschooling your children can seem overwhelming. There are so many books and other options that knowing what to teach can become the straw that sends the kids back to school.

You don’t need to do that nor do you need to make life hard for yourself and your kids. If you begin with four basic subjects, the rest will fall into place. I call the subjects the “4 Rs-Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmatic and Respect.”

  1. Learning to read is the most basic skill children need to master. After learning to read, a person can read the cans in the grocery store, books on history, and information on the internet. My personal choice for reading skills is to use phonics with a smattering of sight words. A child can learn the names and sounds of the letters at the same time.

One thing you might want to take into consideration with boys is that some of them are physically not ready to read until they are as old as 10. There is nothing wrong with these boys although public schools would tell you there is.

When you try to teach someone who is not ready for a subject, you will meet all sorts of resistance. What would you do if you handed your child a 100 piece puzzle and he got so frustrated that he threw the pieces around the room? After helping him pick them up, you’d probably put that puzzle away and reach for one with fewer pieces. It’s the same with any subject you try to teach a child who is not ready. You might need to back up.

  1. Arithmetic is now called math in public school. There are many ways to teach fundamentals. Different sized blocks, popsicle sticks, buttons, numbers, and so on can be used to teach math. If you are dealing with a non-reader you will want to work with actual objects and start introducing the numerals. Some boys can do written math before they can read.

In the old days, girls were not expected to be as good at math as boys. They lived up to the faulty expectation. When using actual objects to count and do simple math, math readiness begins as young as three or four years old for boys and girls.

  1. Writing has become keying as in using the computer keyboard. I think that all kids need to know how to write by hand as well as with electronics. There is a possibility that the electronics might not always be with us, but kids will always have their hands and heads. Writing, however, is more than just keying and using the spell check and grammar check to assist. A spell-check will not find anything wrong with the word “over” when the word wanted is “oven.”

Not every child is ready to form letters by hand as soon as he learns to the key. Treat these as different skills and don’t keep him from being able to communicate just because he doesn’t do one or the other well.

Kids need to understand how to make themselves understood however they write. A child who cannot write will not be able to apply for a job or college.

  1. The last R is for respect. Whether you call it the Golden Rule, integrity, being green, or being polite, respect has to do with how we treat each other, ourselves, and our planet. In public school, they try to reinforce the rules of respect through posters, talks, and finally negative reinforcement with no success

I think that the problem is that the home is the place to teach respect and the parents are the teachers whether they are homeschooling or not.

Homeschooling should upset the parent. You can have high expectations and still be willing to drop back if your child becomes frustrated and is not ready for something. If you stick to the four basics, the kids will start asking about advanced topics.