It's always fun for me to talk with younger homeschooling moms. Since my 'baby' is 13, the days when I was juggling teaching a 6-year-old to read with the needs of toddlers and babies can be a bit of a distant memory. Now, I am in the middle of maintaining high school transcripts, finishing middle school with my youngest, and helping my older children with their college lives and paperwork (the job doesn't end just because they 'graduate'!).
So it's a different season for me. But, oh, how sweet the memories of life with preschoolers and young learners! I'm trying not to be too rose-colored-glasses about it, because I do also remember the exhaustion level!
There are so many good resources out there, almost too many now, and it can be overwhelming. Back when we started in the mid-90s, I had more time than money, and less access to materials. Which in retrospect, was probably a good thing for someone as distractable as myself. I think names like Raymond and Dorothy Moore may not ring a bell for many homeschooling parents these days. But words like these were what my young mother's heart needed at the time:
"...if you are loving and can read, write, count, and speak clearly, you are a master teacher." (Moore Foundation)
I was also armed with simple materials like Sam Blumenfeld's Alpha Phonics and had the confidence that I was capable of teaching my young ones to read!
We successfully used this book with all four of our children. We also were blessed to discover the Five in a Row program, which we used for years. We have wonderful memories of those days, reading lots of children's classic picture books on which the lessons are based. Check it out if you have kids in the 4-8 year old age group. Each day's lessons (language arts, social studies, science, and math) are based on the book being read, classics like Madeline and Make Way for Ducklings. My kids still remember those books!
Other favorite resources were:
Modern Curriculum Press Phonics series (skip the pricey teacher's guides)
A Reason for Handwriting
A Beka math (for K-3--their math for the lower grades is colorful and appealing and has lots of white space.)
And lots and lots of games like Tangrams and file folder games. This site gives a good visual of what file folder games look like once you put them together. What a fun, painless way for kids to drill math, phonics, and other facts. My kids would pull these off the shelves to use on their own, which is always a good sign!
We read a lot and talked a lot and played games and went to the library and spent loads of time outdoors. Things didn't always go smoothly, but that is reality for life with young ones! Still, we normally finished our 'schooling' time in a couple of hours per day, which lent itself well to pursuing other interests.
I will share more about other resources, as they come to mind!