Friday, June 11, 2010

All You Ever Wanted To Know About Our Curriculum Choices

Part of the draw of homeschooling is the flexibility to punt one idea in favor of another. And oh, we have punted.

In January (February?) we ordered Tapestry of Grace and I did minimal poking around with it because, well, we've been sort of busy. And in my mind, I had several months to get to it.

Folks, as the school year wrapped up, I saw there were needs that needed to be met more than jumping into this, what looks to be, very powerful curriculum.

My Thomas is an August baby, and while he is academically 'ready' for some deeper stuff, he is not mature enough to really sink his little teeth into it just yet. The decision was made to put TOG on hold for a while. Since we more or less school year round, I have no heart-burn over starting the Tapestry after Christmas and just continuing from there.

With that decision made, we opted to concentrate pretty hard on reading, grammar, spelling, phonics, math, and literature. I have a Kindergartner and a 1st Grader this year, but because of they way we have approached things thus far, they more or less are doing the same things, just on different levels in several of the subjects. It's working quite well so far.

So, Math, yes? For Math, we will continue with Saxon, as I really do love it. Thomas and Sarah Grace will both be working from Saxon 1 this year and are very excited to begin. (Right after I return from Haiti!) I just really love how Saxon stair steps while at the same time going back to reiterate previously learned concepts. Thomas 'officially' did Saxon's K last year, and while Sarah Grace wasn't official, she pretty much did everything alongside him, so she is skipping on ahead to do the 1st grade year with Thomas. I like to reiterate things, but not that much!

For reading, we are still working our way through The Ordinary Parent's Guide To Teaching Reading. Both kids are doing really well, though I will admit to taking about a three month break from it and just allowing Thomas to fly solo. He is doing incredibly well, but we are back into Ordinary Parent's to get a better handle on some of those special sounds and rules. Sarah Grace is skipping along just fine and is determined to be reading by herself just as soon as possible.

We are also working through First Language Lessons. Just a few lessons a week, and the kids barely notice that I am slipping it in just after their reading lesson. I am curious to see how that pans out. For now, I think I like it.

To further reinforce their phonics skills, we have opted to work through a few books of Explode The Code. The work is really pretty fun, according to the kids. We are three or four lessons into it, and they are enjoying it. I love how it has a mix of comprehension, writing, and vocabulary building sprinkled about liberally in each phonics unit. We may just work through the books we have, or we may continue on with more of them. It all depends on, well, how things look around Christmas when we will finish up with these.

A Reason For Spelling was the choice we made for Spelling this year. The first section of the book is all phonics, and entirely too easy for him, so we are kind of flying through it quickly. As in doing ten to twelve lessons a week rather than four. He's almost finished, and we will begin the spelling material in another week or so. Thomas has always enjoyed spelling, and I suspect he will excel in this subject.

We are also continuing on with A Reason For Handwriting, supplemented with copy work on various subjects. Thomas has just finished the first book, and I have him on hold for a couple of weeks so that Sarah Grace can finish her first book and they can start the next book together. In the meantime, Thomas is copying scripture and poetry, writing letters to his grandparents, and he even wrote his first book last week! Superior work, of course. ;)

One of our other sources for handwriting is Happy Scribe. They have a pretty good assortment of topics that you can download for $1.50 each. A handful of those have gone a long way.

We are not doing a formal science, but I have a handful of the Christian Liberty Nature Readers. They are comfy and easy reads and we are all enjoying. If a particular animal peaks someone's interest, then we grab a few books from the library and just kind of hang out on that animal for a bit.

We are still enjoying the Five In A Row material, though we only do a book or two a month. The children love using the map and have really had a good time with some of the arts and crafts stuff we have done. It amazes me some of the giblets of information they will spout off at seemingly random times. Perhaps something from the story itself, or an object lesson, or a geography fact. These buffet-type lessons work out really well for a family with lots of little people. I love how all four kids come and pile up on me when we start to read!

We have the Wordly Wise curriculum, though we won't start it until this fall. I have been flipping through and am really looking forward to getting started with it, to see how the kids like it. Vocabulary is a big thing at our house. Learning new and bigger words intrigues all three of the older kids.

Because reading comprehension means peace and sanity to a homeschooling family, I picked up G.U.M. Drops. I love that it is a reproducible book so that I can use it as needed for all of my children. I also love that it is based on classic literature. We have several classics on our reading list for the year, so it will be fun to incorporate these worksheets as we go through the corresponding book, though you needn't read the books in order to utilize the G.U.M. Drops worksheets.

Then there is my little Elizabeth, who just has to have a bit of school work to do, too. I have several A Beka books that she is enjoying working through, as well as a KUMON book or two for her. Enchanted Learning is a really good site for finding things to interest her, too. Pretty much, as long as she gets to sit at the table and have a pencil in her hand, she is content. I wonder how much she takes in of what the other kids are doing...

And that about wraps things up...I think. I keep looking over at the school table and feeling as though I am forgetting something.

And while on the topic of the school table, I love that in our new house, we have a dedicated space for school. Right in the thick of things, but I think I prefer it that way for now.

Your turn! What are y'all doing for school this year??

*Linking up to FiddleDeeDee's Curriculum Round-Up


Elle said...

Good to meet you in the Round-Up. My boys are older than your children but almost all of that which you are using were our faves as well. The programs gave my sons a solid foundation for what they are doing now. I wish you a year of blessing with your homeschooling.

Fiddledeedee said...

Oh, what I wouldn't give to have a room dedicated to just homeschooling!!! :) That would be my dream. You are using a bunch of stuff that we have used over the years and love! Like "Ordinary Parents Guide" and A Reason for Spelling and Handwriting.

Isn't it funny how after a while we can weave different curriculum together almost seamlessly. If I had looked at someone doing that when I first started homeschooling, I would have just sobbed like a little girl.

Thanks so much for joining the Curriculum Round-up!!!

joven said...

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Missi said...

this is me sobbing like a little girl. LOL.
I think I'm a natural "unschooler" who desperately wants to do classic education. God help me.

Angel Yarbrough said...

Ok, I'm a weird blog reader. Every so often I show up and read quite a bit at one time and "catch up". Now you know why I commenting on this post so long after the fact :)

I LOVE Saxon. I used it for algebra in middle school and it was by far the best schoolbook I have ever owned. And we will not go into how long ago that was. Let's just say that it must have been good for me to still remember it :)