Saturday, September 22, 2012

curriculum choices

I had written a post almost completely about our curriculum choices and wa-la it seems to have vanished.  So my 'promised' curriculum post for 'tomorrow' wasn't really the tomorrow I meant it to be, but it is today!

So here it goes... I'm going to quickly list them all today.  In the future I'll go into more detail the why's about what I like in each of these curriculums.

For Phonics for both of them - EXPLODE THE CODE.
I think I've started a little too easy for each of them, but I didn't want there to be any holes and figured it doesn't hurt to go over what we already know at a quicker pace.
 I loved this Happy Phonics supplement with games to go with the phonics rules.
Math U See was my final choice for math. This was the hardest decision for me.
I wasn't a huge math fan as a child.  But I kept coming across this one for dyslexic children.
I'm finding quickly that it doesn't follow the scope and sequence of a traditional first grade classroom.
Being a new homeschool mom that worries me a bit. 

 SO I'm supplementing a bit with a traditional book and this most adorable Teddy Bear counter book.  Yes, I just said most adorable and math in the same sentence.  Really, truly it is.
I came across this Apologia Bible Study series teaching kids why they believe what they believe at a very young age and bought it even without homeschooling.  I thought we'd do it over the summer, but alas, best laid plans don't always happen.  But it is perfect for this year and I'm loving the conversations it has already opened between us.  We're starting with the first book on God.  Next year, I look forward to doing the one that is called "Who Am I" which teaches kids how to see themselves as God sees them. 
I'm also liking this easy Child's book of character building.  It's an easy read and supplement, that anyone could use.  It goes by theme and there are four different areas in life that it applies to read four days of the week.
I chose A Reason For Handwriting, that uses bible verses to practice copy work for my older daughter.
And handwriting without tears for my kindergartener.
As I mentioned before, I know it's so important to know your child and to figure out how they learn best.  The last two years of learning how my middle daughter struggles and how she thrives has taught me a lot.  I joke that one day I could probably become an education therapist if I wanted to.

All that to say, when red flags go up, I know I don't have time to let it all settle and see how it goes.  We've already learned that the red flags lead to major shutting down and if in my gut I know it's too much, I need to listen to that.

I did make a bit of a mistake in choosing a co-op that turned out to be too intense for my middle daughter.  When in the second week she burst into tears over needing to read Latin words and their definitions to the class I knew, this wasn't the fit for us.  Not this year at least.  This is why I'm homeschooling, to build her up and to let her continue moving forward.  The last thing I want is shutting down.  With her, there's so much built up scar tissue that a trigger in this way, spills over into other learning which we definitely don't want.  

But the Lord is so good and He opened other doors and arranged new ways for us to be with groups of kids.  My bible study still had room for the girls in their homeschool class.  So we'll all be studying Genesis together.  They have their own workbooks with daily homework just like me.  They came running home to proudly show Dad how they have bible study homework too.  

And through a friend from church we've added an Apologia Science the fifth day - Swimming Creatures co-op for Science.  I love pretty much everything I've come across from Apologia Science.  And after our snorkeling experience in Hawaii, swimming creatures is a perfect fit.  We're all going to love this, and there will be no tears!  In fact, we already had our first field trip last week.
And made our own sea boxes to add animals they'll make as we study them throughout the year.
I even made my own.  I couldn't help it.  I thought it would be fun. 
And you know what they said, "Mom, I'm so glad you're making one too
because usually you just watch and help us."
And for History, I kept hearing people rave about Story of the World.  There are many similar curriculums.  I didn't have a lot of time to do tons of research so I just took the leap.
It's our world history told in story form, hence the title.  There's an activity book breaking everything down for me with projects to go with each week's story.  Easy peasy, and fun.  You can even buy the book on cd, which I did so we can play it when we're in the car driving big brother to and from school.
I haven't had a chance to write about the fact that I have a tutor working with the girls two mornings a week.  There's a big God story here.  He never ceases to amaze me in the way he provides and this is certainly an example of that.  She was a kindergarten and first grade teacher for ten years and homeschooled her own kids.  She had been praying for the right family to help and I had been praying if the Lord wanted me to do this, that he would provide someone to help.  I was worried about having the girls in the car the nearly three hours each day with my commute getting my son to school and back.
And the morning I prayed very specifically about this she contacted me.  I always say, if I ever doubt this decision or have a bad day, I will remember the day the Lord so clearly and swiftly answered my prayer.  She has a writing program that she's doing with both girls at their age level.

And I also am using this First Language Lessons book.  It's another one that's very methodical and tear free.  I'm all about things that walk me through exactly what to do and keep learning fun.

True to the Charlotte Mason style, we are doing a little bit of art and music study.
I'm not going too hard core just yet because there are only so many hours in the day.
And my focus is getting the basics down rock solid.
I did get this piano curriculum "My First Piano" to teach from home because the lessons they were taking were kind of far and I'm trying to simplify rather than add to our commute.
It comes with a cd that does the teaching.  I'm sorry to say, that I haven't brought it out yet.  It's one of the things we keep not managing to get to, but I want to and it really does look very sweet in addition to getting good reviews.
Last, but not lease is this nutrition curriculum.  I happened upon their table at the CHEA convention and fell in love.  It's right up my alley with teaching about proper healing through nutrition and the food pyramid is also up to date with what's truly healthy.  You can use this curriculum all the way up through high school as an accredited class.  You can choose how deep you take it and how many activities you do.  It has all kinds of information about the human body, how we use our food, and even recipes.  I'm enjoying it along with the girls.

I'm sure as time goes on I'll adjust things here and there.  But this is where we are now.  

As most any homeschool parent can attest, the choices are wide and vast and can be nearly overwhelming.  I knew from many years ago when I first researched homeschooling, that there are a couple of philosophies that really resonate with me.  One of my favorites is Charlotte Mason.
This book inspired me the most to follow her style of teaching and living, regardless of whether I was homeschooling or not.  A good resource to learn more about her style is Simply Charlotte Mason.

Now I should say, I'm not strictly CM, I'm not strictly anything really.  I go with what I see works, but I'm very inspired most all of her philosophies.

One thing she isn't so fond of is something I know both my kids and I love and that is activities that go along with what we're studying.  I love the idea of bringing it to life with a project.  So I'll be adding those kinds of things in where applicable.

And I have learned, that when I get too regimented and think I have to follow things to the T too much, it loses the joy.  So I went into this with minimal expectations.  Especially since I know my middle child fatigues so easily.  But I must say Charlotte Mason's philosophy of short lessons applies well here.  You keep their concentration better when you don't drag it out.  Makes sense right.  And it allows you to cover more subjects in smaller bits with breaks when needed.  Honestly my main goal is to keep building and moving forward with math and reading.  Everything else is a bonus right now.

One of my top requirements was I wanted to choose things that would make it easy for me to teach.  You know what I mean?  If it's too complicated for me to get it together, then I won't like doing it and if I don't like doing it, then I most certainly won't inspire my girls to like it.

So far, I'm happy to say they're still excited to start school each morning.  And I am getting how moms say that the learning and life blurs together.  When they ask to do things that are learning just because they find them fun, my heart swells and I feel confirmation that we made the right choice.


goldengirls said...

It sounds like you have made great choices for your curriculum.. The nice thing is if something doesn't work well with the child there are other choices available. We used Story of the World and I liked it a lot. You can pick and choose which crafts to do with each chapter and it was fun to read aloud the literature choices suggested with the text. Remember, just because other families are doing something, don't feel bad that it may not work for your children which is fine. Also it's fun to do the crafts with them. Sounds like you're off to a great start!

Kim said...

Looks like great choices! You are off to a great start!

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