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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

.Our Home school Curriculum.


I have received several emails, many from first time home schooling moms, regarding what curriculum we use. There is no right curriculum for every home school family. What is right for my family may be very wrong for your family and visa versa. One thing that is helpful before choosing a curriculum is discovering your child's learning style. Another helpful piece is coming up with a home school philosophy and deciding what you want the product (your child) to look like at the end of your homeschooling year and at the culmination of their home school life. Goals for each child for the school year can also help lead you to a curriculum. Prayer for wisdom goes a long way in this process as well.


My husband is very involved with home schooling. While I am primarily the one in the day-to-day, he is knowledgeable about the curriculum we use and what our day looks like. I do not purchase any curricula without talking it through with him. It is a huge blessing to me that I am not alone in this, and that Jim is invested in homeschooling.

So this is what we are using for the 2011-2012 school year. (Cadi is entering first grade.) This year is going to be radically different from the last, but I am feeling peaceful and confident about this as we allow God to direct our steps. In no specific order here it is!

Reading: To me reading is absolutely vital in building a foundation to and for education. And a love for reading is icing on the cake. My Cadi has an intrinsic desire to read and has become a voracious reader. For this I am grateful, but really I can take little credit. I did give her the tools, but she was very motivated herself, and I never had to push her into reading. We will see what happens when it is time for my boys to learn to read. I really dislike basal readers, even as a teacher I hated them. I was required to use them when I taught school. As much as I delight in reading - that dreaded reading circle was a nightmare. It was so boring for me, and I cannot imagine how my poor students felt. I tried to implement creative strategies, but at the end of the day there is only so much that can be done with basal readers - in my opinion. Because of this I do not use them in my home. I want Cadi to interact with real books or as Charlotte Mason says living books. I use my library a ton, and I will continue to do so this year.


The reading curriculum that I am using is a Charlotte Mason approach. I will be following the Ambleside Online Year #1 Literature schedule. You can find it here. There are a few books that I will (and have) purchased, but for the rest we will check them out of the library. I have had to tuck the books I already purchased away as Cadi began to devour them the moment she saw them! A girl after my own heart.

Bible: I am taking a completely different approach to Bible this year. The past three years we have concentrated on Bible stories, verse memory, and biblical character traits. I really do not want to make Bible another class. I want the Bible to permeate everything that we are doing in our home. So I am going to be much more purposeful in that. Cadi will be getting formal Bible in her once a week Classical Conversation class, and I am pleased about that. She will be memorizing from the book of John. At home this year we are going to continue working on developing biblical character traits formally, and I will be using The Miller Family Storybooks. My plan is that we will set aside a time as a family in the morning after breakfast and before Jim goes to work to read one of the stories, discuss the character trait and work on Scripture memory. Then in the evening, before the children go to bed, we will sit down together again and use Window on the World: When we Pray God works. This book was recommended for my family by three different people. We are probably going to use it a bit differently than other families, but I could not resist it. Jim and I desire to instill a genuine love and passion for people around the world in our children. This book seems as if it will be a great resource for us. Our time together in the evening will primarily focus on praying for people around our globe. (This book can be found on Amazon for under $5!) Besides those resources I am going to concentrate on making the Bible an active and living part of all that we do, all throughout the day. I am still mulling over whether or not to pull in this Scripture Memory System as well. As of now I am undecided.

Handwriting: I am very excited to have been introduced to A Reason for Handwriting from a college friend. It seems gentle and fun, and not filled with busy work. I love that each week the student will concentrate on a Bible verse from the Psalms or Proverbs and then at the end of the week will be able to write out the Bible verse on pretty stationary to mail to someone. I think this is going to be a perfect fit for Cadi!

Spelling: This is the subject that I kept wavering on. I went back and forth between three really great spelling curricula. Probably I would have been happy with any of them, and in my perfect world I would have found one that was a mixture of all three. For various reasons I landed on A Reason for Spelling. I love the fact that because I am using this curriculum for both handwriting and spelling they will coincide nicely. For example she will be reviewing the same Bible verse for this. The curriculum is bright, colorful, and FUN. It should provide opportunities for written practice, dictation, and even some kinestetic practice as well. I will also be pulling some of her phonics rules into this curriculum.

Phonics: For the past three years I have used A Beka for Phonics. It works really, really well for Cadi, and there is no need for me to change that. She reads beautifully. She understands phonics rules by the systematic approach that A Beka uses. I must be honest, though, and say that straight A Beka would never work for her or for me. I find all of the worksheets to be tedious and boring. BUT I love the A Beka approach to learning phonics and, I believe that their method works. So I use the bare bones. I purchase the teacher manual. I do not use their scripted lesson plans, but I do teach their main objective for each given day. I come up with my own games and add my own creativity. Last year we did the Letters and Sounds worksheets along with daily lessons, and unbelievably Cadi loved them. If I can find them for a reasonable price I may purchase them for this year as well.


Math: I will be once again using Saxon for Math. Honestly, I have not seen a better approach out there. The incremental way that they teach math is exceptional and just makes sense. Math is taught in a very logical and concrete manner using a lot of manipulatives. It is gentle and starts out slow, but I believe this is one of the strengths of the curriculum as well as the way it continually builds and reviews repetitively. This is the way I wish I had been taught math. To this day I really struggle, and I believe it was because of the abstract way Math was presented to me. I pray my children do not struggle, and I believe we are headed in that direction with Saxon.

Social Studies/History: We will be using The Story of the World Volume 3-4. Cadi will be studying US History - Columbus to current events. I am so, so excited about this curriculum! Our history lessons at home will complement the history that Cadi will learn weekly in Classical Conversations. We will be able to expand on it as we wish in our home. I am so excited to have found a read-aloud narrative. I want History to be alive and exciting for Cadi and not dull or boring, and I truly believe this curriculum will be just that for her. In my opinion history should be told and learned in story format. It just makes sense to me.

Science: I am not choosing a formal curriculum for Science. Cadi will be learning anatomy and basic chemistry in Classical conversations. We will be checking books out of our library that have to do with the human body, the axial skeleton, muscles, nervous system, main senses, digestive system, excretory system, circulatory system, lymph system, respiratory system, endocrine system, purpose of blood, and elements, atoms, and periodic table of elements. I am really excited to do Science this way with real books, rather than a text book. Classical Conversations has provided me with a list of books that could go along with each subject Cadi will be studying. The list looks helpful and exciting. I have also started finding and pulling together some hands-on ideas. I am excited that Cadi will be able to do a lot of hands-on learning for Science in her Classical Conversation class. I think she will really enjoy this.

Cadi's music and art will be entirely covered in Classical Conversations. We may do a little bit of additional stuff at home, but we may not either. For art she will be studying American Masters and working on drawing, and for music she will be learning to play a tin whistle as well as discovering various composers and lightly touching on music theory. She will be thrilled about the tin whistle, I am sure! And PE I am still working on. {wink} She will probably pick a community sport or activity to participate in each quarter -swimming, soccer, basketball, etc.

Cadi will also be memorizing a timeline in Classical Conversations that covers from Creation to modern America. I am eager to learn this with her. We will be purchasing CD's to help us with memory work as well as Veritas press timeline cards. Cadi really enjoys memorizing, and I am excited to see her work through all of this.

So that is what we have chosen for this year. I think this answered the majority of the questions emailed to me, but please feel free to ask anything. If I don't have an answer, I will just tell you that! {wink}

I am very much looking forward to this new school year, and I am so thankful that God led us to Classical Conversations. I think it is going to complement our home schooling so, so much. I am in the midst of coming up with a few activites for my boys to do while Cadi is schooling. However, I want to be very gentle with them. I have been convicted lately about not pushing them and allowing them to be little boys. They will soon enough be men needing to provide for their family. Why not let them be little and have fun for a wee bit longer? I am sure they will be in the middle of a lot of our fun this school year regardless. Looking forward to it! If your family home schools what are you using this fall? Please share!


Happy curricula shopping!
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