I have decided to STOP re-inventing the wheel!!
When I told hubby that I was tossing my hands up and I was wanting to purchase some pre-planned, box like curriculum because I was tired of creating my own he said, "Yay!! I might get my wife back now!!"
You see, when I started homeschooling I didn't like ANYTHING I SAW.
There are many reasons for my dislike but I
was THOUGHT I was super-mom and I COULD DO ANYTHING BETTER THAN "THAT" curriculum. So, off I went to pull my own lessons together and create my own stuff.
Then I started battling some other things. My time, motivation and energy started to wane. The next *fun* thing just never measured up in reality as it had in my head. The researching was painful and it was just easier to say "ahhh, we'll just skip that for now."
A few months ago, I was asked about curriculum. The child of the family questioning me is doing an online program but the mom hates the computer and wants to use books. I know the family and started researching what would work best for them. In the process, I realized there were some items out there that would actually be BETTER FOR US!
So, below are the curricula that we will be using (as soon as I can look at them and get us started). YES!! I am starting BRAND NEW CURRICULUM NOW!!! IN MARCH!!! YEP, because I homeschool and other than state laws that I already follow...when you homeschool, the only rules are the rules you make up yourself!!!
PRESENTING OUR SPRING 2012 CURRICULUM REVAMP
In the fall, I was doing a full out pre-school circle time routine with Abram and Gracie. It took us ALL MORNING. It was exhausting. They had fun but I'm pretty sure we were just doing fun routines and were not actually LEARNING all that much. I don't have it in me to continue this on a daily basis so the following is what I will be doing instead:
* I will be more purposeful at reading nursery rhymes, little kid stories and doing musical action songs with this wee one.
* I will randomly work on counting (so far we have: one, two, wee, or) and colors and numbers. I might even start physical recognition of such things.
* I ALSO WILL BE WORKING ON enforcing the "PICK UP THE TOYS BEFORE you get something ELSE out!!" rule.
Abram 5.5 - but "Pre-K"
* Reading: We will continue to work on Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. I think we are on lesson 35 or something (first 26 are phonemes=we skipped). Abram has an INCREDIBLY (painfully so) SHORT attention span. Reading a 3 letter word can take us 4 minutes because he is so quickly distracted. I often only do 1/4 or 1/2 a lesson with him at a time. When he is focused it is AMAZING! When he is not I wonder if I will need a wig by the time he turns 6.
* Math: We will continue to poke along in Saxon 1. Our hardest part of math right now is that he does not yet have the handwriting part down. So I do some simple math with him (as the lessons say) and then we work on handwriting some of the numbers. He really loves his math but again we only get through about 1/2 a lesson due to attention span. I am also debating if I want to move ahead in the lessons with HIM dictating the answers to me. I think he can DO the work, he just can't write the numbers down yet. Again, I am thinking this over.
* Handwriting: I use Handwriting Without Tears techniques. They are SO INCREDIBLY gentle. They make so much sense. They are so much easier than other handwriting styles (Yep! That's my non-humble opinion.) I do NOT have a kindergarten workbook for him. (Maybe someday.) For now we practice letters and numbers using Wet, Dry, Try and then we have MANY miscellaneous handwriting books. I open the book up to the letter he is working on and he practices. Currently our biggest obstacle is helping him remember that just like brothers and sisters, the letters LIKE THEIR OWN space. He will make an "R" on the left side of the page but the tail of the "R" will slide ALL THE WAY to the right side of the page. **Boy, oh boy is this child VERY DIFFERENT from my rule following, perfectionistic first born!!**
* Science and History: I do not have these officially scheduled for Abram but am hoping that he will listen in and pick up much from my sessions with his big brother. I think the read-a-loud chapter books will capture him! :)
Otto (turns 8 in June) - 2nd Grade
BIG CHANGES IN THE WORKS FOR OTTO!!!
First Big Change: *History/Literature/Reading: SONLIGHT CORE (IG) C = Second 1/2 of World History with both 2nd grade and 3rd grade readers.
We read through Story of the World - Volume 1 and enjoyed it. Volume 2 was going to drive us crazy so after the Vikings (which we spent at least a month on) we deserted it. I needed to find a history/social studies program. I wanted to find some good grade level chapter books for him and some good read-a-louds for me. Many friends recommended Sonlight. I bought only the Instructor's guide (and reader's guides x2) and am able to find all but maybe 10 books at my library. I have already found at least 8 books used and super cheap or free (Paperback Swap has given me 3!!) It will be a bit challenging to get the books from the library on time BUT they have a wonderful little list at the beginning of the IG that tells me what books I need for what week! HELPFUL HUH?
I am unsure of Otto's reading level. He has always struggled a bit. Sounding and blending letters to make words was torture for him. We cried OFTEN at the beginning levels. Around Christmas something clicked. I've heard of this happening and IT DID! He is now reading much of anything in sight and it is GREAT. He still struggles with the weird vowel blends ("ea" says both E and eh) but he is coming along. I was afraid to miss anything and with the Reader Schedules only costing $5-6 I purchased both 2nd and 3rd grade so we didn't miss anything. :)
* Reading Instruction: We will continue to work in and review the last clump of lessons in Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. (By the way: If you cut the spine off this book and 3 ring hole punch the pages it is SO much easier to work with, especially with 2 kids!! The reason I like this book so much is the lack of pictures. Otto, when he was learning, would look at a picture and say what the picture say and then argue with me that I was "reading the words wrong." There is nothing but black and white print on these pages and the lessons are very thorough and progress very sequentially until the end when it seems the exceptions just are crazy weird! Really like this book.)
*Math: Saxon is our stronghold. Otto THRIVES on Saxon. Right after Christmas we jumped into Saxon 3 after finishing Saxon 2. We are on lesson 38! There is some awesome "big boy" math in this book!
*Spelling: All About Spelling. We started level One fervently after Christmas. We are flying through it. So many of the words in this book he can read easily. There are spelling rule lessons along the way and so I want to work our way through it, but we are doing so very fast. Level 2 is here and ready when we need it. We have slowed down this week as we work on blends "th", 'sh" "ch" etc. The book has recently introduced dictation and we find this addition is actually really fun!
*Handwriting: HWT Volume 1. Otto fought handwriting tooth and nail as well. I have taken this workbook and covered all the pages with clear page protectors. We are using the workbook with dry-erase markers. Because my state can not assess my work I am not concerned about having this record permanent. I have other pages that show his writing but this is a way that I can use this workbook and still save it for my youngers.
*Grammar: is another switch. We had been using First Language Lessons Vol 1 & 2 (combined in one book). I REALLY think this is a great book. It goes into great depth but it just wasn't magical to us. When we hit the 3rd or 4th lesson on "ANOTHER kind of Noun" MY excitement had burned off and was wondering where were the **activities**. I am not a person who needs to do a whole unit with a party for every subject BUT.... to sit and "talk nouns" for a couple of weeks had me hitting the head on the table. We just received our Growing with Grammar. We have done just a few pages on page protectors. I think I'll eventually have him write IN the book but I have a really hard time wrapping my head around using disposable books. We shall see. I also think I will be peeking in on First Language lessons and adding in some verbal teaching along the way. At this time GWG does not go into ALL the nouns but they will get into the other kinds of nouns (proper, pronoun, etc) later on. It DOES have Otto writing and finishing sentences by adding in the noun that completes the sentence. This we like. (What can I say? We are workbook freaks!)
*Writing (not handwriting but Composition writing): Winning with Writing. Again, this one is new too. I am SO GLAD I ordered this book. It is a companion to Growing with Grammar but it takes the grammar into the next step of actually COMPOSING sentences and by the end of the first book he will be pulling together main thoughts, finding support for those thoughts and composing proper paragraphs! It's pretty fun!
*Comprehension: We have a really fun book that I bought used really cheap. Reading Grade 2 by School Specialty Publishing. It is a 141 pages of stories revolved around the family of Little Critter (you've seen those books right??) Each left hand page is a story, each right hand page is full of comprehension and grammar questions. (Ex: State the main idea, What did Little Critter do after his dog dug up the neighbor's rose bushes?, State a word in the story that rhymes with ball, What is the past tense for the word run?) My kids LOVE this book. The littles run in to hear the story (I read these out loud and we do the answers orally.) I might have to find the next book some place when we are done with this one. This is our FUN school book!
*Science: I will be purchasing Science Core B from Sonlight. Again, I will only be purchasing the Instructor's guide and will need to find the books from the library and used but this will give us a solid science program where everything is included. I have heard very mixed things about Sonlight science from many different people groups. I hope to let you know what I think. Right now, we just need to try something and I hope this works for us.
Did I miss anything?
Oh!! ART: I plan on pulling out the Artistic Pursuits. I reviewed their products last year and have never, ever been more impressed with an Art Program. I think everyone NEEDS TO HAVE ARTISTIC PURSUITS IN THEIR LIVES!!! Even you public school people out there who read my blog (*ahem* cough *Kim*).
(Nope, I am not paid by them to say that and I HAVE actually purchased their second book to use after we finish the first book!!!)
Now? Did I miss anything?
How is it going to all fit in our week??
But my state only requires me to progress forward in a sequential and cumulative manner, so as long as we are doing something in all topics every week we'll be JUST FINE.
(And if I actually DO iron out a schedule....that I actually STICK TO.... I'll let you all know!)
One more note: I just realized how much of the above is workbook based. I remember starting off in this ever changing homeschool adventure thinking how much I HATED workbooks. Workbooks are done in public school. I want my kids to do hands on, fun, action filled activities.
Now that I've been at this for some time I must be honest: workbook like texts are VERY HELPFUL in certain disciplines. If done well, they are laid out in a very educational, informative, fun manner and the fill-in-the blank stuff can actually help solidify the material.
I think part of my effort to re-invent the wheel was to get away from being dependent upon someone else teaching. *I* was the teacher and I think I felt that when I used such books *I* was being kicked out of the educational loop. Now that I've been at this for many years I have realized *I* am still the teacher but *I* now just have to follow the guide before us. I also, along the way, somehow forgot that my oldest would BEG for MORE worksheet pages when he was in Kindergarten. I am not sure WHY or WHEN I decided that filling out fun pages was evil or less educational. I guess we shall see how this new revamp works before I make too many judgments. From what I see so far, Otto REALLY likes his grammar and writing books.