Have I mentioned how much I love back to school season? I know you are shaking your head right now and I love that. At least there is no doubt in your mind that I simply can not resist new pencils, notebooks and glue sticks.
Perhaps you feel the same way and simply can not wait for school to begin or perhaps the thought of trading the sandy beaches for a notebook and highlighters makes you want to cry. Either way, I hope you will find my list of 2012-2013 homeschool curriculum helpful. Bear in mind, there are many ways to homeschool your children. This list is just one way and is intended to give you a peak into our home. Friend, this is going to be a great year, even if you aren’t excited about it quite yet!
About my students
Leah is an 8 year old girl who walked into a teacher resource store with me this week and BEGGED me to let her buy a reading comprehension study book. When she gets a new book, she would rather not come out of her room until it’s finished, even if it’s 500 pages. To say that she loves reading, is clearly an understatement. She will be in 3rd grade this year.
Rachel is a typical 7 year old girl. She loves to use her imagination and rarely do I find a puzzle that she can’t solve. I’m not sure if it was our family circumstances or just her personality, but reading came a lot slower to her than it did for her sister. Despite the fact that she is reading beautifully for a rising 2nd grader, she will still tell you that she can’t read and doesn’t like to.
It’s hard to believe that Nathan, age 5, will be entering kindergarten this year! Every ounce of his little body is ALL boy. He needs to “run it out.” He is super excited to start school this year and is coming in with more skill that I thought he had. Ha, poor thing. Please don’t tell him that I started formal schooling with his sisters at age 3…before I knew better!
As a mom of 4, one of the most important elements of my homeschool is finding ways to teach as much as possible to all of my kids at the same time. This is one of the reasons that I love Classical Conversations so much. All three of my kids study the same core of subjects every week: Math, History, Science, Geography, English, Latin, and Fine Arts. Each day, we focus on a different subject, reciting the memory work and digging just a little deeper to explore topics of interest. The kids all have notebooks that they keep for Classical Conversations work that I will be sharing in two weeks in my Organizing Classical Education series.
I am going digital this year. Teaching three different kids on three different levels is difficult. This year I am hoping to help with some of the mommy teaching load by going digital. We will use Teaching Textbooks 4 (Leah) and Teaching Textbooks 3 (Rachel). I am not a big fan of hard core curriculum in kindergarten. Nathan will learn to skip count every number from 1’s all the way to 14’s this year in Classical. In addition, I love the Rod and Staff preschool curriculum. It’s designed to cover all subjects up until 1st grade level. This year Nathan will complete the second half of the series, G-H-I. Should he finish that a require a more challenging math, I reserve the right to add something in!
We also use the iPad to review math facts daily with the Math Drills app.
This is one area that I tend to be very flexible with. I simply don’t like being tied down to a curriculum of any sort. Reading begins with 30 minutes of Reading Eggs, for all students. This program is unlike many others, in that it actually teaches the student to read. As he gets older, the program encourages comprehension, vocabulary, and other essential skills. Best of all, it’s fun. It engages all ages and holds their interest. Even at the 3rd grade level, it hardly seems to be a chore to complete it.
After reading eggs, all three students read for 30 minutes- their choice. I don’t manage the selection in any way. I also don’t manage the quality of their reading during this time, either. The goal is to encourage them to use books for information and enjoyment. They don’t have to read every word with perfect articulation in order to benefit from the book.
The next step is 30 minutes of reading- mom’s choice. For Nathan (K), we will read beginning readers that I own, as well as those that we find at the library. Rachel (2nd) will read Pathways readers and also various finds from the library. Leah (3rd) will help me chose her books this year. Currently, she is reading books by Marguerite Henry.
Despite what I was taught in college, I take a very classical approach to writing. The backbone of writing in the early years is copy work. Learning to print, track, and follow great literature is instrumental in becoming a great writer. Each year, I use a simple spiral bound notebook and have the girls copy various works. This year, I will start with Proverbs. They will copy a verse each day and then move on to Psalms. Nathan will use Handwriting without Tears to learn the proper way to form letters. I haven’t worked much with him on this and he is super excited to begin. (Hint…DO NOT start formal handwriting with a child until they are ready!)
In addition to copywork, we use Writing with Ease. Leah will work in book 3 this year and Rachel will work in book 2. I love Writing with Ease because it combines copywork of excellent literature with listening skills, narration skills and the necessary tools for the craft of writing. It even teaches grammar concepts in the process.
Two days a week, all of the kids write in journals. I do not give topics for this writing, they may choose. However, I strongly encourage them with discussion of field trips that we take, things that we are learning, and even events in our lives. I also have a posting of topics at the beginning of the journal and a monthly list for ideas. I do not edit or critique this work AT ALL. It is designed to encourage them to write freely without the fear of messing up.
I am excited to introduce All About Spelling into our day this year. The main goal is to use it as a means to teach Nathan to read; however, there is a component for all 3 of the children that will build reading and spelling skills.
We participate in a wonderful Bible study every week with Community Bible Study (CBS). The kids each have their own study books to complete daily, just like mom. This year we are studying Hebrews.
In addition to CBS, we will complete Esther by Grapevine Studies and finish Who is God. If you haven’t seen these two resources, be sure to check them out. Both are fantastic ways to teach Bible study and world view.
New this year is We Choose Virtues. The program teaches and then encourages children toward virtues with Bible verses, stories, and accountability charts. I’ve heard good things about this program for over a year, so I was super excited when the company asked me to review their product this year! Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at how we are using it and loving it in our homeschool (coming in September).
This is the part of our program where I confess to things that don’t always go the way I have planned. Two years ago I purchased a few extras that I wanted to do with my kids. Crazy circumstances have left books unopened and the others only dabbled in. This year, I do hope to be intentional with Artistic Pursuits Book 1. I have completed the preschool book of this series and love the way it teaches art technique by learning to observe real art. The program teaches the student (and parent) about the best art supplies to use for each technique. Not to mention, my children love art and beg to do lessons in this book!
You might have noticed that there is no science or history curriculum listed. That’s because we cover these topics in Classical Conversations. During our time at home, we do expand on topics of interest, but for the most part all of my kids are in the stage where they are simply memorizing the “grammar” of both of these topics. Additional elaboration is not necessary just yet.
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