Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homeschooling Curriculum

Among homeschooling moms, the conversation often begins with the scintillating question:  "What curriculum are you using?"  So, I thought I'd share my wonderful curriculum choices with my reading audience.  ;-)

Last year, we switched from Saxon math to Horizons.  We started with Saxon because we started out with Veritas Press.  They recommend starting K with 1st grade math and so on.  However, Megan hated the boring black and white pages, so I went on a search for new, more colorful curriculum.  We decided on Horizons, mostly because of its Christian emphasis.  Singapore math was a close 2nd.  I'm a little conflicted about the K Horizons because the method of teaching addition is a little strange.  But everything else is good. 

For phonics, I use All About Spelling, which uses flashcards and manipulatives to teach the phonetic spelling of words.  Megan was doing the Veritas Press Phonics Museum for K, which was a lot of fun, but only got through the short vowel sounds and the consonants by the end of the year, but expected her to memorize huge lists of words every week.  She got so frustrated because there was no predictability.  She learned all the phonograms and was reading within 2 weeks with AAS.  I like that it does double duty as a spelling and a phonics text and that it utilizes different learning methods--auditory, visual, and sensory.  I also supplement with Explode the Code.  It's just fun to say.  And it does a great job of getting the kids to practice the skills they're learning in AAS.
Shurley English Homeschool Kit, Level 1
This year, we're trying out Shurley English.  In part because the homeschool program we think we might join at some point uses it, in part because it's a well-recommended part of any classical curriculum, and in part because we're still kinda sorta following the Veritas Press model.  I really do like it (Veritas Press & the Phonics Museum), and I would use it again in conjunction with All About Spelling.  :-)

For literature, we're using the reading list from Veritas Press.  I'm pretty happy that I have a lot of the books on the list already (yes, I have good taste.  lol), and we make trips to the library every Sunday, so we'll supplement the rest with free books!  Yay!

Handwriting Transition Student Worktext (Reason for Handwriting)Handwriting--we use A Reason for Handwriting.  I just love that they are practicing writing verses every day.  This year, we will be doing a lot more writing.  The kids have been writing a letter a week to a friend, so that is one way we're practicing.  I think book reports will be in order, and I think I remember seeing quite a lot of writing in the Shurley English books, too.  As an comp teacher, I'm always running into the same problem with my students--they freak out so much about grammar and spelling that they can't get their ideas down. So I didn't worry about those things with Megan--just get your ideas down and then edit.  But in her 'real life' writing, which she does a lot of, she doesn't do the editing part.  SO...we need some more practice.  :-)

That's quite a lot already, don't you think?!  But we wouldn't be complete without history and science.  This year, thanks to a wonderful new friend who let me borrow her book, we'll be doing Apologia Astronomy.  The kids spent an hour looking through the book tonight, so I think they'll like it.  Megan wants to try all the experiments.  And Tristan, well, his ears perked up when he heard Science.  Why?  Because his book on Nascar says that you have to be good at math and science to drive a racecar.  Thank you Nascar!  ;-)

I would love to do Story of the World for history, but for now, I think, we're going to continue with the TruthQuest American History we have from last year.  This year will be some catching up, for sure.  After a year of "fast school,"  the kids are going to love (I hope) having time to really have fun learning instead of having to rush through everything.  That's one of the benefits of homeschooling--it adapts to your life! 

Some other things I'd like to throw in--Spanish, cooking, art. Oh!  And Megan begged and begged to learn Latin.  So, we're going to work on that, too.  So, we've got a lot going on this year.  Hopefully we'll keep it together.  Maybe next time I'll share with you how I juggle all I have on my plate.   :-)  And I think something that we tend to forget--the overall goals of homeschooling, at least for our family.

Thanks for listening!


Anonymous said...

Yes, you do have good taste! In fact, you and I are practically doing the exact same thing in our homeschools. We just switched to Saxon math this year though. Have been using Bob Jones and liked it, but it doesn't cut the mustard in the older grades and it is very teacher prep intensive. We are doing Sequential Spelling this year. Oral. I have been working on spelling and am still not settled on any one thing.
Love, love, love Story of the World. We have been doing it from the beginning and the kids love it. Apologia Astronomy is tons of fun and the kids loved it. We ended up with a fantastic handwritten "notebook" all about Astronomy by the end of the year. It is fantastic. This summer we have been working through the Botany book, also very good.

This is our first year of Latin. I am using Prima Latina and it looks fantastic. It has DVD lessons and flashcards and everything. Looks like lots of fun.

To get my kids working on writing a bit more, I am having them do a book log. Every book they read they write a few sentences about it telling me three main things: Who it is about and the basic setting, the main conflict, and the resolution. The clincher is that it has to be proofread and corrected before moving onto another book. This has gotten their noses out of books a little, (which is a good thing around here, they read to terrible excess) and gotten them back to experiencing life in the real world. Plus, it is excellent writing practice.

We are doing Shurley English as well, and relying on the Veritas Press reading lists. Looking forward to our school year! Too bad we don't live closer, seems like our curriculum choices match up really nicely and would make for some great co-oping. Bummer.
Love to you....

Kelly said...

Wow-that's a lot of stuff to keep up with! We're starting some organized learning this year, but not using any curriculum. Well, we are using Before Five in a Row, that uses books as the basis for all kinds of other learning experiences. We'll probably end up being unschoolers@

worryfreemom said...


It would be so fun to be closer! How funny that we ended up with the same curriculum choices--probably because we have similar long-term goals for our kiddos. ;-)

I love the book report idea--Megan is now reading a book in a day, so making her stop to write about it would be a good thing--and maybe help her to get more out of them, too.

We're using the Latin Primer that Veritas recommends (I found a DVD for that, too!), but I kept seeing Prima Latina stuff and thinking I ought to check that out. It was easier to get what I knew, though--and I found it really cheap on ebay. lol I took Latin for a semester in high school, so some of it is coming back just reviewing the text, but I'm glad Meg will have someone else to instruct her in that--and give me some time with the boys. :-)

Kelly--He's still in preschool, so you don't really need a structured curriculum at that age. It's better, I think, to let them learn through play and exploration. Josyan will have some structure, just because it's necessary with the other kids (and it's how I'm wired, too). You can have a specific curriculum and still be a little more free in how your day runs when he gets older. There are lots of choices!

Thanks for reading, ladies!

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