Showing posts with label Homeschool Curriculum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homeschool Curriculum. Show all posts

How's School Going? A Mid-Year Homeschool Update



A couple weeks ago, we hit our 100th day of school for the year.  I have seen alot of celebrations for the 100th day in public schools, in which parents are supposed to dress their children up like 100-year-olds.  It's adorable and funny and completely... something that I have no desire to do!  As an un-crafty mom, one of the perks of homeschooling to me is that I don't have to come up with themed costumes and seasonal crafts unless I want to, ha!  So I'll just do a mid-year recap to mark our 100th day instead.  Here is how it's going:


Curriculum and My Plan

I am actually very happy with all the curriculum I picked for this year, and I have no complaints!  You can read in-depth about my second grade and kindergarten plan in this post, but here is a quick summary:

Reading:  All About Reading/ All About Spelling
Writing: Institute For Excellence In Writing
Math: Rightstart
History: Beautiful Feet Books for ourselves, and Story Of The World for co-op.
Science: ? A mix, but mainly Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding
Geography/Social Studies: My Story (Master Books)

I'm going to be really honest and say we have been doing fantastic at staying on schedule with the first four subjects listed there, but Science and Geography?  Not so much.

A week before Christmas we had "Science Week" and knocked out several science lessons (lessons I had hoped to do once a week - oops).  Science Week actually worked really well for us, so I think we will be doing something similar toward the end of the year.  We are on track to finish our reading curriculum early, and I'm thinking that before I pick up the next level, we may incorporate a couple weeks where we do some science lessons in leu of formal reading instruction.  I'd also like to point out that I have a very science-y second grader, and he reads almost exclusively about science-related topics during his free time.  I totally count that.

As far as our Geography/Social Studies book, I think I'm just going to call that a casualty of the year and move on.  The kids are getting different social studies and geography lessons naturally as we discuss our history lessons, so I am okay with not making it through the book I had picked out for Wyatt this year.



Our Routine

It was difficult for us to get into a routine during the first part of this year because we had several weeks when we were packing/moving/unpacking/major remodeling, so we had to squeeze schoolwork in wherever we could.  It got done, but there was no routine.  Now that we are (mostly) settled in and there is no major remodeling going on, I have been pleasantly surprised by how we have found our rhythm.

This is how our ideal homeschool day looks.  Keep in mind this is an ideal.  Usually we end up not doing at least one of these things each day, but over the course of a week it all evens out.

-Morning Time during breakfast.  This time would include our hymn singing time, Bible reading, Bible memorization, catechism, and other memory work.

-Play time.  I let the kids get all their energy out, and they play most of the morning while I read, bake, clean, or write.

-History over lunch.  Our history curriculum uses picture books to teach American history, and my kids love it.  We read it, I have the two big kids narrate what they remember back to me, and we discuss the chapter.

-Individual instruction in the afternoon.  The little ones go down for nap/quiet time after lunch.  While I'm getting them settled, I usually have the big kids work on copywork, writing projects, or math practice.  Then I spend nap time doing bookwork with the big kids.  On a good day we knock out math for both kids, reading for both kids, and writing and spelling for Wyatt (Gwen doesn't do these subjects yet).

-Fun stuff after nap.  If I have a good amount of energy, then after the little kids wake up we might do an extra "fun" subject, like a drawing tutorial or a nature walk.

I know this is kind of unusual for a homeschool schedule - most homeschoolers like to finish school in the morning and have free time in the afternoon.  However, with the little ones, it really works better for us right now to do schoolwork during their nap time.  I thought I would really miss having nap time to myself, but I don't.  My kids keep each other so occupied with play, that most mornings I still have time for things I want to accomplish, and often time to relax and read too.  I think I actually get more "me time" with this schedule than if I reversed it, because my big kids don't nap anymore anyway and they get bored during nap time if we don't have schoolwork to do.


My Developing Philosophy

As a homeschool mom, I've grown and changed alot this year.  I'll probably write a full post at the end of the year with lessons I've learned about homeschooling and some of the philosophies I'm developing for our family, but as a quick preview/recap, these are some things that teaching each subject has taught me this year.

Reading:  It's amazing how much your child can improve in reading skills when you quit giving them reading lessons over break.  It seems counter-intuitive, but I'm amazed every time.

Writing/Spelling: I have never worried about adding in writing (as in composition/creative writing) and spelling until my child has some solid reading skills under their belt, and it's worked really well for us thus far.  Formal writing and spelling has been no big deal with Wyatt so far this year (aside from complaining about copywork, but I'm pretty sure that's normal).

History: The biggest struggle with history has been helping the kids remember what we read, which is why I have them narrate back to me (read more about narration here).  We were getting a little sloppy about narration until I gave Wyatt and Gwen a talk and told them I'm serious about it and there would be consequences for them if they did not pay attention and have a reasonable narration to give me after our readings (I have no idea what the consequence would be, I just said that, ha!).  It's amazing how many details they have been remembering since then.  Note To My Future Self: Do not slack off on narration!  It's worth it to do it right.

Science: You do not have to do science every day, or even every week.  You can cram it all into two weeks at the end of the year if you want.  It makes no difference in the end.

Math: I purposely planned for Gwen to only make it through one half of our math curriculum in her kindergarten year, and it was absolutely a good decision.  This year I've really been ironing out my math philosophy for my particular kids, and if I had to sum it up I'd say it's "slow and steady wins the race".  If a kid is specially gifted at math and can get ahead of grade level easily, that's great!  But at this elementary stage, my main goal is that they progress, they like it (as much as can be reasonably expected), and they feel like they are fairly good at it.  Sometimes maintaining those three things means choosing to take it slow instead of pushing ahead.  I think sometimes the difference between a high schooler who is good at math and one who isn't is a matter of their attitude toward math.  I'd like to build a foundation of a good attitude toward math now.

Geography/Social Studies: I sort of understand why these are separate subjects, but sort of not.  Aren't these things incorporated into history lessons?  That's how we are approaching it anyway.

As I was preparing to write this post, I asked some of my Instagram buddies (follow me here) if there were any topics they'd like me to cover in this mid-year post.  I got so many good questions!  I touched on some of those topics in this post, but I decided to actually turn some of those questions into their own posts.  So stay tuned!

(My munchkins, minus Georgie.)

How is the school year going for all of you? (Homeschool or private/public schoolers, feel free to comment!)

My Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2nd Grade And Kindergarten)


(Donut picture because that's how we started off our school year - with donuts!  Also note that there are some affiliate links in this post.)


Well, this has definitely been my most requested post as of late, so I thought I better get a move on and share our 2018-2019 curriculum picks!  If you would like to see our first grade curriculum picks, check out this post.  If you would like to see how that went, read this.  If you want a little more about my homeschool philosophy (and homeschool philosophies in general, which I'll be referencing), click here.

All my friends who have considered jumping into homeschooling in recent years have mentioned to me how overwhelming it is to choose curriculum, so I think people are naturally curious about what other people are using.  I love reading curriculum posts!  My love of talking curriculum has more to do with being a nerd about this sort of thing.  I haven't found myself too overwhelmed because I have my vision for homeschooling and my educational philosophy figured out pretty well at this point (I credit being a homeschool student and reading way too many books about homeschooling).  The trick for me is just learning how to pick things that fit with my homeschooling philosophy, but that also fit with my kids' learning styles.  I think we've hit on some good ones for our family (for the most part - there are still kinks to be ironed out, as you'll see below)!  Here is what we are using this year.

First, who is in school?

This year Wyatt will be entering the second grade, and Gwen will be entering kindergarten.

Wyatt has to meet our umbrella school's requirements for days and subjects, so I have curricula picked for these different subjects and we will work through it all together and include the little ones where possible.

In our family we're more casual about kindergarten, so Gwen will start reading and math instruction, and join in other subjects wherever she wants.  We do not technically even have to start doing school instruction, or keep records, or have her registered anywhere until next year.  So we'll just make it fun, because my main goal for teaching younger elementary kids is that they are enjoying what we are learning!

We do not do formal preschool at all, so if Clyde or Clarice want to join in with a subject, I have workbook pages and a few crafts at the ready, but nothing planned out.  I personally think preschool-age kids should mostly learn through play and just join in when they're interested.



Reading

What We're Using:  All About Reading
How I'm Teaching It: Separate levels for Wyatt and Gwen.

Halfway through our last school year we switched reading programs.  We started with Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, which I think was excellent for teaching blending - however, the end of that book gets a little redundant, and Wyatt and I were both hating it by Christmas break.  So I ordered All About Reading to continue on from there, and we are definitely sticking with it this year! I have both of my kids on it now.  I am a little torn with how to start off with Gwen though - the thing is, Wyatt had a really solid start with 100 Easy Lessons, and honestly a lot of the All About Reading curriculum is really easy for him because he had a whole different reading curriculum under his belt already.  I'm curious to see how we like All About Reading when we start with it from the very beginning.

Writing

What We're Using: Institute For Excellence In Writing
How I'm Teaching It: We're doing this subject for the older two together.

Last year was mostly handwriting practice and copywork for us - this year I wanted to start getting into different writing concepts with Wyatt, but also to fit in some handwriting and copywork with Gwen.  Enter IEW!  I looked up their K-2 curriculum online and was so impressed.  I really like Andrew Pudawa and his approach for teaching writing, and this curriculum is going to work really well for us this year.  It starts with the basics, like learning to properly form letters, and moves into writing short paragraphs by the end of the year.  The first part of the year is going to be brand-new for Gwen and review for Wyatt, and then the second part of the year will be more stretching for Wyatt and maybe just a preview for Gwen.

Math

What We're Using: Rightstart Math
How I'm Teaching It: Separate levels for Wyatt and Gwen.

I completely loved Rightstart last year, and we are continuing with it this year!  It is a math curriculum that uses manipulatives, but also has a heavy emphasis on learning to do math problems in your head, and learning through games.  I think to teach math, it is important for you to find a curriculum that approaches numbers in a way that feels natural to you, and that's how I feel about Rightstart - it teaches math the way I already think about math.  I also love that it's a spiral curriculum, meaning it circles back to concepts throughout the curriculum and approaches them in different ways.

History

What We're Using: Beautiful Feet Books - Early American History
How I'm Teaching It:  All together, including little kids.

We used Beautiful Feet Books for history last year, and I love it.  To me it is the perfect curriculum for elementary history for several reasons - first, it teaches through real books ("living" books, which is a Charlotte Mason concept), and many of the books for this grade are colorful picture books, which even the little ones enjoy.  It's important to me to let my kids learn history through reading actual books, instead of slogging through dry textbooks.

Second, I love how flexible this curriculum is - it comes with the books and a study guide.  Last year we needed school to be really gentle (hello, I had a baby in the middle of the year!), and BFB was perfect for that.  We went through half the curriculum last year, and will finish the other half this year (this particular level can be used over one year or two).  Since I don't expect to be having a baby this year (ha!), I'm excited to put a little more effort into history and find more supplementary resources, maybe even squeeze in a couple for-fun projects.  This curriculum is totally conducive to that - you can do as much as you want, or the bare minimum, and your kids are still going to learn something!

On the side, we'll be reading/listening to Story of The World: Middle Ages, because that is what our co-op is covering this year.  We will just listen to this in the car or read it in the margins to keep up with co-op, at least until we figure out if we should be doing more co-op prep work.  We may be picking up more living books from the library that coordinate with this time period to read during morning time as well.



Science

What We're Using: Who The Heck Knows! (not a real curriculum)
How I'm Teaching It:  It will be all together, when I choose which of the four (yes, FOUR) curricula will take priority.

Guys, I am hanging my head in shame right now for how overboard I go on science.  There are so many good curricula out there!  I love all science topics and don't know how to choose! Part of the problem is that I have a hard time picking because I love it all, and part of the problem is that we joined a homeschool co-op this year (more about that later), and the co-op is doing two, count 'em, TWO science curricula in one year.  What is going on???

Okay, sorry for my little freakout; this is what I'm working with.  Get ready for a long section.

Our co-op usually uses Apologia elementary science books, which I am all for because I absolutely love Apologia for science.  Apologia approaches each scientific subject from a young earth, biblical perspective, the books are written with a Charlotte Mason style, they are fun to read, and they emphasize giving kids practice in the scientific method.  I love them.  What I don't love is that the co-op is doing Apologia Physics and Chemistry and Apologia Human Anatomy for science this year.

Now, the reason for this is that they like to pick the same science subjects for all the grade levels in the co-op, so people with large families can work on science together.  Which is great.  Just maybe not so great when your oldest is only in second grade, because I think Chemistry and Physics and Human Anatomy are pretty intense subjects for a kindergartener and a second grader.  Especially with Chemistry and Physics, it requires a level of abstract thinking that kids at this age literally do not have the mental capacity to understand yet.  The author of these two books even said in a Instagram TV video recently that these two subjects are not going to be geared toward the younger elementary ages as much, and we'll have to take these courses slower.  Except that the co-op decided to do both in one year.

I have no idea how in-depth our co-op is going to go on these subjects (it's our first year), but I decided myself that we are not going to go that in depth.  We're going to pick up some fun books at the library related to Chemistry/Physics/Human Anatomy, touch on some of the topics so we sort of keep up, and then just have fun with whatever they do at co-op.  Then we'll do our own science curriculum at home.

For our science at home, as of right now I have a multitude of curricula and resources to choose from, so we may be switching it up mid-year if what we are doing isn't working.  But I decided to go with Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding. This isn't so much a curriculum as a guide book for teachers and parents on teaching different science subjects to K-2 grade.  I really love how the method in this book emphasizes teaching kids to observe and ask questions, and for this year, I like that it covers a variety of subjects.  I wanted to cast a little wider science net for my kids this year to see where their interests lie, and to give them some foundational knowledge in different scientific fields, before we go back to a more focused subject with Apologia next year (but not Chemistry And Physics).

The only thing I don't love about this science guide is that it's not written from a Christian perspective.  From what I've read, any problematic lessons about evolution/Big Bang theory don't come into play in this particular volume, but the author certainly is coming from a secular humanist worldview.  I feel fairly comfortable with using it for this year because as I said, this book isn't a curriculum so much as a guide book for teaching science concepts to young children.  All the information is filtered through me,  so I will certainly be pointing my kids back to their Creator through every subject we touch on.

We also picked up Exploring Nature With Children, which is our fourth science curriculum.  This is a nature study guide.  I struggle with knowing what to look for on our nature walks, and I love how this guide lays out everything for you - we just grab the pages for that day's lesson, and off we go.  This will be more of an enrichment subject, so we'll do it only once per week.  We did the first week's lesson already, and it only took about 15 minutes in the outdoors, so it's completely doable, and it was so fun!

Bible

What We're Using: Community Bible Study (group meetings once per week) and daily Bible time.
How I'll Teach It: Only Wyatt will have homework this year from our Bible study meetings.  The little kids just love learning while we're there!  We're doing a short daily study each day during morning time all together.

Last year we joined the CBS I went to as a child, and we loved it.  It was really refreshing to me to get together with women my age as well as women who are older and wiser than me and really dig into different books of the Bible.  I was also really impressed with how much even my little, tiny kids picked up from their classes, and we all love the time to get out and fellowship with other believers mid-week!  Our CBS has a homeschool program, so the older kids do the same study as the adults.  Wyatt and I will be studying the same books this year, which is really cool.  I love it.

Geography/Social Studies

What We're Using: My Story (Master Books)
How I'm Teaching It: Only Wyatt will go through the workbook this year.

This is a miscellaneous subject I threw in here.  I flipped through this book at a homeschool conference and decided I liked it for an intro to different cultures around the world.  The lessons are really short, it's written from a Christian perspective, and I just wanted to cover our bases since Geography is not my strongest subject.  I am hoping to add in the Beautiful Feet Books Geography study when I have enough money saved for it!



I'm going to write another post about the resources I'm planning on using for our Loop Schedule and Morning Time, which is a catch-all for all the things that I want to do but that we can't fit in every day.  Stay tuned for that!  But the curriculum above is our core, and overall (with the exception of science) I'm feeling really settled and happy about it!  If you have any other questions about anything I mentioned, or you want a more in-depth look at something, speak up and I'll add it to the queue of posts to write!










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