Showing posts with label Homeschool Mom Thoughts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homeschool Mom Thoughts. Show all posts

An Unscheduled Non-Break


Homeschooling this year started out so very well.  I was surprised how well it was going actually.  The kids were excited to learn, we were flying through our work each day, and we even got ahead in a few subjects.  

I might have gotten a little over-confident, because the last few weeks have been a bit of a disaster when it comes to our school.  Between a few family items (purchasing a new car because our old one broke down, flying out of state and coming home more exhausted than I thought, dealing with a cold), we have been running to catch up to normal all month.  We are still managing to get our essential work done, but it's taking all day, peppered a generous amount of exhaustion, with a sprinkling of bad attitudes (from me and the kids).  It just hasn't been great.

(Derek and the kids in the corn maze we visited a couple weeks ago!)

This got me thinking a bit about my homeschool scheduling.  There are a couple scheduling systems that I am aware of for homeschooling.


Year-round homeschooling - This is where you do school all year round, with pre-planned breaks sprinkled in.  The breaks can be anytime you want really, but one method I've heard of is the "sabbath" or term model (every seventh week you take off).  I think some people also do two months on, one month off, or they just take random breaks throughout the year for vacations or trips.

Traditional school schedule - This is where you follow the traditional schedule of school in the fall, winter, and spring, with the summer off.  There may be short breaks sprinkled in, but the more breaks you take during the year, the longer your school calendar goes into the summer, so days off are usually kept to a minimum.


We have always done a traditional school schedule in our homeschool, with one big break taken every summer.  I prefer it this way, because where we live the weather is the nicest in the summer, and I want us to be able to enjoy it.  I also enjoy having a long break in the summer to really get my plans settled for the next year.

The problem with following a traditional schedule is that over the summer, you can sometimes get out of "school mode", and you may need a little time to gear back up to a full load once the fall starts.  Then once you are into full-on school mode, it can become a little monotonous and feel like the breaks are so far away.  It's easy to start getting discouraged, or to get in a rut.

That's about where we are right now.  The novelty of a new school year has worn off, some of our good habits are slipping a little, and we're all just...tired of school.

Because our state requires a certain amount of days completed each year, and because I don't want to not take a break in the summer, our option to take a week off is limited.  But, I have found an alternative.

We are taking a term break without really taking a term break.

And what I mean by that is that every 8-10 weeks this year, I think I will plan to have a light week of school.  Instead of taking an entire week off school and losing those days, we are going to take a week off of just certain subjects.

During our semi-break week we are taking off math and reading instruction while I reevaluate our daily schedule a little bit.  We are continuing history and science (our "fun" subjects) - so we are still doing school each day, just not all our usual subjects.  I am hoping this slight break from our usual school routine will give me some space to figure out what I need to change to keep our school days fresh. It will also give us a rest from parts of our work so we can refresh our attitudes when we get back to our full days in November.

This plan will also be a benefit to our school schedule because it allows us to catch back up in some of the subjects where we fell behind (science and history are the subjects that get dropped when we have a rough day).  We had a little wiggle room in our yearly schedule with math and reading, so we should still be able to finish those subjects "on time" as well.  

A great thing about homeschooling is the flexibility to play with our schedule like this.  I love that when we are all getting in a school rut, I can schedule a small, desperately needed break (non-break?) to give us some breathing room.  I love that I don't have to stress about falling behind in certain subjects, because I can switch some things around and it will all even out in the end.  Homeschooling equals so much freedom for our family when we are going through a rough patch, freedom we wouldn't have if we were attached to an external school schedule.  It's truly a blessing.

If you homeschool, do you follow a traditional schedule?  Or do you change it up?


My Favorite "5 Senses" Learning Resources


The lady was dressed in a floor-length floral dress and a bonnet.  She stood by an ancient-looking hunk of iron in the corner of a dirt-floor cabin.  I stood with my siblings in tennis shoes and a sweatshirt, watching her move little metal doors and plates around, exposing the fire inside the iron stove.  

"Today we're going to make butter!" she announced.  "Have you done your arm workouts lately?"  She put some fresh cream and salt in a mason jar, and one by one we took turns shaking it until we heard a thumping inside the jar.  The bonnet-clad lady twisted the lid, and there it was - fresh butter.

She opened a couple more doors on the oven, and slid out a pan of hot gingerbread, and I still remember how good it smelled, and how satisfying it was with a little of our butter spread on top.  

And that was my first memory of learning about the pioneers.



I think what made me remember that field trip so well was, in fact, the yummy gingerbread.  There is nothing that can bring a historical period to life like experiencing a little piece of it through your five senses.  I think taste is an especially good sense to include!

I am trying to think of ways I can give my kids the same effect for our school subjects this year, ways that I can help a topic stick in their minds using taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing.  I have a whole post about including the five senses in learning on the Rooted Family blog this week, with really SIMPLE ideas, because I am all about simple homeschool activities.  If a learning activity isn't easy for me to do with my kids, it probably won't happen.  I hope the post can get your wheels turning and your creative juices flowing on how you can include all five senses in your homeschool day!  

I also wanted to link a few of my favorite resources and products that I referred to in that post over here!  So these are a few things that I'm trying to include this year.

(Some affiliate links below.)


Historical Figure Toys - Rainbow Resource sells these little toy sets that can correspond with different historical periods, and I have to admit I got pretty excited when I discovered this!  I bought my kids the Revolutionary War soldiers, British and Continental troops, and I am going to break them out as we read more about our nation's founding this year!

Rush Revere Series on Audio - As we wind down our school day in the afternoons, I've been trying to remember to put on an audiobook while the kids color or finish up their copywork.  Our favorite right now is the Rush Revere series!  We are currently listening to Rush Revere And The Presidency which is a great one for an election year.  We've also been working through the Little House series on audio.  There is something about novels that makes history stick in the mind so much better, and it's also a great opportunity to give my kids practice at listening well.

Background Music - I love Kristi Hill's resources on teaching music appreciation for kids.  If you aren't signed up for her emails, I'd recommend it - she sends out "Music Monday" emails with links and activity suggestions for different pieces of music.  She also has playlists on Spotify which make great background music for a homeschool day!

Picture Books With Recipes - I'm trying to make note of the picture books we come across that include recipes, so we can make them together!  "Thundercake" is on our list of recipes to try right now, at the back of the book by the same name.  (If you know of any other picture books that include recipes, please tell me! Still trying to gather a list.)

Picnic Blanket - Getting outside is the perfect way to create sensory memories of our homeschool days, and I am finding our waterproof picnic blanket (that my friend actually got me for my wedding!) really useful this year - we are trying to do more of our school reading outside, and spreading a blanket amidst the grass and flowers makes it that much more enjoyable.

Five Senses Learning Ebook - If you decide you really want to get serious about including all five senses in your learning, I wanted to also point you to my friend Elizabeth's ebook on the subject!  She has put together a "Five Senses Letter-A-Week Activity Guide" for the younger homeschool crowd. I haven't read the ebook, but I have read Elizabeth's blog for a while and she has a ton of interesting activity ideas.  If you have preschool kids and want to make their learning more sensory and fun, I think her book would be a great place to start!  I also asked Elizabeth if she had any encouragement to offer on this subject, and here's what she wanted to say:

What better way to learn than by captivating the five senses? By incorporating opportunities for your child to HEAR - SEE - TOUCH - SMELL - and TASTE as they learn, they're able to experience the world around them in a way that would not be possible with a textbook alone. 




Just from my own educational experiences as a kid, I can say that she's right - I think including all five senses wherever possible is the most effective way to draw your children into the learning process in a way that will make an lasting impression on them.   

If you have any favorite activities, products, or resources that incorporate learning through the five senses, I'd love it if you'd add them in the comments!  

What memories do you have of a time when something you were learning really came alive for you?


P.S. Don't forget to check out my post on Rooted Family - I'm serious when I say including the five senses can be really easy, and I hope that post can encourage you that providing memorable homeschool experiences doesn't have to be overwhelming.






A Case For Choosing A Personal Study Project




In January, my husband and I went on a rare date night.  Even though we rarely go out, most of the time we do the cliche thing and go see a movie.  We enjoy watching movies together and talking about them afterwards, and many movies we have seen sparked some great conversations.

Anyway, in January we saw 1917, and I came to a shocking realization.

I didn't really know what World War One was about.

I had a basic set of knowledge about it - I remembered when it was, which countries were involved, who won.  I remembered an assassination kicked things off, but I didn't remember who was assasinated, or why, or how exactly that led to a World War.

After watching a whole movie based off of one soldier's experience in World War One, I felt a sudden conviction that I should know these things.  And so my 2020 World War One personal project was born.

I've been casually picking "themes" for some of my historical reading the past several years, but this is the first year that I decided to formally pick an area of study and give it a strong effort.  It ended up being a really timely topic choice for this year.  Those men in WW1 truly suffered.  As much as 2020 has been hard for so many people, with stressful moments for me too - having that perspective of the intensity with which some of our forebears suffered has helped keep things in perspective.  People often say "things have never been this bad" - well, probably somewhere in history, they have.  

Anyway, I've been enjoying my WW1 project so much, that I am now going to take it upon myself to convince you that you need a personal study project for 2021!  Here are the reasons why.


You have educational gaps.

Oh, the dreaded educational gap.  We are embarrassed when we realize we have them.  We do everything in our power to help our kids avoid them.  We tremble at the mere thought of them...yes, I"m exaggerating.  But guess what, guys.  Everyone has gaps in their education.  I guarantee you do, and if you don't think you do, you probably just don't realize what you don't know.  It doesn’t matter how great your  education was. It doesn’t matter if you are the smartest person in the world - there will always be things that you don’t know.  I love Sarah McKenzie’s mindset that gaps are really just gifts.  For our kids, and ourselves, gaps mean that we will always have to learn something new, to pause and marvel over something that we never realized before. The gap itself isn’t the gift, but the exploration of a new subject is. Don’t leave the gift unopened! (Okay, sorry, that was a little cheesy...)

Choosing a personal study project is modeling lifelong learning for our kids.

How many times do we moms opine about wanting our kids to have a “love of learning”, to cultivate “lifelong learners”? I figure if we truly want that, it’s a good idea to model it! Just like it’s a good thing for our kids to see their parents reading if we want them to read, seeing us get interested and excited over something new we learned has a similar effect, I’m convinced.  

There are alot of ways we can do this - and your personal study project doesn't have to look like mine.  I've been focusing on history, but you also could pick a science subject, classic literature you never read, a skill you want to learn.  There are so many options!


A personal study project makes you a more interesting person. 

I think learning more about a variety of subjects, or deep-diving into one subject, will obviously make you a more interesting person to talk to. When the subject of what ACTUALLY caused WW1 comes up at a party, as it inevitably will, you’ll have something to say and can dazzle your listeners with your knowledge! 

I’m kidding, guys.

The truth is, the causes of WW1, or the name of that one kind of orchid that looks like a bee, or the biochemistry of gut flora, or how to make the perfect lemon meringue - those subjects are not going to come up at any party ever (well, probably not). But learning new skills or diving into new subjects does give you a wider perspective on the world, gives you more topics and experiences on which to draw in a conversation, adds to who you are as a person - and yes, it makes you more interesting.

Diving deep into a subject can help you to understand the world better. 

This is a Captain Obvious sort of statement, but I’m speaking from my experience diving into WW1 this year. I didn’t realize, before I started looking into it, just how much World War 1 affected everything that came after it. I’m convinced if you don’t understand WW1, you don’t have the full picture of anything else that happened in the 20th century. This could probably be said of everything.  as human beings, we aren’t even capable of understanding it all, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to learn what we can. Which leads me to my next point...

We will never know it all - and realizing that can draw us closer to the One who knows everything.

Maybe this is a continuation of point number one, but isn’t it kind of amazing to think that you can never know everything there is to know? The only Person who knows everything is God, and we are not Him. We weren’t made to know everything, but we were made to bring glory to Him. I think one way we, as believers, can do that is to study His power in His creation, the story He is creating through history, or a creative skill that we know in our heart pales in comparison to the creative power of our awesome God - all while recognizing and thanking Him for all the ways He is greater than us. Learning more about this world, and realizing all the more how little we really truly know - if we are doing it all to the glory of God, we can’t help but be a little more amazed at Him. That’s what truly makes learning a worthwhile pursuit.



Did I convince you?

Over the last year, I've become invested in the idea of periodically choosing a personal area of study as an adult, and diving in deep.  It doesn't have to be a forever project - figure out something you want to learn more about, and dig in until you feel you've accomplished what you set out to learn.  Then see if a new subject piques your interest!  I've been really enjoying my World War One project, and I'm already thinking ahead to what subjects could be possibilities for 2021!

Have you ever started a personal study project as an adult?

How To Teach Young Kids About Elections : Resources

 

This is the first election year that my kids are old enough to really understand what's going on.  

Four years ago my oldest understood the concept of voting, and was rooting for our candidate.  What he was thankfully spared from was all the nastiness that happened both before and after the election.  I wish our children were growing up in a more civil time. So often the political vitriol becomes the focus and we forget there is beauty in this election process too.


Beauty, you may ask?  In an election year?  Yes, I think so.  The more I review the electoral process in preparation for teaching it to my kids, the more I'm reminded of how brilliant our system of government is.  Those Founding Fathers, despite all the flack they get when people look back on some of their flaws and sins now, really knew what they were doing when it comes to government.

Despite the usual angst that election years bring, I'm actually really enjoying the part where I get to teach my kids how it all works!  We've started digging into a few resources, and I want to share the ones that I've found so far for teaching civics to young children.  Alot of civics curricula for homeschoolers are aimed at middle and high school, but you can still find some good resources for the younger set too.

Our Spine

Before I start, I have to say that a "spine" resource that I've been using is actually a civics curriculum for K-12 grade that is put out by my state's homeschool organization.  I was skeptical when I saw that it was supposed to cover such a big age range, but it really is written in an understandable way for young kids, and is also adaptable for different ages.  One chapter is specifically geared toward our state, but most of the information is about the federal government and good citizenship, including a very thorough chapter on the electoral process. And the best part to me is that it is written from a Christian perspective, which can sometimes be hard to find in civics resources for younger kids.  I haven't read through the whole thing, but the electoral process chapter is great so far!  If you are interested, I do think it is worth the money.  Just skip the state history chapter if you aren't in my corner of the country!

One More Thing...

I will say that doing a review of the electoral process yourself is so helpful and important before attempting to teach it to your kids.  If you are a little fuzzy on some aspects of our elections (who isn't, really?), I'd say do a little research yourself first.  I am reading through the chapter in our civics book before I go over it with my kids, and I also picked up The Everything American Government Book for myself. Not only is it a nice refresher for me on certain election aspects, but I think it will be a great resource to have on hand as my kids grow. The pages I've read so far seem mostly bipartisan.  Though let's be honest, it's hard to have a purely bipartisan book about government - every person will always find something to disagree with.  But I think it's doing pretty well so far.

On to the kids' resources!


Picture Books

Today On Election Day - This book is written from the perspective of an elementary school boy that is excited to see people coming to vote at his school on Election Day.  I explained some of the terms further to my kids as we read.  This is a good resource for younger elementary kids in my opinion.  It doesn't tell about the whole electoral process, but it explains the experience of Election Day itself.  I'd say it's bipartisan.

America Votes: How Our President Is Elected - This book looks like it will be a quick read, but it is actually very dense.  There is alot of information packed into these pages.  It includes some topics, such as the history of voting, detailed explanations about different aspects of campaigning, etc., that might be more interesting to older kids, but I think you could easily pick and choose which pages to read to keep it simpler for younger kids.  So far it seems to be bipartisan.

Woodrow For President: A Tail Of Voting, Campaigns, And Elections - This is the story of a kind-hearted mouse that runs for office in mouse-world.  In the process, this book teaches about how elections, campaigns, political parties, conventions, and debates work.  It covers a surprising amount of information for a storybook format!

Duck For President - This book is purely for fun.  Hardly anything is covered about the political process, but Duck's antics in running for leader of the farm, then mayor, then governor, then President, are amusing.  I also used this as a springboard to talk about how complicated it is to be the leader of an entire nation.



Videos

History For Kids: How We Elect The President - My kids loved the format of this DVD - it tells about the electoral process, including a summary of the electoral college, with game-show type questions as it goes. My kids loved shouting out their answers to the questions!  Mostly bipartisan, but all the real-life video clips that were inserted were of Democrats, so make of that what you will.

History For Kids: Running For President - Some of the same information as the video I listed above, but goes a little more in detail about the electoral college and campaigns.

Note: Couldn't find the two videos above online (weird), but I'd recommend checking your library!  My library has the whole series.

Prager U "Do You Understand The Electoral College" - This video explains what the electoral college is, and the advantages in using this method of electing our President.  If you think we should eliminate the electoral college, you should watch this video to fully understand why the electoral college is a good thing.  Like I said, the Founders knew what they were doing!  We watched it all together, even though alot of it was over my kids' heads, and then afterward I explained the main points in more accessible language to them.  Dare I say, I think my little 4th-grade-and-under crowd got it?

Learn Our History: Election Day, Choosing Our President - This is put out by Mike Huccabee, so it's coming from a conservative perspective - which is a good thing for our family but you may want to know that ahead of time.  The bully of the school is running for class president so he can take away the grading system that he claims is "not fair".  The kids travel through history to learn about how elections were established, how debates work, and by the end one of them decides to run against the bully, and the common-sense candidate wins.  I was a little worried this would be over my kids' heads, but they seemed to enjoy it - they watched it twice!  Older-style animation, but we don't mind that in our house.


Activities

(Affiliate link below.)

Election Activities For Voters Of All Ages - This is a case of impeccable timing - my blog buddy Elizabeth just released an Election Activities pack, and I jumped at the chance to check it out!  There are three different levels of activities, spanning from preschool/kindergarten age, to grade school, to middle school.  There are copyworb pages, word searches, mazes, and other worksheets, along with printable to hold a "favorite dessert" election, and pages to track the results of the electoral college on election night.  I am so glad to have found this.  Everything I could think of to bring an election year alive for my kids is in this pack, and I love how so many of the activities are applicable for elementary school.  This activity pack goes beyond the "holding a faux election" idea, and gives a lot of other activities to work with.  It's also totally bipartisan. Highly recommend it!  I am definitely going to take advantage of the election night trackers and have my biggest kiddos watch on election night with my husband and me.  



I'll add more resources to this post as I find more, but these are the things I am using so far this year to teach my kids about the electoral process!  I think we all have been enjoying it and making fun memories surrounding the election this year - and that's a big blessing to me.  I love that even when elections can get so contentious, we can still have some fun appreciating the process.








Narrowing It Down - Tips For Picking Curriculum



So let’s say you’ve decided to homeschool in the upcoming school year, and you have started looking into curriculum.  How do you not get overwhelmed with the endless curriculum options out there?  Because seriously guys, there is so much.  I’ve heard from so many new homeschool moms that all the different curricula is overwhelming.  How do you start to narrow it down, how do you figure out what will work for you family?  I have a few thoughts and tips on where to start.



Figure Out Your Homeschooling Style (As Much As Possible Anyway)

Before you start to wade through curriculum, I think it’s helpful to think ahead to what you are hoping to get out of homeschooling, for yourself and your kids.  What exactly do you want your homeschool to look like?  What are your main goals for your kids?  How do you want to evaluate their learning? Do you want it to look like textbooks and quizzes? Do you want opportunities for learning through doing?  Do you want them to develop any particular skill really well?  

One thing that really helped me was doing a little research into different homeschooling educational philosophies - learning more about the possibilities really helped me figure out the specific things I wanted for my kids out of different subjects, and out of our homeschooling journey as a whole.  I wrote a summary of some popular homeschooling styles here, and I also highly recommend watching this video to give you an idea of the different homeschooling styles.  

Don’t get too bogged down in research, but once you know the types, I think you should think carefully about which style (or which aspects of different styles) appeal to you.  If you really like the idea of learning through interesting books (as opposed to textbooks) that will affect the curricula you pick. If you want your kids to have more input into what they learn (as in unschooling), that will guide your whole year.  If you love the idea of the trivium in classical homeschooling, you’ll want to look for a curriculum that incorporates some of that.

And if you look at all the different styles and you still have no idea where to go with it - don’t worry.  I’ve got more tips.

Attend A Curriculum Sale 

If there are any homeschool conferences or curriculum sales in your area, I highly recommend you attend (though I do realize that this may be hard to accomplish in 2020).  If you can’t find a curriculum sale, see if there are any physical bookstores in your area that carry homeschool curriculum (Mardel’s is one), or you can ask friends who are already homeschooling if you can come over to look through their curriculum.  It is so much easier to get an idea of what you like and don’t like in a curriculum if you have a chance to look through it.  

Even if it’s a curriculum you aren’t initially considering, take a look at it anyway.  Read through the parent notes at the beginning of the book and start thinking through what you agree or don’t agree with.  Look at a curriculum that has a lot of moving pieces, and see if you like that or not.  I think just looking through different curricula of different styles will help you start to decide which direction you want to go.

Choose A Curriculum That Appeals To YOU

I think it’s tempting to try to choose a curriculum that’s going to be perfect for your specific kid and their learning style.  But…as Pam Barnhill says in Plan Your Year, “the best homeschool curriculum is the one that will get done.”  And especially if your kids are young, the person who is driving the curriculum is you, as the mom.  You want to work with a curriculum that you are excited about, that you want to open up and start with your kids.  If you open up a book and feel excited to teach the subject to your kids, then your kids are most likely going to become more excited to learn it.

Consider Your Child’s Dislikes

As you are looking at curriculum, I think considering what your child hates to do may be more important than considering what they like.  One of my goals for homeschooling is that my children learn to love learning, so I don't want to make it harder on them than necessary, especially in the younger years.

If you kid really hates writing, you’re going to want to avoid a curriculum that’s mostly writing-based.  If they are still getting a handle on their reading, don’t choose a curriculum that expects the child to read huge chunks of text (unless you know you have time to read it to them).  If you know your child loves learning in a certain way, by all means incorporate those things!  But pay attention to the things that are difficult for them, or that they dislike, and find a curriculum that you can adapt to work around those things until their skills develop more.



Other Things To Consider:

Worldview

One of the most important things to me in picking curriculum is making sure that I choose a curriculum with a biblical worldview.  A major reason why I homeschool is so I can impart a knowledge and love for the Lord to my kids as an integral part of their education, so I try as much as possible to pick curriculum that fits with that (especially with subjects like science and history).  Before you pick curriculum, make sure you are okay with the worldview it has as its foundation, and also make sure you agree with how it presents differing worldviews.  Since this is such an important aspect to me, I've eliminated a lot of curricula on this point alone!


All-In-One Or Piecing It Together

Is it really important to you to choose an all-in-one curriculum, or are you okay with piecing together different curricula for different subjects?  A lot of moms like the ease of an all-in-one curriculum, and the fact that a lot of the subjects can be integrated and connected in an all-in-one, because someone else already thought it out for you.  Other moms (like me) have specific ideas about how they want to teach different subjects, and it’s easier to choose curriculum for subjects individually in order to get exactly what they want.  

Learning Styles

What about learning styles, you may ask?  How do you figure out if your kid is an auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learner, and how do you find a curriculum that fits with that?

This is just my opinion about learning styles in my experience so far, so take it with a grain of salt…but I don’t think kids’ learning styles are quite as important as people sometimes think.  Learning styles are still being researched, but it's my understanding that there is no hard evidence to support the learning styles theory, or the idea that we must teach to specific learning styles.

In my very unprofessional opinion, I suspect that most people probably work within a combination of learning styles - some people may lean more toward one style than another, but most people are served well through a combination of hearing, sight, doing, etc.  

And if your child really does appear to lean heavily toward one learning style, you can probably adapt most curricula to fit within that.  For example, if your child retains more by hearing, consider the audio version of a textbook if it’s available, or just plan to read it aloud to them (or have them read aloud to themselves).  But where a curriculum doesn’t quite fit, your child can also get practice in other learning skills too.  Maybe your child is a big visual learner, but practicing listening skills through audiobooks would also be a good thing for them, for example.  You don’t necessarily have to pick a curriculum that focuses on one learning style just because your child might lean that way.  

However, I do think it’s important to consider your child’s skill areas and areas of struggle when choosing a curricula - this is less about an innate "learning style", and more about being aware of where they are excelling or still growing. To me, it’s more important to consider my child’s current skill level in order to not overwhelm them in that area too quickly, as I explained under “Consider Your Child’s Dislikes”.  If my child is a weak writer, I want to gradually stretch them in that area, but I don’t want to make them drink from a fire hose by choosing a really writing-heavy curriculum either.  That would just be a recipe for a miserable year for everyone.

Subjects To Do Together

If you have multiple kids it is very easy to combine different age groups for certain subjects.  You don’t have to do this - you can choose grade-specific curriculum for each child in your house if you would like.  But if you have a bunch of kids (like I do) doing some subjects all together will make for an easier and shorter homeschool day, so that may be something to consider when you are looking at curriculum.  

For example, we do history, science, and Bible all together as much as possible in our house.  I read the book to all my kids, and then I might give my older kids a couple extra tasks to reinforce the lesson.  We are able to do subjects that way because I chose a history and science curriculum in which we could all participate together.  If I had chosen a curriculum that was more grade-specific, or an all-in-one that had different books for different grades, this might be harder to do.



So to sum up, here are some questions to ask yourself, and these will help inform what kind of curricula you should be looking at:

-What is my preferred homeschooling philosophy and teaching style?  Does the philosophy of the curriculum I’m looking at fit with that?
-Does the curriculum I'm looking at support or undermine the worldview I am trying to pass on to my children?
-Do I want an all-in-one curriculum, or do I want to hand-pick each subject?
-Do I want to combine multiple age levels for certain subjects?  Is the curriculum I’m looking at conducive to that?
-Have I looked inside the curriculum and read the teacher’s notes?  Does the philosophy of the curriculum make sense to me?
-Am I excited about this curriculum?  Would I have liked it as a kid?
-Is this curriculum a good fit for my child’s current skills and abilities?  Will it stretch them without overwhelming them?  Does it include too much of any elements my child struggles with? 

I hope this post has been a little helpful if you are still struggling with choosing amongst the sea of curricula!  And if you have any questions or additional tips, please add them in the comments!

My Homeschool Bible Recommendations



I didn't want to finish my curriculum series without including Bible, but to be honest, it's hard to sum up our Bible "curriculum" in one post.  We don't use just one resource to teach our kids the Bible, and we don't do it at one time of the day and then check it off our list.  My goal in teaching my children the Bible is that we will talk about biblical truths often, throughout our day, in formal and informal settings, and that it will be embedded into every part of our homeschool curriculum.  Do I always succeed at this?  No, there are alot of days where I drop the ball and our Bible study doesn't look like that, but it's what I want to strive for.

At the same time, I think it can be really useful for kids to have some sort of resource to guide them in Bible study and help them think about what they are reading, especially as they get older.  My oldest son is getting to that age where he has been working on reading through the Bible on his own, and he could handle a more structured study, so I've been mulling that over and thinking through different resources.  Here are some of the resources that we've used, or that we plan to use.  Some of them are actual "curricula", and some are other types of resources I've used.  This isn't even a comprehensive list, but these are the things that have stood out so far.

The Bible (Like, The Real Bible)

I think sometimes we forget that the most important way we can teach our kids is just to read it with them!  Alot.  Derek is really good at reading them a chapter each night, and I'd like to do better at bookending that with reading a chapter to the kids at breakfast as well.

I firmly believe in reading the actual Bible even to little kids, but I do think for the younger ones it's nice to add in a Bible storybook too, so the next couple are my favorite Bible storybooks.

Egermeier's Bible Story Book

I've collected quite alot of storybooks in my day, and this is one of my favorites.  I like how this storybook is so thorough - no part of a Bible story is skipped, not even the hard parts, but it presents it in a kid-friendly way, with beautiful illustrations to accompany each story.

I Am: 40 Reasons To Trust God 

This is another Bible storybook that I really like - each story is connected to a different name and attribute of God, and a short devotion and prayer is included at the end of each chapter to get the kids thinking further.  I think the illustrations in this are just gorgeous, and it's a great bedtime storybook.  Our copy is actually falling apart, so I'm going to have to purchase another one.

Answers Bible Curriculum

This was our main Bible curriculum last year!  We picked this up at the homeschool conference, and we got about halfway through, so we'll continue it this year.  The book comes with pdf files for slides to show on your computer while you teach, memory verse posters, and coloring pages.

The curriculum was written by the folks over at Answers In Genesis, and uses their method of breaking biblical history up into "the seven C's" - Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consumation (and my kids can recite those now, so that's a plus!).  While a lot of time is spent in the Old Testament, the curriculum is an overview of the whole Bible, and I think it lays a great foundation for understanding why Christ had to come and die on the cross to save us!  That is the most important thing for my kids to know, and I love the focus on the gospel through this curriculum so far.

Since we are stretching the curriculum out over two years, I've looked ahead to see what is coming, and the second half of the curriculum seems to focus on answering different questions about God and the Bible.  It has more of an apologetics focus, and I think it'll fit nicely with another resource we are using.

The Answers Book For Kids

There are eight volumes of these little books, and they are completely full of questions kids may be wondering about the Bible, along with the answers of course!  We use these in our morning time right now - I'll read a question and the answer, and then we'll look up the Bible verses that are listed and read them together.  I think this is a really convenient little resource to start some good conversations, and it's really easy to add into a morning routine or read over lunch.

Big Thoughts For Little Thinkers

These books are really similar to the Answers Books For Kids, but each page has cute illustrations and a different truth about God to talk about with your kids  Once again, I usually read the thought on the page, and then we look up the Bible verses and talk about it more if needed.  I really like this for all the kids - the thoughts are deep enough to bring up some good topics with the older kids, and simple enough for young kids to learn and remember.

God Is Really, Really Real

This resource goes a little more in-depth on some of the main concepts that we learn in Scripture about God, man, sin and death, Jesus, and salvation, etc.  I think it could easily be used as the core for a more formal curriculum as well.

As it says on the front, there are 30 Bible doctrines covered in this book.  The first part of the book has colorful illustrations and a poem-story that relates to the lessons, and the second half guides parents through teaching different biblical doctrines to their kids, along with "tuck-in questions" to remind your kids what they learned during the day.  There are also more in-depth explanations and Bible references for parents in the back of the book.

I think the book is geared toward younger children, but with the more in-depth information in the back, it would be easy to use this to teach older kids who already have something of a grounding in these doctrines too!  I honestly forgot I had this resource until late in our school year, and we used it in morning time, but going forward I am thinking I might add this one to our bedtime routine instead.

Bible Survey For Kids

This is one of the new resources I purchased for the upcoming school year, put out by Mike Fabarez's ministry.  This curriculum is super simple and straightforward, a way to give your kids an overall view of each of the books of the Bible.  Each lesson covers one book, and the main things that are included in that book, and then Bible book cards are tacked onto the wall in chronological order, or in genre groups.  I really like this idea for giving the kids a "big picture" of the Bible as we continue reading it and studying it with our other resources.  I'm thinking we'll do one of these lessons a week for the upcoming school year.

Explorer's Bible Study

This is the other new resource I bought for Wyatt, because I think he is big enough to find this sort of book helpful.  The Explorer's Bible Study books go through different eras of Bible history through a simple fill-in-the-blank format.  Just flipping through this book, it is really similar to the Community Bible Study workbooks we did a couple years ago.  Since we aren't ready to re-start CBS this year, I think having a similar book will be helpful.  Each lesson is broken up into five segments, one for each day of the week.  The text of the Bible passage is included in the book, and then the student can answer questions.

Depending on the day, I might sit down and do each lesson with Wyatt, (and possibly write his answers for him), or I might have him work on it independently once he gets the hang of it.  However, if he works on it independently, it's important to me to still sit down with him and talk about what he wrote.  I think this will be a great guide through different biblical books, and a great chance to get Wyatt used to more in-depth Bible lessons.

Devotional Books

One more quick little note - I am a fan of devotional books for kids.  When I was about Wyatt's age, I found a devotional book I liked at the Christian book store.  I ended up buying it, and it helped me get into the habit of reading a chapter of the Bible and a devotional every day.

I really would love if my kids developed that habit as well, and so I bribe them with devotional books!

Actually, I picked up a couple kids devotion books here and there a few years ago, and just put them on the bookshelf and forgot about them. My kids discovered them this summer, and my big kids have been reading through them on their own, along with their Bibles. These are some of the ones I've found:

My Big Book Of Five-Minute Devotions - This book includes animal facts along with lessons about God, the Bible, good character qualities, etc.  Each devotion has a Bible verse and prayer to go with it.
God's Amazing Creatures And Me - This is another book that includes animal facts tied in with a lesson about the God who created these animals.  Can you tell that I have a kid who loves animals?

One warning about devotional books - often they can be rather superficial, especially when written for kids, so I think it's important to not use them as your child's only Bible-related  resource.  Devotion books aren't a substitute for true Bible study and biblical instruction, and they often do an inadequate job of presenting the gospel, so I try to be aware of that and do some extra explanations where necessary.  But I do think they can be a fun addition to Bible reading.  What I like about devotion books for kids is how they can emphasize the ways that biblical knowledge relates to anything they could encounter in their day or life.  So that's the value I think they can add here, when read in addition to the Bible itself and regular Bible instruction in other areas (and not just reading a devotion alone, because they aren't enough by themselves).



In case you didn't notice, I am all over the board with Bible instruction.  I told you that I wouldn't say we do one Bible "curriculum" - the curriculum is all these things put together and done regularly (or for some of them, sporadically) over the course of many years - my kids' whole childhood really.  I hope we are always in the middle of this or that Bible resource, and in the middle of some book of the Bible itself, throughout my kids' childhoods, until they no longer live in this house.  I want them to be saturated in it, so they can soak it up constantly, and take it all with them when they go.

For a Christian homeschool family, I don't think Bible should be just another homeschool subject.  Bible instruction will never be done.  If I want my kids to learn anything in this homeschooling journey, I hope it's that - to never stop seeking after the Lord through His Word, to love Christ, and never be done learning about the One who created them and died to save them.  If I succeed in that, I will have succeeded in everything.

And maybe that's also why I have way too many Bible-related resources to choose from, ha!

What do you use for Bible instruction in your home? (Aside from THE BIBLE, of course!)



Homeschool Chat: Science



Science has always been my favorite subject, and my love for the subject started back when I was a homeschool student.  I love learning about the intricacies of God's creation - His fingerprints are all over everything in the natural world, and studying what He has made is one of the best ways to get a full understanding of the vastness of His power.

It is extremely important to me that whatever science curriculum we choose as our core, that it is firmly grounded in a biblical worldview.  Unfortunately, I think most children that stray from the faith in their college years first started to doubt in science class.  It is a sad fact because this trend is so unnecessary.  The study of science is 100% compatible with a faith in God and His Word.  I was fortunate enough to be homeschooled through high school, and rather than shaking my faith, my science studies bolstered my faith.  I want that for my kids too.

So that said, here are my science curricula picks for the upcoming school year!



Apologia Young Explorers Series

I was first introduced to Apologia when I used one of their biology textbooks as a homeschool high school student.  Oh, how I loved that book!  Not only did it let me deep-dive into a subject that always interested me, but it was written from creationist perspective in such an equipping and fascinating way.  I learned so much about the scientific method, the specifics of biology, and how it all fit in with the Christian faith, and it truly made me love science best.

When I saw that Apologia had courses for elementary students now, I knew that's what we would use!  We've been using Apologia for three years, and I still love it.  The textbooks are written in a really engaging way, they include alot of colorful pictures, and the experiments suggested are fairly simple and doable.  The programs also come with accompanying Notebook Journals (and Junior Notebooks for younger kids), and I have more thoughts on those below.

How We've Used It

Kindergarten/1st Grade - We used the Zoology 1 textbook as a basis for a couple unit studies.  We read the textbook and then found a bunch of colorful books from the library to read alongside.

2nd Grade - We went through the Chemistry And Physics book, and the Human Anatomy And Physiology book with our co-op.  If that sounds like alot for 2nd grade, it is!  We mainly just enjoyed the experiments they were running at co-op and read a few sections here and there, and supplemented with books from the library.  I wouldn't recommend doing either of these courses until upper elementary (or even middle school), unless your child has an interest in these subjects at a younger age.  It wouldn't have been my natural choice for 2nd grade.

3rd Grade - We finally hit our stride with the Astronomy book this last year.  We read the chapters together, and all the kids enjoyed it.  It was also even more interesting since we had just visited Kennedy Space Center on vacation!  The kids did the experiments at co-op, and we read the chapters together each week.  The chapters are fairly short, so we were able to read them in one sitting and my kids stayed interested.  I usually had my kids draw or write about something they learned from each chapter as well.  Of course we threw in a bunch of related library books and documentaries too!

This Year

We are not doing co-op this year, so it will be the first year that I will be going through Apologia with the kids and doing the experiments on my own.  My sister and I both decided to go through the Botany book, and we have a plan to meet weekly or bi-weekly and do the experiments!  I think this will be really fun for all of us, and my kids will be so excited to see their cousins regularly.

One thing I love about Apologia is that the experiments they recommend are pretty reasonable in the kinds of materials they use.  Most items you would probably have around the house, or they are items that would be easy to find at the grocery store.  Occasionally they'll have special items that may require a little more searching, but for the most part it's kept pretty simple.

The Notebooks

I have only used the junior notebooks so far, and I truly think they are optional.  There are fun little mini books to cut out and put together, and then facts can be written inside them.  There are also many coloring pages and copywork sheets included.  However, everything in the Apologia notebooks you could also do one your own with a blank ruled notebook, and that is what we have mostly done.  I bought the Astronomy Junior Notebook for Wyatt last year, but he quickly lost it somewhere, and I had him take notes and draw pictures in a blank notebook for the rest of the year instead (I wasn't going to buy another notebook!).

I am still undecided about purchasing a notebook for this year - I would like to see what is included with the regular notebooks (as opposed to the junior notebooks), but I also suspect that once again, everything included could be done with a little creativity in a blank notebook.  One criticism I have of this curriculum is that I would be more likely to purchase the notebooks if I could purchase a digital version and print the pages for each child in my own family - as it is, there is no digital version, and I'd have to buy a $30 notebook for each kid.  That is just too expensive for my larger family.

A Quick Note About The Order

As I mentioned above, there is a little bit of variation in the complexity of these studies.  If I were to recommend an order, I would say that Botany and Astronomy are really great ones for younger elementary.  Chemistry And Physics and Human Anatomy I would save for 5th or 6th grade probably.  And I think the Zoology studies (Flying Creatures, Swimming Creatures, Land Animals) could be done at any time.



Other Curricula We've Used

I have used some other curricula for science over the year too, and I wanted to include those here!

Northwest Treasures - Geology For Kids

This is a geology curriculum for grade school, and it is fantastic.  It comes from a smaller curricula company, and I've heard the author, Patrick Nurre, speak several times.  He is a geologist himself, and he covers geology from a creationist perspective.  The curriculum really equips kids to understand how the study of geology is compatible with what we read in the Bible.  You can also purchase rock kits that go along with the curriculum, so you can see examples of everything that is learned!

We have two of the books Geology For Kids and Rocks And Minerals For Little Eyes (our co-op purchased the rock kit when we went through it last year).  Apologia does not have a geology curriculum in their Young Explorers series, and I think that is too bad, because geology is one area of the scientific world where creationism is really attacked.  I'm so glad we found this series to fill in that important gap, and we will probably purchase a rock kit ourselves and go through it again in the future.

Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding

This is the one secular resource on this list, but I wanted to include it because we've gone through several of the lessons, and I really like how the book suggests teaching more abstract concepts to kids - like the particulate nature of matter, for example.  I like having this resource on my shelf to fill in my kids' understanding here and there, because the activities and experiments in the book are simple but really aid in understanding some difficult concepts!

Exploring Nature With Children / 100 Creative Nature Walks

These are two digital resources that I've used for nature study with the kids.  I love the idea of nature study, and I want to be better at it but I often don't know where to start.  These guides are really helpful!

Exploring Nature With Children breaks the year down into different weeks, and gives information and resources for studying a different aspect of nature that will most likely be prominent during that week of the year.  My kids still talk about the "Harvest Moon" study we did from this guide a couple years ago.

100 Easy And Fun Creative Nature Walks is really a bunch of print-and-go sheets that help aide in observation skills while you are out there in the wild!  For example, in one idea called "Below My Knees", it gives suggestions for recording everything you see out in nature that is below knee level.  It has a bunch of really simple ideas like that to give more guidance to your nature walks.  This would be a great resource for nature walks with preschoolers too.  I am wanting to use this resource more with my little ones this year.

That is my plan for science right now!  Have you found any science resources you really love?


Homeschool Chat: Rightstart Math


Multiply the number of chairs in each row by the number across...

Just kidding.

Homeschool math is an easy subject for me to write about.  We've used mainly one resource from the start, and plan to continue it for now, so I'll mainly just give you some pros and cons below.

Rightstart Math (Second Edition)

In the latter half of Wyatt's kindergarten year, we were floundering a bit when a friend told me about Rightstart Mathematics.  She said she liked it because alot of the concepts were taught through games.  I knew that was a winning idea (what kid doesn't like games?), so I looked into it more and was quickly sold.

Rightstart comes with a scripted teacher's manual, a printed appendix and student worksheets, and a very large collection of manipulatives.  There is also a separate book of math games that is used through all the levels.  

The way a lesson typically goes is that I read through the lesson on the spot while explaining the concepts to my kid, I usually demonstrate with some of the manipulatives, and then we do whatever worksheet is attached to the lesson (if applicable).  Sometimes I'll split a lesson in two if we are having a particularly hard time with it, and sometimes I'll run through two or three lessons in one sitting if my child already understands the concept.

Pros

There are a few things I really love about Rightstart Math, and surprisingly the math games that initially drew me to this curriculum aren't even very high on the list.  

I love that it's a spiral curriculum, as opposed to linear mastery.  In a spiral math curriculum, a concept is taught and lingered over for a few days or a week, and then the next subject is introduced.  But then later the curriculum "spirals" back to previously covered concepts and reinforces them in a different way.  The idea is that instead of sticking on one subject or skill until mastery (which could mean months on one concept if your child was having a hard time with it), it rotates through different topics that are reinforced and mastered over time.  This has been great for my kids - they never have a chance to get bored in this curriculum before learning something new, but concepts are reviewed very often.

The other big thing I like about Rightstart is that there is a big emphasis on understanding the "why" of math, on wrestling with the underlying concepts.  This curriculum emphasizes teaching not just the "tricks" you learn about math, but why those tricks work.  This is something I don't remember being taught at all when I was in public school (1st-3rd grade) - I remember being taught the math tricks, and then later coming to the realization of why they worked.  And even in my own homeschool student years, it took me a while to pick up on the why.  Rightstart really tries to incorporate the underlying concepts before teaching the tricks to solving problems, and I like that.

I could go on and on.  Rightstart teaches numbers in a way that makes sense to me, because it's the way I naturally think about math.  The lessons are pretty short (especially in the beginning levels), so my kids rarely got overwhelmed.  Though the order of concepts is not traditional, overall the program is very thorough and challenging.

Cons

One "con" to Rightstart for me is that it is rather teacher intensive, at least so far.  I am the one who has to explain the concepts, and I do have to sit there for the entire lesson (especially in younger grades) while they do the exercises.  This is going to be the case with every math curriculum in the younger years, but the time investment does worry me a little as I add more and more kids into the mix.

Last year I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, and I signed Wyatt up for his level of Teaching Textbooks, which is an online math program.  We did those lessons on the side all year long while I tried to decide if I could handle teaching Rightstart to three kids for this upcoming school year.  In May, I asked Wyatt what he thought - which program did he enjoy better, and he said Teaching Textbooks ("because it's faster").  Then I asked him which math he understood better, and he scrunched up his little face in concentration and said "Probably the one I do with you."

So.  I decided to stick with it.

The good news is that I noticed last year that there was alot more worksheets and independent math work as the kids get older, and I'm hoping the trend continues this year.  If Wyatt is spending more time in independent math work, it shouldn't be too difficult to add in lessons with Clyde (the first level is really quick and enjoyable).

Another con is that this is a pretty expensive math program in comparison to some.  The manipulatives kit, though it is used through all the levels of the program, is a big one-time cost.  I was able to get a partial manipulatives kit used at our homeschool conference one year, and that was a huge help.  I just purchase individual pieces that we are missing as we go.  I've also started purchasing the digital version of the worksheets, which I can reprint for each of the kids.



I honestly foresee us sticking with Rightstart all the way through middle school (which is all the currently available levels), unless doing lessons with multiple kids becomes way too overwhelming.  Time will tell, but I really want to stick with it.  After Wyatt said that he understood Rightstart better, I spent some time reading about the different levels, and it reinforced to me why I picked this program in the first place.  If we can make it all the way through the levels, I think the kids will be extremely well prepared for high school math (which will hopefully make my job easier then!).

If Rightstart sounds interesting to you, I'd recommend checking out this free webinar page, or reading the objectives and free sample lessons here.

What are your thoughts on homeschool math?  Are you a math person?  What do you look for in a math curriculum?

Homeschool Chat: Language Arts



Language Arts has always been a bit of a struggle for me in our homeschool journey.  While I have a few thoughts about certain teaching methods I like to avoid (ex: sight words), I have no very strong opinions about how language arts should be taught or what curriculum I like.

Part of the difficulty is that language arts is such a broad term - it covers reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and speech.  That's alot!  I think it has helped me to realize that I don't have to have a separate curriculum for every one of those areas every year, and I don't have to find one curriculum that covers every one of those areas either.  Some areas of language arts are age-specific, and alot of those different aspects of language arts can be touched on in one curriculum.  

In our house, our language arts curriculum for 1st and 2nd grade is only reading instruction, with handwriting practice on the side.  I don't start spelling until my kids are reading decently well.  This is the first year I've really thought about grammar since we are starting to get into more in-depth writing instruction with my oldest.  I'm not even going to think about developing speaking skills right now aside from oral narration practice - we'll have time for more formal speech later.  

Alot of homeschool families might incorporate all those things right in the beginning, but my point is, you don't have to.  Language Arts is a marathon subject if there ever was one, and the skills build on each other throughout schooling.  

All that to say, Language Arts is very messy in our house, but as my kids get older I'm sure I'll develop a more defined philosophy.  It's okay to figure it out as you go.



What We've Used Before


When Wyatt was in Kindergarten we did used Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, which worked well at first but became drudgery for him about halfway through.  So we switched to All About Reading, and it's what I've used since.  The lessons are scripted, letter tiles are used to build words, there are paper activities, and really great readers that fit with the phonograms taught in each lesson.  I love it.  I will say though, that I still recommend 100 Easy Lessons if your child has trouble learning to blend sounds, because the blending procedure in that book is something I still use.

Spelling - All About Spelling

This curriculum goes along with All About Reading, though you don't start the first level of spelling until your child has completed Level 1 of All About Reading.  It works fine, but in our experience the spelling may be slightly too easy.  Wyatt really started reading complicated things after AAR Level 2, and the spelling was still taking him through words like "lake".  Reinforcement of the spelling rules is good, but I think he could be stretched a bit.


Last year we tried IEW's theme-based writing curriculum, the "All Things Fun And Fascinating" book.  It was the one I had been eyeing, and our co-op was using it anyway.  

IEW's theory about teaching elementary students to write is that writing their own versions of existing content or stories is easier for kids to do than to try to think of interesting things to say, hold those things in their brain, and then mechanically get their thoughts onto paper.  That's a set of coordinated skills that alot of younger kids don't have yet.  So the workbooks take a paragraph or short story, have the kids outline the information in the piece using keywords, and then on a different day they re-write the information in their own words, trying to make it better than the original.  This is basically the method Benjamin Franklin used to teach himself to write well.  

I really liked this idea at first - my child would learn outlining, write his own work, learn how to "dress up" his sentences.  It made sense to me and sounded great.  The problem is that Wyatt didn't love it so much.  Part of the problem was writing stamina and those fine motor skills that needed more time to develop, and part of it was that the whole thing just bored him.  By mid-year I was desperately wanting to try something else, but I felt like I was stuck with IEW because our co-op was using it, and I was actually helping to teach the writing class!  

I still like the method, but in practicality, it wasn't great for my particular kid last year.  I don't think we were ready for it, and it wasn't engaging him.  Now I've got a slightly writing-traumatized student, so we are going to have to really change our approach this year.

I will say, Wyatt did really well with IEW's cursive handwriting book though, so we'll be continuing with that.

Grammar - First Language Lessons, N/A

I bought First Language Lessons For The Well-Trained Mind way back when, which is a very early grammar instruction curriculum, but I'll be honest, it didn't get much use.  Aside from very basic noun/verb/adjective/adverb definitions, we haven't done anything formal yet.



What We Are Using This Year


Gwen (2nd) and Clyde (1st) are going to continue with AAR/AAS this year.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Handwriting - Assorted Copywork

I did grab a couple of workbooks for the kids to go through, but I usually just write out a Bible verse and have my kids copy it, and that's their handwriting practice.


It's important to me that my kids learn to read and write cursive.  That's the style in which so many historical documents are written.  Wyatt got about 3/4 of the way through his cursive book last year, and I may order another one for Gwen to start on this year.  I like that way IEW teaches cursive, and there are a ton of practice pages.


After researching a bunch of writing programs, and trying to figure out what would help Wyatt develop writing skills without making him hate the process, I decided to give Language Lessons For A Living Education a try.  These workbooks include grammar instruction, writing, and spelling all in one book.  The pages are colorful, and the daily assignments seem short and doable.  I think it will be a good balance for encouraging Wyatt in writing.  He also will be doing more writing in his history curriculum this year, and that will be plenty of writing for 4th grade I think. 

I also ordered Gwen's level, just because the girl loves workbooks and hates to be left out.  After flipping through the books, I think it will work well for her too.  The only thing I don't love for the 2nd grade book is "sight word" lists, because I don't believe in relying on teaching sight words.  Most "sight words" lists are full of words that can be phonetically sounded out.  But we will be continuing with AAR for reading instruction with her, so we'll skip those sections in the Language Lessons book.

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Can you tell that Language Arts overwhelms me?  I don't think I'm alone in that either, but I'm hoping that this curriculum combination will work for us this year.  One year at a time, right?

What do you use for Language Arts?


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