homeschool curriculum 2014-2015

When we started my oldest in kindergarten, I was terrified of curriculum. The vast amount of choices was entirely overwhelming, and so I ended up buying a kit. Even choosing which company to buy the kit from was hard.
I'm only four years into this homeschool journey, but I am comfortable picking and choosing my books for the most part. Probably because we've established a learning style and I can usually get an idea of how a product will work for us by reading reviews. I like to use books or programs that the kids can share or do together because it cuts down on sitting time for them and stress for me.

K-2 grades: Abeka
3rd grade: Saxon Intermediate 3

K-3: Abeka
I like Abeka's language program, but I'm not impressed with their phonics. I will probably go back to Christian Liberty for phonics because a feel that it gives a stronger foundation for reading.

K-3: Abeka

1st grade: Abeka
3rd grade: Sequential Spelling 1
Amber was really struggling with spelling this year, so I wanted to try something different from the average workbook. I like Sequential Spelling for a few reasons - 1) Instead of giving them a bunch of random, progressively harder words, they give them a root word and build on the root word in multiple ways. Words range from easy to challenging. 2) I bought the dvd-rom for the computer and Amber can do this program by herself. 3) Because of the method used to teach words, grade level is irrelevant. In other words, all the kids can use the same spelling list. This saves so much time.

All grades: Story of the World Vol.1
I like SOTW, but I feel like some of the mythology is unnecessary. I like that they mix Bible characters into the timeline because it's fun for the kids to know who else lived in the times of Joseph, however when they talk about God, I don't get a sense that they're referring to the one true God. It almost seems as He's just another god in the mythology stories, which is not the impression I want for my littles.
That being said, we just skip the mythology. It's not a big deal for me to skim past it, and those specific stories are clearly separate and italicized. The history text itself is interesting and keeps the kids attention, so we'll keep using SOTW.

All grades: Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy
This is the second year we've been in this book. It's a good book, but I think the kids are getting bored. It's very in depth and maybe some of the stuff is irrelevant to them. We're excited to move on to zoology next year.
We bought the Lab Kit to go with this and the Junior Notebooking Journal. I'm glad we bought the Lab Kit and will again for the next book. The Jr. Notebooking Journal was just busy work. Some of it was fun, but I won't be using it again.

So those are the basics.
Story of the World, Saxon, and Sequential Spelling are new to us this year. I'm happy with them for the most part and plan on using them all again next year.
We supplement with several different things, and I'm working on some posts to share our favorite educational computer games, Netflix TV, and apps.



homeschool 2014-2015

I haven't done a school post this year so I thought I'd share what we've been up to these days with school.

Curriculum is very eclectic for us right now. Our method is a mix of classical and Charlotte Mason. If you're not familiar with the different methods, and want to know the differences, this is a pretty good explanation:  http://youtu.be/GrpgDC0Rosc

Amber is in 3rd grade, Drew is doing 1-2 grades this year, and Char is in K.

1st grade was extremely easy for Drew so he powered through it in the first half, and is into 2nd grade Math. I expect him to be doing 2nd grade grammar and phonics in the next couple weeks. He's by far my easiest student. He grasps things so quickly and seems to hang onto them well.

Homeschool is a main focus right now because we're trying some new things and I've really had to remind myself who we are as a homeschooling family.
With homeschooling Kaylen next year (hopefully) in mind, I've been very much over thinking everything related to school. A well meaning fellow homeschooler told me that the Saxon math I was using was horrible for the kids, and that I need to go with an Asian rooted method such as Singapore or Right Start. Well, that sent me into a tizzy of anxiety and research because, of course, I want to use the best curriculum I can find. And now I had to figure that out after I'd thought I already had.

Here's the thing. Other homeschooling mom's can be an awesome source of encouragement and community, but no one method works for everyone straight across the board. That's one of the many reasons I love doing it. Each child is taught as an individual. Each family has very specific learning preferences. And you get to hand pick what works for you. Saxon is working for us right now.

Another thing I struggle with is worrying too much about grades.
The homeschool community faces a lot of doubters, and there's this part of me that feels like I have to show the naysayers just how wrong they are. My kids cannot be average. They have to be the best. They have to get A's. They have to be knowledgeable in everything. In reality, that's not my goal. That's more about my pride.

Every once in a while, I have to look at my written homeschool goals to get myself grounded in what's important and what I ultimately want from our homeschool experience. I think writing down your goals is important for that reason. It's sort of a mission statement to remind you what you want when it's over, so you can steer your path in that direction.
This is mine:
"I want my kids to be rooted in a personal faith in God. I want them to understand that if they want to know, they can learn - learning never ends, it's a lifestyle. I want them to be curious. I want them to be readers. I want them to be skilled in and enjoy an art, musical instrument, or hobby. I want them to have self control. I want them to appreciate the value of hard work. I want them to give their best. I want them to be kind. I want them to know that love and happiness is a choice, not a result of circumstance."  

I realize that there's absolutely nothing in there about college or grades or scores, but I do expect their best (not THE best, but THEIR best) and that pretty much takes care of grades. Although, I've found that if "their best" is falling below what I'd like to see from them, a change of teaching method takes care of that. Sometimes, they just need to see it from a new angle.
As far as college education goes, that's up to them. It's just another option in my opinion.

I think sometimes we moms get so overwhelmed in being the best, having the best, doing the best... that it squeezes all the happy out of life. And then the criticism. We let it kill us. We do it to ourselves. So here's the thing. We all do our best (or should). How we choose to educate, immunize (I do), diaper, feed - basically raise our children, is up to us as parents. It's a serious responsibility and more than enough to keep you busy. Worry about your family. Educate yourself and make your own decision. Then leave the other parents, who may well decide differently than you, alone. They get to make their own choice too. It's pretty basic. I really want to get off track with the immunization frenzy here, but I'm going to stay my course. This is about our homeschool.
Tomorrow I'll going to talk about the different curriculum and resources we used, what did or did not work for us and why.
We found a lot of new things and some have been very beneficial for us, so hopefully it'll be useful.