When we first decided that yes, we are going to homeschool I felt overwhelmed. The first thing I started doing was looking for a boxed, ready made, all in one curriculum. There are a bunch of fantastic ones out there but in the process I started discovering different individual subject curricula and instead started picking and choosing which of those I liked the best. So far the process has actually been pretty fun. This post has been a couple of months in the making because we’ve spent that long gathering our resources.
My state requires me to teach English (they call it Language Arts but I’m going to be calling it English), Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, PE and Health. My older child will be 7 in July, a 2nd grader and my middle child will be 5 in July, a Kindergartner.
First we’ll talk about the curricula that I’m going to use for both of my older children to do in combined lessons. You can see them all pictured above but I’ll examine them piece by piece.
Our science curriculum for next year is called Apologia. I like it because it’s a Christian world view centric curriculum and it doesn’t speak to the students like they are idiots. I was dubious at only doing one subject for the entire year at first but Apologia’s reasoning about it makes sense. I like how deep they delve and how thorough they are with each subject they cover. We actually bought all of the elementary text books and all of the junior notebooking journals to allow the children to choose which topics of study they want to learn in which order.
They chose swimming creatures followed by chemistry and physics for next year.
Social Studies – History: Story of the World
I love anything by Susan Wise Bauer. The Well-Trained Mind is a valuable resource for homeschooling parents and really just parents in general. We actually purchased her history books before we decided to start homeschooling, all we had to buy for this were the student pages. It’s important to me to teach history chronologically. History is a passion of mine and I dislike very much how country-centric most History programs are. American kids are taught about the world from America out. British kids are taught about the world from Britain out. I like that this series does not focus on one country as the “center” of the world.
Most kids my kids’ age will be doing “all about my community” or similar things in their social studies programs, I think that this is kind of a backward way of teaching things. The best way to tell a story is to start at the beginning.
Next year we’ll be starting with stone age man and moving up to the Egyptians. If they want a faster pace, well go faster than that.
Music and Art – Story of the Orchestra and The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas
Art will be done at our co-op for the majority of the year, but we are going to have a semester in the spring of 2016 where I will need to teach Art because the co-op is doing cursive writing that session and that is something that I’ll be teaching as part of English. I like the Usborne art book, it’s good for once a week lessons. There’s also a free art curriculum called Art Tango which has a lot of artist appreciation in it that we’ll use.
For music, I actually bought the pair of the recorders and a recorder lesson book (heaven help me) but The Story of the Orchestra was recommended to me by a homeschooling forum, so we’ll use that as well.
Now that we’re through the combined subjects, time to explore the individual subjects.
2nd Grade English – All About Reading, All About Spelling, Shurley Grammar, Watch Our Writing, Copycat Books Copywork, Journaling
All About Reading / Spelling:
I was actually having a lot of trouble finding a reading and spelling curriculum before I discovered the All About series. It’s important to me that my kids learn to read and spell using phonics, I really liked the program that my oldest child did in 1st grade this year and I wanted something similar to that. All About was something I kind of stumbled on and I absolutely love it. It’s quite teacher intensive and there are a lot of fiddly little bits like magnetic tiles and flashcards but it is a good, solid program.
The Shurley Grammar series is something that my kids’ private school uses starting with level 1 in 2nd grade. I’m a little dubious about it, it gets mixed reviews and the teacher book is quite a complicated read but we’ll see how we do. The great thing about homeschooling is that if you don’t like something you can scrap it and find something else. I like the jingles that this series has, my oldest likes to use jingles to learn things.
Watch Our Writing is a custom cursive curriculum that the private school graciously gifted to me. The Copycat Books copywork was downloaded for $5 a piece, we used the “Traditional” cursive pages and they’ll likely compliment our History curriculum. Finally, my oldest loves to write stories. I’m going to get him a journal and encourage him to just write whatever he wants to write.
2nd Grade Math – Singapore
My oldest did Singapore math in private school this year, it made sense to just continue with it. The Singapore materials are bright, colorful and explain things well.
Kindergarten English – All About Reading – Prereading, Explode The Code “Get Ready”, “Get Set” and “Go”
My oldest did Explode the Code in 1st grade, but I’m not sure if we’ll use it for second grade. I do like Get Ready, Get Set and Go though for my Kindergartner. We’ll be doing a “letter of the week” curriculum that I have written myself, these books will be a great compliment for it.
All About Reading – Pre-reading
My Kindergartner will be starting to learn phonics next year, I don’t expect him to be reading next year but if he wants to I won’t stop him. We’re starting with the AAR pre-reading curriculum and moving on from there. We also own AAR / AAS 1 in case he’s ready for that next year.
Kindergarten Math – Singapore
The Singapore Kindergarten Math books are interesting. Book A moves appropriately slowly, book B moves, in my opinion very fast. So what I did was go through book A and find more free examples online of the sort of activities that are in the book to pad my lessons out with. We intend to only do book A next year, but again if he’s ready for book B we’ll do it too.
For PE they take Taekwondo twice a week. For Health we work that into our daily lives.
Scanning System –
I have taken all of the consumables from these curricula and scanned them to our fileserver. I did this because it means that we won’t have to buy additional consumable books in the future, I can just print out pages as I need them. Sure, we’re going to go through a lot of printer paper and ink but I prefer it this way. It means that when our youngest is ready for school, all of his materials will be ready to go.
Subject Card System –
This is my subject card pocket folder. I initially had a very detailed XL file with every day planned out in 15 minute increments. Then I stepped back, took a look at it and said “why”? My kids don’t need to be that regimented, they need to get certain subjects done yes but part of homeschooling is flexibility. So I came up with this idea. Each kid has his set of cards, I’ll put the cards that he needs to do that day in the folder in the morning and he can take the card out when he’s done. We’ll be doing Science and History twice a week, Art once a week and Music once a week.
Latin is a subject that I have added but I’m not sure how often I’m going to teach it. I think that Latin instruction is important, but not more important than the other subjects. I’ll be playing Latin by ear next year.
My favorite thing that we bought for homeschooling this year, however, is this –
What kid wouldn’t want to have recess here?