Ok, maybe it's the leftover reporter in me... wanting to poke and prod at the who, what, when, where, why and how of everything. After writing a guest post about why I homeschool recently for Stef, a dear URL friend, several tender mama hearts have offered me the honor of sharing with them in their journey, of opening the book of my walk for them to see, of helping them find their way, or simply the privilege of listening.
This time of year so many families begin to reevaluate the education and discipleship of their children. Homeschoolers reflect on the past year in determining goals for the next. Each child's needs are unique, and the only constant is change. Some families are taking a closer look at the possibility of homeschooling for the first time. Their hearts are convicted that this is their calling... because it is indeed a calling upon the whole family... yet that conviction comes with a mingled sense of uncertainty and excitement.
So I thought we'd open up the discussion here for a bit. During this series of posts, be assured if you have questions, but would like private communication (as some have already requested) please, by all means... just email me. Susan@PrairieLilyArts.com Sometimes there are a number of outside influences and pressures as your family seeks answers. I understand entirely the desire to have private dialog... and welcome you!
It seems inevitably in this season one of the first questions I hear among friends is, "So, what are you guys doing next year?". In homeschool-speak that means... what specific curricula am I using to teach my child. As many options as there are... and they seem limitless... that's the easy question really. So let's get the "what" out of the way, so that we can then focus in the next several days on the "how". (As for the "why", I hope you will read Stef's week-long series. These moms will touch your heart.)
Let me first say that homeschooling in our home is a way of life. It's not about hours at a desk, worksheets completed, or grades accomplished. It's about living. It's about discovery. It's about reading and exploring and experiencing this world from sun up to sun down. That's our true curriculum. God's big gift of a world. Our homeschool days are most succesful when we are soaking up this place in which, from which, we were created.
Ok. Let's talk about the "what".
We truly enjoyed all of our curricula this year. For the first time, we will be changing very little for my 11-year-old... just progressing.
Exploring Creation Zoology 2 and 3: Swimming Creatures and Land Animals This year we completed Zoology 1 Flying Creatures This series is perfectly self-directed... though I enjoy reading with my guy just for the sake of discovery! You will also enjoy interacting with Jeannie at her website and blog or Facebook Fanpage. She's a pure delight! She's always taking suggestions to heart and implementing them. To have the key items handy for all experiments there are many boxed packages available. I use Home Science Tools.
Mystery of History Vol III Renaissance We began MOH at the same time as Exploring Creation and our learning became so much richer! Both are from a distinctly Christian perspective. I am learning things from MOH I so wish I had known decades ago! It challenges my view of world history and my depth of knowledge in my own faith. Rich, rich, information here. Linda is a gem. We pair our MOH learning with History Through the Ages Timeline CD and Notebook.
Trail Guide To US Geography How this resource sends us exploring! We are taking two years to do US Geography as we cook, research, draw out old maps, and take off in the adventure mobile! Love this format. Also works well in a self-directed environment. We share all of the discoveries, but little man knows each day how to progress.
Word Roots (Greek and Latin) Little man wants to be a marine biologist. Need I say more? Great way to get one's feet wet for future Latin learning preparing the scientific mind!
Critical thinking skills We don't think any more. We don't know how. I'm as guilty as anyone. We have dumbed down our children for generations. It is time we teach ourselves and our children to THINK critically!
Bob Jones Press Spelling This was our first year using BJU selections. Our favorite aspects of the spelling program are the Christian/Biblical tie-ins and the treasured journal entries exchanged between little man and I on Thursdays. (Though Mama has to be reminded on occasion. Don't tell anyone!)
Bob Jones Press English There are some wonderful gems of English/writing/grammar programs. As a communication nut, I have combed many carefully, found several I really appreciated and decided this was our best fit. I enjoy the alternating units of grammar and composition. Little man published his first essay in an anthology this year. Take a peek at the sample pages and see if it fits your family.
Calvert School Math We began homeschooling with Calvert and have used their math program consistently. Because they only proceed to eighth grade, I have reviewed a litany of math options. My inclination now is to switch to BJU Math when we reach the end of our Calvert journey. I think we've had a very solid journey with Calvert.
We love to devise our own literature units. We also enjoy the study guides from Veritas Press. Our book list for next year so far includes:
The Captain's Dog
Around the World in 80 Days
Lord of the Rings
Call of the Wild
We enjoy group enrichment classes at a mega church each week where my little man focuses on music instruction (electric guitar), art (Chinese brush painting, figure drawing, still life sketching, etc.), and fun hands-on life skills classes just for boys (woodworking, CO2 cars, leather working, etc.).
Our Bible study focus and other enrichment classes will be a part of our "how" discussions, so I'll revisit those components later this week.
As for my little four-year-old bear... it's all about fun, hands-on, multi-sensory learning! Games, singing, puppet storytime, felt boards, pocket charts, fingerpainting, and the thrill of writing in shaving cream! :) I have used more structured preschool materials, but have found these little hearts are so full of the desire to explore that a fixed curriculum seems limiting at this stage of discovery. The key again is that learning is a lifestyle in our home... from chores to stories, shopping to gardening, baking to games, research to singing. Especially at this age, desk time should be minimal. It's all about discovering this world and its vast possibilities which produces a lifelong, self-motivated learner!
That said, here are some things we've used and are looking forward to next year...
Sing, Spell, Read and Write. I learned quickly that we don't have to do every page or activity of every book. Grab the good stuff and go!
While he knows his letters, there is still much learning to be soaked up as we master writing upper and lower case, exploring all of the phonetic variations, and begin to look at them as parts of a word. So we will have great fun with the Letter of the Week projects, recipes and songs! He loves to sing along to the silly songs in the ABC Sing Along Flipchart.
We dive into a variety of unit studies... studies with a cross-curricular approach to one subject... dinosaurs, for example, was an enthralling unit in our home! (I can't believe I mastered the pronunciation of the species!) Some of the other resources I am using with my little bear include:
Building Thinking Skills Again. We. must. teach. children. to. think.
Sing Along & Learn (Do you get the idea we love to move and sing through our days?!)
Riotous Rhymes for little bear's silly bone.
Fun-filled ideas for special days are packed into One Day Fun Days (which seems to be out of print) and Sing A Song of Seasons. I also love The Mailbox for endless ready-to-do fun ideas... whether by season or subject.
That's what we are learning! :) There are so many rabbit trails we chase and explore as desires emerge, but this is our core curriculum for next year. To see my favorite authors/vendors/resources, I invite you to browse the list of links in my left sidebar.
So, how about your family? Have you discovered any curriculum gems you'd like to share. Do you have questions about any of those mentioned here? I am a curriculum fanatic! So chat away... I'll put on fresh coffee! :)
Later this week, we'll get into the "how". So often I hear, "How do you do it?" It's not a logistical, tactical question. It's almost always a heart question. I'll share my heart with you about how.
From our hearth to yours,