I’ve gotten a couple of questions about our big schooling plans for next fall, since all the kids will be homeschooling this year (yay!!). Rather than bore people on Facebook with my wordy comments, I figured I’d spell out our plans here. Lucky you 😉 Now, if you hang out at some of the same haunts I do on ye old internet, you may have seen some of the chatter around some of these choices, and this may look really familiar to you. I’m happy to get great ideas from other moms, whether in person or online. If my thoughts are of help to you, then I’m thrilled!
Math:: Saxon for them all
I’ve been all over the map with this one. I think I started with Right Start back when Alex was in first grade. This was to be THE math program, and I still think it seems like its pretty good. However, to say that its “mom-intensive” would be the understatement of the century. And if you have another child (or five) and the obligation of, oh, clean laundry, hunting you down, you might find that this takes too much time. Or maybe its just me. If its not right for Mom, pitch it.
Then, we found Teaching Textbooks. If Right Start was mom intensive, this was mom’s dream come true. Its a full program, but its taught on the computer by someone else. The student is given a lesson, then 20 problems to solve, with regular testing. If the student doesn’t “get it”, he doesn’t go on. Its all done for you, all you have to do is log in and keep an eye on it. Fabulous, right?
Well, it works for some people, but not all. When reading the comments on a post over at Shower of Roses on this topic, I saw that many moms had problems with the program. More specifically, they said they found that when their children were taking their standardized tests at the end of the year, they weren’t doing well on math. While they were “succeeding” with TT, the kids weren’t actually retaining the info. I know that when my boys started school after our year of TT, their math scores were baaaaad.
So, why Saxon? From the beginning of my “homeschooling career,” Saxon has gotten a bad rap. “Drill and Kill” is the phrase often used to describe it. However, many, many parents have said that it works. Each lesson starts with a five minute review on the basics, and while it may seem monotonus, its cementing basic mathamatics in their brains, so that there is no struggling with basic operations as you work through the program. The bottom line with picking the math curriculum, and any curriculum, I’d say, is the importance of sticking with it. The years will build on each other in a particular way, and while there are many great options out there, they don’t all need to be tried. Pick one, and see it through.
Science:: Exploring Creation with General science
We started using this series last year with Astronomy, but this year, I waned to give them a good science overview. Like I said, pick a program you like, and stick with it! This series has a ton of great titles, is well written (more conversational than textbookie), includes experiments, testing, lab reports, notebooking, etc. Alex will be doing the testing and notebooking, while I think James will just be doing the testing, and Katie will be joining the boys with the reading and experiments throughout the book. I might change my mind as we get into it in terms of ‘how’ they’ll show their understanding of the material (like Alex’s notebook), but we’ll have to see.
History:: RC History
I have always loved Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education, incorporating living books by single authors instead of textbooks when teaching a subject. I can think of no other subject where this is more important than history. Reading dry facts that need to be memorized from a text versus literature that details the essence of what was going on in a time in history is like the difference between eating canned veggies versus fresh from your garden. Sure, canned beans might get the job done, but how much more will you get from fresh picked? Same idea. In terms of what to teach, I really want to follow the classical method of education. RC History follows that, and we’ll be starting with the Alpha year.
Religion:: The Great Adventure Bible Series from Ascension Press (middle school and kid, depending on age), and Virtues in Practice, by the Dominican Sisters in Nashville. Add some corresponding saint book reports and the Baltimore Catechism, and I think we’re good! (and CCD)
Writing:: Institute for Excellence In Writing
Love love love love love Andrew Padewa. Just download some talks from this site and start listening. You’ll be hooked. We’ll be using Teaching Writing; Structure and Style which I purchased years ago for a co-op, but we never really got into it (hello, vision problem!). I’m considering using FixIt for grammar, but I haven’t gotten there yet. I think I’ll do one thing at a time for now.
These things are the baseline for Alex, James and Katie. They’ll all be using the same materials, but at different paces. I’ll also be working on handwriting with Katie, both print and cursive, and working with Alex to clean up his penmanship a bit as well. Will will be in First grade, so I’ll be using All About Spelling with him and Katie, and Phonetic Zoo (which I got at a used curriculum sale for cheeeep!) to do some catch up spelling with the big guys. Will also has Saxon math, and CHC’s printing books. We’ve got tons of science books, story books, history books, religious books, you name it around here, and I’m sure he’ll be involved with the kids’ science experiments.
I have to say, I’m really looking forward to starting the new year! Next week will be pretty busy for us around here, but I’m thinking the following week, we’ll start schooling again. I’ve decided to “layer” the work this time. The first week, we’ll do math every day. The second week, we’ll add religion. The third, science; fourth, history, then writing, then whatever else we need to pick up. Each day, I’ll start with the youngest first, and work my way to the oldest, so that the little one’s are taken care of and filled up first, while the older ones start with independent work, finish up chores I’ve laid out for them, or most likely, will sneak off to play Pokémon or Monopoly. Lets be honest. 😉
So there you have it! I hope I hit on everything, since its pretty late right now, and chances are I’m forgetting something! If you have any questions, let me know, and if this sounds eerily similar to the plans you’ve posted on your blog, well, thank you for doing some legwork for me! 🙂