Monday, September 2, 2013

Curriculum Choices 2013-2014

I am always so very excited at the beginning of a new homeschool year!  I've spent a lot of time over the summer deciding on curriculum, preparing for different groups/co-ops we participate in and looking forward to studying new information with my kids (and, frankly, learning just as much as they do...if not more).

I am particularly thrilled about this school year; I think it will be our best year yet.  Also, I'm pretty sure I say that every year.

Our family uses a relaxed mixture of different homeschooling styles.  We take ideas from different philosophies, including Charlotte Mason, and Thomas Jefferson Education and notebooking.  The most powerful tool we use is books, and most of our school time is spent reading aloud.  We do not use textbooks, but "living books";  beautifully written, inspiring books, filled with enthusiasm for the topic at hand.

Here, in no particular order, is the curriculum we will be using this year:

Ethan is doing preschool through UPSTART.  He began 2 weeks ago and loves it so far.  He will also be participating in science, journals, reading time and all of our group activities.  He often listens in while he plays with toys to our history reading.  I am constantly surprised by what he absorbs during the times I don't think he's listening.

Life of Fred : A silly storyline, interwoven with math facts and realy-life math problems.  Miss Ellie looks forward to reading about Fred every day.
Khan Academy:  This is an AMAZING free resource!  For some mathy-fun check out the Vi Hart videos. We absolutely adore her!

source: rainbow resource

The Story of the World: The Middle Ages by Susan Wise Bauer.  This book is volume two of a four-part history curriculum; it tells the story of history in an easy-to-digest but still very informative way. Last year we studied volume one: Ancient Times, this year we're thrilled to move on to the Middle Ages.  We use the activty book, as well, for the coloring pages, additional literature suggestions and the vast list of supplemental activities/crafts/art projects.  We definitely don't do everything in the book...that could take years.  Susan Wise Bauer is my hero.

Writing: We will be using Institue for Excellence in Writing this year.  I have heard such amazing things about this program and can't wait to dive in.

Journals/ Copy Work: We memorize a scripture each week (using copy work and recitation...and bribery) and write in our Q&A Journals daily.  I'll have to share some of Ethan's responses to those questions.  He's seriously hilarious.

Science:  Storybook of Science and Among the People series.  We read a chapter of these beautifully written, gentle introductions to natural science a day and the kids draw a picture explaining what they've learned.

Engineering Foundations:  Ellie will be taking an engineering class through MyTechHigh.  She'll be building 60 different simple machines.  As you can imagine, she and her engineer-daddy are very excited about this course!

Reading:  We still have hours a day to read books for pleasure.  We read aloud at mealtimes (it's much easier when little mouths are busy!), and have free-reading time in the afternoon and before bed.  We read aloud together as a family each evening, as well.

Additional Activities:
One of the concerns non-homeschooling friends tend to express is about "socialization".  We are certainly not lacking in the social interaction department!  The following are our scheduled additional activities (not including spontaneous playdates, park days, fieldtrips, etc.)

Weekly Homeschool Co-op:  We have an incredible group of homeschool families who all meet together once (or twice) a week.  Classes are taught by parents and cover a huge number of topics ranging from art, to writing to mythology (which I am teaching!) to forensic science and everything in between. The kids' ages range from preschoolers up to high schoolers.  We attend once per week and Ellie will be taking a history class based on the American Girl history books, Mythology based on the Percy Jackson books and a 4H class, in which she will work on 4H projects (which is not just raising animals, like I used to think it was).  Ethan will be taking a class called "I love America", aimed at kiddos his age and will participate in various preschool-type activites brought in by a rotation of dedicated moms.

Monthly Culture Club: We have some amazing friends who put together incredible learning opportunities for our kids to participate in.  We look forward to culture club each month.  Each family prepares a short presentation on a culture they have been studying.  We have prepared everything from dioramas to Egyptian scrolls in preparation for this group.  Each family also brings an authentic dish to share and we feast on new foods after the presentations are done. SO fun!

Monthly Biography Club: We study an important historical figure each month (sometimes through picture books, sometimes chapter books) and the kids present what we've learned in front of the other Biography club members.  I adore watching Ellie participate in this group.  She is gaining much more confidence in her ability to prepare short speeches and present them in public.  Ethan always wants to participate, but so far he has been a bit shy so he ends up whispering his contributions in my ear and I translate to the group.

Service Club: This is a new group, beginning this year.  We'll meet with friends twice a month to work on service projects together. We are very much looking forward to this!

Nature Group: This is another twice-monthly group, dedicated to nature study and nature journaling.  We will hike and visit other natural areas in our beautiful valley and record our findings in our nature journals.  This will be year-round so we'll be able to appreciate our gorgeous, snowy/cold winters, too.

Gymnastics: Ethan participates in a middle-of-the-day gymnastics class for homeschoolers. He counts down the days til Tuesday every week.

Park Day: We have a weekly park day with friends through most of the year.  Last year we took a few weeks off when temperatures were in the single digits (for a high).  Once the snow falls, we replace playgrounds and streams with sledding and cocoa.

Pop Music:  This activity is taking the place of choir this year for Ellie.  She's delighted to spend every Friday afternoon with her best friend learning to play pop music in a classical style (a la The Piano Guys). Right now they are working on Little Wonders by Rob Thomas.  Adorable!

Piano Lessons: Weekly lessons and daily practice time for Miss Ellie.

Reading through this list makes it look like our schedule is packed to the brim.  We spend a lot of time learning, but very little of that is formal.  We still have plenty of down time most days-- to be creative, spend time exercising outdoors and enjoy our hobbies-- which is very important to maintain the happiness level in our home.  We all thrive with at least an hour of quiet (alone) time each day.

After homeschooling for the past 4+ years, I feel like we have figured out what style works well for our family.  Every family needs to alter their schooling to fit their lifestyle, strengths and learning styles.  I love to talk curriculum/homeschooling, so if you have any questions (or suggestions) feel free to ask away!

1 comment:

  1. How beautiful! I truly hope that one day I'll have such an amazing family as well... what an accomplishment and what an ambitous task!

    Love from Europe,