Thursday, August 25, 2011

What all Homeschool Mothers LOVE to Talk About

So, now that we are finished with our first two weeks of school, I will share what curricula we are using.
I just know you've been sitting at your computer losing sleep at night waiting for this!  Well, wait no longer!

While I am using a variety of publishers, etc., I am using the same curriculum for all the children in each particular subject.  (ie - all grades are using BJU  History).  I didn't necessarily plan it that way as I tend to use whatever will meet a particular chid's needs, but it worked out that way this year and, so far, it seems to be a working.  So happy for that!  This year, I am teaching the following grade levels: K/1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 8/9.

Reading/Literature/Grammar/English language:
Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons - My 6 year old is enjoying using this book in order to learn to read.  My two older girls learned to read with this program.  While it didn't work for the next 2 children, I am pleased that it seems to be working wonderfully with Gloria.  In all honesty, though, this kindergartner is so ready to learn to read that I'm pretty sure any program would work for her at this point.  I'm just glad I can use an easy one!

Learning Language Arts Through Literature - I went into this program with a sense intrigue and a bit of trepidation.  As an English major, I was worried this curriculum would major on "the joy of reading" and prove weak in the "important" areas of English.  However, I am very pleased with this program.  Gloria's Blue Book is also working on reading readiness and it works great alongside 100 Easy Lessons.  The rest of the kids are reading some great books they would not have otherwise read and are learning to pay attention to detail in writing through the copy-work exercises.  I love the personal spelling lists - my children spell a word wrong somewhere in their school week, it gets added to their list for the next week.  They are learning the many parts of speech as well as other areas of the English language.  My 9th grader, who normally doesn't care for writing, just finished a great short story re-telling the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan through the donkey's point of view!  It was wonderful!

Easy Grammar - Because of my fears that LLATL wouldn't be strong enough in the grammar department, I bought this curriculum for my children.  Mostly self-explanatory and not at all overwhelming, this is, by far, one of the best grammar texts I've ever seen!  This curriculum has the kids learn and memorize the prepositions first (the list is more extensive in the upper levels than it is for the younger elementary).  The thinking is that if the student can eliminate the prepositional phrases first, he will have an easier time of identifying the other parts of speech. There's no doubt about that!  When I was in 3rd grade, I had no idea what a preposition was.  Forget that - when I was a freshman in college, I had no idea what a preposition was - a pretty scary predicament for an English major!

Math: - This on-line-based math program is one that my kids really seem to enjoy.  Eric & I love the fact that the writers make our kids THINK.  It's not just a list of facts, but a lot of logical reasoning.  Written & developed in Australia, it's neat for my kids to become familiar with the different terms and spellings of words - an added bonus in reality-schooling!  I print out the workbooks that are available on-line and assign their work for the week.  They each need to spend 15min/day 3 days a week on-line doing Math drills, assignments, and games.  I can even assign different drills for them to do before they can even get into the games.  It's definitely stretching their minds (& mine) to think through problems.  I love the short-cuts the program teaches, as well.  It's not about a lot of work and "show me your work" - it's about getting the correct answer.  THAT I love.  My biggest concern is that the upper levels don't have all of the on-line workbooks completed.  So, I'm doing what I can until we have to cross that bridge.

Apologia - I've already raved about Apologia in recent posts, but it bears repeating.  My 3&4 graders are doing "Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day" together while my 7th grader is doing "Land Animals of the 6th Day."  The 8th grader is doing "General Science" and the 9th grader is doing "Physical Science."  If you are familiar with Apologia, you will notice that my two oldest are doing titles that are one grade below where they are.  Two reasons for this:  My kids are fairly young for their grade level.  While they can do the work of that level, Apologia is a lot to consume once you hit General Science, so I start them in 8th grade rather than 7th.  The other reason is that I really don't see my kids doing Physics in their Senior year, so I'm making better use of that added year making sure they are ready to comprehend what they are studying.  Does that make sense?  It does to me, anyway! :)
I will say that the "extras" are extremely beneficial (audio book, cd-rom, and lab kit) - especially in the upper grades.  Have I mentioned lately that my son got a 93% on his first test?!  Well, maybe this is the third time, but I'm pretty excited about it!  I totally praise God for a husband who is not afraid to spend a little extra money to help our children succeed!

BJU - This was a difficult decision for me this year.  As a lover of history, I tend to want to get away from the dry textbook/worktext format for a subject that can be so exciting.  However, I have yet to find anything that is as thorough as BJU.  So, what I'm trying to do is add "real books" (for some reason I struggle with that term.  Real books - like there are fake ones out there?) to supplement what my children are studying.  I came close to doing "Story of the World" for my younger ones this year, but I decided to have them complete their BJU history and then start them with SotW in the winter, as BJU won't last the whole year.  As I'm not sure I'll keep up with the activities in SotW, I will use it as a supplemental.

A Beka - Is there even another Christian publishing company that offers this subject?  I'm so pleased with their tasteful and extensive teaching on the important subjects of hygiene, nutrition, exercise, safety, etc.

Handwriting Without Tears - I began using this curriculum years ago and I doubt I'll ever use anything else to teach my children to write.  With only 1 page a day of skill practice, the books live up to their name.  I have one student repeating the cursive book they did last year just to fine-tune their penmanship.  I made it clear to this child that it wasn't a punishment, but just to build their skill & the child is doing great.  I HIGHLY recommend this curriculum - especially for boys who struggle with writing.

So, there you have it.  Just as a disclaimer - in no way am I telling any of you that you have to go out and buy the curriculum that I'm using.  This is what is working for our family.  Your family may have different needs.  I'm so grateful for the many options homeschoolers today have in the area of curricula so that each of our diverse needs are met!

How about you?  Are you using any of the same things we are using?  Do you love it or hate it?  I'd love to hear from you!


Tisa Damron said...

I have heard so much about the handwriting without tears. Very curious. My two oldest do great, but Patrick literally cries about penmanship and so do I!
I will have to go online and check it out!

Kara said...

I enjoyed reading about your curriculum. I am loving handwriting without tears for my 4 year old. We are working through the get set for school book. Considering handwriting is the one subject that induces tears I am thankful I can use HWT and it is low key and low volume but still gets the point across.