It’s That Time of Year!!

Curriculum! I love buying drooling over curriculum. I buy it too–probably more than my share.

Next year I will have a 1st grader!! And my second little man will be along for the ride. He will be five in early September, and though he will meet our state’s age requirement for Kindergarten, I am planning to file intent to delay formal education for him for one year. He’s a peanut, and I truly am not certain that he is ready for Kindergarten and all that it will entail. I think that it will be great to have a year to enjoy having him home with us.

So, we will be schooling a 1st grader, an almost Kindergartener, and a two year old. Truth be told, I’m a little nervous about this. I believe that learning should be about discovery, and I have found this year that it is sometimes challenging to create that environment of discovery when the toddler is coloring in library books or emptying the cupboards. Not to mention that the student never seems to be quite as excited about the subject matter as the teacher!

Our best weeks of school this year took place when I didn’t over plan. Our best weeks were the ones that I didn’t have TIME to be detailed, I just stacked the books I wanted to get to next to the armchair and wrote them into my lesson plan as we read and discussed them!

Our biggest struggles this year were math and reading. What we have going on right now is working for us, so I have no plans to stop, AND I have enough lessons to take us through the summer and into the fall.

We started the year with Horizons K for math. C was miserable. It moved quickly, and it required quite a bit of writing (which we discovered is something he is not quite developmentally ready to do). We made it through half of the program before letting it go. We were spending HOURS each day doing it, and I realized that I was doing more work than he was. The idea of school was misery for both of us, and I KNEW that Kindergarten is not where we wanted to lose that spark of interest!

Then I found these books. Life of Fred elementary series. Charlie LOVES them. We’ve gone from “I hate math!” to “PLEASE, Mommy, can we do MORE??” I can’t decide how much math we are truly going to learn from them, but I’m so delighted that he cheers when I reach for the book. The books are about Fred, who is a four-year-old math professor. All the math that is learned is math that Fred is using as he goes about his life. It’s imaginative and quirky–just like my boy. It’s really no surprise to me that he loves it. There are 10 books total in this series (and then there are other series that go up to college mathematics!), and we are midway through the second book. Because I can’t wrap my head around the idea of not using a workbook at all, we are using the Critical Thinking Co.’s Mathematical Reasoning series. These books only work through one concept on each page (opposed to Horizons which tackled up to six concepts in a lesson), and while, C doesn’t LOVE it like he loves Fred, he doesn’t groan at the sight of it either!

I have the K book in the Mathematical Reasoning series for D, and 1st grade for C. I have a feeling that D’s math instruction is going to be a whole new ball of wax, so I am open-minded to adjustment as we look to the next year.

Our reading curriculum has been all over the map. And we are still not quite settled. C is reading simple CVC combos, but has been for over a year without really moving forward. Right now, we are using the BOB books, which he tolerates. I have just bought Phonics Pathways, and I am thrilled with what I have read so far. I think that this may be what we need to launch C into being a truly independent reader. And I think that it will work well for D, too!

I will continue with Handwriting Without Tears this year for both boys. I wanted to love this program, but it’s, well, it’s handwriting. I’ve discovered that there are things that just ARE and have to be, and I’m ok with that.

One new element that I AM excited about (perhaps a little more than my children) is a Language Arts program that was recommended to me by a friend. Language Lessons for Little Ones seems to be filling in some gaps for me. It is rich in poetry and art, and gentle in reinforcing language arts concepts. We are currently using the second book with C (and D when he is home from preschool).

I consider that to be our nuts and bolts, and with both boys to juggle, I think that if we accomplish math and language arts, we will be doing well. But, the icing on our cake will be Sonlight Core A. I am SO excited to begin, truly begin, our Sonlight journey. We have been using Sonlight’s preschool books for years. I bought Core A last year for C, and then we decided to wait a year so that both boys could do it together. So, having had it for over a year, you might imagine how eager I am to get started! I have pre-read all of our books, and I can’t wait to share them with the boys! C is addicted to the sound of my voice reading to him. “Keep reading, Mommy!” I hear over and over. Sonlight will chart us through Bible, history, geography, and science.

I have other vague plans for some electives. But I don’t want to overfill our time. One of our purposes for homeschooling our children is so that they will have time to actually BE children. So, I have music, art, and even a typing class for C, but I will establish our core work first. I’m certain the boys will wish to play soccer again, and C will be old enough for the Y swim team if he wishes to participate. Some things just have to be fluid.

Are you trying anything new this year?

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