Homeschooling Curriculum 2011-2012

I have been promising to update you all on my curriculum choices and I finally got it all ordered.  I had to wait until after we moved so I wouldn’t miss anything.

Disclaimer:  I haven’t tried any of this.  It’s merely a product of my months of research.  Later in the school year, I will post individual reviews after we have tried it for a few months.

Math:  Singapore Math Level 1A & B and Level 2A & B  Plus, I bought the Home Instructor’s Teaching Manual and the first set of tests.  I’m unsure if I will use the tests but wanted to have them on-hand in case I do.

Grammar:  Shurley Grammar Homeschool Level 1 & 2

Writing:  Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Teacher/Student Combo Pack Level A

Writing with Ease: Strong Fundamentals by Susan Wise Bauer

Handwriting:  Getty-Dubai Italic Handwriting Book B, C, & D

Spelling:  The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Writing Teacher’s Edition Level II

This is put out by the Riggs Institute (a little company out of South Dakota) and I love them!  I love everything about their program.  I did Level I with my oldest and my youngest will be doing Level I this year but everything they do is superb in my opinion.  I credit them with my kids’ ability to spell and read so well.

History:  Story of the World Volume 1:  Ancient Times and the accompanying Activity Workbook by Susan Wise Bauer.  I skipped the Test book and will in the future as I feel my kids should be tested on more important subjects such as math and grammar. Plus, I intend to have my kids do memory work from History, which will be test enough.

Science:  Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) K-2

Of all my orders, this is the one I’m taking the biggest chance on. I’m not sure how it will work but we’re going to give it a try.

We are also doing a Nature and Weather Journal this year.

Foreign Language:  Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) Homeschool Edition

Song School Latin

Song School Greek

Bible/Religious Studies:  Foundations 1:  Preparation for Christ by Anne Elliott

Art:  Artistic Pursuits

Music:  The Gift of Music by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson

Guitar Lessons

Memory Work:  Select Poems and Historical References

Supplemental Material:

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

I love this book.  This is the book I first bought when I was considering homeschooling.  This book does a great job of laying the case of Classical Education.  What I don’t like about it is now that my kids are in 1st and 2nd grade, I think Susan underestimates the capabilities and abilities of students.  I read about what kids their age used to have to do in the mid-1800’s and this is peanuts in comparison.

I just finished perusing Susan’s Writing with Ease: Strong Fundaments, which I bought as I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do for writing.  I like the idea of narration, copy work, and dictation but I think it’s unnecessary to do that alone.  I think you need to do this in addition to something else (hence why I bought IEW).  Further, I think she spends way too many weeks on doing it.  All my opinion, of course.

Map Trek: The Complete Collection by Terri Johnson

What Your Third Grader Needs to Know by E D Hirsch, Jr.

This is the Core Knowledge Sequence, which I’m a fan of.  It’s a good reference book for where your child should be. It has great history sections (although not in Chronological Order.  It’s all covered.  It just jumps around–something I’m not a fan of).  I also have the Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd Grade Editions of these which I used a lot in my previous homeschool year.

Student Atlas:  I ordered a student Atlas but it was cancelled by Amazon (couldn’t get it).  I have a globe and I think I will be doing enough as it.  I think the historical maps but the study of a continent a month will be sufficient for now.

Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock

Keeping a Nature Journal by  Clare Walker Leslie

The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World

Final Advice About Choosing Curriculum:  It’s funny because I went into this having an idea of what I wanted to use and then once I started delving into it, I changed virtually all of my orders/decisions.

It’s hard ordering curriculum sight unseen but “you do your best and forget the rest” as Tony Horton says.

Due to the increase in competition in homeschool curriculum, I would say there are a lot of good choices out there.  I would first choose your overall philosophy (classical, biblically-based, unschooling, unit studies, etc) and then go from there.  I think you will find there are amazing choices out there and choosing which one is the hardest part!

Good luck and happy schooling!

Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch

I just finished this book (admittedly skimmed some parts since I find studies incredibly boring) and found it interesting.

I had never thought how our language did come to be and come to be standardized.  It was fascinating to read how people actually sat down and decided to do this hundreds of years ago.

It is a great reminder how things can be manipulated in life and how I must be ever the more vigilant with my children’s education.

I agree whole-heartedly with the premise that there must be a national cultural literacy in order to function in today’s society.  You have to know what people are talking about in order to talk to people.  Most of this book was preaching to the choir but I have to constantly remind myself of the importance of my kids’ education.

For me, it’s more I enjoy learning and like to know where things come from and how.  But it makes me re-focus on what my kids need to know.

They attend a Core Knowledge school so I know they will get most of this stuff.  Still, it is up to me to supplement (as always) where needed.

Home School Update

I had promised an update on homeschooling so here it is.

Homeschooling is really about finding what works for you which is really a bunch of guessing.  No one can tell you what curriculum is the best or how to even do it.  Basically, you just start–plain and simple.  You sit down one day and begin.

I had mentioned I was doing the Riggs method of learning to read and I have to say IT IS THE BEST!  My daughter can now sound out most words with minimal help and can read books by herself and it’s only been 2 1/2 months!  I broke down and bought the Riggs Institute’s “Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking” Teacher’s Edition Level 1 and it’s the best purchase I’ve made.  It uses dictation which teaches the kids how to think as well as Socratic principles (which I love).  With this foundation, my kids will be able to easily take it to the next level.

I also love the Core Knowledge sequence developed by E.D. Hirsch.  We are currently on “What Your First Grader Needs to Know” after completing “What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know” in just two months.  Our school in Fort Collins was Core Knowledge and I loved it.  It has great stories and provides me with a guideline of what other kids are learning so I don’t forget anything.

We also have a daily reading lesson which I think complements Riggs perfectly.  It’s “The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading” by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington.  It’s from “The Well-Trained Mind”, a classical education guide by Susan Wise Bauer and her mother, Jessie Wise.  It’s easy to follow and my daughter loves the stories which are carefully crafted to use lesson words.

We spend at least an hour every day reading, be it history, geography, science, math, art, music, or plain old good stories and my kids love this time the best!  I can cater to what they like and they get excited about it.  We visit the library once a week where we supplement our teachings with cool books.

My methods are hodge-podge to say it best.  I love Classical Education as I believe the ancients have a lot to teach us and will continue to use their methods.  I pick texts that I like and that I think the kids will learn from the most and I just do it.

My daughter told me yesterday that my school is not as fun as her old school.  Let me tell you why:  we don’t fill time with meaningless projects.  We don’t make a lot of drawings.  We don’t do as many art works.  There is no time to sit and stare at the other kids and wait around for everyone to finish.  Once school begins, we’re on go mode and there is little time wasted.  It’s 3 or 4 hours straight of work.  I can honestly tell you my daughter knows more than most kindergartners right now just from the 2 months I’ve been working with her.  Kids this age are sponges and will soak up whatever fed them.

Will I continue to homeschool?  That is still up in the air.  As long as I’m doing what’s in my kids’ best interest and everyone is happy, I’m content.  I hope this helps.