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Memory Work:  Select Poems and Historical References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!

Lessons from Gilgamesh

I’ve been hesitant to give up homeschool and now I think I know the underlying reason–I have and am learning as much or more than my kids in the process.  I get to study what I want to study for once, investigate things and people I want to know about, and spend as much time as I wish.  This is probably one of the greatest benefits of homeschool and one of the strongest reasons to homeschool i.e. letting the child investigate what speaks to their heart and not what speaks to the State’s heart.

I grabbed a kids’ book on Gilgamesh more for me than my kids.  So I’m reading it and the afterward by a Professor Cyrus Gordon from my alma mater, Brandeis University (I wonder if he’s still around since this book is from the 1960’s).  It relates the historical significance/importance of this ancient Mesopotamian tale as it predates the Ancient Greeks and the Bible.  Particularly, it mentions the sacking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC (previously thought to have been the first known dates of Mesopotamian cuneiform)–the very subject I am reading about in the Bible in Jeremiah, Lamentations, and now Ezekiel.  This is all stuff I never learned in school and so visiting it a second time has been…wondrous.

So, the tale of Gilgamesh is the tale of a man who became experienced and wise in his travels; and learned what all of us must learn in order to be wise (despite having failed in his mission to obtain eternal life):  to make the most of our earthly lives without chasing rainbows that are beyond our grasp.

I agree and disagree with this.  I agree with making the most of your life, but I see nothing wrong with chasing rainbows.  Dreams are what give us life and my writing career is definitely obtainable.  In terms of little kids, that’s all my kids do–is chase rainbows, unicorns, Pegasus, dragons, princesses, princes, castles, and fairy tales.

It breathes life into them and that’s all that matters in this world.

I can still learn right along with my kids while they are in school.  I don’t have to stop learning (and neither do they) as long as I choose not to.  They receive the benefits of being with their peers at a regular school and I can still learn whatever I want whenever I want.

The Whiskey Rebels

I’m getting such gems from this book by David Liss (could I ever be this good?).  On P. 220, “…beauty that made me love her, before I knew that our minds were perfectly formed for one another…”  This is great because I think most marriages are this way.  You see the outside first but once you’re married, you know the person so intimately that it seems your minds are perfect for one another.  Each compliments the other’s strengths.  I know this is the case in my marriage.

Liss goes on further a few pages down, describing marriage as, “…committing to law what was already in our hearts,” which is basically what a marriage ceremony is—committing to both the laws of the land and God’s law.

“I should live the life of my innermost desires.” Liss says this on p. 245, describing what a character wants for his wife.  Isn’t this what we all want for ourselves as well?

I know for me this is what I strive for every day.  I get up each morning and exercise because I want to be healthy and strong for my family.  I sit at my computer endlessly, typing and attempting to create what is on my heart and on God’s.  I strive to get my kids into the school I want them to go to because I want the best for their little minds.  I homeschool them until that point because I believe that the public system is not good enough and, frankly, I can do a much better job than they can.  I want them to start taking lessons of some sort once we catch up financially so they can discover what their passions are in life and lead the life of their desires.  I want my husband to figure out his passion in life and follow that to wherever it leads.  I pray every day that I find a literary agent who believes in my work and therefore in me and what I’m trying to accomplish in this world.

I think we all want to be living for something, something of our choosing.  Is that too much to ask?