June 20, 2011

Curriculum Choices 2011: Old and New

As I begin our plans for our next school year in the fall, I have to say that every year as a homeschooling mom, I gain more confident (and peace of mind) on our curriculum choices. Just like anything in life, the longer you do something, the better you get at it and the least you worry about how it is done.

In homeschooling, as our children are growing and we are entering our sixth year of homeschooling (that's counting Caleb's 2 wonderful preschool years, of course...just 4th of "academics"), I finally feel comfortable with their learning styles, strenghts and weaknesses.

So, if you are on the beginning stages of your journey, take heart! It does get easier to choose curriculum. :)

With so many wonderful choices out these, it is always tempting to try something new. But most of the time that is not wise, especially if you are a one income family.

At the end of each school year I like to evaluate what worked best and what we will replace. Last year we made some new changes and some of those were our favorites things this year.

What Worked BEST And Will Use Again:

#1 Primary Mathematics (Singapore Math): This was definitely the best new thing we added last year. It made a huge difference in the way our kids see and are learning math and in the way I for the very first time enjoy teaching it!

#2 Reading Made Easy: I taught Caleb how to read with this program and he is doing fantastic. Reading now anything that he encounters and with great decoding skills. Noah has 25 more lessons to go on this book so he will continue those through the summer and continue reading early reader books. He needs more frequent reviews of phonics than Caleb did so I added the Reading Made Easy Activity Books and that has worked well for him.

#3 Hanwriting Without Tears: Another favorite at our house. We love the gentle and effective approach of this program. I appreciate the short lessons instead of long pages full of busy work. Caleb will begin their cursive program and Noah will continue printing.

#4 Critical Thinking Company: The boys can't get enought of these books. We will continue using "Mind Benders", 'Thinker Doodles", "Language Smarts". I do not use these daily but "sprinkle" their school days with these workbooks to vary things a little bit and make sure they are working on logic, spatial and reasoning skills.

#5 Evan Moor's Daily Trait Writing:This has worked great for Caleb. The lessons are short. One writing assignment at the end of the week. He has grown in confidence and it gives him extra handwriting practice. He will continue using this program for grade 3.

#6 Sequential Spelling: Very pleased with our first year with this program. It proved to be a bit advance for Caleb but we resumed it in January and he was ready for it then. His spelling has improved a lot. I like the simple yet effective approach of Sequential Spelling. We will finish book 1 this summer and move into book 2.

NEW Curriculum Choices We Can't Wait To Start Using:

And now....I'm sooooo excited to share the NEW things we are adding for the next school year.....

#1 Exploring Creation with Astronomy (Young Explorer Series from Apologia): woohoo! We are starting our very first formal science program. Up until now our science have been unit studies based and we have loved every minute of it. The boys have learned a lot and we covered a variety of topics. But I realized Caleb was craving for a more sequential study of science so this is our choice. We will begin our first year (hopefully of many) with this series. I was so impressed at how much Charlotte Mason is in it and can't wait to start using it. And with Space Center and the Observartory at Brazos Bend so near us, this will definitely be a great science year for us.

#2 Language Lessons for the Very Young/Elementary Child (Queens Homeschooling): we will use this as our core program for language arts. It is also Charlotte Mason and covers picture study, narrations, copywork, poem memorization and grammar. Noah will start this after he finishes Reading Made Easy.

Would LOVE to hear from anyone who have used Apologia or Language Lessons. What did you like/dislike? How did you implement it to your routine?

I will write a separate post on Bible/character building because for us that is more than academics.

And there is still one more NEW choice but you will have to wait until tomorrow for that one...

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