Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Curriculum and Schedules

I thought I would list what we are doing for homeschool this year. This was the first year I used a mix of my own curriculum choices. In previous years I borrowed a complete Sonlight curriculum package from a friend. I liked it, but now that I have "gotten my feet wet" I enjoyed selecting the individual components, since I am nothing if not opinionated! I am using a modified classical approach.

I will focus this post mainly on Ellie, since Isaac's work in PreK is much less involved and he tends to ride on her coat-tails. He has some workbooks of his own and participates in memorization, science, and listens to all the reading.

In the morning I send out the siren song, calling school to order with some music that I compiled from various sources. They are mainly fun songs that the kids like, which includes silly songs and educational jingles.

Here's one of our favorites:

We open with The Lord's Prayer. Since we attend an Evangelical Free church, there is not a lot of corporate recitation like you would find in other older denominations. I miss that and feel some of it is helpful and important, so I include some recitations in our school setting. We are also doing the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments and the 23rd Psalm. Some of it we may switch out for other foundational passages when I am sure these are embedded in their hearts and minds.

We also recite the Pledge of Allegience and other things we are memorizing, which is currently the books of the Bible (in song form) and a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.
This sounds like a lot, but we really enjoy this part of the day together and it goes very quickly.

Then, depending on the day of the week, we open the rest of our studies. Language Arts and Math are daily, the rest are between one to three days a week. We have classes four times a week, with the fifth day (Thursdays) for shopping, field trips, or as a "wild card" in case we need to rearrange the week.

Here, in a nutshell, is the rest:

Bible: We are just finishing Grapevine's Birth of Jesus. The concept of stick figures to illustrate the story seemed so simplistic, I wasn't sure about it. Well, the kids LOVED this study, and I expect we will continue with more when I can get it ordered.

Bible/History: We use 106 Days of Creation Studies as a supplement to our Bible and History studies. I wanted to be sure and tie the two together.

History: We use Story of the World: Volume 1 (Ancient Times), both the text and the activity book, which I find indispensible. I love this curriculum. It's very interesting for me and the kids, and the activity book really is wonderful too. Since I started this a year later that I would prefer, I am going to continue on with Volume 2 this summer so I can catch us up. I expect this to make following the classical model of education easier over the next ten years.

Geography: A Child's Geography, Explore His Earth! adds emphasis to our world geography studies, and it has a lot of interesting overview information that is not covered as completely elsewhere.

Reading: We are currently finishing up Book 3 of Explode the Code. We do about 1 lesson a week, two pages a day.  This program keeps Ellie's interest and has worked well for us, as long as I keep it down to 2-3 pages.

Grammar: Easy Grammar: Daily Guided Teaching and Review for Grade 2 is working well, is easy for Ellie to follow, and is just one worksheet a day. I supplement this with catchy grammer songs that I downloaded from YouTube, and she writes more examples herself on the white board, which makes it fun.

Writing: I use the Instructor Text guide only for The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease. I like the manuscript practice and the narration practice. I believe I can see the improvement in her mental processes as a direct result of this.

Math: We began Math-U-See with the primer and are continuing with the Alpha book now pretty aggressively. We are about 1/2 way through and expect to get through the Beta workbook book this year as well. The DVD that comes with this is a terrific help for both mother and daughter.

Science: Handbook of Nature Study with The Outdoor Hour Challenge once a week. We also include various Science studies as they come up in tangent with Geography, Creation, and History (ala Charlotte Mason).

Art: We just started Art Adventures at Home, Level 1 as it was backordered for quite awhile, but so far so good.

Music: Gilbert DeBenedetti's free Music Theory workbooks are going very well so far too. I liked that they were free, and Ellie is enjoying the lessons on our large electronic keyboard.

Physical Education: OK, I thought about this one, but the kids are already so active outside that I didn't pursue anything formal in this area at this time. I did write down some skills goals for this year and we are doing things like timing races. That's about it.

I have schedules I update every week to keep me on track. I like having things to check off, and it gives me a formal record of what we've covered. I created an Excel spreadsheet form with hyperlinks to the static data (because I'm a nerd) so it's quite easy to update. Here's what it looks like, in my large teacher notebook.

I have a schedule for each of the two, but you can see that Ellie's on the right is much more involved.

This is an example of my goals section. I have goals for each child in each subject area. I have also noted which part of the curriculum is expected to address that goal. We review progress on the first of each month. I just started doing this and have some things to catch up on that I should have covered last year. There is not much checked off in this section yet, as we have only had one review, and I want to be sure that the goal is completely accomplished before checking it off.

Well, I know this has been a very long post, so that's enough for now.


  1. That was fun to see, Mom. I hope I can do this some day... and be as organized with it as you!

  2. Wow - you are doing a lot with your little ones. I just let mine coast on the coat tails of their older siblings until they could read! Blessings on you as you go through your year - Corrie

  3. I love seeing how others organize and choose curriculum. I have looked into various curriculum's but haven't found anything that fits everything I want (and is cheap) so I am planning on going about it the same way you are, just kind of a conglomeration of what works best.
    One of the many blessing of homeschool, I believe, is being able to go at your child's pace like you are with your daughter (a few pages a day).
    And I love the cute little songs! My oldest just frowns when I play music, he's very serious, but who knows? Maybe he will grow to like it = )