Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

N is for Next Year May 23, 2012

Filed under: Curriculum — kirstenjoyhill @ 8:24 am

We’re finishing up our current school year….so it’s the perfect time to think about next year, right? Next year I’ll have a third grader (Miss M), a Kindergartener (Mr E, who will be working above that level in many areas), and a young preschooler (Mr K will be 3.5 at the start of the new school year).  And of course baby J will still be the baby of the family (though he will be more like a toddler by the time I am writing next year’s next year post!).  🙂

Some of my curriculum decisions were very easy, as we are continuing right on from where we are now:

For math we use Right Start.  Miss M completed a little over 100 lessons in level C during her 2nd grade year.  We’ll pick up Level C right where we left off, and then move on to Level D.  Mr E seems like a natural at math.  We’ve informally used level A this year.  I am currently planning on starting Mr E with Level B (also a starting point for Right Start Math), and seeing how that works out for him.  If you want to read more thoughts on why we like RightStart, check out this post.

For spelling (as well as some grammar/composition), we will be using the Logic of English Essentials curriculum.  This is not exactly a continuation, since we’ve only been using it since mid-April.  But once I bought it, I just couldn’t wait to try it out! We’ve done a few formal lessons, and will continue to learn/review the phonograms and play games during our six week break.   This is a new curriculum, and judging from the search terms people are using to find my blog,  readers want to know more about it!  I’m hoping to post a review with a few more detailed (albeit initial) thoughts within the next week or two.  Miss M will be using this curriculum fully, and I will be including Mr. E as best as I can.  He will not be able to move as quickly as Miss M, so it might be a challenge to use it to its full potential with him this year.

I don’t plan on doing any other formal grammar or composition/writing curricula with Miss M this year.  My plan is to begin more detailed grammar study in 4th grade.   Since Miss M findings writing to be very frustrating due to her difficulties with spelling, the composition exercises in LOE  as well as copywork and incidental writing for history or science will be plenty until her spelling improves.  If we see a marked increase in her spelling abilities and confidence, I may assign more writing.

For phonics/reading with Mr. E, we’ll continue with Phonics Pathways, until it proves to be unnecessary or no longer useful.  We’re currently up to page 95, and working on long vowel sounds. Of course, we do lots of practice outside of the Phonics Pathways book with easy-readers I have around the house or check out from the library.

For literature/read-alouds, I will do as I did this past year and make a list from the many sources I’ve found to inspire book-list-making.    I’ll make lists for read-alouds with Miss M at bedtime, read-alouds for the whole family (or at least the two older kids), and books I will ask Miss M to read on her own.   I’ll be planning some of our choices to coincide with our history studies.

For science,  we will continue with Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU).  We are close to finishing Volume 1 (we may finish it this summer), and we’ll start volume 2 after we finish it.   I haven’t written about BFSU on this blog yet, but I’m sure I will get to writing about it eventually. 🙂  Science is a family subject for us taught primarily by my husband.

Some decisions are a bit harder, as they involve finding new resources and making decisions from among many options:

For history this year, I know we will study American history from the explorers and native people to sometime just before the Civil War.   I know I want to incorporate a lot of literature.  I know I want to use lapbooks/notebooks and maybe a few hands on projects or other experiences.  I also know that I haven’t found any one curriculum or list or curriculum package that is just what I want… and I have spent hours researching the options!

I’m not sure I’ve even found a spine or key text that  I like.  I am confident in my ability to put together a list of books, so if all else fails we’ll just do that.  Currently, I am intrigued by “A Living History of Our World: America’s Story Vol. 1”  by Angela O’Dell.   But I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet to see if meets the many criteria I have for a US History text!  Overall, I will be planning our history studies with Miss M in mind, but I am hoping for spine text that Mr. E can reasonably join us for, as well as asking him to join us for some read-alouds that he will find interesting.

For Bible and character growth, I will continue to ask Miss M to read her Bible each day, and will aim to read the Bible to Mr. E (and Mr. K if he chooses to listen).  Maybe before the year is out, Mr. E will be reading it on his own! I’ll also be adding in an assigned Bible study for Miss M.  I bought a Proverbs Bible study for kids from B to Z publishing at our regional church conference this winter, but we haven’t used it yet.  I think I will be having Miss M work though this workbook next year.  At the MACHE homeschool conference I bought a few resources from Doorposts Books that I hope to worth through as a family the summer and into the next school year as well to continue building Godly character qualities into our kids!

For handwriting and and copywork…I am wavering in my decision.  Miss M has used A Reason for Handwriting Level C to learn cursive, and I have been pleased with it overall.  So much so that I bought Level D for her continued practice and Level A for Mr. E to practice printing.  Then I started to wonder if I wouldn’t rather assign cursive copywork to Miss M based on Bible verses I would like her to learn or copywork related to history or science.  Also, the Logic of English Essentials curriculum recommends starting with cursive first, so I am not quite sure what I want to do with Mr. E.  He already knows his manuscript uppercase and some lowercase letters.  At first he wanted to learn cursive…now he’s not so sure.  I’ll keep both books for now and think on it a bit more before fall.

For preschool with Mr. K and some “fun” Kindergarten stuff for Mr. E, I’ll be using free printables from some of my favorite sites (I hope, if I can manage to get organized enough to do that!).   I’m also mentally tossing around ideas about how to incorporate some literature based or topic based unit studies/delight directed studies.   Despite their difference in academic ability levels, I think topic-wise Mr. K and Mr. E should still have a lot in common for their interests and types of books that will hold their attention for literature based studies.   I’m not too concerned with actual “preschool” skills for Mr. K…if he learns a few more letters and numbers that’s great…if not well…he’s still only three and has plenty of time to learn!

Health and P.E. are part of the Minnesota state requirements of what you agree to do if you are homeschooling.  We fulfilled this requirement informally, through our co-op and through science lessons (in the case of health).  I’m not sure if I’ll plan something formal for these subjects or not.

I don’t have any formal plans as of right now for art and music.  My kids do a ton of art and crafts on their own (as well as doing art at our co-op).  I have materials on hand for art instruction if they ask for it.   The jury is still out as to whether or not Miss M will begin piano lessons this coming year (we don’t even have a piano or keyboard yet, so it is a theoretical discussion indeed at this point!).   I would love to incorporate more art and music appreciation into our homeschool, but I know from past failed attempts that it is easier said than done!  I’m still pondering whether or not I want to make a formal attempt next year.

I’m linking up with Blogging Through the Alphabet @ Ben and Me!

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