Saturday, May 22, 2010

Whew! Ready for 2010-2011!

I was born to be a teacher. Truly, a teacher and a mommy is what I always wanted to "be." Even though I'm no longer teaching in a formal classroom, my days are still spent teaching. First, mommies are primarily, teachers. Second, my job as "adoption coordinator" really means that I teach people about adoption. Finally, I actually get to be the real-deal teacher for my kids because of our decision to homeschool! All this to say, I'm excited for next school year even though this one isn't over yet!

I started getting the itch to plan out our curriculum for next year late last week. Oh the choices! There are literally hundreds of programs you can choose as a homeschool family. Add to that, three different ages to teach (4th, 3rd, and pre-k) and it can become a mind-boggling experience. Is there a BETTER program out there? Is one program worth the added expense over another one? Can I find it used? Can I teach multiple ages with one book? Do we have room for this one? Do we have time for that one? Will I really do THAT many "hands on" activities (even if they sound oh-so-ideal)?

What's funny is that after all of the hours of research and comparison, most of our curriculum for next year will be coming from one single publisher. When it comes down to it, I am a school room traditionalist. As beautiful as Charlotte Mason and "unschooling" and "living books" sound to me, the comfort of a good solid text book written from a Christian perspective is really what floats my boat. And it's what my kids have done best with. They thrive on structure. They like the thought of "school at home" even though sometimes that train of thought is highly criticized within the homeschooling community. It's not very "free" but it suits us. [Ironically, in my previous life as a music teacher I was very much on the "fringe"--kids learn through experiencing and creating music, etc..] That's not to say that I don't ever want my kids to go on rabbit trails! I want them to feel free to go off on a tangent studying whatever topic is of particular interest to them, but in conjunction with our more formal learning.

The other thing that is exciting to me about planning for the next year is basically, the thrill of the chase! Choosing what program I want is just the beginning! Next it's time to search out the absolutely cheapest way to get it! LOL! This year I managed to purchase almost everything my kids will need for the entire year (3 grades, if you consider pre-k a grade) for under $300! Yee-haw! Do I need brand new textbooks? Nope. Used books are just fine. And, the majority of the books I purchased are not consumable, so they will be there ready and waiting when Kendi and Bright come up the line (assuming Kendi and Bright thrive on the same books that Taevy and Samren do)!

Like I said, our program will not be exciting to most people. It's not flashy. It's not new (as in modern). It's meat and potatoes. It's plain. In fact, many Amish and Mennonite families use these books. Rod and Staff is the big winner for us! Here's what the big kids will be doing next year:

Samren (a 3rd grader):

Rod and Staff Math (3rd)

Rod and Staff English (3rd)

Explode the Code Phonics (this is an area that he struggles with because of a poor start in public school, but these books are GREAT)

Rod and Staff Spelling (2nd grade--again, because he struggles with phonics and handwriting, spelling is a challenge)

Handwriting--yet to be determined between A Reason for Handwriting or Handwriting Without Tears. OR (!!!!) GIVE ME YOUR IDEAS FOR A VERY CHALLENGED HANDWRITER!!!! He will not likely go to cursive this year.

Taevy (a 4th grader):

Rod and Staff Math (4th)

Rod and Staff English (3rd and 4th--we started in 2nd this year because of some deficiencies, but she will rock through both of these in the coming year)

Rod and Staff Spelling (4th)

Happy Scribe Copybooks (handwriting)

Combined Learning (both kids together)

Rod and Staff Social Studies (3rd grade--covers our state objectives for 3rd and 4th grade)

Rod and Staff Science (3rd grade--in line with state objectives for both kids)

The Complete Book of Science (3rd and 4th grade book--for more hands on science)

American Pioneers and Patriots (Multi-age. Used as a "spine" for our year long emphasis on American history through 1900. We are going to have so much fun with all of the colonial and pioneer stuff!)

Music (We'll start more formal music instruction by learning to play the recorder. The kids will be introduced to formal music notation (pitch and duration). We'll practice our solfege for pitch (do-re-mi) and use Orff methodology to encourage rhythm and composition.)

Oklahoma History (We'll add this as a free-flowing unit within our year-long study of early America. Oklahoma History is included in our stat objectives for 4th grade, so gotta get that in there!)

Stay tuned for the much more free-flowing plan for Bright and Kendi!



thecurryseven 2:55 PM  

I love Rod and Staff, it's what we use for English and math. I, too, like having good textbooks for those subjects. For everything else we do unit studies which makes me feel as though I'm doing the fun, experiential stuff as well.

I love looking at all the curriculum choices, but then, I also loved getting all my new school books each year in school.

Eric Neumann 10:12 AM  

Love that you posted this- I've been looking at the home school options lately. Brazil will let younger stable couples adopt!


Mama D.'s Dozen 9:36 PM  

Looks like some great stuff.

We used the Sonlight curriculum this year, for the first time, and LOVED it. But, we still do some of the good old favorite workbooks, too ... like Explode the Code. (My 8 year old LOVES Explode the Code and Beyond the Code.)

I'm so glad that homeschooling has gone well for you this year. Yeah!

Laurel :)

sue 10:02 PM  

We use handwriting without tears. I had bought the teacher's manual that goes with these, but never used it. The kids just did the workbooks.