Curriculum Roundup–Our School Plan for 2013-2014Posted: September 3, 2013
For lots of folks, both homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike, school has been in full swing for a couple weeks or so. Um, we aren’t those folks. No, we’re getting started today. (Anyone else remember the days when school started AFTER Labor Day?)
I’m realizing that as my kids get older, and the subject matter gets a little more involved, that this might be our last year of starting this late. It can be tough to get it all in. But since we’ve been moving and painting and organizing and unpacking, starting earlier wasn’t an option anyway. (Didn’t know where all the school books even were.)
So, for what it’s worth, here’s what’s on the agenda for our school year…
I have a problem when it comes to language arts. I used to teach it. Therefore, I’m a little picky. Which means, quite honestly, I’ve never found a program that has all the bells and whistles I want. I want rich, classic literature, ample opportunities for both creative and analytical writing, and solid grammar and mechanics skills. Is that too much to ask?
But what I’ve found by and large is that curriculums are usually weighted to one side or the other. Lots of literature–not much grammar practice. Or overkill on the grammar (does any adult need to know what a gerund is–really?) without much attention to the canon of literary classics.
Last year, all this discontent led me to piece together our own language program from a few different places. It worked well for us. However, it was a TON of work for me, and no matter how you slice it, I felt like I was still missing some of those basic (and sometimes boring) skills that you find in more traditional curriculum.
SO–what is the plan? Well, after many years of playing switch the curriculum (sorry kids) I’ve decided to go with the more traditional stuff, but tailor it where I want to, making sure that we have plenty of writing opportunities. I’ve also put together book lists for my older two as well as selecting some novels to read aloud and discuss. This way, I feel like we still have the rich literature, discussion and writing that is so important to me, without neglecting the basics of the English language.
And in an effort to finally have some continuity, I’ve decided to use the same publisher for all my kids–Alpha Omega. The nice thing about Alpha Omega is that they have a few different programs to choose from. My youngest will be doing Horizons First Grade Phonic. Abby will be trying out the Life Pac for 6th grade and we’re giving Switched On Schoolhouse a shot for my 8th grader.
Although I really enjoyed putting together our studies last year, I realized that it was more than I could sustain for the long haul–time wise. I have a few other obligations and a part time job to tend to, so this is the compromise that we settled on.
But enough about language, already. Mathematics is one subject where I have NEVER made a switch. Cause I love Math-U-See. Ella will be on the Alpha book, Abby on Zeta (decimals–yuck), and Wyatt is in Algebra 1.
We have really enjoyed studying science through the Apologia curriculum. So far, my older two have covered astronomy, botany and anatomy. This year, since Wyatt is on the cusp of high school, it’s time to start him on the upper level stuff. So they won’t be using the same book. Abby chose to study birds and flying creatures and Wyatt will be moving through the general science book. I purchased the notebooking journal for both of them, since they both have enjoyed the projects in those.
Ella will be attending a human body class for 1st graders at our homeschool co-op and she and I will cover some interest led science topics throughout the year. (I think we’ll get the caterpillar/butterfly kit again :))
History and Geography
For the past few years, we have been going through The Story of the World books all together. I’ll still be reading through it with them, but Wyatt will be going through the American History program for Switched on Schoolhouse on his own. And since we’re getting ready to start on the Revolutionary War, I purchased a few extra items and biographies to go a little more in depth into this important time in history.
All three kids will be attending Friday afternoon classes at our local co-op. Ella and Abby are still taking dance. And Abby will be attending an art class and continuing with piano lessons. Wyatt will be keeping up with his guitar lessons as well.
I honestly feel a little less prepared this year than I ever have. But this is also our 8th year homeschooling, so by now the kids know the routine and they can roll with the changes. You know, as well as kids roll with change. But despite my apprehensions, I always enjoy the closeness of working and learning together during our school days.
It will be good to return to a daily routine and plug away at the work of academic, spiritual, character growth. Even if some days are two steps forward, one step back.