I have learned a lot this fall as our first “official” fall of homeschooling (even though I consider us to be homeschooling since birth…). I have learned that writing out a daily list of lessons for an entire semester probably isn’t a great idea. Of course, within three weeks due to having to go out of town and such, we were a bit behind. At first it was easy to catch up, but then it wasn’t so easy as one after another of us would get a bit under the weather, us girls were at my MIL’s for a week and stuff like that. From now on, I will only sit down and plan out a month or a few weeks at a time. Then I won’t be so discouraged looking at the plans on my lovely wall calendar that aren’t syncing with where we are at. And we also have been dealing with the issue that we are way ahead in our workbooks and science curriculum. Fun stuff.
I’ve learned that it is more than ok to just go and do with your materials what is best for you and your children. After the Bugs started complaining that her stories were too short, she wanted more work than her preschool program provided, I pretty much chucked the daily lesson plans anyway. We are reading through the read alouds, getting tons of extra books from the library weekly and having a blast learning by helping mom cook, do laundry and just living life at this stage. She seems to be understanding things that she isn’t “supposed” to yet. If you give her a verbal math story problem (a simple addition or subtraction one), most of the time, she will get it right. From what I’ve been reading, she should only be able to work with visual manipulatives right now and come up with correct answers by using them. Not so for this smarty pants. I may have problems later though if she is mathematically inclined. I’m not.
If something isn’t working for you, it is ok to just not use it. Even if everyone you know swears it is the best there is. We were using a phonics program that A LOT of our friends, acquaintances and people on forums I frequent use. They love it. It worked for them. My eldest, not so much. There was too much with symbols over the letters for the sounds they make, dots and lines and arrows under the letters and when we tried to sound words out in a “real book,” she didn’t recognize the letters to make the sounds she was taught they do because they didn’t have all the extra stuff surrounding them. So, I gave it up after being bored to tears, dealing with uncooperativeness during lesson time and fighting through the daily lessons. I think I have found our replacement. We shall see. Hopefully we’ll be able to get it in time to start second semester. If not, then I’ll just keep on working with her using real books and sounding stuff out that way. I have the feeling though that once all this clicks in her mind, there will be absolutely no stopping her.
Bugs has been begging to learn about the stars, the sun and the moon. I’ve been leaning heavily towards using Apologia’s Exploring Creation series next year anyway and I know this will work out well with it. I can start her in Exploring Creation with Astronomy. Now, if anyone has a telescope they’d like to give us….. 😉
Next year, well, is still sort of up in the air. I’ve been researching and looking at things and trying to figure out where the Bugs would be grade-wise. At this point, I’m wishing I had ordered the Core K from Sonlight instead of the Core P 4/5. We got it back in March this year when we had the money to order it with the plans to start this fall and to follow the public school calendar. Well, within the first month, I realized that she was ready for P 4/5 back in the spring and is ready for Core K now. So, I’ve been supplementing in lots of areas with extra reading, activities and such. Hindsight is 20/20 they say. So, after looking around and doing a lot of reading of catalogs (which I have yet more on the way from various companies) I think we are skipping kindergarten next year. It would be senseless and pure drudgery to put us both through it since she is beyond that.
I’m looking at combining Core 1 from Sonlight and the 1st grade curriculum package from Timberdoodle. I think the read alouds from Sonlight will complement The Story of the World book and activity book from Timberdoodle very well. They both use “real books” and narrative to teach history chronologically, which is what is recommended in the Classical Education mindset (I’m a blend of classical and Charlotte Mason). I haven’t totally decided on Bible yet, and of course, there are things that I don’t really want in the Timberdoodle package (I want a different handwriting program than either company offers for instance, and I don’t want the phonics program with the first grade Timberdoodle either, but they are willing to customize your package if they can for you, which I think is terrific), and I’m still waiting on some catalogs from other companies yet. Good thing this is only mid-November, I’ve got some time before I have to really make these decisions. And of course, finances will also come into play. What I want is probably not what I’m going to get as all told, just for the packages I have listed, it will be over seven hundred dollars just for the books. Which is a bargain compared to private school, and probably what we would end up spending if we sent her to public school (which due to her birthday won’t be eligible for kindergarten until the 2012-2013 year, and she’ll be beyond that by then) for transportation (the bus for our elementary school picks up before seven a.m. which is ridiculous for school that starts at eight), school clothes, lunch box, lunch money, field trips, extra supplies (like tissues, and dry erase markers for the classroom and other stuff that personally parents shouldn’t have to provide for the whole class), and of course the teacher presents and school fundraisers that the parents get suckered into ordering from. So, even then homeschooling would probably be cheaper than our “free” public education around here, at least for the first part of elementary school. And then, of course I will have books and teacher guides for the successive child/ren, so homeschooling gets cheaper each kid that goes through the curriculum. Instead of paying the same or more for tuition at private school, and all the same things yet again for public school. We’ll see what happens when it is time to order. God provided for this year. I know he won’t neglect next year either.
I have to sit down yet and compare the reading lists for the Tapestry of Grace curriculum with Sonlight yet also. I don’t know if I would be able to do that cheaper or not yet, and TOG goes with the Classical model of education and uses The Story of the World for the spine for history too. I have a friend who has gotten all of year one’s books for TOG on paperback swap. Something to consider, but since I would be starting that out next year I don’t know if I have enough time or books to offer at this point on paperback swap to get it all. We shall see.
I’m also trying to decide when to start our study of Latin. Yes, Latin. I’ve found a good starting curriculum I think (and fairly cheap too), but do I start it at where it suggests for grade level? If so, then she isn’t in the age range for it. But if I wait for the suggested age range, then she’ll be way above it grade level. Oh the conundrums of having an advanced child….I’m leaning towards using Song School Latin to introduce it next year and moving on from there. I haven’t decided which Latin program we are going to be using. Nearly all the reviews for the programs I’ve seen have been very highly in favor of it all. Makes making the decision that much harder on me. Oh well, there is still time, right? Do you teach Latin? If so, what do you use for the early years?
So, have you found any great things, curriculum for your homeschool? Want to share with me and others? Please do, I’m always looking for new resources. Besides, I love getting new catalogs in the mail. Yeah, it doesn’t take much to excite me, does it?