I'm not who I was.
The first week of hitting the books is in the books. Of course this means that social media has been exploding with back-to-school pictures, and yes, I have been a chief offender in the photo-shrapnel department. (But really, what else is new? Everyone else is just joining in with me this week.) In my defense, I come from a long line of shutter-buggers who have always had a compulsive desire to document the moment, even pre-social media existence. It’s
a genetic disorder.
There are the obligatory back-to-school photos :
and comparison collages:
You know these are first-day-of-school pics because it’s the only day other than co-op days that homeschoolers are in something other than pajamas before the time on the clock hits double digits. (At least in my house).
Then there is the question of content. I usually get asked about our curriculum by multiple sources, and having once been the inquirer, I am happy to answer. Our curriculum looks a little bit different than it did last year, but some things have remained the same. If anything ha stuck with me from my college education, it would be the phrase, “monitor and adjust”. (My professor would be proud.) That’s how we operate.
(Should you not be an inquiring mind, the remainder of this post may prove to be increasingly less interesting, save a few pics and videos you could scroll to if you have the unction).
Brief background: We homeschooled J in kindergarten, she attended public school from 1st-3rd grade, and we picked homeschooling back up last year in 4th grade. When she did kindy, I used the Abeka curriculum completely. Although I grew up around many homeschoolers, my only personal experience with homeschooling had been my senior year. (Which should really be called my senior two-months. Because being the
insane person over-achiever that I am was, I literally crammed my entirety of senior year into June and July, so as to be done before my sister’s wedding. Then I started college when I would have begun my senior year of high school. It should be noted, however that I didn’t have any math credits or science left to take, hallelujah. No, I’m not a genius. I just don’t like to waste time.) ANYWAY, I had used Abeka. And basically I remembered that I had been irritated impressed that the grammar was challenging for me, even though I had been in honors English in public school. (Don’t judge my grammar too closely anymore. Social media has ruined me.) So, not being entirely sure as to what I was getting myself into with homeschooling my own child, it just seemed less overwhelming for me to purchase a full curriculum in one fell swoop, and to use something that was at least somewhat familiar. Although there are aspects of Abeka that I really like (namely their quality in the Language Arts department), there are other aspects that aren’t my preference. I knew that were we to continue in homeschooling, I wouldn’t use one set curriculum but would pick and choose from various sources.
For the inquiring minds, J’s schedule looks something like this:
Spelling, Vocabulary and Poetry (Abeka)
Math- Teaching Textbooks Math 6– we really enjoy this CD-rom based curriculum (woo-hoo! Saves me having to teach as much!), but we found their labeling to be a little bit behind grade level, so we work up a grade with this one. I encourage visiting the web-site and clicking on the sample lesson… it’s kind of fun, and I don’t even love math. 🙂
Bible- this varies. Sometimes I have her study verses or devotionals, but primarily we have been using Apologia’s “What We Believe” series. Last year we used Who Is God? and this year we are going to use Who Am I? Plus, a lot of her other subjects have biblical aspects woven throughout.
Language- Abeka Language B, but we stick with just the work text. We don’t use any of the additional readers as we don’t use Abeka for reading.
Reading- We use Progeny Press guides for use with chapter books. J is presently working on The Indian in the Cupboard. We have future plans for A Cricket in Times Square, Holes, and The Hiding Place. (I intentionally do what I think will be our easiest book before Christmas break).
History- Mystery of History Volume 2
Science- BJU Press Science 5 (Side-note: lots of homeschooling families go with themed curricula, like a whole semester of flying creatures, or a whole year of marine biology, etc., and they really love it. I’m just too ADD for that, presently. You’re talking to a person who would rather watch a string of sitcoms than a movie… my attention span is just not that long. Last year I did a chunk of Chemistry and a chunk of Biology. This year I am going a more comprehensive route). We have been very pleased, and we are only 1 week in! I love the comprehensiveness, J loves the activities. (There are several activities to choose from too, so it’s all about how much you personally want to get in to. We don’t do them all.)
Double side-note: Science and math typically account for the most expensive portions of your curriculum… look for used!
We are also using an art book, and revisiting her Hooked on Spanish CD-rom that she has had since she was little but hasn’t pulled out in years.
For the little guy’s Pre-K/ K4 (I’m calling it both because I know a lot of what he does is/ will be kindy level even though we are “officially” referring to him as being in pre-K for the purpose of co-op and church and not having to worry about reporting grades yet), but my main goal is to get him reading. First you learn to read, and then you read to learn. We are continuing to slowly work through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Although he doesn’t struggle, he isn’t as gung ho about reading as J was/is. So we are taking our time through it so he isn’t constantly having to work as intently. It is heavily phonics-based, and I love that. It’s a little dry, but it works. Here is a video snippet from a couple of months ago: (To give you an idea of how much we have slowed down with it, the video was of lesson 60, and a couple months later we are only on lesson 69).
I am also using Easy Peasy’s Getting Ready 1, which uses the McGuffey Primer sight words. (And it’s free. yay.) For workbook type stuff, he is doing Get Ready for the Code A, and a workbook that I picked up from a chain book store. We have some BOB books, a cutting practice book, and a myriad of other short readers. And of course he really loves his computer time on Starfall and PBSkids. I have such high respect to homeschooling parents who did this before the internet and the luxury of Google.
Confession: I have totally slacked with him in the learning of the address and phone number thing. I should probably get on that.
Cheeks is really in love with maps, so although we don’t officially make it “school”, he spends a lot of his own time checking out geography. He literally steals the atlas and sneaks it in his bed.
Other stuff: Co-ops are great to get involved in. These come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from primarily supplementary, to intensely academic. At our weekly co-op, J is presently enrolled in Signing Singing, P.E. Games, Typing, and Riddles, Analogies, and Puzzles. Cheeks is in a preschool class.
If you are considering homeschooling, my number 1 practical tip would be to not feel as though you have to create a xerox copy of a mainstream classroom in order to be successful. This was the hardest thing for me to get past when J was in kindy, because not only is my degree geared toward classroom education, but I’m naturally a lover of organization and compartmentalization. Homeschooling has greatly improved my ability to glean the goodness out of go-with-the-flow-ness. (Although structure is still helpful, it’s just executed differently). Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Different is equivalent to neither inferiority nor failure.
My #2 tip would be to NOT pay full price for curriculum if you don’t have to. It’s simply not necessary to have everything be brand new. Some things I borrow and use for free. The next cheapest option is buying used from local curriculum fairs or used book stores. Today, for example, I found easy reader booklets by McGraw Hill for 5 cents each. I think I bought around 40, so I spent like $2 plus tax. If you hit it right, you can also find student text, used teachers manuals and test keys for a few cents to a few dollars, and then you’re only left to pay full price for the workbook pages and tests. The next step up in the used curriculum department is eBay. It will usually cost more than finding used books in person, but it’s still often significantly cheaper than new. It’s also a good option for re-selling curriculum when you are finished with it.
Also, laws vary by state, but it’s beneficial to register and report to an umbrella school.
That’s all I’ve got in my brain right now. It’s the weekend, and this homeschooling mama looks forward to the break as much as any other teacher. Good night! 🙂