Sunday, March 31, 2013

Curricullulum: History & Literature

We use to have a saying in our house when a box arrived in the mail.  "Is that another history book for Dad?"  I tell you this upfront so you know our familiy's love of history.  The following is a short history of our history curriculum.

When we first started homeschooling we used Sonlight Curriculum for history and literature.  I really liked this.  Sonlight comes with an amazing instructor guide and a love to learn guarantee. (if this does not work for you family, they will give you your money back.)  Sonlight had many quality read-alouds.  It was all packaged and was very easy to facilitate.  I still think it is a great curriculum.

Then my husband and I went to our first home education convention.  We heard Susan Wise Bauer speak, and began to read The Well Trained Mind.  We began to embrace classical education and my husband took over history and literature studies in our home.  (Love that convention!!)  He began reading extensively and putting together a history curricullum. 

Currently we are using the Veritas Press History cards for grades 2-6, the Dorothy Miller History books and guides from Memoria Press for grades 6-8, and the Omnibus for 7-12th.   There is some overlap in grades on this chart due to the different needs of different children.  Within each of the grades the kids read many historical fiction and history books.  (Here is a post where I show how we organize our history cards.)

My husband has a chart for them each week that tells them by grade level what they should be reading. 

I believe you can click on it to see it in a larger format.  We love to get ideas for history books from the Veritas Press Catalog and website and   All Through the Ages: History Through Literature Guide
By Christine Miller, Publisher: Nothing New Press.  (I wrote a post about the book)

Just so you know, when a book-sized box comes in the mail, the kids ask, "Ancient or Modern?" 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Language Arts Curricullum

I really like what we are using currently for language arts.  Below is a quick summary of the curriculum in our home.

For spelling we are currently using MCP  Spelling Workout the 1994 edition.  Why the 1994 edition?  I honestly am not sure.  I think we started using that one before we knew there was a difference and have stuck with it.  This link on Lamp Post Homeschooling tells about the difference between the 1994 edition and the 2002 edition in case you would like more information.

What I like about this spelling program, is that it is easy to follow, and  the words are taught in patterns, they have editing practice each week.  My kids do one page per day with a test on Friday.  They know what to do each week and they are independent with this program.

For grammar we use Rod & Staff.  I like this program.  It is a "no frills" program. The books have been around for awhile and are very reasonably priced.  For us the best part of the program is the "Worksheets" for grade 3 and up.  The worksheets are wonderful.  They provide practice for certain parts of the book.  I have my kids just do the worksheets and the corresponding lessons from the book.  It is a good fit for us, and the kids are able to complete these independently.

For writing we use Writing with Ease  for our younger kids and Writing with Skill for middle school.  When I first was introduced to this program I was not sure if it would work.  It was so different from anything that I had seen before.  But, I heard Susan Wise Bauer the author of the program speak.  She shared that this was a very different program and other would probably wonder what we were doing with our kids.  She encouraged us to stick out fingers in our ears and ignore them.  (I kid you not on this one)  She then said if the other methods of writing were working then she would see much betters\ writers in her Freshman English classes at William and Mary.

We went through the first 4 levels with my oldest 3.  They are all now in Writing with Skill.  I am so pleased with their writing.  They are able to write outlines effectively, complete story analysis, have a great knowledge of literary terms, and are completing summaries of passages. I am glad I listened to Susan. 

Hope this helps,

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Curricullum: Memoria

People often ask me what different curricula or programs we use.  I am going to spend the next couple of weeks sharing what we have been using this year.   I hope it is helpful as you begin to attend conventions and think about next year.

In the last two years I have been using Memoria Press's all inclusive grade level programs called Classical Core Curriculum.     I have used this with my daughter for Kindergarten and First Grade.  I have been extremely pleased with this program.  My daughter has become an excellent reader and has a great foundation for the rest of her school years.

The program is phonics based with a great deal of practice.  When I talked to their representative at the Homeschool Convention they told me it was the same program that they used in their Highland Latin Schools.  I asked what percentage of children come out reading at the end of the program and they told me all of them.  (remember they only take kids into their program if they feel they will succeed)  So if your child is developmentally ready to read this is a good fit.  If they are not ready for Kindergarten they have a Junior Kindergarten program that would work well for a year.  I love the title and think it would be a good fit for late summer birthdays or those who are just not ready to learn intensively for another year.

When I heard the writer of the program speak Cheryl Lowe, she was delightful.  She talked about how this is an outline of suggested activities for 5 days per week.   She said as home educators you should feel free to use it how it works best for your family.  They sell all the parts for this program separately as well.

Next year I am using the Kindergarten again for my next daughter.  I think I will use parts of second grade and have my daughter follow what the older kids are currently using for language arts. 

More on language arts next week.
~ Becky

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Homeschooling: A Family's Journey

Why do I home school?  I think you can ask the question two ways.  There is the why do I homeschool question when you are wondering,  "What was I thinking when I thought this would be a good idea, or "Where is the number for the yellow bus to come to my home?“ Another way to think of “ Why do I home school ?” is as a reflective question which shares your philosophy of life, the beauty of what we do every day,  the answer we give that celebrates our children and shares our heart for them.   It is the answer we give when things are going well, or the answer we need to hide in our heart when the above thoughts pop into our head.

One way for me to reflect on why I homeschool is to reread one of my favorite homeschooling books, Homeschooling: A Family’s Journey by Gregory and Martine Millman.  It is a fabulous read.  The Millman family has six children, and three of them are currently in college.  The books shares how they decided to homeschool and their journey after their decision. They talk about the sacrifices they made to homeschool and have one parent stay at home with their children.  It is very thoughtful book that will encourage you and make you smile as you read their stories.  It is the story of family that will touch your heart and remind you why homeschooling is a great choice for so many of us.
My favorite paragraph is the last one in the Acknowledgment section. 
Finally, we must acknowledge, though not by name, several teachers and bureaucrats who, by their determined refusal to understand, cooperate, innovate, or extend themselves in any way, vexed us so intolerably that we knew there had to be a better way.  If they had not held closed the doors, we might never have looked for a window.   Greg and Martine Millman  Homeschooling; A Family’s Journey

That paragraph made me smile and helped me remember another reason why I homeschool.  There are many great quotes in this book that I love to reread.