May 19, 2012

Do We Use a Certain Curriculum?

Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start & finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

Dear Lisa,

In no way do I mind your questions.  Asking questions and sharing ideas is one of the ways we make a successful home school.  I have answered many of these questions to some degree before here at Art's Chili Pepper.  If you check the Homeschool Label on the side bar you can check out some previous posts that may be of interest to you.  In the meantime, let me try to summarize some of your questions quickly.

Do you use a certain curriculum? 

I do not use any set curriculum.  I have never found any one which seemed to meet all our requirements.  As a matter of fact, I don't even use the same books for each child.  I think every child learns differently and to try to fit them into any one curriculum is more of that public school mind set.  I have more home school moms who sabotage their efforts by falling into this error.  Either because they don't consider their children's learning styles, they don't want to spend the money or simply because they don't know any better.  I try to make my children as much a part of the decision making process as possible when choosing curriculum.  

For Bible I like the Bible Nurture and Reader Series for the primary grades and this series for middle school both by Rod and Staff.  For older children we use the ABC's of Christian Growth among other things as they strike our fancy.  

Reading and Phonics are part of the Bible Nurture and Reader series for the younger grades.  You can read more about this series by clicking this link.  Once they are proficient with reading I forgo this program and move on to Easy Grammar.  You can read a more in depth post about Easy Grammar over here.  Once they have mastered grammar, we put it aside.  My children are all eager readers, even our dyslexic child so I don't see much need to teach something they already do well.  Brianna has an interest in Literature and chose to add the Abeka Literature program to her Highschool Curriculum.  

For Science and Healthy we like Abeka text books in the primary grades.  My kids read these like novels.  And, in my way of thinking, if you have a text book they won't put down, you have a winner. We also have a subscription to Ranger Rick for the youngers and Kids Discover for the older children. Before they can read, my children enjoy having these read aloud to them.  Again, they go back to these over and over and over again.  That makes me think it is a good resource for learning.  The older children also like the Abeka Science books but we also add other resources.  We have used a variety of videos for science over the years including, Moody Science Classics (shop around for these.  I got my set new for around $100 but I have see them up to $300), various Science series from Creation Today,    Answers In Genesis and Schlessingers Inventors of the World Series  (these are very expensive but we were able to get them from the public library.  Schlessingers has lots of teachers helps to download for free to accompany their video programs).  Brianna is using the Chemistry 101 Series from Westfield Studios.  This is an incredible program for highschool students.  Brianna started it and the other children found it so interesting they are all doing it, even Elisabeth likes to sit in on lessons and is learning to some degree.   For more information on Science you can click this link.

For History we again lean a lot on Abeka.  You can't go wrong when your children say, "I am finished my dinner.  May I be excused to brush my teeth and read history."  I have used many videos from Schlessinger media over the years to bring history more to life.  Our local library carries a large variety of these and you could easily build a program without ever opening a text book.  We like to use literature in History as much as possible.  We love to read and we love to read aloud so it is a win, win situation if you can bring a good book into it.  Brianna was very fond of the G.A. Henty books for History.  Note:  These are all available FOR FREE to Kindle owners.  Of course, there are lots of great field trips you can do to supplement your program.  For more information on history click this link.  

Quick note:  Abeka's website is arhaic, bulky and difficult to use.  I recommend ordering a free catalog and then once you know what you want order on line or find an Abeka sale in your area.  You enjoy free shipping which saves you ten percent if you shop at the periodic sales. 

For more information on curriculum check out this post.  This link will take you to all the posts dealing with Curriculum.  

I have tried to enter the kids Curriculum for the year each fall.  I see that I did not do that last fall, likely because of being busy with newborn Carmella and all our traveling.  I will try to get that up here in the next few days to wrap up our school year.

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