15 August 2012

Homeschool it up!

This will be our second year homeschooling.  The Captain is entering First grade, Little Miss is Kindergarten, The Animal is Preschool, and Sweet Cheeks is just a baby, so we'll be in survival mode for her.  I am very excited that we'll be going through a Charter School this year.  The Captain will be doing First Grade with them.  Little Miss is doing Kindergarten work, however, since she has a late birthday she won't officially be entering Kindergarten until next fall (she'll just be doing First Grade work).

I have researched and researched and researched (as have all of us) on which curriculum and method to use.  Last year was a hodge podge of whatever I could do/afford/liked at the time.  I've always been drawn to the Classical method and so I have chosen it.  There are so many methods that I really like and see the value in each one.  Who knows, in the next year or so I may tweak my method a bit.  The Well Trained Mind is an amazing book.  I spent a few days at Barnes and Noble reading parts that I could.  Hey, don't judge, I have a fine at the library and I don't have the funds to buy the book right now.  I scribbled furiously in my notebook while shoving vanilla wafers into Sweet Cheeks' mouth.  Eat! Shhh! No laughing!  I jest.  Laughing is allowed. Sometimes.

First Grade

Language Arts: 

Reading  The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
Cons: When I started this with The Captain last school year he really wasn't into it.  He didn't like the verses to memorize and I really had to work hard to get him to pay attention and do what was asked of him.  The one thing I liked about 100 EZ Lessons is that they would have you sound it out slowly and then have you say it fast.  I think I will start implementing that so that The Captain realizes that he is sounding out actual words.

Pros: Well, fast forward a whole year and he likes it just fine.  We did Learn to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which is a great source, he just would never sit still to look at the book.  I retried OPTR again after reading TWTM and he got into it and sat still and moved through it well.  The only thing that I've noticed I have to watch him at is when I'm having him sound out words (he's just now starting) they ask you to sound it out first, then do it together, and then have them do it alone.  Well, he was just memorizing what we had just done and not really doing it himself.  I solved this by not sounding out with him unless he needed help/prompting.  That is working well so far (only two days in).  He is motivated to do his reading and I really like the way the book is laid out.  I think I'll have to get some books to supplement for reading now and then I think he'll really be excited when he's reading real books.

Grammar: First Language Lessons for a Well Trained Mind

I'm really looking forward to this curriculum.  We'll do memorization, narration, and copywork.  He'll also learn about parts of speech and all that fun stuff.  I can't wait to see him recite poems to us; I know he'll be so proud of himself.

Spelling: All About Spelling 1
Notes: i'm sure everyone has heard of All About Spelling for a while now.  I certainly have.  I picked this out to use and then after reading TWTM I decided to go for Spelling Workout A. Well, after looking at a sample for it and reading reviews I bagged that and went back to AAS.  I am very excited about this one and I hope that it is just as good as I hope it to be.

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears 1st Grade
Pros: My kids love their handwriting workbooks.  They loved the wood letters and the slates.  I think I could've used them more than I did.
Cons: Too many components to the program that it becomes confusing about what you really need and what would be nice to have.  I got by with the letters, the books, and the slates.  Everything else I did on my own.  I think I'm going to buy the double line writer later on down the road for practicing.  I guess I'd better buy a whiteboard/large chalkboard first.

Writing: Writing With Ease

There is a great review on Amazon about this.  I am big on students learning to write well.  As I type this out I'm mumbling, "oh great, I've just made every self-made editor go back over my post with their red pens and disappointed looks."  Well, I can't be perfect all the time; I've got to make everyone feel good.

Phonics: Explode the Code?
Notes: I like the idea of ETC.  The Charter school requires that we do a phonics program but, I'm not sure if they're going to count OPTR and AAS as that.  If so, I'll save me some bones.  If not, we'll use it as a supplement when he needs the extra practice/reinforcement.

Math: Saxon Math 1
Notes:  We did Singapore Math, the Kindergarten level last year. The Captain liked his math, though there were some sections that were very repetitious and we skimmed through some of the material.  There were times when I found myself taking 30 minutes to explain their wording in a question they'd ask just so he could understand what they were even asking.  For instance, the word set, fewer than (when they had previously used a different way of saying it).  Obviously, this happens in math and all subjects, it was just frustrating to have to go way around the lesson to make their requests clear rather than teaching the subject.  I've heard great things about Saxon.  The Captain might miss all the bright colored objects but, then, he might not be so focused on making sure he is drawing 10 strawberries that look just like the ones in the book that he'll be able to learn the concept instead.

History: Story of the World and Activity Book.  Also, our school district requires that I do US History so we'll be also doing Road Trip USA to meet those requirements.  That's a lot of history and geography!!!

Notes:  I think I am most excited about SOTW than anything else this year.  We're starting with Ancient Times and to hear me say (or hear yourself say it with my pretend voice - I slur my words a lot, so make sure you get that in) that I'm excited about Ancient Times is amazing.  Usually any movie that happens from the beginning of time until the Victorian Era (or thereabouts) is deemed unfit for my viewing or reading pleasure.  They're so dirty and life is so... ugh.  If it's the Victorian era but, in the US, it might still not be glamorous enough for me. So, I think I should just say the olden times only in England, then around the 1900s I will stick around to read/watch/enjoy.

Wow, that was a long tangent.  You read read read and narrate and map, and color and dictate.  The activity book looks fantastic.

I love Road Trip USA.  My kids were bored with the Atlas and information last year, but I think that was because it was over their heads.  I am pretty sure they'll get into this year: they've been fascinated with maps of late and knowing where everyone lives (outside of the OR) that I'm sure they'll enjoy it this year.  The projects look like great fun.  Heck, I'm excited about all the food items we get to eat over the year.  Ben & Jerry's ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, cheeseburgers, Philly Cheese steaks, blueberry muffins, and on and on and on.  It's a good thing I'm training for a triathlon or else all that food would help me to put some padding back on.

Art: Artistic Pursuits, World's Greatest Artists, and a few art classes over the course of the year at the Charter School.

I love Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She is a.ma.zing.   She is constantly coming up with great curriculum and ideas.  I covet (yes, I'm breaking a commandment) her school room.  One day my prince (a school room with all the fixin's in it) will come!

Music:  World's Greatest Composers and General Music class on campus.  After the general music class I'll be signing The Captain up for either piano or violin.  I really want to push the violin.  I am going to attempt to be a good parent and let him choose between the two and not try to sway him (too much).

Science: We have Science Experiments in a Bag 1 from last year that I never used.  Whoops.  The Well Trained Mind suggest using three different books to study with and I will do that and supplement with the experiments in a bag and the ones suggested in the books as well.  The DK First Animal Encylopedia.  The Kingfisher Human Body Encyclopedia and Green Thumbs.

PE:  Family Time Fitness.  There's a PE class at the YMCA we might do and we also will do some swimming (he really wants that).  I'd love to enroll him in karate/whatever it's called and/or gymnastics to try it out, but he wants swimming.  Maybe I could say, you can do swimming if you do violin?  See, I'm already violating my pact to not push him.  Ugh.

Am I forgetting anything?  I hope not.  I guess I can always come back to fix it.


Reading: The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.

Handwriting: HWT Kindergarten

Math: Singapore Math KA and KB

Language Arts/Logic/Math:  Letters of the Week and K4

Little Miss will listen in with us during history and science.  I won't force her to participate but, knowing her, she will want to.  She will also do Art and some of the music with us.  She won't begin formal lessons until next year.  After I get a few paychecks I might enroll her in some dance classes.  She'll love them.  I'd also love to put her in gymnastics.  I think she'd enjoy that even more than dancing.


I am planning on making 10 or so activity bags (or whatever container I put them in) for The Animal.  Then, each week or two I have a goal of making a new one for him.  I'll also be making some file folder games/activities.


Oh! I almost forgot, I'll be doing a calendar binder for the oldest two kids.  Last year we tried to do a calendar board and some of the elements were flops and others it turned into a fight every day.  The calendar binder idea really appealed to me because 1) they each had their own binder. 2) It took up a lot less space. 3) I think the hands-on approach to filling in the dates will be more concrete for them.  4) it's more fun!

I first saw it on Mama Jenn's blog. This morning I saw another one on Motherhood on a Dime.  She even has made free printables so you don't have to sift through to find ones you like on other sites.  She has tweaked her differently from Mama Jenn's.  I like both of their approaches.  I'll be using Motherhood on a Dime's printables. I probably won't use all of them just yet - like the "fix this sentence" page.  My first grader isn't quite ready for that one.  Oh! I like on Mama Jenn's board the birthday graph.  I can see my kids having fun with that one for sure.Check them out if you can, they're a great change-up on the traditional calendar board.

I think that's it for now.  As of now, I haven't received my curriculum, just planned it out.  I'll be meeting with our ES (Educational Specialist) this week to sit down and get it all ordered and sent to us.  School doesn't start here until September 4th!  Can you believe that!?  In Texas, growing up, we were in school already.  I am in planning mode.  I just bought The Weekly Homeschool Planner but, I'm not too sure how much I like it.  I got it on sale for $12, regularly $20, and I don't even feel like it was worth $12.  I hate when people say it's hundreds of pages (or however many) and it is but, it's 100 pages of the same thing over and over again.  Right.  I thought it'd have more variety of options but no luck.  I think I might've been better off using Donna Young's free stuff.  I really like her subject planner.  I almost got Life as Mom's organizer but, there were no previews of the homeschool packet.  I really wanted her regular planner but, I didn't go with them because 1) I couldn't find any reviews on it from people that had used it, and 2) I bought her summer survival guide and wasn't all that impressed with it.  Ugh.  Now I've wasted $12 and I'm tempted to waste $12 more on another planner I might not like.  So, I'm going to have to suck it up, make this planner work and then add in some DY printables and make my own.  I'll stop whining.  Tomorrow.

It'll be a fun a busy school year with our curriculum, our Charter school and our Homeschool group.  I can't wait!  Well, I can, actually, I'm just so excited to see my kids learn and grow and love to read and absorb all they can.  I'm looking forward to all the learning I'll get to do along the way as well.

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