Hello, 2nd week of August! For our family, this is the crunch time of prepping for the upcoming school year. And, we try to squeeze in some more summertime fun while the weather cooperates.
Today is the kick-off of the 2016 5 Days of Homeschool 101 Series from the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The theme for today is Curriculum. So, I am going to share a bit about my homeschool curriculum choices, specifically for the 2016 – 2017 school year.
Some days I can hardly believe this will be our 10th year homeschooling the boys.
My eldest seems to have transitioned well from being homeschooled to attending the local university as an engineering student. And, my youngest is picking up steam as he enters 1st grade with a recent explosion in reading over the summer. The boy has caught the reading bug and is now reading to ME!
When you heard the word curriculum, do you get visions of textbooks?
I’ll admit that I sometimes do.
However, homeschool curriculum is not limited to just the traditional textbook. Admit it, not every textbook out there gets someone excited to learn!
In our house, we use a variety of approaches based on the overall needs of the child and the mama. Some kids love to sit down with a workbook while others need more interaction. And, there are times when I need a child to work independently.
As we are still active members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, some of our learning plans adjust through the year. This is especially true for my youngest son. Once they enter high school, I find it more challenging to switch gears mid-year.
Links in the post may be affiliate ones. Most of them are to past posts for product reviews or previously written posts on curriculum choices.
Homeschool Curriculum Choices for My 1st Grader
My emphasis for early elementary grades is on the basics.
Can he read?
Is he able to write?
Are basic math skills being learned?
Everything else (art, music, science, social studies, etc.) is gravy.
This is the approach used by Catholic Heritage Curricula during those years. I loved the simple pace for 1st grade when I used their program with my second son. It is very Charlotte Mason like. Short bursts of work. Emphasis on nature studies.
Since moving to Alaska and entering into IDEA, I have moved to using more programs that are considered ‘fundable’ (aka NOT religious.) Although, I’ll admit I sometimes long to just use the CHC lesson plans with my son. Instead, I have the following planned:
Horizons Phonics and Reading for 1st Grade
We are not quite done with the kindergarten materials we were sent for review. A local store was closing this summer and I grabbed the last box set for 1st grade so we are ready to move directly into it. This is definitely a workbook approach with readers that go along with the program. I love that the material is laid out so that my husband or any of the boys can help J with his work for the day.
All About Spelling, Level A
This is a teacher intensive program, but I have seen great success with my older boys. Like the Horizons reading, the teacher guide is laid out simply and if needed an older brother can help him. Read past posts about my love of All About Spelling.
All of the older boys have used Math-U-See. While I might revert back to it later, for now, we are using Right Start Math. J loves the manipulatives. I like some of the reasoning behind the approach.
We are also using different online programs to supplement. CTCMath and IXL Math are the primary ones. I also have a set of Life of Fred books for him to read through. The silly stories do showcase math in a different light.
We are currently working through Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy for review. We might not be able to do night sky observations quite yet here in Alaska. However, there’s a lot to learn in the meantime. My older 2 boys worked through the original edition several years ago and remember most of what they learned.
Additionally, he started Introductory Science from Science Shepherd this spring. I plan to finish that one before the online subscription component expires. Beyond the video instruction and workbook, there are hands-on experiments to help him learn.
At this stage, I want him to continue learning about the world around him. Learning to live as a member of a community. With the Presidential election coming up, I know he’ll learn a bit about American Government during dinner time discussions.
And, we have the Moving Beyond the Page 5 – 7 materials only partially completed from last year. We both like the use of books to help teach the concepts over time.
We’ll most likely do some art projects using art programs we have in the house already. Music will be a continuation of Music Appreciation and possibly a return to drum lessons.
Physical Education will be a mixture of things. For now, we are reviewing the program WAY Comes Home which integrates health and fitness.
Homeschool Curriculum Choices for My 8th Grader
Eight grade is a serious transition year. This is where you hope your child starts to take things to a new level in preparation for high school work.
This one is somewhat up in the air still. I have a lot of resources in house and know that my son will do a ton of reading.
After working through an online program for pre-algebra, he is wanting to get back to pen and paper. So, Math-U-See Algebra I will be the core component.
We are going to do an integrated science approach this year with primary focus upon the physical sciences. At this time, I am looking at using Real Science 4 Kids middle school books.
I have a few families with 7th and 8th graders who will come to the house once a week for a lab course I’ll be teaching. Hands-on learning through experimentation is the best way to get kids excited about science and hopefully keep it that way!
I am so excited to have D work through Notgrass’ Uncle Sam and You. This program provides 2 hardcover texts that are not boring and laid out well for daily work. I’ve already purchased new copies of the workbook and lesson review book for him. There are also some literature selections which will count towards his language arts work.
Technology is one that will be on my son’s learning plan. The focus is going to be mostly on robotics, but there might be some other aspects as well.
Music is something he loves. I suspect he’ll continue private lessons for clarinet and saxophone. He also dabbles with piano at home. And, this year we plan to have him in the community band which is co-lead by his former band teacher.
Physical education is a must and really a hodge podge of activities at this point.
Homeschool Curriculum Choices for My 11th Grader
Language Arts & Social Studies
Sonlight’s Core 100 will be the base for his American Literature and American History courses. My eldest son did this program and truly loved the books.
As we are not big fans of A History of Us by Joy Hakim, we are going to use All-American History from Bright Ideas Press. What my eldest son liked about All-American History is that the student readers present the facts (as is best possible to discern them) but does not editorialize on them.
We are going to be using the textbook Conceptual Physics. It is not math heavy, but rather is concept based. I am planning to teach a group of high schoolers using this book in weekly meet ups with a combination of presentation, work session, and experiments.
This is still a little bit of a fuzzy area. My son’s continuing with the Academic Decathlon program. The focus this year is World War II. I’m just trying to figure out how it will be spread across his learning plan for the year.
He’d like to do a technology class and is looking at a 3D printing class. I’m just trying to figure out the cost involved as that needs a 3D printer in the house. Actually, ALL the boys are lobbying for him to take the class just so we have a 3D printer available.
There you have it…my long list of what each of the boys should be doing this year.
Look down below to find other Schoolhouse Crew members writing on the topic of curriculum today. If you are a curriculum junkie like me, I’m sure you’ll find plenty to pine over!