Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This one-room schoolhouse

It seems that spring is the time not only for birds to nest and bees to get busy, but for the planning and purchasing of homeschool curriculum. If you're a homeschooler, more than likely you've been to or are planning on attending a curriculum fair or convention (or two, or more), making plans for next year and maybe even some purchases. Some of us find this part fun (that would be me), some, not so much.
Jamie over at Simple Homeschool has sent an invitation: share your plans for next year's homeschool. It still surprises me how helpful it can be to hear what others are doing and why, and so without further ado:
The Gayner Family Homeschool 2012-2013

I'm guessing that many homeschooling families have some things that change each year - some areas you have yet to find something you are truly happy with and are willing to commit to for the long haul. For us, those areas include Bible and History. There was even a time when Toby considered writing his own curriculum that tied the two together, but we would both agree that now is not the best time for that endeavor. :) So, after trying out TruthQuest History, followed by Mystery of History, we are giving Veritas Press a shot.
Because of the grades of our students, we'll be following the Explorers to 1815 stream next year. I'm really looking forward to this, as we fairly strongly identify with the classical method, I'm a big believer in the benefit of memorization, and I have yet to hear a bad word about it. I'm also seriously digging the tailored lesson plans, which will be a big help next year when I'm homeschooling 3 children, plus 2 preschoolers and a newborn.
Veritas Press is also providing us with Bible, Literature for 4th and 5th grades and Spelling (though they call it Linguistics). Noah is using their first grade curriculum, including their Geography (which looks so cute). We had a good going over of all the materials when we went to their annual Open House in Lancaster, which was so helpful - being able to see the books (I actually do seem to look with my hands, as well as my eyes :), figure out what we really needed and ask questions. Well worth the drive, it was.
Math is one of those areas which are, thankfully, steady. We found what we like early on and have been happy to stick with it.
Math U See has been great for our family because it's affordable, plain (are my kids the only ones that get distracted by bright colors and pretty pictures?!), follows a systematic pattern of teaching, and allows my kinestetic learners to physically see the concepts worked out, making an abstract idea into a concrete, observable thing. The lessons initially being taught on the DVD is a big help, too, as both student and teacher are learning the same ideas and tricks in the same way. It then doesn't matter if math isn't really your thing (it sure isn't mine!) - you can come at it again from a fresh perspective.
Grammar is another area where we are sticking with the known.

Last year we discovered Easy Grammar. Without loads of teacher involvement, it still seems to do a great job of getting the tools of good grammar in kids' heads. It's a worktext, which turns some off, but it's not loads of pages per day, very understandable, and requires the memorization of a preposition list before beginning. Loving the memorization, folks.
For Noah, we're going back to something we did when Abi and Anna were in first and second grade (which feels like it was two weeks ago) - First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind.
All the other things we tried (and there have been a few) have been a distant second in comparison to the foundation that the girls received through this book. I know some of the reviews have indicated it's "boring" and "repetitive", but I know for me and my kids, it's just what we needed. I'm not interested in a bunch of bells and whistles - in fact, I tend to run from such things - I want my kids to learn well. This has done that job. So has this:
The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading is just about the best thing since sliced bread. It costs less than $30, and without complication or needless gumph gives kids a solid foundation in phonetics and reading. It's totally idiot-proof, too, which speaks to me. Abi and Anna are both excellent readers, having gone through this book, and Noah is well on his way. One suggestion: as it's a paperback, take your copy to your local printing/copy store and have them cut the binding off and spiral bind it (not comb binding!). There'll be no looking back for you after that!
We haven't made a decision yet on language, though Rosetta Stone Spanish is being considered. As for science, we've finally decided to join our church's homeschool co-op, which has a science course available, so I can (to some extent) offload that particular job. I'm thinking I'll just do what they tell me...
I think that about covers it. I'm looking forward to hearing about everyone else's plans for next year, so won't you share with the class in the comments, or join the conversation over at Simple Homeschool? We'd all be so grateful. :)

1 comment:

Briana Almengor said...

Oh my goodness...just when we leave the co op, you decide to join! :) I'm glad you are joining up w/ them. You and the kids are going to enjoy it, I'm sure.
I still haven't put together all that I'm doing next year. I have the broad strokes, just not the nitty gritty yet. I'm hoping to get to the Narrow Road soon, though.