I’ve been meaning to get this post up forever, but since we started school this past Monday, I’ve been too busy actually using the curricula to write about it this week. 🙂 I hope that starting tomorrow, I can write up a School Week in Review sort of post, so I’m putting this out there so that tomorrow’s post won’t require a lot of explanation.
Steady Eddie and I got away a couple of weeks ago to plan out the year. Normally we would’ve chosen to actually go away–maybe to a nearby town with a Panera Bread restaurant so we could eat yummy food and have wireless internet access. 🙂 (Doing this sort of task at home is completely out of the question. At home, all I see is dust and laundry.) However, since we would be bringing along the DLM, we opted to just go over to the church that hosts and sponsors our homeschool group so we could use the copier and spread all the goodies out on the table. No one was at the church, so there would be no one to bother if the DLM decided to get fussy. While we worked, the DLM was unusually good. (We’ve since concluded that the little charmer has finally found his sense of humor.) Thankfuly, he spent a good deal of his time doing this:
We had actually made all of the curricular decisions before this workday. I just wanted to point out the fact that prior to this workday, I was feeling panicky about this year. After the workday, my panic was a little more manageable. I still had an infant who likes to cry a good bit when he’s awake (but he’s getting better–see above) and still doesn’t know that night time is for sleeping; a four year old who wants desperately to be as old and as capable as her sister, but isn’t there yet; and a six year old who loves learning but definitely has her own idea about the way this all should work. At the end of that day, I had our first week planned (in my new homeschool planner!) and a new lease on what our year might look like. Mostly, I was excited about what we would be learning and discovering together!
Before getting into the curricula that we’re using, I need to give a little bit of background about my middle child. Yes, Louise. As I mentioned above, she really wants to do everything that Lulu does, but she’s just not quite there yet. Since she has a late fall birthday, I have been torn about whether to go ahead and “do” kindergarten with her this year, even though she won’t officially be old enough until next school year. What I’ve decided is this: I am going to do my best to teach this girl to read this year because she wants it so badly, but I’m not calling her a kindergartener until next year. I mean, so far as I can tell, there’s really no advantage to graduating high school a year early. However, how can I not teach a child who is determined to spell things out for herself? She gave me this note which she composed during rest time one day last week. She wrote, “You are my mom. I love you because you [are] pretty.” She did this unaided, and so I think she’s ready to tackle the finer points of phonics, don’t you?
Bible and Devotion
I mentioned earlier this year that we were working our way through The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories, and we’re continuing with this daily in the new school year. I’m even noticing that this little children’s Bible is helping me in my own quest to read the Bible through–I am already familiar with some of the more obscure Old Testament stories that I haven’t read in a while because I just read them to my girls.
In addition to this, we are using volume one of Hymns for a Kid’s Heart by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada. Although I grew up singing hymns and “convention songs” in church, at our church now we mainly sing contemporary praise and worship songs. However, I don’t want my girls to be ignorant of the great songs of the church, so I hope we can work our way through this series. I love that it comes with a CD of the hymns so we don’t have to hunt for them. Each hymn has a little story about the composer and then a devotion based on the hymn, so we spread this out over two days. On the days we don’t read about a hymn, I share a devotion from Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M. Schoolland.
The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading is what we started with a couple of years ago, and it has been very effective so far for Lulu, so we’re continuing on with it for first grade. Lulu is picking up around lesson 80. I’ve actually worked through a good bit of it with Louise, too, but it was rather hit and miss last year. We’re starting all over at the beginning for her K-4 year. Lulu will also read aloud to me one book (or a chapter in a longer book) per day and for ten minutes silently at the beginning of rest time. Louise will read aloud to me as she is able.
I hope this isn’t overkill, but Lulu will be working through both volume one of First Language Lessons and volume one of Writing with Ease this year for first grade. Louise will listen in and participate when she wants to. 🙂
We’re sticking with RightStart Math again for first grade, and this year Lulu will be in level B. I commission Steady Eddie with the task of choosing a math curriculum each year, and he likes this one. I like it, too, but it is very teacher intensive–I really need to prepare these lessons in advance. (I’m guessing that most math is at this age, though.) Louise has a kindergarten math workbook that she can work in if she chooses to, and she will join us in playing the many math games that RightStart is known for.
After much deliberation and studying of the forums over at The Well-Trained Mind, we decided on Elemental Science. We are working through Biology for the Grammar Stage for first grade, and Louise is along for the ride.
This is the subject we went back and forth about this most, I think. I had actually purchased volume one of Story of the World and its activity guide back sometime last year, but I began to panic about it when I was contemplating homeschooling and caring for an infant. Steady Eddie really wanted me to choose something that I wouldn’t have to plan, and we seriously considered going with Sonlight. In the end, though, I realized that simply doing history The Well-Trained Mind way would be simple enough, and I resisted buying anything else. Of course, we’re adding plenty of picture books, etc., which I have gleaned from various threads on the forums. Again, Louise will be accompanying Lulu in her history studies.
In addition to all of this, we’ll continue our read-alouds. I’ll also try to sneak in an art activity or two when I can. Both girls will be taking class piano lessons as of September, as well. The only thing we don’t have a plan for is physical activity/education (beyond our homeschool group meetings three Fridays each month beginning in September), but I’m counting on this horrid heatwave that has swept the South to end some time so we can get outdoors again. (No one should have to be out when the heat index is 108 degrees!) We’ve talked about putting the girls in Upward soccer again, but we might sit this season out and try basketball in the winter. We’ll see.
It’s going to be a good year!