I sort of feel like a curriculum post for this next school year is either a.) old-hat by this point, since I’ve mentioned Charlotte Mason so many times in recent blog posts or b.)pointless, because I’m still not exactly sure what I’m doing on quite a few fronts. However, since we’ll be starting our new school year officially next week and since this week is the “Not” Back-to-School Blog Hop at Heart of the Matter Online, I’m going to try to put it all here in this post.
This year at the House of Hope we have a second grader and a kindergartener. The second grader surprises me–how did she get so old?–and the kindergartener might actually be a second grader herself, cleverly disguised as an almost-six year old on some days, then again and most decidedly a five year old on others. Oh, and we have a one year old who loves to walk, get into things, and shriek, not necessarily in that order. 🙂
I fully intended to write up a year-in-review post regarding last year’s curricula, and I still might if I have the time (ha ha!), but I’ll probably just allow my reflections here about what we’re doing differently this year suffice.
Bible/Memory Work/Latin/Circle Time :
We’re continuing with The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories (my review here) by Mary Batchelor, a book we’ve been reading together since some time last year. I think we picked it up when I decided fairly early on that Leading Little Ones to God was not a good fit for us. We’re in the middle of the New Testament now, so I anticipate finishing this pretty soon and just moving on to plain old Bible reading then, unless I run across some other devotional literature that looks good. (Steady Eddie plans to be intentional this year about our reading the Bible together as a family after supper, too, so this helps me feel a little less pressure about it during circle time.)
I want to continue with Hymns for a Kid’s Heart, using volume two this year. Volume one was a huge hit with the girls last year, and we’ve quite a few hymns tucked into our individual memories and collective family memory.
I hope to pare down our memory work this year to focus on Bible quiz questions and verses (which will hopefully coincide with the book of the Bible we’re reading), a hymn, and a poem.
We’re also picking up Latin this year. This was an early purchase for me back in March before I had converted to giving the CM method a wholehearted effort this year. However, Lulu knows about it and asks me weekly when we’re starting Latin, so I think we’ll just add it in very casually and for fun.
- Reading: Louise will continue with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. It seems like we’ve been doing this forever, but I really think Louise is on the cusp of taking off as a reader. What a joy it will be to see her, nose stuck in a book and oblivious to the world around her. 🙂 As of this week, Lulu will have finished OPGTTR, so she will just keep on practicing by reading aloud daily.
- Grammar: Last year Lulu completed Fist Language Lessons, but she didn’t like it very much. I’m coming to realize that it’s important for Lulu to be able to read things herself; too many oral lessons, and she gets frustrated. I considered trying something more workbookish, like Rod and Staff. Earlier in the year, too, I was all set to purchase the Michael Clay Thompson grammar series. However, after many, many conversations with Steady Eddie, my dear mother-in-law (who is a teacher and whose opinion I value highly), and myself, I have decided to not do any grammar this year. This is where doing things the CM way is sort of hard for me–I’ve always been in the early camp, not the delayed camp when it comes to introducing academics. I believe enough in the power of reading good literature daily and in taking the long view of education, so we’re giving it a try.
- Spelling: We have All About Spelling, the fabulous curriculum that almost everybody who tries it loves, just waiting on us on a shelf in the school room closet. I’ve even started doing it a couple of times with Lulu, and neither time did she like it. She has consistently balked at doing spelling, but I was committed to doing AAS with her this year. Then I started delving into CM more and more, and I have decided that we’re in for a penny, in for a pound–we’re going to slowly work towards transcription this year, using the “mind’s eye” to “see” the words and spell them correctly. We’ll see how it goes! (Reading this post at Wildflowers and Marbles convinced me of the sheer lunacy of trying to do it both ways, a feat that I surely would’ve attempted if wiser voices hadn’t prevailed. 😉 )
- Writing: Lulu wil be doing oral narrations this year.
I’ll be using both The Complete Writer and Hearing and Reading, Telling and Writing to make sure that my expectations are on-target.
Handwriting: Both girls are making the switch from Handwriting without Tears to Getty-Dubay Italics this year. Lulu is itching to learn to write cursive, so I thought the Italics style would be a nice way to ease into it.
Math: Lulu will pick up RightStart level C when we start school next week, and she will continue working through Math Mammoth, practicing topics as they come up in RightStart, more or less. We’ve also thought about adding the word problem book from Singapore Math, but we haven’t bought that yet.
Louise is about half a year ahead of where Lulu was when she started kindergarten because Louise started RightStart A after Christmas last school year. Since we have some extra time built in, then, I plan to take it nice and easy with Louise, adding in lots of RightStart games, maybe some Math Mammoth, and some good math picture books.
Picking up where we left off last year, we’ll be studying the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation this year. We’ll use Famous Men of the Middle Ages as our spine, which is a change from Story of the World last year. I’m looking forward to using this resource, which is essentially a collection of biographical sketches. However, we also have Story of the World volume two, so I’ll use that to fill out the picture a little more completely. Of course, there will be lots and lots of picture books, nonfiction titles, and novels, to go along with this fascinating historical time period. I’m sure many of these will be featured in future blog posts!
Art and Composer Study: We’re using Artistic Pursuits in conjunction with Harmony Fine Art’s Medieval and Renaissance Art curriculum. I’m really looking forward to this!
What’s conspicuously absent here is science, and that’s because I’m not sure what curriculum we’ll use for science, other than we’ll be on the lookout for good books to explore our topics. Steady Eddie and I have agreed that we’ll work on history for the first half of the school year, and then we’ll switch to science as our “other” subject after Christmas, so I have some time to figure this out. I haven’t hammered out how this will affect our schedule exactly (in terms of how to accomplish doing it all double-time, in effect, if we want to get to the end of a curriculum that would normally take about 36 weeks), but I’m hoping that this will give us more freedom to explore topics in-depth as they pique our interest. Of course, we’ll be doing nature study throughout the year. (I’m really excited about getting back to doing more of Barb’s challenges!) I also plan to have Lulu read science books of her choosing each week before Christmas; after Christmas, she’ll switch over to history books for some of her required reading. By doing this, she’ll really be “doing” history and science all year. 🙂
Our Fridays will be free this year to do our art and composer studies, take field trips, or simply catch up on things when the dust bunnies threaten to run us out of the house. 🙂
Both girls will continue with piano lessons. Lulu will be starting private, one-on-one lessons, and Louise will continue as a part of a small piano class. We’re looking into both girls taking ballet beginning the fall, and we’ll try to be more active as a family as the weather outside grows more tolerable.
If you’ve read this far in this meandering post, thank you. I’m looking forward to this year. It’s a leap for me to let go of the few things that we’re letting go of (formal spelling and grammar, for now) and trust the method. However, in my short career as a homeschooling mother, I have come to recognize the important of staying the course. I’m taking the long view, and barring any real problems (i.e. unforeseen learning difficulties, etc.), I’m going to try my best to work the method and have faith that we’ll reap a good harvest.