Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum Choices {Link Up!}

I have to admit that one of the things that appealed to me most about homeschooling was the ability to learn as a family by choosing the curriculum that would best fit our needs and keep us interested in learning every day.  In order to do this I have "test driven" a LOT of curriculum.  A lot of things I have loved, some we have not enjoyed and we have had to make changes.  But!  Isn't that great about homeschooling?  The flexibility we have to make those changes when something is not working.

Over the course of 3 years I have swung from School-in-the-box to a more Charlotte Mason approach to a Classical approach to an eclectic style of homeschooling...  I am still working to find a good fit for our family!  (But that is a blog posting in itself).

Thanks to Tristan at Our Busy Homeschool for the opportunity to link up what we are doing for our 2014-2015 school year!  So, without further ado, here is our lineup:

For Kayley:

Math is one of her favorite subjects and I pick carefully because I do not want to do anything that will ruin a love of any subject...  Math was always my worst subject and I hated it in school.  We have tried a couple of math options over the last 3 years including Kindergarten and First Grade BJU Math K5 and 1, then a switch to Singapore 1A through 2B in 1st and 2nd grade, with a sample of Math Mammoth.  We have come full circle and we just really like BJU Math and Kayley completed BJU Math 3 and is moving into BJU Math 4.

What we love about it?  It has a running story-line throughout that makes it a little bit more interesting that just a workbook.

What we don't love:  The price.  Luckily teachers guides and tests/answer keys can be reused leaving us only purchasing a workbook if we recycle this program for Maggie.

Language Arts:
Language Arts is one of those subjects that we have tried on several different programs to find a good fit.  We are just not at the place where Kayley wants to do a lot of writing or can without melting down.  She is still very young even though she is academically advanced.  Now, I do ask her to do some, but it is not worth the frustration of asking her to do a lot.  We started with BJU English for 2nd grade and quickly burned out on the overkill of the writing.  So last year, based on a recommendation, I decided to try First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind.  I am already a big fan of Susan Wise Bauer and I was so thrilled that this was a good fit!  We backed up to the 1st grade book and started there since SWB's classical approach to learning required quite a bit of memorization and we didn't want to miss anything.  We completed it and about 1/3 of Level 2 last year.  We will be finishing up Level 2 this year and then we may dabble with Level 3 but I'm still undecided as we have found that we really like the "all in one" English like we have found in Rod & Staff.

What we love:  These books are done 90% orally...not a lot of writing required.  Poetry memorization is a big plus!  Books are completely reusable.

What we don't love:  Nothing!

Rod & Staff is something we have done a little bit of this year as we started Level 2 of First Language Lessons.  We have completed several chapters as a supplement and Kayley likes the bite-sized lessons and the fact that a large portion of the work is done orally.  The textbook look to them and the black and white pages were something that made me hesitate at first.  Seriously at initial glance they look very boring but Kayley finds them to be a good fit so far.  We will be starting Beginning Wisely, grade 3 this year.

What we love:  Bite sized lessons, much of which can be done orally, make English a snap.  It's inexpensive and other than the worksheet and test packets (which are super cheap too) it is all reusable.

What we don't love:  These are old-fashioned textbooks so anything you write, you write on a separate piece of paper.

For writing we used Level 2 of Writing With Ease (also a Susan Wise Bauer program) this past year.  It is very effective but does get very repetitive.  Kayley enjoyed it fine for the most part but by the middle of the book burned out.  It is a great program for learning how to summarize a passage that you have read but it is the same thing over and over and over.  We have decided to take a break from that this year by starting on Classical Academic Press's Writing & Rhetoric.  This looks like a fun break from Writing With Ease.

When we complete this program (which looks like it will take about 6 months) we will be moving into Institute for Excellence in Writing - Student Writing Intensive A.  We saw this program at our homeschool conference and we listed to a seminar on how this program works and we were sold on it.  We had already purchased Writing & Rhetoric before the conference and I really want to enjoy a relaxing writing semester before we start on IEW-SWIA so we will do first one, then the other.

For Spelling in the past we've done BJU, A Reason for Spelling, and Spelling Workout.  Kayley is a natural speller and doesn't require a lot of help in this area but it was important for me that she learn the rules so we have switched to a program called All About Spelling.  So far we have LOVED it.  Marie Rippel recommends that all kids start with Level 1 regardless of age so Kayley completed level 1 and 2 in about 2 months and we are currently in level 3 and will continue to level 4 when we are done.

What we love:  Very hands-on using magnetic letter tiles and a white board for the majority of activities.  I love the fact that it drills rules and requires mastery of rules before moving on.  It is very motivating too using charts and stickers.

What we don't love:  Those magnets and all the little cards can get kind of annoying sometimes, causing a distraction when they are supposed to be helping.

We used Memoria Press' Prima Latina last year and it was simple and effective.  We prefer to learn things that have jingles, chants, songs, memory sentences, etc so we are going to try out Classical Academic Press' Latin for Children A.  I have no idea if we will like it better (or if we will wish we had stuck with Memoria Press and just moved into Latina Christiana I).  Time will tell.

For Maggie

Kindergarten is so much fun!  Maggie will be completing the exact same program Kayley did for Kindergarten using BJU K5 Beginnings and Math.  This was such a fun program and I am excited for Maggie to enjoy it.  We will not be using the video based course as Kayley did ($$$) so I will be teaching it myself.  Luckily I still remember most of the fun songs and activities and I saved a LOT of the cut outs and such from Kayley's time through the program so it makes implementing it super easy.

I also have started Maggie several months ago in this book I used with Kayley called the Reading Lesson.  Similar in style to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and An Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading this book is step-by-step teaching your child the basic phonics of reading.  Instant gratification has your child reading simple stories almost immediately.  I'm pretty amazed at how quickly and easily this works.  Maggie is my 2nd child now I've taught to read using this program.

Family Style Learning
(Subjects where we all learn together)

Even though my kids are far apart in age (relatively speaking) and we are not a large family, I still like to try to combine subjects if humanely possible.  Maggie being a preK-Kinder is basically along for the ride in most things but I try to get as many picture books as I can that tell the same story.

For history we are using BiblioPlan Year 3. This will be our second year using BiblioPlan and I am pretty happy with it.  Honestly it broke my heart to move away from Sonlight but there was just no way to combine the girls in Cores so that sent me shopping last year to find an alternative.  I was torn between Tapestry of Grace and BiblioPlan but finally decided that BP is the way to go.

What we love:  Classical with a charlotte mason living books approach.  Very much Sonlight-ish only you can combine all ages.

What we don't love:  Some of the family readers are, well, just boring.  I just replace them with something else....

Previously we have used Jeannie Fulbrights Exploring Creation series for science completing (so far) Astronomy, Botany, and Flying Creature.  (We really love these!)  Just for fun we decided to just try a different approach to science this year and give Dr. Jay Wiles Science in the Beginning a try.  It looks very hands on and it is recommended for Kindergarten and up so Maggie can tag along and at least watch the experiments.

Fine Arts
This is the worst at our house.  I really want to do better at getting art in on a more regular basis.  To do this I thought we would experiment this year with a Home Art Studio DVD.  I went ahead and bought the Kindergarten level which will work for both girls...  (check out some free videos here!)

We also learn about a lot of artists and composers through our history program as well so we do that as we go plus a good friend of mine recently started a homeschool co-op, called Legacy Academy, where we have had several opportunities to do art with them as well.

I think that is about it!  Thanks for the link up Tristan!

1 comment:

  1. I've heard good things about Jay Wile's new elementary series. We almost chose to do that for the younger kids over God's Design for Science this fall. It looks like you have a good year planned!


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