Monday, May 7, 2018

Curriculum Review 2017-2018 What are we still using and what did we throw out

I love planning our school year.  Its fun to me to make spreadsheets and find good deals on the things I want to use.  I have also learned in our last 4 years of homeschool to keep it simple.  My goal this past year was to focus on the basics as we settled in to a new house in a new town.  While I am planning for next year I thought it would be fun to look at what I was thinking a year ago and how that actually worked for us.  So check out last year's curriculum picks and how that worked for us. We tried a new system of having "Couchtime" for subjects we could do together and "Tabletime" for each child's independent work.  I'm planning more of this style for us next year because it worked!

Everyone Together Subjects:
History/Literature: Sonlight Core A
Art: Usborne Art Activity Book
Science: no formal curriculum but exploring the 4 seasons as we experience them the first time as a family.

Andrew - Pre-K
Reading: All About Reading level 1
Writing: Handwriting Without Tears Get Set for School My First School Book
Math: Usborne Sticker Books, left over worksheets.

Caleb - 2nd
Reading: Sonlight Readers 3rd Grade
Writing Handwriting Without Tears 1st Grade (My Printing Book)
Spelling: All About Spelling Level 1, Level 2
Math: Mammoth Math

Lydia - 3rd Grade
Reading: Apologia Readers in Residence
Writing: Apologia Writers in Residence
Math: Mammoth Math
Spelling: All About Spelling Level 2

What we LOVED
I loved having a portion of our school day together.  It took us half the year to learn to do it first instead of pulling everyone back after other work was done but it was amazing to have that time together and have everyone learning the same thing.  Being on the same page led to other discussions and connections throughout the day as well.  We did History, Poetry Literature from Sonlight along with Art and Science together as a family in the morning.  And we gave Daddy the rest of the Sonlight Literature books to read at at the end of the day for bedtime stories.  Shortening our morning load and helping Daddy with coming up with books every night was a win for everyone!

What DIDN'T Work
ANDREW- I have a pattern of purchasing curriculum above their current level.  And this year I did it for Andrew.  I purchased All About Reading Level 1 and he just wasn't ready to sound out simple words even though he knew all his letters and sounds.  I pulled out something I had collected and never used for Lydia and it was perfect.  We used I Can Read Word Families from Carisa Hinson at 1+1+1=1 was the missing link.  We did a Word Family a week and he got the hang of putting letter sounds together to make the words.  He was ready to move on before we finished all the word families but that was OK by me, in March we jumped back to All About Reading and started from the beginning and he is ready to read.

CALEB:  Being wired different I never know how things will work for him.  Mammoth Math was going well but it was easy to see that the density of the text on each page was overwhelming to him.  We switched to Khan Academy because I had heard good things about differently wired kids doing well with online learning.  It worked for awhile but it was missing the writing component which Caleb needed.  On a "Hail Mary" we borrowed a DVD and tried Math U See when we hit a roadblock on a specific concept and Caleb loves it.  Its methodical and easy to understand.  Also Math U See is a mastery based program so the whole book covers less topics more in depth instead of switching each chapter like Mammoth Math. 

LYDIA: She loves to write and I knew it was time to start helping her grow as a writer.  I was excited by the Apologia Writer in Residence and Readers in Residence programs when i saw them last year at a convention.  They look great and I feel like they bring up a lot of the softer LA topics we hadn't specifically covered yet.  The work-textbook  themselves were overwhelming at 2 inches thick each!  We gave up on them pretty quickly because of the size and amount of text to read. We also had the opportunity to meet an IEW teacher in person and Lydia joined an online class for writing.  Being able to delegate her writing to another teacher was a great benefit to her.  The structure taught in IEW has been great for her despite my initial reservations about their emphasis on formal writing over narrative writing.  We replaced Readers in Residence with the 4/5 grade Sonlight Readers to give her variety in her daily reading.

Final Thoughts: Because I only planned the basics as the year went on and we got comfortable we added in other things like field trips with our co-op, additional reading, and a science unit on simple machines.  We also were able to participate in Swim Lessons Soccer, and 3 plays this year for Lydia.  The simple structure also helped the kids take control as they had an idea most days of what they needed to do independently and would get started on their own.

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