Wednesday, August 24, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, my friend Tonya left a comment asking me about which homeschool curriculum I have been using/planning to use. I missed the question originally, and then it has taken me forever to post this.

So, Tonya, sorry it is so late, but here is my answer:

I have found a few things I love, but I have not found any complete curriculum that I am completely sold on.

Let me start out by saying that I am very frugal and I hate the thought of spending a ton of money on a curriculum (and let's just say that some of the ones out there are very spendy). I could justify the expense by saying that I will be homeschooling 5 children,so I will be able to use it 5 times and possibly resell it later. And that is true, and maybe if I found something that I LOVED and thought would work for 5 different kids, I would maybe go for that. So far, that hasn't been the case.

Our homeschool co-0p is actually a "school" that is open 2 days a week with an a la carte menu. The teachers are paid and although it is spendy, we feel that it is worth it for the boys to have exposure to different teachers, other students and a different environment for that one morning a week. Also, once my volunteer hours are over, I will have time to grocery shop :)

Deacon is going to be in 2nd grade, Roman in 1st and Lincoln in preschool. Lincoln will go to preschool once a week at the public school for speech, and once a week at the co-op. He will also have private speech therapy 1-2 times a week.

Here is our plan for this year:

PE: (this is my favorite subject to plan for :) D and R are both going to take Taekwando at our local homeschool "school". They are also going to do a 2 day a week "gym and swim"kind of thing at our YMCA. In the winter they will play Upward basketball at church. We may sign them up for swimming/flag football etc during the year.

ART: The boys will have art once a week at our homeschool co-op and then will also have some projects on "Grandma" day once a week. In addition, I signed D and R up for a nature photography class for fall at a park nearby (living in a big city has advantages!).

MUSIC: Deacon will sing in Kid's choir again at church. I will give them a basic review of music and we will listen to some different kinds of music during the year. We may or may not eventually do music lessons for our kids. I would like to say we would, but they are quite expensive, and with 5 kids it may happen only for the kids who care. At this point I can't see paying for something only to have them whine and complain about it.

BIBLE: The kids will be working through their Awana books again this year, and I am planning to use a "walk through the Old Testament" book that I have to offer a Biblical Framework. We also will probably build off of the Jelly Telly "What's In the Bible with Buck Denver" DVD series.

MATH: Roman will be starting Singapore Math 1a, Lincoln will be doing Singapore Kindergarten and Deacon will be using Math Expressions 2nd grade curriculum. Deacon's curriculum comes free from our school district (I know, it is a big MACHE no-no, but seriously??! The curriculum is free and I like it. I pay taxes too, you know). I do like Singapore math, but I don't live or die by it.

SCIENCE: This year we are going to use Alpha Omega LIFEPACs for science- 1st grade for Roman and 2nd grade for Deacon. Let me start off by saying that this was a difficult decision. I feel that these LIFEPACs are incredibly easy and simplistic (although I could be proved wrong as we get into it) but what I like about them is that they are intended for the kids to be able to read and they have to write in the book! My boys need as much reading and writing practice as they can get, and I like how LIFEPAC sneaks it into their subjects. This material is also grade level appropriate and I can clearly see that it will easily cover what they need to know for the standardized test that they need to take in the Spring.

However, I could not let it end there. D and R will be doing earth science one day a week at our co-0p, and so as a family we are going to supplement our science by using Apologia's Astronomy textbook. I LOVE THIS SERIES! It is intended to last a 1/2 year to a year and you hit the subject super hard and in depth, instead of moving around from topic to topic. here is the link in case you are interested in looking at this text.

HISTORY/GEOGRAPHY: This is by far my favorite subject and has been the biggest disappointment to me as a homeschool parent. I feel that it is very difficult to find good hardcore history curriculum for the younger grades. Then I realized that no one seems to teach it in the younger grades. They discuss communities, flags, famous buildings and other super-basic knowledge. This annoys me.

We are going to useLIFE PAC (this link brings you to the 5 subject set- we only bought 3 of the subjects) for grade level expectation history learning. The kids will learn that they are special and about communities. It makes me gag, but it incorporates a lot of reading and writing and it will teach to the standardized test and make sure I am not missing anything vital (such as what a community in Japan looks like).

To supplement we will use two more texts,Mystery of History and Exploring American History. The former will give us a summary of history from Creation to the Resurrection (I am very excited about this book!) and the later will go through basic American History and highlight the presidents. We will also work on cementing our knowledge of continents, oceans, states, big countries and memorizing our Presidents. We will do these two texts 2-3 days a week and it will be mostly me just reading to them- no real projects or tests or anything. My boys (especially Deacon) learn really well by listening.

LANGUAGE ARTS: I left this for last because this is the subject that I like the absolute least. If I could pick one subject to leave for someone else to teach the boys, this would be it. The boys will be taking a writing class at co-op and we will be using the LIFE PAC grade 1 and 2 language arts curriculum, a phonics book and 2nd grade reading books obtained through our school district. Deacon is not a strong reader yet, so I will be pushing him as I also teach Roman and Lincoln. This will be a subject that we work on as a group and separately.

Well, that is my plan. I know that it is pretty intense, but we won't do everything every day. My goal is to be a fun and engaging teacher so that they catch my enthusiasm. That, of course, will be difficult on the days that my house is a mess, Berean is needy and I just want to take a nap- but I will do my best! In a couple months I will update you on what is working,and what has been thrown to the wayside!


Thia said...

I look forward to hearing how this works! I'm thankful we have no mandatory testing until 4th grade, so we have some leeway.

Foster said...

Julie, check out I am using this as part of our Bible study. I just started, but so far I like it. Let me know what you think. Also, I love the variety you have. This is my first year homeschooling, and could use any tips you might have. Laws in FL are really easy, so my curriculum is just bible, reading, math, art, pe. I don't even have to do testing until high school.

Tonya said...

Thanks, Julie, for answering my question so thoroughly! I'm kind of like you, using a a variety of material that I pick and choose. But I'm not like you in that I wait until the last minute to get it all figured out. I've read a bit of Charlotte Mason's ideas, and Ruth Beechick's books are influencing me more and more. I love literature based learning. It really seems to work with my family. It does involve a lot of reading aloud when the kids are young, but that's something I truly enjoy. Now that Chloe is going into fourth grade, she will be doing much of her own reading. We have stayed with Math-U-See; it has good DVD's to introduce each lesson. I've used the same free phonics lessons I found online to teach Chloe and Lydia to read. We have dropped or switched some things when they didn't seem to be working. But the closest thing I've found to a "curriculum" that I follow is Anyways, thanks for sharing your plans. Sounds like a fun, busy year!