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In my 7 years of homeschooling this is actually the 1st year I have ever felt great about , nearly all our curriculum choices!
I’m talking 7 years of attempting to be joyful, despite the pure hatred of one, or more of my choices! 7 years of hardcore prayers, “God PLEASE just make me, FORCE ME , to just…just like it! That’s all I ask”, or something like that 🙂
Now I know summer is just around the corner and this isn’t really the time that people are thinking about next year’s curriculum; but I wanted to share about this school year before I move on to SUMMER .
Like I said this has to be the best year for us in this area. Because of that, I wanted to share our choices with you and tell you why it worked for us, what worked for us, and well, what tanked!
So here they are, our 2015-2016 curriculum choices:
In the past we have used, K12, Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, Math- U-See (not enough to give it a chance though), and Singapore Math just to name a few. Out of all these, I liked Singapore the most. I liked it, because they showed how to do problems in many different ways. I felt that was beneficial. I liked the fact that they sought to teach how to problem solve. I want my kids to see all subjects as a part of life and not separate. The way I saw it, Singapore would do that.
Queue child number four. My little Elijah, my drummer, pianist, artsy little guy. My poor guy was just confused! First of all, all those explanations for type of one problem, was too much for him to grasp. Math was already abstract to him, this made it more abstract, and the explanations were doing the opposite of helping him! Now I know they say that Singapore is a mastery curriculum, I have to say I truly did not see it that way, it was more of a spiral. He needed concepts to be drilled into his little head but it just wasn’t. Singapore would touch on it, move on, then come back. Unfortunately, by that time they came back, he would’ve forgotten he had ever seen it, like Nemo’s little friend, Dori. This was actually the biggest reason we just HAD to switch. Christian Light Publications (Christian Light Education or CLE) has been our answered prayer to both Math and then later Language Arts. Since we’ve switched, not only have we ALL been happier, I haven’t been fearful that my kiddos aren’t getting the education they need. Also, my kids are now staying on task, are way more independent, and are learning a ton!
Why I like it:
- It has Speed drills and flash card practice built into it, it also requires the student to orally recite a specific piece of the times table (or count, depending on the grade level) to the teacher in the beginning of every lesson.
- Each grade level starts with a story and keeps that theme throughout. I love it because it totally speaks to my Charlotte Mason educator side!
- It’s given in bite sized chunks rather than a giant, overwhelming textbook. Each grade level is broken down into 10 bite sized units (LightUnits, as they call it). Each LightUnit has two quizzes and one test at the end. Now I’m not for educating strictly to take a test, but I’m all about assessing or measuring where my kids are at, if they are learning, and where I can help them. I seriously love that they have quizzes and tests. Can you say, “piece of mind”? Pssshhh, well I can now!
- New concepts are taught clearly and directly and independently to the student. (I almost NEVER have to explain a concept anymore! They just read it on their own and do what it says.)
- Every lesson has a We Remember section, actually most of the lesson is the We Remember section. It’s basically concepts that they learned previously and they mix it up quite nicely so that the student doesn’t forget a thing.
We started this math last summer and honestly the longer we have used it, the more reason I have to like it! I only listed a few reason I like CLE math, but there are so many more! I really haven’t found any cons yet, but I will certainly update if I do.
2. Language arts
The reading, however, is separate. I don’t find this as a con because I think it needs to be separate. Each set comes with a certain number of Lightunits (depending on grade) and a corresponding reading book. Because my Ez was taking a couple classes in our co-op that required him to read tons of literature, I only purchased it for my Elijah. He’s learned so much from it and works really well on his own. Just like their other subjects, the reading also has two quizzes and a final test.
Why we like it:
- All the reasons above (applied to reading of course, quizzes, tests, etc.)
- It covers all the other stuff that I was afraid they would miss. How to use a pronunciation key, glossary, etc. Things like what are synonyms and antonyms etc, reading comprehension, poetry, etc., etc. It also has extras. It covers even more vocab, as well as Bible verse memorization that are applicable to the story they are studying!
Since we got together for science every other week, I really, really, really, wanted to make sure that we did nature studies. The previous year my kids took a canoeing class that added so much value to their education. Not only did they learn how to canoe, they were also required to keep a nature journal and learn about the flora and fauna that were native to our area! It was AWESOME! Though it was very reasonably in priced, it was still an added expense so we had to drop it.
I decided that since we were only doing science labs every other week, we can do nature studies the off weeks. The book we used was, Creating Nature in Watercolor an Artist’s Guide by Cathy Johnson This book, along with a homemade field journal and membership to our local nature center, added the value I was hoping to reclaim. Also between the Nature center and this really cool book we had a seemingly endless list of things to learn!
5. Fine Arts
I regret nothing, I am not a failure it all worked out. That’s what I repeat to myself lol. In all seriousness though, I think it worked out nicely and despite it all, these sort of hiccups makes me think about what the psalmist said;
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
7. Bible Studies
Our 2015-2016 choice for Bible studies…Drum roll please…………
Lol…For real though! We have used many different Bible studies curriculum for our kids in the past, and they’re all pretty great but I chose not to purchase one this year for a few reasons.
- First off, the kids wake up in the morning and read their Bible without being told as part of their daily routine anyways, so I don’t know why I have to purchase a specific curriculum, right now at least
- Dad assigns them (I use the term “assign” loosely. Ez often asks his dad what he can read) things to read and then they usually discuss it at least once that week.
- Scripture frequently comes out in their assigned daily school work. From Math to LA to History to Science etc. Their school work is plagued (for lack of a better term) with scripture. This aids in scripture memorization and just as importantly apologetics.
- As a part of our homeschooling, character training is a natural part of our day, for all of us! This of course helps make God’s word relevant. You know when moms all like, “kids please forgive me for being selfish and easily angered for the umpteenth time today”. Seriously though, it’s just incorporated into our life. They mess up, we mess up and in the process we all learn. They learn God’s word in a real way. In life!
Last but definitely not least on the value scale, Co-op!
Aside from our every other Thursday science lab, we are a part of a Coop that meets every Friday. For those of you who have no idea of what a homeschool co-op is, here’s a brief description.
A homeschool co-op is a group of families (in our case, many families, we’re 200 deep) who meet together and work to achieve common goals. Co-ops can be organized around academics, social time, the arts, activities, crafts, service work, etc. They can have all of these subjects or a specific subject in mind. All parents participate in something, whether it’s teaching a specific subject, administrative work, day care, etc.
The co-op we attend of has a variety of subjects. We’ve been a part of it for 3 years now. My kids love it and have learned tons from it. They absolutely enjoy the fellowship. They took quite a few different classes this year so I won’t list them all. I taught a Travel through the Ancients Class that Elijah was in. It was so much fun. I may or may not put up a post about it; though I have tons of pics!
So that’s pretty much it. There was so much more we did this year than I listed. The kids won medals in FLL, Elijah learned tons on the piano, Ez dug deeper into the world of robots and history but as far as curriculum goes this was it…I think!
So here’s where I ask you to tell me what you think!
Reallly, is there any thing I listed about that you may want to know more about?
What were your faves of the year?
My Fine Arts flopped, how bout yours? Let me know if you have any insight.
Talk to you soon and have a HAPPY HAPPY SUMMER!!!