We’ve only just begun – 2015/2016 School Year

We’ve only just begun – 2015/2016 School Year

We’ve officially started our second year of homeschooling (Sunshine -6.5 – second grade, Mister Man – 5 – first grade).

Last year was our first year homeschooling and I was extremely nervous about starting. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to handle everything required.

Homeschooling can be very intimidating.

You are taking a step in an unknown direction; reading, preparing, praying. You’ve decided to take your children’s education into your own hands. You’ve got no teaching experience, no teachers aid or help of any kind. It’s all in your hands, well, God’s hands, but you are his messenger. It’s a scary step. A step requiring faith, prayer and a lot of tweaking along the way.

After a few weeks into our first year, we had gotten into a rhythm and it was quite fun. More fun than I could have ever imagined. There is nothing quite like being a part of your kids learning experiences. I feel so blessed to be there for everything they are learning instead of just hearing about their day at school. Plus, their learning can be continued easily into the rest of the day, considering you know exactly what has been discussed. It’s a great way to strengthen their understanding by incorporating it into their everyday life.

As the year progressed, we made a few changes/additions to the way were learning but stuck with the basic plan throughout the year.

By the end of last year, I felt much more confident. Sunshine and Mister Man had learned so much and were excited about learning. I felt like it was a successful year and I was confident about preparing for our next year.

This year, we’ve added another baby to the mix. While I am definitely more comfortable with the teaching aspect of homeschooling, I am now trying to balance teaching both older kiddos, while attending to a newborn.

IMG_3649

So far, Sugar Plum has been very accommodating. She’s slept, been great with being in her sling or interacted with me while I worked with the other two.

Homeschooling with a newborn

I am sure as she becomes more independent it will be a bit more difficult. But for now, we’ve started to get our rhythm back and we are loving it!

Luckily, there were very few changes from last year, so I feel very comfortable with the material and the way it is presented. I did a lot of prep this year to be more proactive with our additional living books and extra activities. Hopefully this will keep me from scrambling the week before to get what we need for the next week’s projects/books.

I will say, I love our library system, but I am having a heck of a time trying to get the books on hold at the right time.

Most of the books we are using are inter-library loan and sometimes quite popular, which puts me in line to receive them. These possible issues require me to be sure to account for the extra days/week before they will be available. On top of that, I never really know when we will actually get to the books I need. Unfortunately, if they are inter-library loan books you cannot renew them which means we need to be done with them by their due-date or we will be paying quite a bit in fines.

It’s been a balancing act to say the least. I am hopeful that as the year progresses I will get better at the timing of the process. Some days, I wish I was rich and could just buy the books to have here. I’d love to have that sort of library… ****daydreaming****

So far we are off to a great start.

IMG_3549

And for our wonderful readers I’ve got a nice freebie for you soon. In the next few weeks I will be breaking down the subjects and providing our living books list for each subject. I figure, I’ve done all the extra work, why not make it easier for someone else!

Have a great week!

Homeschool Curriculum Choices – First and Second Grade

Homeschool Curriculum Choices – First and Second Grade

We had just begun our second year of homeschool curriculum, when Sugar Plum arrived unexpectedly. We choose to homeschool year round to allow for breaks at any point in the year (vacations are much less stressful when everyone else is in school) and having a structured day and schedule has always been beneficial for both of our kiddos.

Our homeschool is quite eclectic. When we decided to take the step towards homeschooling, I searched for months trying to find the perfect curriculum. After realizing a prepackaged curriculum wasn’t going to work for our kids, I picked each subject individually. I decided to combine a classical approach (I love the concept of learning stages) with a bit of Charlotte Mason approach (living books and nature).

After completing our first year, there were not many changes I wanted to make to our curriculum. I really felt that the curriculum we used fit our kids learning style well.

IMG_3400

This made the choices for our curriculum easier the second year. Here’s a breakdown of what we are using for first and second grade.

Math – Horizon’s Math

The kids liked Horizon’s math, it was taught in a simple manner, had colorful pages and problems. I liked that it used a circular approach, bringing different concepts in and out so they didn’t get bored with repetition of concepts after they’d mastered them, but they would come back as a refresher a few lessons later. We played some extra games and did some fun activities to make math more fun and really make the concepts stick. The kids seemed to do well throughout and by the end of the year I felt we’d made great progress.

Grammar – First Language Lessons

The memorization, dictation, copywork and lessons in First Language Lessons appealed to me from my initial research. I was not disappointed. Sunshine excelled with this last year and even Mister Man caught many of the concepts from listening in while I was teaching Sunshine. We did some extra activities, last year, in addition to the lessons to make it a bit more fun and I plan to continue that this year as well. I believe any hands on task helps them grasp the concepts. This year, Sunshine will be tackling year 2 and Mister Man will delve into year 1, although I do think he will fly through it since he grasped much of the content last year.

Writing – Writing With Ease

I used this loosely last year without the workbooks and I am hoping to get more from it this year. We will also add writing prompts for our journal efforts. I did love how this worked along with First Language Lessons.

Spelling – Spelling Workout

The kids really got a lot out of this program last year. We did the workbook, added in fun spelling activities (tile spelling, stamping, rainbow words, sidewalk chalk, spelling games, etc.).

Science – Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology – Flying Creatures

The kids LOVED Apologia Astronomy last year. The only change we are making in regards to the way we are handling science is instead of using their notebooking we are making our own with more gluing, coloring, hands on activities. My kids are not fans of writing, and the junior notebook was heavy on writing. I have found many resources to supplement for the note booking aspect.

History – Mystery of History Volume 2

We really enjoyed Mystery of History last year. It was a lot of information for our 4 & 5 year old, buy I still feel like they got a lot out of it. I spent some time finding supplementary books and activities to make the more major events/people stick in their minds and I intend to do this again with this volume as well.

Geography – 50 States

This is something I don’t use a set curriculum to teach. Last year we focused on the whole world and memorized countries, capitals and continents. I started with the world, because I wanted my kids to realize there is more out there than just the USA. This year we are starting the USA. We will be memorizing states and capitals, eating local cuisine (Eat Your Way Through the USA), reading living books about the states/regions, as well as note booking with fun activities. I also purchased a few supplemental activity books, that will add to our note booking efforts.

Religion – Book of Saints and Finding God

This is one area we are changing up a bit. We used Faith and Life last year, and while I feel like the kids got a lot out of it, it was very boring. This year we will be trying Loyola Press Finding God, I’m hoping this will keep their interest better while still teaching them as much. Religion is definitely one area I do not want them to be bored, their faith is one thing I want them excited about. While religion is only the start of their faith journey, if they’re excited about it, hopefully that excitement will develop throughout their lives.

In addition to Finding God we are picking a saint each week from our Book of Saints. I’ve found some fun activities to go along with them so it should be a fun exploration of the saints as well.

Latin – Sing Song Latin

Put anything to music and my kids are excited. That’s precisely why I went with this curriculum for Latin. I’m excited to see this in action. I have never taken Latin so we will be learning together, which is exciting!

Reading

Reading is very flexible each day they must read 30 minutes out loud, any book they choose on their level and one below their level (read to Sugar Plum). They also read a lot of the textbooks/living books during each subject.

Art/Music

Last year we focused on different artists and composers, read some living books and looked/listened to their work. This year for art we are talking about the technical aspects: color, subject, medium, etc. It will be less of a structured experience and more open to experimentation in their artwork using different techniques. We are not using a set curriculum for art, but have instead chosen to focus on more art projects and fun to grasp the concepts. I hope it will open their eyes to different options in their art.

For music Sunshine takes piano lessons and Mister Man is beginning work with rhythm. We will continue to listen to different composers during our school day and I always pick up some living books about music and art from the library. We will also add in some fun activities throughout the year to emphasis important points.

So that’s our curriculum for this coming year. Now it’s your turn. What curriculum are you using this year?

Classically Homeschooling