Monday, August 1, 2011

Oh hie unto the curriculum...

fair we go. Time to share what I was thinking back in May when the purchases were made. We school year round so we started in June. Maybe my comments now will have some benefit of hindsight. We can hope.

This post is part of the 3rd Annual Not Back-To-School Blog Hop.Not Back to School Blog Hop

We are homeschooling two eighth graders and one fifth grader this year. All boys. And I say "we" with purpose because as the math and science requirements have gone up, Husband's part in the homeschooling has also gone up. Regularly he teaches and performs the science experiments in the evenings. Particularly the ones that involve flames. I would not put it past my scientific abilities to blow up the kitchen. With gusto.

My philosophy with curriculum employs picking those things that fit the individual's learning style and also employing those choices that allow me to teach one subject to two different age groups. A tall order and one that has developed after expensive mistakes. Meaning my third point in curriculum choice is swap with friends reciprocally those things not in our budget but in our druthers.

Here's the scoop on our choices:

Bible: During the summer we use the Explorer's Bible Study program. We are working through the Words of Wisdom book, specifically in Psalms. From September to May the boys will attend the Bible Study Fellowship school program to study the Acts of the Apostles.

Math: Chess is using the Life of Fred series. He has already completed Pre-Algebra II with Economics and is now working through Beginning Algebra I. We utilize both the textbook and the Home Companion book which splits the text chapters into daily manageable lessons. Honestly, we gambled a bit on the LOF series. Chess has a mind for math but not always the incentive. Repetition brings out his obstinacy. LOF with its engaging stories and grounded in life context math problems has him doing lessons even just for fun. Who woulda thunk it? Not me. But I am thrilled because he now owns his own motivation in math.

Pele is using Math U See, the Zeta series. He is almost finished and will be moving into the Pre-Algebra series. Math has been an ongoing challenge for Pele and MUS has allowed him to grasp the concepts. While I will not go so far as to say that he enjoys math, he is more confident in being able to figure out the answer because he understands the why and the how of it.

The Chairman is using Saxon 6/5 with some MUS Epsilon on the side. My quarrel with Saxon is the lack of mastery work on certain concepts (ie. fractions) and the repetition of more minor concepts. The spiral staircase approach does not fit my boys' brains and learning styles. We will finish this book out with him and probably move him to the LOF middle school series. He is patterned after his big bro, Chess, when it comes to math.

Science: Chess and Pele are thick in the midst of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Physical Science, lab experiments and all. I'm using the Sonlight Schedule Plus which is a gift from heaven for putting the material and experiment supply lists into daily tasks.

The Chairman is finishing up Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day. He has thoroughly enjoyed it. I order from Netflix for PBS specials on the animals and have also streamed the David Attenborough Wildlife specials too. The Chairman likes to yell creation truth at Sir David when he makes his evolutionary statements--which is good for my soul. Next he'll work on Sonlight's Health, Medicine and Human Anatomy series. He has also requested as an elective the Answers in Genesis book "Our Planet Earth." He loves science so we spend a little bit more here.

History: Chess and Pele are using BJU's United States History for 11th grade. We've split the one year program into two years and supplemented with additional resources and videos. (Maybe this deserves its own blog post.) When they finish they will each have earned one high school credit for history.

The Chairman is working back through the Veritas Press cards Explorers to 1815. He was only in 2nd grade when his older brothers did these so this was his year for repeat. There is enough content overlap between his history and the older two so we can share the same reading and video resources.

Writing: Institute for Excellence is our choice here. Chess and Pele are using the U.S. History Based Writing Lessons, Volume I. The Chairman is using the Level A Student Writing Intensive

Literature: I took the suggestions from the Sonlight American History 8th grade list for our literature selections. Combined with living books that cover our history era, explorers to 1815, we have tons to read.

Typing: Mavis Beacon computer program.

Foreign Language: Rosetta Stone Spanish and Latin from the Roots Up vocabulary cards, Volume II.

I take the stagger approach with our subjects. Starting in September we will add in these:

Grammar: Older two will finish the third season of Analytical Grammar. My youngest will use a Spectrum Language Arts book for review. I don't want to start him on AG until the 7th grade. I'm considering using the AG, Mechanics book (focus on punctuation) since he has already completed AG, Jr. (intro to parts of speech and diagramming).

Geography: Trail Guide to U.S. Geography for all three. We'll split this into two years to overlap with our history study.

Electives: Chess has chosen a computer programming series and Pele is creating an animation, graphic arts curriculum from library and internet resources. They both spend time on these subjects individually. The Chairman will work on his geology choice.

That's it. What was I thinking? I'm still in the trenches figuring it out. But what an adventure, huh?


  1. Thanks for stopping by! I enjoyed reading your curriculum choices and plans. Good stuff.

  2. We've got some of the same things on our agenda! I hope you have a great year!