2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum Plans

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum

It’s that time of year when homeschool families are planning out next year’s curriculum, and we’re no exception. However, we try to adjust as we go, and since we school year round, we don’t have any big changes planned for the new school year, other than the addition of Classical Conversations Essentials program for our 4th grader (more on that in a bit!).

That said, as I was making this list, I realized things have changed quite a bit since I wrote last year’s post, so here’s a peek into our plans (as they stand today). For more about our philosophy and methods, be sure to read through these posts:

This fall, we’ll have a 4th grader, a 3rd grader, a 1st grader and a kindergartener! Plus a toddler. Whew.

We’re very laid back during the first year of kindergarten, ramping up slightly during the second year (one of the benefits of fall babies is that we can take our time in the early years). In 1st grade, we increase the expectations a little bit more but still stick with the basic subjects, and 2nd grade is when we get “serious” about academics.

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum

Language Arts

Language arts is by far my favorite subject, and it’s the one we focus on pretty heavily right from the beginning. We’ll be rejoining our local CC community this year, but only for Essentials in the afternoon. I’ll actually be tutoring one of the Essentials class this year, which I’m so excited to do! Essentials focuses on English grammar, including the parts of speech, diagramming sentences and writing, and I think our oldest, who is already an amazing writer, will really blossom as we focus on the mechanics of good grammar.

kindergartener:

1st grader:

3rd grader:

4th grader:

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum

Math

We started with Singapore right from the start (back when we were doing Sonlight), but we never really loved it.  When our oldest pretty much melted down at the beginning of 2nd grade, we moved her to Teaching Textbooks (which starts in 3rd grade but is on the easy side). Our 2nd daughter had just finished Singapore 1 at the same time, so we had her start Teaching Textbooks at the same time rather than continuing on with Singapore (which had been working for her up until then). Since that progression ended up working so well for both of them, we just plan to follow that same pattern with the rest. Math comes very easily for our soon-to-be 1st grader, so she’s just about done with the Singapore 1 books now and will start on Teaching Textbooks soon.

kindergartener:

1st grader:

3rd grader:

4th grader:

History

History is one of the areas we’ve made the biggest change. Although doing CC at home was working in the first part of the year, it became increasingly difficult for me to set aside the time to work with them on history after Jackson was born, and I began to feel like it had turned into busy work that the girls were just rushing through.

Instead, we’re using Story of the World following the model outlined in A Well-Trained Mind: reading a chapter, asking questions, writing a few sentences, a little bit of map work, an extra activity (occasionally) and reading related books.

While our little girls often listen in to our history discussions, I don’t plan to formally do history with them until they reach 2nd grade since that seems to be working for our older girls!

We are, however, still doing CC memory work, and I’m hoping to create some other playlists of memory work around the suggested lists in A Well-Trained Mind as well. The big question, which I haven’t answered yet, is whether to move on to Cycle 3 for their memory work or stick with Cycles 1 & 2 since those more closely relate to where we are in Story of the World.

3rd & 4th graders:

everybody:

  • CC memory work

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum

Science

I shared a more detailed review of our experience in this post, but we plan to use the Einstein in a Box monthly STEM boxes for our science moving forward. I love the design of these boxes and that we’ll have a new theme each month, and the girls are really enjoying them as well.

kindergartener & 1st grader:

  • Einstein in a Box (K-2nd grade boxes, coming soon)

3rd & 4th graders:

everybody:

  • CC memory work

Geography

While most of the time we find ourselves scaling back over time to get rid of unnecessary busy work, I am feeling like I’d like to add another geography resource to help the girls memorize the countries and features of the world, but I’m not yet sure whether I want a book, a computer game or something else. We’ve tried using the CC weekly memory work, but it’s just not working for us right now. I’d love your geography suggestions!

3rd & 4th graders:

Languages

My big girls really surprised me this year with their excitement about learning foreign languages. Okay, they’re not quite that excited about Latin, which we’re doing anyway, but they each chose another language to study, and they’re highly motivated to learn more and practice their skills!

4th grader:

3rd grader:

3rd & 4th graders:

Bible

Bible is the other area where we’re still struggling, but I think we may have finally settled on a system. It’s simple, but it seems to be work for us (of course, I said that last year too!):

Starting in the New Testament, the big girls read one chapter a day and then select a verse to copy into their journal. We then chat about what happened in that chapter and what they liked about it or learned.

That’s really it. I like it for two reasons: 1) It is building the habit of daily Bible reading. 2) It doesn’t rely on pretty pictures or fun projects to hold their attention but just puts the focus on the Word.

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum

Extracurriculars

kindergartener, 1st & 3rd graders:

  • art (while our oldest and I are in Essentials)

1st, 3rd & 4th graders:

  • biweekly piano lessons

3rd & 4th graders:

  • Ambassadors, the drama our church puts on each spring
  • ChessKid.com

everybody:

  • local field trip group, 1-2 field trips per month
  • individual ice cream & library dates with Dad
  • American Heritage Girls
  • books, books & more books

I think that’s it!

How about you? I love curriculum posts, so feel free to leave a link to yours in the comments! Do you adjust as you go or wait and make changes at the beginning of a new school year? What areas do you struggle with?

Mandi Ehman is the blogger behind Life Your Way. She and her husband have four beautiful girls plus one baby boy, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.
  • Jenn

    Yay! I am totally stressing about next year since we can’t join a co-op this year (we are hoping to move to Africa by the end of the year), so thank you for the ideas. I was just reading your other posts from last year and independent work for inspiration.

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Oh, wow, big changes!!! I’m glad the timing was just right for you, and I hope you’ve found some good ideas. There are so many options out there, which is a good AND a bad thing!

  • lelamcdonald@yahoo.com

    Best wishes on this years Homeschooling. Might I suggest that you use a Green ink pen to correct papers with. Psychologically, it has been found to be encouraging to students (green means Go, or succeed, and red represents stop (stop signs or derivative pink as in pink slip). It is a study that I read many years ago and has been supported by outcome studies.

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Thanks so much for your comment. We don’t actually grade very many papers at all…but my girls will hand me a red pen and beg me to do it on occasion, so I’m happy to follow their lead!

  • Sarah Lynn

    I noticed your girls are a year or two ahead with their Math Teaching Textbooks. Is math something they’re naturally good at or are the TT on the easy side? I’m asking because I just started homeschooling my 11 yr.old son a few months ago, took him out of gr. 6. So we started w/TT 6, and everything is 100%. So we got TT 7 but right at the beginning he was lost already, so we decided to finish gr.6 first. I hope to homeschool my other children, starting in Sept, and was thinking of putting them in grade appropriate TT for math, which would be gr.3, gr.5, and algebra 1 for gr.9. What’s your opinion on TT?

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Hey Sarah Lynn! Our soon-to-be 1st and 3rd graders are really good at math, but I also think it falls a little on the easy side in the early years. I noticed that our 2nd grader had questions on her standardized test last year that were covered at the very end of TT 3 (which we weren’t quite through because we switched in the fall!). I also think different curricula teaches the various math skills in different orders, which can make it hard to switch from one to the other.

      That said, I think there are placement tests on the TT website, so that might help you get a better feel for each child!

    • Sarah Lynn

      Thank-you mandi! I wasn’t aware of the placement tests, but I will look at them first before buying anything!

  • http://joyceandnorm.wordpress.com/ Joyce (and Norm)

    Thanks for getting me thinking about our curriculum for the upcoming school year! I will have a Kindergartener and a 2nd grader (although half of her stuff will be 3rd level), and I am excited to have 2 “school age” kiddos. We are also excited to be doing CC for the 4th year. The 1st grader finished a few things early, and I actually recently decided on what to use to finish off this school year, so I won’t be planning anything for the upcoming school year for another few weeks. :p

  • Donielle

    Love the ideas! I’m currently up in the air with a lot of subjects, especially math. My 2nd grader is not a fan of workbooks, and yet *I* need something a bit more than say Life of Fred books which he loves!) to make sure he’s learning what he needs to learn.

  • jenny42

    Just wanted to say thanks… I’ve downloaded some free printables. Especially excited about the CC Notebooks you wrote about in another post. I’m just starting with CC at home for now, because I have exactly twice as many children as you ;) and finally became overwhelmed doing everyone’s school separately! God answered my prayers for help with the CC methodology. We may join a community after toying with it at home. But anyway, the printables you made for a CC notebook that basically take you through the memory board/work are just so simple and so great. Thanks so much for sharing.