Last summer I shared our 2012-2013 homeschool curriculum plans, and while our homeschooling philosophy has remained pretty much the same since then, we’ve made some adjustments to our actual curriculum over the last few months.
I thought I’d share those with you as we start the new calendar year!
First, let’s talk about our daily schedule. Over the summer, I decided that letting Sean do some of the schooling only made sense for our schedule, and he continues to help oversee the girls’ independent work, while I do the more interactive subjects with them.
We also tried a few different schedules — afternoon schooling, dividing school into bits and pieces, etc. — but the one we’ve settled on looks more like this:
7:30am — The girls come downstairs and begin taking turns at the piano, at the computer (for math) and at the table (for reading and handwriting). These are what we consider our “school-lite” subjects, and we’ve done pretty well at consistently getting them done, even during busy days/weeks, a huge improvement over our previous attempts at consistency. They take a break to eat breakfast when that’s ready and then get back to work and keep at it until they’re done.
10am — On days that we’re doing our full school schedule, I stop work between 9:30-10am to work with the girls on history, language arts, memory work and read-alouds, and we usually finish between 12-12:30pm.
We’ve also made some changes to the actual curriculum we’re using:
Although reading to the girls is important to me, it often gets pushed to the side by our other school work and my work commitments. However, our family has fully embraced the audiobook this year, and the girls have listened to a wide variety of books over the past few months — everything from Ramona and Magic Tree House to classics like the Chronicles of Narnia and Black Beauty. I’m still striving to make more time to read to them, but I’m glad we’ve found this balance in the meantime.
I’ve been an enthusiastic fan of Explode the Code since we first started using it, but unfortunately the program has lost some of its appeal for me as we’ve moved into books 5 and 6 this year. The girls and I find the explanations for syllables and various advanced phonograms to be confusing and unclear, and I spent the first few months repeating the phrase, “That’s an exception” over and over again.
In October, I discovered the Logic of English Essentials program while I was at Allume, and I fell in love with the, well, logic of the program and the clear explanations of all of the rules. We’re still working our way through Explode the Code, but we’re also doing the Essentials program, and both girls have made a ton of progress in their reading since we began.
Despite my intentions to use our giant map and timeline as the main focus of our history, we’ve utterly failed at both. We’ve tried again and again to use them, but we just haven’t found a groove, and it got to the point where we were all pretty much groaning whenever it was time to pull them out. We’ve shelved these for now and may try again when they’re older (or when I’m willing to invest in non-homemade versions of both tools!), and we’re just working our way through Story of the World instead.
The biggest change we’ve made was to our math curriculum. Our oldest daughter continued to struggle with Singapore as we started 2nd grade, and after trying everything we could to make it a less combative subject, we finally decided that the program just wasn’t working for her.
I’ve been hearing great things about Teaching Textbooks for more than a year, and we decided to give it a try, mostly to remove Sean and I from the equation since we were just butting heads with her any time we tried to work on math. This program has been a resounding success for our family, and I’m so glad we made the switch. Both of the big girls are working through the 3rd grade curriculum (which is on the easy side), and they’re making regular, consistent progress. We haven’t had any fights over math since we started, and they eagerly do their math work each day. We’re still reading the Life of Fred books to supplement their math as well.
The big girls both got NIV Adventure Bibles for Christmas, and we’re doing the “Bible in 90 Days” kids reading plan together. Lisa at The Pennington Point recently posted on Instagram that her family reads the entire Bible aloud each year, doing about 3 chapters in about 20 minutes per day, and I’m intrigued by that idea as well, so it’s something we may consider after we finish this 90-day plan!
I think that’s it! All in all, I’m feeling really good about the progress we’re making in school this year. Consistency has been an issue for me in the past (which is why we’ve schooled all year long!), but this year we seem to have really found our groove. Not perfectly, of course, but still a groove!
How has your curriculum evolved this school year?