Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary called for homeschoolers to share a visual tour of their curricula for this upcoming school year. Despite the fact that I have many more important things I should be doing (thus the reason I haven’t blogged in so long), I cannot resist this call, since this will be our first year of full-time homeschooling and I’m a bit of a curriculum junkie. So here goes…
First, an introduction. We are an American-Canadian family living in Canada. Our son Peter is 8 years old and entering grade 3. For the past four years (junior kindergarten through grade 2), he has attended French-language schools. We’ve afterschooled on the weekends and over the summer. Now we’re taking the plunge and going full-time. We also have an 18-month-old, Simon.
I am a fan of the Sonlight curriculum for history and literature (both reading books and read-aloud books). We’ve afterschooled using Sonlight for the past four years (from P4/5 through core C). However, core D is the beginning of a two-year sequence in American history. I have decided to splice core D+E (Sonlight’s one-year condensed version of American history) with a Sonlight-style Canadian history schedule, taking two years to cover both American and Canadian history together chronologically. It should be interesting! I’ve never seen American and Canadian history taught simultaneously, but it made more sense to me than doing a year of one and then starting over with a year of the other. (Note: There is a wonderful Yahoo Group for Catholic Sonlight users. There is also a secular Yahoo Group for Sonlight users.)
For English language arts, we will be using Catholic Heritage Curricula‘s Language of God level B. Peter and I have both enjoyed other Nancy Nicholson books (Little Stories for Little Folks, Devotional Stories for Little Folks, Devotional Stories Too). It seems to cover the basics without requiring a ridiculous amount of work. Someone with six kids might come out ahead buying a hardcover textbook and reusing it, but for us, for both cost and ease of use, this consumable workbook is the way to go. Peter will also be writing a daily journal and will have a weekly writing assignment.
We started All About Spelling level 1 this summer after I realized that Peter’s atrocious English spelling skills weren’t improving on their own. It took a while to get over his “spelling is too hard and I’m bad at it” psychological block, but now he’s starting to make progress. The fact that he hasn’t yet had to write anything down on paper with a pencil has helped with his attitude change. AAS starts with flash cards, oral activities, and magnet letter tiles. When it’s time to write, I think I’ll have him start on a white board with a dry-erase marker, for his psychological benefit.
Handwriting will be with CHC’s Catholic Heritage Handwriting levels 2 and 3. I was just going to have him do level 3, which introduces cursive, but his consistently sloppy printing annoyed me so much that I went ahead and bought level 2 also, so he can review and practice printing.
For math, we will continue with RightStart Mathematics level C (Peter has done about a quarter of the level already). After using Saxon and Singapore math for kindergarten (we did two years of kindergarten math), I discovered RightStart and fell in love. I appreciate the hands-on-ness of it, the way it focuses on building concepts, the visual and mental problem-solving strategies, and the incorporation of a variety of games for practice. (If you’re interested, you can buy the Math Card Games book and materials separately and use them to supplement another math program–I highly recommend them.) I wish I had learned math that way when I was in elementary school! To provide some extra math practice from a slightly different perspective (and so Peter can practice doing math independently), I’m adding in the Singapore math workbooks. Singapore is also concept- and strategy-oriented, but gives more drill and more word problems (which I personally think are important–what good is it to know math if you can’t apply it?). Peter will start with the 2B workbook and continue with 3A.
As part of my effort to maintain Peter’s fluency in French, we will be using materials from the French Ministry of Education’s distance education program, which are available for free online. We will be using CE2 Français, Instruction civique, and Sciences expérimentales et technologies. Peter will also be reading library books in French and watching French-language tv.
For religion, Peter will have daily Bible passages to read, so he can get some use out of the Bible we gave him as a First Communion present in April. We will also be using the Image of God series 3rd grade book, Who is Our Example? We did the Image of God 2nd grade book and I liked it reasonably well; the illustrations are dorky but the text is less boring than the Faith and Life series. The 2nd grade program, however, is mostly in the teacher’s guide (stories to read and questions to ask). Starting in 3rd grade, the program is based in the student’s book. Last year, Peter was okay with me reading him stories but complained about doing the workbook, so we’ll see how it goes.
I am quite excited about doing art using ARTistic Pursuits K-3 book 1. This program is specifically written for homeschoolers. Peter is not into art by any stretch of the imagination, but I figured that a little art will help him be more well-rounded. I will have fun with it, anyways!
Finally, I’m hoping that a crazy goat with a British accent will help Peter learn to type. He’ll be doing the BBC Dance Mat Typing course online (free!).
It seems like a lot, but I think it’s doable. We won’t be doing every subject every day–science is two days a week, for example, and art once a week. Language of God will be one page, twice a week. French is the biggest “extra” subject, but it’s very important to us, so we’ll find a way to make it work. Art and typing are also extras; if they cause more stress than fun, we’ll drop them. We’ll see how it goes. I’m expecting a great year of learning!