I put together a post with my curriculum choices last year. It ended up being a bit more work than I expected, but I enjoyed doing it, so I decided to do it again this year. It ended up being a lot of work again. I started this post at the end of August, before we started our school year, didn’t finish it before we started, and have been so busy since then that it’s been a low priority to get it done. My options were to give up or finish it. I don’t want to waste the work I already did so I’m going to finish it, but forgive me for not illustrating all my choices, because that’s where most of the work is.
First, my updated introduction. We are a Canadian-American family living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our son Peter is 9 years old and entering grade 4. This is our second year of homeschooling, but the first year in our current home (we moved here from Ontario, Canada over the summer) and the first year that I will not be working. We also have a two-and-a-half-year-old, Simon.
Our family in April, the most recent picture of all four of us.
We are continuing with the two-year American/Canadian history sequence that we started last year. I have been splicing together Sonlight curriculum‘s one-year condensed version of American history with a Sonlight-style Canadian history schedule to cover both American and Canadian history together chronologically. Peter and I have both been enjoying it. We ended up making it a little less than halfway through last year, but I think we’ll be able to finish it off this year.
I am recycling a picture of some of the Sonlight books we used last year, but we are now approaching the American Civil War.
And again, recycling a picture of some of the Canadian history books we read.
For grammar and writing mechanics, we are trying something new this year. We are using the Easy Grammar grade 4 book along with Daily Grams, for daily practice of capitalization, punctuation, etc. Peter continues to write a daily journal (now a minimum of four sentences, up from three last year) and has a weekly writing assignment.
Peter made great progress using All About Spelling last year, finishing level 1 and getting halfway through level 2. We will continue moving through the program at his pace. I’m projecting that he’ll start level 3 sometime in November.
This will probably be Peter’s last year of handwriting. He will finish CHC‘s Catholic Heritage Handwriting series with level 4.
For math, we will continue with the combination of RightStart Mathematics and Singapore workbooks. We’ll be doing level D in RightStart and using the 3B and 4A Singapore workbooks. Peter also plays math computer games for practice (Math Blaster and Vroot and Vroom).
RightStart is an American program, but they do sell a Canadian workbook (money problems have pictures of Canadian coins) and Canadian money cards for their card games. I bought this workbook when we were still living in Canada, as we weren’t expecting to move for at least another year. I think Peter will enjoy doing money problems with Canadian currency, though.
As part of my effort to maintain Peter’s fluency in French, we will continue to use materials from the French Ministry of Education’s distance education program, which are available for free online. We are using CM1 Français and Sciences expérimentales et technologies, and finishing up the parts of CE2 Instruction civique that I planned to do last year and ended up dropping when life got crazy as we prepared to move. Peter watches French-language tv programs at least three days a week (through satellite tv) and will be reading some books in French (I bought a half-dozen before we moved so I can give him one a month; I’m planning to restock at Christmas, plus we have lots of books for younger kids for him to read to Simon).
Recycled sample of French language arts from last year
Recycled sample of “civic instruction” (rights/freedoms, safety, etc)
Recycled sample of science
We’ve also changed our religion program this year. Peter still has daily Bible passages to read, but we’ve switched the rest to Memoria Press‘ Christian Studies book 1, which uses the Golden Children’s Bible.
We just wrapped up the last lesson in last year’s art book, and we will be starting ARTistic Pursuits grades 4-6 book 1, by the same author. Last year, we made a variety of kinds of art (drawing, painting, cutting-and-pasting shapes, mosaic, sculpture). This year will be focused on drawing in black-and-white. Art has been a challenge for us and I’m not sure how long we’ll continue to do it, but I’m not ready to give up on it yet. We’ll see how things go this year; I may not bother to do it again next year.
Peter started learning to type last year, but didn’t make great progress. I still think it’s a useful skill for him to learn, so I found a different free online typing program to use this year–TypingWeb. He enjoys the games and I appreciate the fact that I can log in and track his progress (how much time he spends on the lessons, speed, error rate). He is only in fourth grade so I’m not pushing it too hard–he’s only doing it once or twice a week–but I’m hoping to see some improvement this year.
I added Memoria Press’ Book of Astronomy to Peter’s science this year, since he is interested in space and in Greek mythology. We live out in the country and we can see an incredible number of stars on a clear night, so learning constellations is a great thing to do here.
Also new this year is Latin. Near the end of the summer, Peter kept saying he wanted to learn Latin. I wasn’t too keen on increasing his workload, but Don insisted that since one of our main reasons for homeschooling is to be able to adapt to his needs and interests, we should listen to him. So we’re using Memoria Press’ Prima Latina program. It’s a fairly easy program (intended to be used as young as 2nd grade), so he’s able to be successful without a whole lot of time and effort. I bought the optional DVD set so he can sort of have the experience of listening to a teacher lecture.
We are participating in a local public school district’s homeschool partnership program. Peter is taking a Lego Robotics class, and they are paying for part of the cost for him to play hockey (it counts as physical education).
So far, a month into the school year, we’ve had a rough start. For the first few weeks, I was seriously tempted to send him to school so I wouldn’t have to deal with him during the day. Things are still not going as well as I would like, but schoolwork is getting done, chores are getting done, and he is learning stuff. We are pulling it off and I hope it will continue to get better.