Saturday, January 21, 2012

Choosing next year's curriculum

I know it seems early being that it is still January and we won't start a new curriculum until August BUT we purchase our school stuff with tax refund money so I spend most of January and February researching my options.

This year for 1st grade with Kayd we've used:

Math Mammoth
All About Spelling level 1
First Language Lessons (grammar)
Awana - bible
FIAR for social studies/geography/art/science/applied math

I will say that we LOVE FLL and AAS - in fact he flew through the first level of AAS and now needs level two already so we'll be getting that shortly.

Math Mammoth is a very solid curriculum BUT and this really is the only issue - it is VERY handwriting intense and Kayd HATES writing.  It's also not age/maturity level appropriate to expect that much handwriting from him at this point.  Math has been a constant fight - not because he doesn't know the material, because actually he does great orally with the material, but because he hate the writing.

FIAR has been meh.  It's not that it's not a great curriculum because I think that overall FIAR is fantastic.  The books are great.  But as a busy mom of four kids the prep work is killing me and more often than not I feel like we only do things half way.  I'm starting to see that at the ages my kids are at that is ok but it's not what I want for next year.  And amazingly I'm still going to have four monkeys hanging around come school time in the fall.

So I've been weighing my options.  Mostly for Kayd.  For math we'll be switching to Math U See.  This has MUCH less handwriting involved, more hands on manipulatives, and is a video teacher.  Kayd learns very well through videos so I know this will be a great fit for him.  It was my initial choice last year but I changed my mind because of price and high recommendations for Math Mammoth.  If I had a child who didn't mind the writing we'd stick with Math Mammoth.  As it is I'll be switching the whole family over to Math U See for now.

Now really though what I've been researching most is the "fun stuff".  It's the stuff that isn't as vital to some at the young ages I have here but for me it's the stuff that school and learning is about.  I've got the math, and the language arts, and spelling covered.  So now lets find something fantastically FUN to do for the history/geography/science/reading practice!  I looked into My Father's world again.  The Adventures in My Father's world actually looks amazingly fun.  But I think it would still end up being a LOT of prep work for me.  While my kids enjoy the hands on activities and we'll still do some, something has to give this coming school year.  So I looked at doing Expedition Earth that Erica at Confessions of a homeschooler came out with and while I love it and I think it looks fun and exciting, it is again just a LOT of prep work each week as far as getting the books from the library, and art supplies and such.  I know I sound lazy but trust me with four kids there isn't a lot of time to be lazy, ESP during the hours of the day when we are supposed to be doing school.  I've looked at combining the boys together and trying to make something work that way but the idea of that was stressing me out.  Someone mentioned Sonlight to me recently.  So that's the one I've been researching the past couple of days.  Really digging in.  Asking questions on the sonlight forum.  Getting a feel for the program.

The thing is we love to read.  Kayd loves to read and KOJ and I have always been big readers.  Sonlight is a reading intensive program.  The more I look at it the more I love it.  The teachers guide is all laid out, and the program comes with all the books you need.  It's a truly open and go system (or so it appears and so people on the forums have told me lol) that takes little prep other than pulling out the books I'll need each week.  THIS is what I need.  It does come with suggestions for the hands on crafts/activities to go along each week so we will still have the option to do or not do those as time and interest allows.  The science looks fantastic and I was thrilled to see in the preview of the teacher's guide on the science manual that the current week has notes at the bottom letting you know what supplies you will need NEXT week!  How awesome is that??

So despite a bit of cost this is the way I'm leaning as far as a program for Kayd.  Colton would be welcome to sit and listen to the read alouds too but I wouldn't stress it.  Tune back in to the blog in August to see what decision I finally made. lol

Colton will be continuing to work through Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, playing with reading eggs online, and use Math U See's primer program to get a start on the very basics of math.  He will be an official kindergartner this fall.

Sawyer will continue to do activities with the Letter of the Week program from Confessions of a Homeschooler as well as other resources I find and print off the great world wide web and blog land!  Once he's able to identify all of his letters and knows their names we'll slowly start using Ordinary Parents guide with him also.  I don't anticipate that happening until next spring but we'll see.

For Sierra, I have some color wonder paper and  a small end table she's going to use as a little desk.  She can color to her little hearts content without ruining my other stuff and feel like she's doing her own school.  I also have age appropriate puzzles and learning activities she can play with.  Mostly though I expect her to spend her time playing in her room and generally making a disaster of things (this is what she typically does now).  I might try to do a day or two a week of "tot school" with her but we'll see how I'm feeling as far as schooling the older two boys.

The links I've provided in this post are solely for YOUR convenience. I am not an affiliate to any of these companies and do not gain anything monetarily or otherwise if you click on them.  Just thought I'd make it easier for others to find the things I was talking about in case it piqued their own interests.

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