Though I’m feeling gun shy about homeschooling again this year, selecting a curriculum is a lot of fun.
I was looking forward to attending the local homeschool conference this year and even arranged for Mr. S. to get off work and watch the kids, but instead of going, I ended up traveling out of state for a funeral. I was disappointed because I would have liked to have seen some of the different curricula in person now that I’m more familiar with how Roo operates in regard to school. Oh well! The internet is a beautiful research tool, right?
I jumped online and poked around at various companies to see what was available in the realm of boxed curricula. Some of them looked appealing but cost nearly $1000 and others were cheap but I doubted their ability to sustain our attention. I knew I could swap out certain subjects in a boxed curricula for other things, but I still couldn’t find something that spoke to me. The reason I was looking around was that part of me wanted to scrap everything I did last year and start fresh, but then when I thought about it, I realized that I chose the curricula I used last year for a reason and it might be a better use of my time to build on what we did last year. Re-evaluate not so much what I taught, but how I taught it.
Since there is a rule that you if you homeschool and you blog, you have to share what you are doing, here’s my plan for the year:
Five In A Row (Vol. 2):
In FIAR, you read the same children’s book every day for a week (hence the name) and use the book as a jumping off point for studying social studies, geography, applied math, art, etc. I really love this style of homeschooling and I think it allows for a lot of flexibility and fantastic exploratory learning. Also, it allows for more than one child to get involved. However, it requires planning and organization on my part to get the most out of it.
We used it briefly it last year and I made the mistake of trying to save money by getting most of the books from the library. I think that was my major downfall because I had way too much on my mental plate to plan things week by week. The books were hard to find and I got discouraged. This time around, I purchased the whole set of books. I priced them out used on Amazon to see if I could do the program on the cheap and found that there was only a fifteen dollar difference between scavenging for used books and buying a brand new set. I hope to do the grunt work of planning for seventeen books/weeks before we even begin. Kind of like meal planning — I want to stock the pantry and know what else I’ll need and when.
Basically Five in a Row is going to be my overarching framework. My catch all.
STILL, I learned last year that while FIAR can be comprehensive, I need a little help with some subjects.
Enter the local home school co-op…
Co-op: Science, History/Geography, Memory Works
Roo will be doing three classes. I anticipate doing some history and geography and science in the context of FIAR, but I like knowing I can prioritize other subjects and she’ll still get what she needs.
I don’t know yet what books they’ll be using. I do know that the Science is taught by a former teacher and that the Memory Works is being taught by a woman who has had some sort of special training in the art of memorization. (Memorization is a big aspect of the classical approach to education, but I have little confident in Roo’s receptivity to my instruction in that regard.)
There is some degree of parental involvement necessary to be part of the co-op and I’m toying with the idea of lining up a babysitter for Jack on those days to reduce my stress level and allow for some semblance of socialization.
Miquon Math and Xtramath.org
After seeking advice from my all-important facebook forum of homeschooling mom-friends, I’m going to change math curriculum and do Miquon Math. The main draw for me is that it is cheaper than many of the big names and favored by mothers I trust who don’t have a lot of time to devote to teaching math. Xtramath.org is a website that does math drills. Throwing it in here and there should be a nice change of pace.
Explode the Code
I used this program for phonics last year and it worked fine. It’s not very expensive and relatively self-explanatory. If it ain’t broke, as they say.
I’m not sure if I’ll need to add spelling into the mix? I’m thinking that will come about organically with everything else we’re doing and we can get more formal about it next year.
That’s my tentative plan for curricula so far. The reason I mention the general affordability of books is because I have come to learn that the cost of homeschooling materials can quickly get out of control. The more I spend on books, the less there is to spend on supplies and extracurriculars.
Oh, and I plan to include ZouZou in FIAR and start her with All About Reading. She’s signed up for pre-ballet and story time at the co-op.
My apologies for not providing links to the books. With seemingly endless interruptions, I’ve probably already spent six hours trying to write this post. My writing/posting is such a mess lately, it’s tempting to give up blogging altogether!
P.S. The pictures are of bags of beads and blocks I discovered at a local thrift shop. They were marked five dollars a bag and as I stood in line to check out someone gave me a five dollar off coupon! The girls sorted them out and filled up four gallon-sized bags with beads, wood blocks, foam shapes, and plastic blocks that attach to each other.