Our Homeschool Curriculum, 2016-2017
Our post on this year’s curriculum choices is so belated that most homeschool bloggers are writing about how their first 6 or 9 weeks went. So I’ll just roll that info in here, too.
Last year, our approach was so informal that I put quotes around “homeschool curriculum” in the post title. Last year went wonderfully- the self-directed route was a great fit for both of the kids. This year I felt that, given the kids’ increased attention spans, budding spirit of cooperation and interest in learning, we could add a little more structure. So we have more formal curricula included this year, which we work on during a morning routine. We retained a lot of the self-directedness though, by using a self-paced workbox system and leaving the vast majority of the day unscheduled. Still, I had expected some resistance to the structure, but I was pleasantly surprised that the kids *love* it. They ask to do homeschool on the weekends. This is what we are up to:
What it is:
This curriculum establishes a broad base of knowledge, covering facts from history, geography, science, art, music, English, Latin and math each week. The “memory work” for the week is available on CD, and many key facts are incorporated into (good, catchy) songs. Key points from history are depicted on big, colorful “timeline cards,” and science likewise on science cards. Each week includes a science project, often from the book “Van Cleave’s 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre, and Incredible Experiments,” and an art or music project.
How this is going:
Won.der.ful.ly. Top reasons I love this curriculum:
- The broad base of knowledge the kids are exposed to is the perfect medium for inspiring self-directed learning.
- The kids fight over who gets to hold the timeline cards when we review them because they are fascinated by the pictures. Rowan says that ancient artifacts look like dinosaur fossils.
- The curriculum INCLUDES ASL ALREADY. The awesome Timeline Song that recites all 161 historical events from the timeline cards has accompanying ASL hand motions.
- Although we aren’t joining one this year, there are Classical Conversations communities all over the country that meet weekly, which makes it very easy to connect with other families who are learning the same thing. Being in a metro area, we have at least 6 communities within 15 miles of us, and the one we visited recently was amazing.
- As far as curricula go, it is very affordable. The items we invested in (and scored used copies) are designed to last through elementary and even into middle school years.
We’re sticking with parts of the Letter of the Week curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler including all of the morning routine (date, days of the week, weather, shape/number/letter of the week, Bible verse), preschool notebook pages, all of the coloring sheets of the week, and the neat Chicka Tree idea in which every Friday we post our letter of the week to our big tree. Both of the “big kids” know their ABCs already, but we use the coloring pages for fine motor practice and art, and we tie the letter of the week into June’s speech practice and Rowan’s writing/reading.
Rowan is using Explode the Code and BOB books to practice reading and writing. We both got used to the Explode the Code’s illustrations, so they aren’t causing frustration like last year.
We are using Life of Fred, a unique story-based exploration of math concepts. Rowan loves the stories, but the math concepts quickly became a little more complex than what we are looking for. So most weeks we keep Fred on hold and Greg and I make up word problems for the kids as we come across simple real-life math.
We were very fortunate to have a private ASL tutor for most of this year provided through Early Childhood Intervention. (I had to fight mightily for this, since June is not deaf, so any parents of non-verbal children who are seeking ASL support, I will be glad to pass on my experience and that of other parents who advised me.) Now that June turned 3 and is no longer in ECI, we are studying ASL independently through LifePrint’s courses at www.asl.tc, and staying involved in the local Deaf community. A good number of kids in the homeschool social group that we joined are learning ASL as well, so June has peers to sign with on play dates.
At three, June transitioned from ECI into the school district, which will provide speech services. Voice experts at our hospital say that the sounds June is making with her Passy-Muir speaking valve are made with her “false cords” only, not her vocal cords (which may be paralyzed). Still, they believe she should learn the mechanics of speech via therapy, despite the currently reliance on her false cords. Rowan is eager for June to be able to communicate verbally, since interpreting her signs often take several guesses, so he often coaches her to practice her speech. The school will also provide an augmentative communication device (a tablet with Proloquo2Go on it) eventually, which June can use to speak for her while she’s still learning to develop her speech.
Much of our learning is done outside of the house, whether it’s our neighborhood park or a museum downtown. Our homeschool social group has a dozen or more events per month that we can join. Also, local parks, libraries, museums, churches, businesses, schools, organizations, and neighborhoods offer a dizzying number of free events every month as well. And there are many paid options, too, especially as more gyms, dance studios, art classes, book stores, science labs etc are offering homeschool classes scheduled during weekdays.