Ancient Times, biology, chemistry, curriculum, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artist., Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers, grammar, handwriting without tears, Lakeshore Learning, language arts curriculum, mandarin chinese classes, Middle Ages, northern virginia chinese school, Paddington Bear, Parks and Recreation, physics, Read and Write., real-science-4-kids, rod&staff, Saxon math, Sing, Spell, Spelling Workout, Story of the World, the Duggars, The Washington School of Ballet
After many months of reading, researching and going through books (thanks Cherie!) I have finally settled on Lela’s curriculum plans for the 2013-2014. Due to the fact we homeschool all year, we have already started on some of the material.
Please enjoy and as always, should you have any questions about anything–please let me know!
Grammar/Phonics/Reading:This year we are using the Rod & Staff program for the foundation of our Language Arts study. This program includes grammar, phonics, and reading. We have already begun the program and Lela and I both LOVE IT. The lessons are thoroughly written and everything is so well integrated which makes learning and practicing concepts seamless. The materials are also very affordable. I believe I spent around $80.00 for the complete set. Spelling: Spelling Workout B & C is the program we are using. Again, we are happy with our choice. We complete a unit a week (which is 10 words a week) and although it is not Rod & Staff it does pair extremely well with it. Lela enjoys the activities, they are manageable chunks she can accomplish in a timely (10 minutes) manner. I also appreciate the fact they have built in reviews (every 5 lessons) and reinforce grammar and writing practice through the activities.
I am not following a writing curriculum this year so I do not have a specific curriculum to share. Lela does writing everyday in a variety of ways. Grammar goes hand-in-hand with writing as it provides the tools necessary to effectively communicate. So we talk a lot about grammar. In addition to this, she completes narration and dictation exercises weekly and writes two letters to friends and families a week (she truly enjoys this). She has a writing folder (see photo on the left) to house and organize her writing and she takes each piece through the writing process (brainstorming, organizing, rough draft, edit, final copy). We walk through this process gently and have our writing dates (always with a warm cup of something) to discuss her thoughts and where she is in the process.
For penmanship we use Handwriting Without Tears. I am a big fan of this program for two reasons: (1) It works and (2) It is easy! Oh, and by the way– there are no tears! I suggest investing in the program parts and truly learning the system. Once you train your child on the system they can self-pace. Another suggestion is to buy their paper (different depending on grade-level) and writing journals–it helps keep confusion at bay. I am also a fan of their little pencils (especially for your little beginner writers), crayons and chalk.
If you should stop by our house (or any of our houses for that matter) you will notice all of the books, upon books, upon books! Reading is just like breathing–we do it all the time, every day, everywhere—it never stops. Lela has her ‘school readers’ that we partner on (across all contents) but she is also allowed and encouraged to read a wide variety of worthwhile material. And she does, all day long. We also read to the girls everyday. I read to them during our daily ‘Tea-Time’ after nap (something my 3 year old insist happens) and Dad reads them their nighttime story (he is currently working through Paddington Bear, the first bear I loved as a child).
Saxon Math is the math program our village uses. For us, it is tried and true. For me personally, I love it. I am actually enjoying teaching Lela math and am learning ‘again’ along the way. Saxon is very systematic and it builds little by little. The program’s goal is mastery of content, which is our goal for the girls as well. To find out exactly what we think about saxon, enjoy our review of the curriculum — including both the mom’s and children’s perspectives! We also have shared our findings on about the creator of the program here.
Science has been one of my greatest challenges. It is hard to find a solid program that is actually doable (for a non-science mind). Real-Science-4-Kids is a new addition to our village and I absolutely love it. We are in week 3 of a 10 week Chemistry study and are having a blast. Like Saxon, the curriculum imparts information little by little in a very systematic way. Also, each week there is an experiment to conduct. By the end of Lela’s 2nd year she will have completed Chemistry, Biology, and Physics.
We are finishing up our study of Ancient Times and will be moving to the Middle Ages using Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer author of The Well Trained Mind. Story of the World is just what it name’s is–it is a story of the history of the world. We have explored man and have met interesting figures along the way. The program comes with a reader and activity book. I suggest getting both. I make copies of the activity pages so I can reuse it for my other little ones. They have an audio cd of the reader and although it is not mandatory that you have this it is nice to have. The children enjoy hearing the ‘storyteller’ read them the stories as they complete the coloring pages.
Being an artist myself I am passionate about exposing my girls to the arts. I also feel it our duty to see and nurture the artist in each of them. This year we are will be using a series of books, Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers and Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artist. For me, they are simply our launching point. We will surround ourselves with their music and visit museums to take in their art. And of course we will get our own paint sets out and create our very own masterpieces.
It has been our desire to have our girls study Mandarin Chinese. Let me just say now, easier said than done. After considering many different avenues (including trying to start a co-op of our own) we decided to go back to Northern Virginia Chinese School. Lela actually took classes there when she was three but we took a break because it was very hard to maintain the schedule (classes meet Sunday afternoons). We absolutely loved everything else about the school and will be headed back this year. Niara will also be beginning Chinese–we are so excited for her!
Lela will start her third year of ballet at The Washington School of Ballet this year. It is so rewarding to see her growth over the years. We are pleased with the professionalism, care and consideration the school demonstrates to its students.
In addition to having fun helping me cook in the kitchen and running around parks, the girls will be participating in a Home School PE class sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Services. This will be our first time doing this program and we hope it will be a great experience for all. Niara will also join in the fun! Niara is also joining the table (she has pushed her way to it) and I got a program recommended by the Duggars, Sing, Spell, Read and Write. Niara loves music and doing ‘meeting time’ like her big sis, so we will see how it goes.
People always ask about religion and how we approach it. The best way to sum it up is Organically, with purposeful intention. We are Christians and believe that the greatest benefit of homeschooling our girls is the opportunity to nurture their faith and shape their character. We consider this our most important work. We do not regard Christianity and the knowledge of Jesus Christ as a ‘separate’ subject to be studied. Instead, we see it as an integral part of our lives that is in everything we do. As parents, we know that we are constantly modeling in front of our children. So we stay prayed up! And we share our hearts and the power of God with our children so they can see how He cares about even the small stuff and how He works in our lives. We make it a point to read and talk about the word together throughout the day and we pray together, the girls too. At least once a day I ask my daughters to pray for me (strength, patience, the keys, etc.) and I love how they stop–right then and there and pray. This lifestyle isn’t just in our home but it is a central part of our Village Life together. Our faith is our anchor and it defines and instructs how we relate to one another. We are all believers. We are all children of the Lord and we all (despite our ages) see ourselves as striving. Flawed…yes–but striving, pressing into the Will of the Lord!
For those of you that are pulling together materials for next year–happy planning!! Enjoy the ride of researching material (reading all the reviews) and thumbing through books you can get your hands on! Don’t get overly stressed during the process (been there…done that…not needed). The fact is, as with many other things in life, is that it is trail and error. The pearl of truth to remember is that you are the designer of your children’s learning program. Curriculums are simply resources and your resources must work for you!
Chantel ~ The Muse