Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our first year's curriculum and the school room

I thought it would be fun to share with you the curriculum that we have chosen for our first year of homeschool.  I never thought I would ever get as excited about curriculum as I have been.  Every time a book arrived in the mail it was like Christmas.

First up is Aaron.  Aaron is a very hands-on learner so we may have to find some more creative ways to teach him, but since I am new at this I am sticking to more traditional methods and we will throw in some hands-on stuff as we see fit.  I bought a book called "175 Science Experiments" to work on together.  Aaron has to have breaks frequently.  He works well for about 30 minutes and then he needs to walk outside for a bit to get some air, shoot some baskets, or look at some birds.  He comes back refreshed and ready to get back to work.  So here are our choices for him.

At the top are Dick and Jane readers.  He has breezed through one of them so we will look for something a little more challenging when he finishes these.  They were recommended by a woman whose workshop we attended at the homeschool expo.  They are well written and always encouraging to boys.

Next, is The 175 Science Experiments book that I mentioned earlier.

Under that are some used Spectrum spelling and reading books that Sam got free off of Paperback Swap.  I'm not sure if these will get used for actual school work, but maybe for supplements in his down time.

We are using a Spectrum Math book.  So far this is all we have for him for math.  I'm not so sure this will be enough and it does not have a teacher's guide.  Since I an not great at teaching math, that would be helpful.  We are just going to work through this for now and then reevaluate in January when we have more under our belts.

For handwriting, we are using "Hand Writing Without Tears."  We have not started this yet, but it comes highly recommended by many homeschoolers and teachers.

At the bottom of the stack is a 2nd grade Alpha Omega LifePac.  I am very excited about this because it is a complete Language Arts curriculum.  It teaches phonics, vocabulary, spelling, reading comprehension and grammar all at once.  It has a very helpful teacher's guide.  To top it off there is scripture ALL throughout it.  It teaches the basics of Language Arts while at the same time immersing the child in God's Word.   I love it!

Aaron will also be taking a science class at Grace Co-op in Blairsville.  The teacher has selected "Patterns of Nature" by Rod and Staff.  I know he will enjoy that.  He will also be taking a US History/Geography class, an art class, a music, and a PE class at co-op.

Now onto Ashlyn.  Ashlyn is a more traditional learner.  She likes hands on activities, but does very well in a classroom setting.  She is a strong reader and works well independently.

We chose Switched on Schoolhouse by Alpha Omega for her main curriculum.  It is a 5 subject computer software which includes bible, science, math, history, and language arts.   We had some trouble getting it installed and our computers synced, but now that we are up and running, we are learning the program together.

It is a really cool program because you can pretty much customize the whole thing.  She logs in each day and the computer has assigned her work for the day based on the school calendar that I created in the system.  It tells her what she is expected to do that day and when it is due.  I can also send her messages and she can send them to me.  Once she completes a lesson she moves on to the assignment.  It's great because she gets immediate feed back as she answers the questions.  All of her assignments are graded and then submitted for me to see.  There are sometimes questions that have to be submitted for me to grade.  For now I am sitting with her and we are walking through the lessons together.  Once we get better at this, she will be able to work on her own a bit more.  However, this is not meant to be a hands off tool for the parent.  It still takes instruction and supervision from me.  

Here is a sample Language Arts lesson.  As you scroll down the lesson continues.  There are learning games throughout as well as audio instruction and tutoring.  This program requires that your child have good reading skills.  Our biggest challenge will be her typing skills since it does require some.  I plan to go over some basic typing with her and maybe add a typing curriculum next year.  

For handwriting we have chosen "Handwriting Without Tears" for her as well. 

As extras we are using Wordly Wise for vocabulary and reading comprehension which she is finding very challenging, but that is good. We are also using a Spectrum Math workbook to strengthen her math skills.

At Co-op she will be taking a science class.  The teacher has chosen "Considering God's Creation."  It is a GREAT book.  It talks about many different aspects of science starting with creation and then moving through all the days of creation in order.  

Ashlyn will also be taking a cross cultural/social studies class, an art class, and a girls life skills class at co-op.

We are excited about our choices.  We know that we will have to keep an open mind and realize that some of it may not be a good fit for us.  As we get more experience, I'm sure we will branch out and try many different types of curriculum.

For read alouds and family story time we are using several different books by Lamp Lighter Publishing.  We absolutely LOVE these books.  They are a collection of very old stories that are well written and FULL of Christian character qualities.  They all point to Christ.  We just can't say enough about them!

And just for fun for the little ones I bought some new preschool toys.  Here are some lacing beads and activities, shape and color sorters, and a wooden dress the bear set.  

I also ordered some really cute alphabet cards from My Father's World.  They have all sorts of activity ideas to help the little ones learn their letters.

Here is a tour of where it all happens.  We turned the formal dining room into the school room.

All the school supplies are in the chest and the hutch.  

We have decided to use the green, yellow, red card system for behavior.  I felt like it was easy enough for even the little ones to understand and I only wanted one system to keep up with.   We didn't do it this week, but next week, we will begin our day with prayer and the pledge.

We use the chalk board for our character qualities each week.  We plan on getting a large white board to go on the empty wall there.  For now Avery has a play yard in the corner, but when we get the white board, I will have to move it to have room to write.  

We keep all the curriculum on the top shelf.  The board is our prayer request board.

So that is the run down if you were interested.  We started school this week.  I had not planned on doing that, but thought we should start practicing with some trial runs.  Boy, am I glad we did!  It was a rough week for all 3 of us.  There were tears from all of us.  Getting used to the routine will be hard.  After all, we are learning a new way of life.  I'm trying not to focus so much on content this year, especially in the first semester.  We mostly need to learn together how to do this.   Right now we are doing a lot of review of concepts from last year, which I am thankful for.  It would be tough to be learning brand new material while adjusting to homeschool.  I know that once we get the hang of it, they will by far surpass what they would have gotten in public school.  That is mainly because we will be able to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.  I still have to keep praying because the fear and doubt continues to creep in.  Thankfully we are all committed to making this work.  Next week is a new week!  

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