Decisions, Decisions…A Homeschooling Ramble

The time has come for me to be looking at homeschool curricula for 2015-2016. Since I have a baby due in July, it would be ideal to have one main, open-and-go “core” curriculum that I can use with the three older kids, who will be in kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade. I also need to figure out the best way to teach my kindergartner to learn how to read. I had it so easy with the big kids. They both taught themselves to read at age three, through no real instruction from me (other than reading lots of books with them). But my littlest one has an extroverted, happy-go-lucky, social butterfly personality, and she’s not necessarily as focused or determined about “book learning” as the older kids. So I have to figure out how to actually, for the first time, teach phonics and all that jazz.

For the past two years, the older kids and I have been doing WinterPromise’s American Story 1 and 2. It’s been great, and they and I have learned a lot, but some of the reading has been fairly academic and somewhat mature-themed, and I don’t think my youngest is ready for a similarly intense, history-focused program. Besides, WinterPromise doesn’t offer any history-based programs that are appropriate for the grade range I will be teaching next year. They do have an Animals and Their Worlds study which is supposedly appropriate for Pre-K through 4th grades, but it doesn’t look as academically rigorous as the history programs (which may be a good thing, considering the new baby factor and the kindergartner’s interest level). I’ve also been perusing My Father’s World’s programs. We’ve used Sonlight in the past, and I like it a lot, but they don’t seem to have any programs that would be appropriate for a kindergartner, second grader, and fourth grader to participate in at the same time. I am very interested in Homeschool in the Woods’ Middle Ages and Renaissance and Reformation studies in their Project Passport series, but because they feature a ton of crafts and projects, I think that, realistically,  they would be too much to handle when I have a new baby. Generally, I tend to prefer literature-heavy programs, which is why I like Sonlight and WinterPromise so much.

We’ve been really happy with Singapore Math, so we’ll stick with that for now. It’s sooooo much better than Saxon, which is what I grew up with and absolutely hated. I would never inflict that boring, horrible, dry, miserable, tedious program on my children. I do like the concept of Teaching Textbooks, but the grade levels seem way off from Singapore Math. Teaching Textbooks seems to be at least two or three grades below Singapore Math! But the video instruction would be nice for upper level math courses, so I’ll keep the company in mind for later. We also supplement with Mathtacular DVDs. Right now we have the first and second in the series, but the older kids are ready for the next two and really want me to buy them! Just today, my son came to a new concept in his Singapore Math book, and I was all ready to explain to him how he should do the problems, and he said, “You don’t have to tell me; I already know!” I was surprised and asked him where he had learned the concept, and he said he learned it from Mathtacular. Awesome!

We use A Reason for Handwriting for penmanship. It’s fine for the older kids. I’m going to try using it for my youngest, and then, if it really doesn’t work for her, I’ll look into other programs. I’ve thought about Handwriting Without Tears for her, but the reviews are very mixed, so I’m kind of leery of that program.

I’m planning to get Kathy Troxel’s Audio Memory Geography songs (along with the corresponding workbook). The program has very good reviews and seems to be very effective for teaching US and world geography.

Well, these have been my rambling thoughts and ideas about what to use next year. I really enjoy the process of researching different options and figuring out what will best suit my children.

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