Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Planning School

I have been hard at work printing, organizing, and planning out the next school year.
Some of you have asked what curriculum I use and what method of schooling we incorporate in our daily schedule.
First though, I think it would benefit you, the reader, to know my philosophy on education.

Life is school.
We should never stop learning and the most important lessons of all work out well in just everyday life.
Added to that, I believe that our children's education is the parent's responsibility. That doesn't mean that the parent is the only one that can teach but that education if foundationally a parental priority...not the government's.

Over the years I have come to realize that it is not always the information that is important but the knowledge of how to get the information at the needed time.
I just don't remember everything that I was taught throughout all my years of schooling. I know that my kids will likely not remember all the facts that I drill into them as well. So, I had better teach them the skills that they need to teach themselves throughout life.
We never stop learning...

Two books that have impacted me the most when it comes to homeschooling would be...
When You Rise Up by RC Sproul Jr
Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

I have embraced just about every method available out there but have found that each of them is just too confining for me.
I probably lean closer to a classical style of education with a bit of Charlotte Mason and lifestyle learning to add to the mix.
We do a lot of reading...a LOT of reading!
But, we also use a variety of core curriculum that I have found helpful in teaching the basics. I have tried many, many different curriculums but these are the ones that I have settled on as the best for our family:
  • MATH Math-U-See is our favorite. I dragged my children through years of Saxon, the holy grail of homeschool math, only to find out that they were not learning much. It was while I was at a lunch with a bunch of my friends that I discovered I was not the only one that was disappointed by the lack of results from Saxon. They had already started to move to Math-U-See and loved those, I took the plunge and have enjoyed the calmer waters of a math curriculum that seems to suit my children's learning style and my teaching style.
  • MATH Teaching Textbooks is a wonderful high school math curriculum. I am just not good at math so I need good math tutors to help my children along withe Algebra and above. This is the curriculum that does just that.
  • PHONICS I am so excited about Phonics Museum from Veritas Press. I have not used a full blown phonics curriculum before...just pieced it together before now. That is changing with Brown Sugar and what fun we are going to have.
  • GRAMMAR We use a variety of things for Grammar. I start out using Simply Grammar, add Easy Grammar to the mix, and end up with either The Blue Book or Our Mother favorite being the last.
  • SPELLING I use Natural Speller. I have used so many curriculums and just don't like any of them. This way I can work on the words that they are truly having problems with. It's a simple curriculum and it doesn't cost much.
  • CREATIVE WRITING I have never used a formal writing curriculum so last year was a first as I picked up Susan Wise Bauer's Writing with Ease curriculum. I really enjoy the easy approach and small amount of work for the teacher. But, most importantly, I really like Susan's knowledge of good literature. She picks the best excerpts for the chapters. I always look forward to what we will be reading next and have picked books to read aloud to the kids that I would have otherwise tossed aside as fluff (e.g. 101 Dalmations).
  • HISTORY Well, this one is a no brainer for me. I LOVE Mystery of History...all of them! Including the one that Linda is still working on! Ha! This curriculum is the one that gave all four of my older children a love for history. Now I get to use it with Foley, Brown Sugar and any other child that the Lord sends our way. Add to this Homeschooling in the Woods Timeline figures on CD and you have a winning package that will take you all the way through those middle years. By the way, this is a curriculum that I find rather easy to use as a combined book for many different levels. You can add extra reading and activities for the older kids and keep it to a minimum for the littles.
  • HUMANITIES If you have never heard Dr. George Grant speak than you are missing out! This man is so full of knowledge and articulates well the different philosophies and world views throughout history. Sad to say, this curriculum is not available right now except for borrowing from some very thoughtful friend. We are hoping, hoping, hoping that Dr. Grant will make his new lecturesa available very soon.*****update!!!! Thanks to info that Lindsey provided I checked out the Kings Meadow site and found out that yes, indeed, Dr. Grant has published Modernity (one of four years). It will be released on July 31st and I will be "standing" in the online line ready to buy my copy! Christendom is the second of four that will be released soon. And, given that the last two years are given release dates in 2011 and 2012 I will assume that Christendom will be coming out sometime this year as well. By the way, the curriculum is now offered at quite a savings. It use to be $500 a year for a family license and now is offered at $350 a year for the same license...just checking out the samples online has proved to me that the quality has improved as well. Click here for a link to the samples.
  • SCIENCE I have some children that are very science and math minded and some that are just like me! For those who are like me I thought it would be kind to not bore them with info that they will never use. My solution was the Master Book/Explore collection. They have titles like Exploring the Planet Earth, Exploring Chemistry, etc. I like them because they are small paperbound books with comprehension guides. For those in my family that actually desire to know more about the sciences I hand them the Apologia text/workbook combos and say "more power to ya!".
There are plenty of other resources that I use to make my load light. I always visit Veritas Press while creating my reading list for the year. They are a wonderful resource for good, sound books to read for each reading level. I do find that some of their suggestions might be a bit too mature for the levels that they suggest them at. But, usually I find them incredibly helpful...and their reading/comprehension guides are fabulous!
I use a site called Homeschool Share for lapbook resources and templates. They have great unit study helps as well.
If you have never been to then you haven't officially started homeschooling! Just kidding! But, you must head over there. You need lined paper right now? Download her template and presto! you have it. You need homeschooling documents? She has them. I am serious...this site is as important to know about as having a copy machine is.

I have a new resource that I will be using this year to aid my schooling of Foley. It is a biblestudy for young kids. While I am working with one child there is usually a down time for another. I try to have things on hand that can keep the one child busy until I can get back to them. My friend produced a Bible study for young kids that will fill that down time for Foley this year. He will learn all kinds of great things like the animals that are in the Bible while he waits for me.
This is a quality product that I know you will love. And, if you go to their site you can download a free sample to look at. You will not be disappointed!

So, all this talk of homeschooling can seem quite overwhelming for some. And, honestly, this year is going to be a crazy year for me which can make me become overwhelmed as well. I mean, this year I will have two highschoolers, a struggling third grader, a kindergardener and a pregnant belly! But, there is a site where you can find encouragement and creative ideas. Most of you know my friend Kendra....

...if you haven't "met" her or been to her site I highly suggest that you do so. She has ebooks available to download that are chock full of great ideas to help keep peace in your home, organize home, and teach a multitude of children of different ages.

Last but not least, I have to put a plug in for my friend Jeannie over at Area127. I typically find what I like and then order it from her. I have to say that I rarely visit her website because it is just too encouraging to talk to her on the phone. She has a wealth of information about all the greatest curriculums out there and since she knows my kids learning styles all I have to do is ask her what she thinks and I will get a recommendation to fit. She educated her children and now helps her children educate her grand children!

On all the references above, if you click the title of the book or website or icon there is a link that will take you right to said website.
I hope you found this really is just a run down on what we do not what I think you should do.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask!


Anna said...

Thank you, this is really interesting! Looking forward to you posting about your daily routine too.

Melissa said...

wow u are busy. I homeschool too. we go through a charter so i get lots of fun stuff.
I have a sr. a frosh and asixth grader this year

Anonymous said...

Great news Mrs. O! Dr. Grant is producing his humanities courses again!!! The first one that they've produced so far is their Modernity course. You can find all of the info on