Our 2018/2019 curriculum choices
PLEASE NOTE this post does not contain my usual found freebies! I don’t think I have ever shared with you our curriculum choices for a year but thought you might enjoy what we decided on for this year. Due to owning and running a new business, ABC Photo Art, my homeschooling time is not as free as it used to be. We needed a portable curriculum that the children could take with them when with me when at our booth. For the last couple years we have been using Switched on Schoolhouse but as that required being close to our network that was not going to work this year plus I was beginning to find it a little too structured for our lifestyle. We don’t like to move through subjects of interest at a fast rate but rather do more research and learn in more detail the subject matter.
Until a couple years ago we always schooled year round but once again, life changed and we found ourselves taking from the end of May to end of July off. (We still only do a 4 day week!) Changing our curriculum around completely this year took me a while to organize but I am happy with the end results. Hope as you read on, my ideas and thoughts will inspire you also. I have always loved the Critical Thinking Company products and we have used several over the years but this year we are using a LOT more. We have even switched to their Math curriculum as it is much more varied and also teaches practical, day to day skills. Some books get too bogged down in explanations and the older two, who have different learning challenges, just go blank and space out so a waste of paper. Mathematical Reasoning is colorful and attention getting. We’ll see how everyone does. I have never shied away from changing something that doesn’t work.
Richard and I have always encouraged our kids to think critically. No, that does not mean we have taught them to be critical! Rather, we want them to ask questions, examine the evidence put before them and come to a logical conclusion. Don’t just take what someone says as truth, prove it for yourself. Of course there needs to be balance. We don’t expect them to doubt everything they hear and call folks liars! I have started our 15 year old on Basics of Critical Thinking. I think as we go through this together it will really help him mature as he tends to be on the gullible side and also not always understand the first time around what folks are saying to him. He is also working part time on a farm and thus learning a wide variety of essential, practical skills.
For the last couple of years I have had the kids all doing different history. That worked great when I was home everyday. It will not work now! SO, determined to use the library more I invested in Critical Thinking’s World History Detective. This is one THICK book! Designed for Grades 6-12 I know for a fact that we will not get through this in a year nor did I ever have any intention of doing so. My aim is to use this as a guide and use the resources at the library to learn more. The three main categories in this book are:
- Ancient Civilizations
- Medieval Civilizations
- Early American Civilizations
For example, the first study is on the Fertile Crescent and the Sumerians. World History Detective provides some basic information but I want to delve deeper. I am going to learn alongside the children as my history knowledge is not that good. (I had the most AWFUL, BORING history teacher at school. Know where I am coming from? I spent more time outside the classroom than in or so it seems. I can still see her now and also my time spent outside on the benches!) I want our history to be fun!
Our 8 year old asked about whales the other day so I decided to find a Unit Study on Whales (Whale Tales by Amanda Bennett) which we started yesterday. Very interactive, videos to watch, books to read, word searches to do etc. Schooling here doesn’t always get done at a set time. Last night whilst letting our dinner go down I read an EXCELLENT book, Blue Whales by Patricia Hutchison (a library find). Richard and I learned stuff we never knew. Yes, of course we knew that blue whales are the largest creatures on earth but did you know that a small child could theoretically crawl into its nostril? How about that the fact that its tongue weighs as much as an elephant? The author, describing the blue whale in such a fashion, truly allowed us to visualize how BIG this creature is.
The 12 year old LOVES to learn new words. Two of our recent ones are ‘havering’ and ‘petrichor’, both of which came out of books we were reading aloud. Yes, I read aloud a LOT to these kids. Unless we are in a rush, I read to them after every mealtime. This not only allows the slower eaters to finish their meal but also allows us all to digest our food and relax a little. I hate rushing anywhere! SO with that in mind, and admittedly a little fed up with grammar, I decided to go with Vocabulary Virtuoso this year. These books provide the kids a set of new words each week with lots of lessons using the words in different ways. We’ll see how it works….
Several other bits getting added in also. When we were at Voice of the Martyrs, we picked up The Torchlighters Ultimate Activity Books – Heroes of the Faith. I haven’t had a chance to look at them in detail yet but will get there. That will be our Bible curriculum to start the year.
I have some other items planned too along with Building Thinking Skills on the computer. I don’t know about you but I LOVE logic games/puzzles. Right now our 8 year old is enjoying Rush Hour after having completed the Junior version at least a couple years back.
Depending on the state you live in depends on record keeping required. Let me encourage you, that no matter if your homeschool laws are easy, as they are for us. keep GOOD and DETAILED records. Your kids will thank you for it in later years PLUS if you ever have an issue you have the records to prove what you have done. Believe you me, you won’t remember them all in your head! I keep an Excel Spreadsheet on each child, for each year. If anyone was to ever question me, I could just print each record off. This also encourages you when you look back over the year to see what you have accomplished. I do not keep a record of every book each child reads but I do note down every book we read aloud and every book we share for school.
Hope this helps and that you have a wonderful and successful school year,