Monday, February 7, 2011

Homeschooling Update

I haven't updated about homeschooling in quite a while.  In November I realized how unhappy I was with most of the programs I had chosen.  I blame it on a few things, but mainly on my inexperience, a lack of knowledge about my preferred teaching style with one student and a bad sense of how much time an activity should take.  I still think the curriculum I chose, (Five In a Row) is an awesome curriculum, but it is not awesome for me.  A curriculum is only as good as your implementation and I couldn't implement it well.  My problem with FIAR was that I thought I would love unit studies, where you study one thing, in this case a picture book, in depth and then move on to a different topic.  I found that I didn't like the constant changing of topics, I needed more continuity.  The constant changing made me feel stressed.  You are supposed to be able to use the FIAR lessons as is, just open and teach, but I felt I had to add stuff which was making me spend three or more hours lesson planning each week.  This planning added more stress. Then, because I had planned so much we wouldn't get to everything (and Jovi was seriously young when we started so her attention span was pretty short) which just caused me to be more stressed and discouraged.  We were getting further and further behind "schedule" so I just dropped everything except for reading and math.  But then Jovi's math program, which was easy and she was speeding through, got very hard.  There wasn't enough practice for her to master anything.  She was getting frustrated.  I was feeling frustrated and guilty for not doing more with her.  We needed a change.

I did a lot more research and chose a new program, Little Hearts For His Glory (yes, it is as Protestant Christian as it sounds).  It gives a biblical world history overview, includes every subject and is Charlotte Mason influenced, including the use of short lessons.  We kept our handwriting program, Handwriting Without Tears, and our reading program, Phonics Pathways and, but switched everything else.  Without homeschooling experience I would have never chosen this program.  I would have looked at it and said,  "No way, this is not what or how I want teach.".  I would have thought, "1-2 hours a day and I can teach all the schooling Jovi needs?  No way!"  I was very wrong.  I have found it to be a perfect fit for Jovi and I right now and am so grateful that we switched. 

The things I love about this program are: 1. It is truly open and go.  I read the lesson plans for the week (about 15 minutes) on Sunday and am ready for the rest of the week.  2. The layout of the lesson plans is SO easy to use.  Each day is shown on a two page spread with boxes around each subject.  I can easily track what we have done and what we still have to do.  3. The lessons are short.  We do at least 8 lessons/subjects a day, but since each lesson only lasts about 10 minutes Jovi stays interested in all of them.  We can also easily do two days of work in one day because of the length of the lessons.  I can occasionally add more things to do (like extra science and art) and not feel overwhelmed.  4. Jovi really likes the lessons.  A lot of them include acting stuff out which she loves.  5. The chapter books we read are wonderful.  They are, Favorite Thornton Burgess Animal Stories Boxed Set (Sets).  The chapters are short enough that she actually asks for more.  The morals are wonderful and since they are "old" she is being introduced to a whole set of vocabulary that she isn't used to hearing.

The program is not perfect by any means.  We don't use the devotional that was included.  Not only do I not agree with some of it, it is extremely harsh, there is so much talk about sinning and sinners and our evil hearts.  It is not how I want my children introduced to religion.  The science is extremely weak, we do extra science to supplement, especially since science is one of Jovi's favorite subjects.  The have craft projects, but we add extra art too.  Overall though I feel it is a wonderful program for us.  It is also helping me understand how to write lesson plans that will get done.  We will be using a different program next year, but I am so glad I found this one for this year.   

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