Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Homeschooling Curriculum

We are choosing to homeschool Jovi and this is her second official year, but since it is the first year she could go to public school we are calling it her kindergarten year.  I figure I should call it what everyone else will and then do whatever work is on her level, so she is doing first grade math and simi first grade reading, her history and science aren't leveled and then I am adding in stuff as it seems appropriate.  Here is a list of the curriculum I am using and what I think of it since we've been using it for 6 weeks now.

I am following most of the recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.  It is a classical education model and I really like it.  I especially like the four year history rotation.  History is broken up into 4 time periods, Ancient History, Middle Ages, Early Modern Times, and the Modern Age and you study one per year, studying more in depth through each rotation.  We are studying The Middle Ages using The Story of the World and I truly love these books.  They make history so accessible and I have personally learned a lot that I probably should have already known.

We are reading the church's Book of Mormon Stories this year for scripture study.  I am loosely following this study guide to help with songs, activities and memory verses.

At our co-op (I will talk about co-op in my next post) there is a memory club that promotes memorization of all sorts of facts.  We use this memory system and for far more than scripture verses.  Jovi also memorizes poems, science facts, math facts and virtue definitions.  Jovi likes passing off her memory work at school to someone other than me and I like that she is motivated to practice.  Sometimes Corbin even wants to practice.  I especially like that we continue to review everything even after it is passed off so Jovi doesn't forget what she has learned, it is a great system.

I have tried MANY reading programs in the past year and a half and I am happy to say that I have found a truly awesome one that I am going to stick with.  It is called Primary Arts of Language Reading and I cannot recommend it enough.  Reading doesn't come naturally to Jovi.  It is work for her, but she actually enjoys lessons with this program.  This program does take a lot of time to teach, it is not a 10-15 minute lesson that any mom can easily do at home with her child, but it is an extremely effective and fun program.  Each day we read a poem and then look for a specific phonetic grouping and/ or another language arts lesson like, vocabulary, homophones or syllable counting using the poem.  We do this during calendar time.  Then, later in the day we have reading games time where we make and play folder games that help Jovi practice her phonics lessons.  This includes a card game that allows her to practice sight word fluency on words that she could sound out (all rules are taught), but she needs to be able to read on sight.  After games, she has a homework sheet with words she has already practiced and she must complete on her own.    Then, as our very last activity she gets to put her phonics sticker on her "Phonetic Farm" and practice her reading with her reading practice page.  The Phonetic Farm is such a neat way to review phonics rules, it is hard to describe unless you see it, but Jovi loves it.  You are supposed to be able to take a non reader who doesn't even know their alphabet sounds and get them reading with this program.  I would NOT suggest using it that way.  I think this program would be very confusing if a child didn't have a firm grasp of at least the very basic alphabet sounds (at the very least short vowel sounds) and the ability to blend them into words.  Alphabet sounds are covered, but not intensely and blending is not touched.  There is an assumption that this has already been grasped by the student.  When I talk about phonics rules I am almost exclusively talking about vowel combos and vowel/consonant combos that are not easily decodable without rules being taught such as ue, ay, ow (both ways to say it), er, ee.  In my opinion, these are not what you teach a child without them already able to read short vowel words, BUT it is exactly what Jovi needs.  I am SO happy with this program and the progress I see Jovi making.  It is wonderful.

We are using Mr.Q Classic Science, Earth Science for our science curriculum.  I like it, I don't love it, but I kick myself regularly that I didn't get all the worksheets that went with the program printed and spiral bound for free when I had the chance.  It is easy for me to do which is nice.  We read a chapter a week, Jovi does narration and that is it at home.  Narration is done for all history and science chapters and sometimes for scriptures to.  Narration means that Jovi must tell me three things she remembers from the chapter in complete sentences and I write it down.  This has helped SO much with her retention of material.  By the end of the year she will be copying what I write in her own handwriting in preparation for writing her narrations herself in the future.

For handwriting, I am using Handwriting Without Tears.  Jovi still prefers to write in all capital letters when she writes things on her own.  She does not grasp her pencil correctly and takes off the corrective pencil grippers whenever I am not looking.  Her handwriting is very juvenile.  The curse of the mom (I hope you have a child just like you) is at work in this because I remember doing all those things as a child.  I hated handwriting and gripped my pencil wrong, but was sure it was the better way than what my teacher was trying to get me to do.  We will continue to practice and Jovi doesn't fight me on it because I told her she has to finish the book before I will teach her cursive which she is very interested in learning.  I want her to have a firm grasp of printing first before we move onto cursive.

I bought Math Mammoth when it was on sale and was going to use it this year.  It is a good program.  I like it and I think Jovi will like it.  But I already had an old 1st grade math book that I bought from Half Price Books for $1.  It is in color, covers alll the basics and is ready to go.  So, we are going through the math book first before we switch to Math Mammoth.  So far it is going well.  Jovi is just starting to memorize her addition math facts, it's exciting. 

I am using First Language Lessons very sporadically with Jovi.  It is an early grammar program and very easy to implement, I just find it hard to get to with all the other things I want to cover.  I plan on doing better in the future.

I use Writing With Ease with the workbook for Jovi's writing program.  I am not totally sold on her method mainly because I find it extremely lacking in creative writing, something Jovi enjoys, but I figure we can add creative writing in and I know doing the copywork and narrations is good for Jovi so we do it.

We will be adding All About Spelling as Jovi gets further along in her reading program.  It is a program we used some last year and I already know I like.

We have been doing a little of this book for geography, but Jovi get a lot of geography in history so I'm not doing as much as I planned.  We also listen to a classical music piece each week.

My one failure this year so far is Spanish.  I got La Classe Divertida (I really dislike their website) and it has not been the hit I thought it would be.  The plan is to watch the DVD during lunch each day, but we are just SO busy it doesn't seem we get to it and it isn't Jovi's favorite thing to watch.  We cover some Spanish each day during calendar time, but not nearly as much as I would like.  I will continue working on it.  This is something the whole family wants to learn, we will find a way to do it.

I teach an art class on Tuesday afternoons to Jovi and two other children using Artistic Pursuits.  So far, the class is going well and the kids are having fun.  I like the program, but am adding some to it to help the kids create better compositions.

1 comment:

Alice H said...

Wow you are busy! I am impressed.