Homeschool Curriculum Review

It is spring!!!!!!!!!!!!  One of my favorite things about spring is that it is time to pick new curriculum for school (yes, I know I am weird).  Now I know most of you probably don't homeschool so you don't have to read this, BUT (DON"T STOP YET), if you know of someone who does homeschool you can pass this along to them.  I write this annual post because I love curriculum, I also love giving credit to the people who help make my homeschooling life a reality and  I also write it because occasionally I do have people who ask me about what I use and I can save myself time and just send them this. 
This past year's curriculum:

I consider Sonlight to be my core curriculum.  I love Sonlight because it is literature based, which means real books are the primary source of learning.  I also love it because it can be used to teach multi-aged children.  We used Grade 2 this year and we were able to do Bible, History, Read-alouds and Science together with my 5 year old and 7 year old.  Sonlight does a beautiful job of correlating the time periods so what you are studying in History, correlates with what you are reading in Bible and your read-alouds.  This bring a richness and depth to your understanding of History. You also study geography right alongside with what you are learning.  I think Sonlight also has an excellent way of dealing with History in a way that acknowledges both the sad and terrible things that have happened in History but also keeps a positive perspective to the reality of the good things that have happened in it.

Here is a little story from our read-aloud time this year.  I personally think the story is cute and shows how much our kids are processing what we are saying, even though we don't always realize it:

We were reading The Apprentice Core 2 and Arduino says "the sons of tailors want to be painters and the sons of painters chefs. I wonder what the sons of chefs would want to be?" My five year old interrupts me and says, "I know. They want to be horseman. Because Hans was a baker (in White Stallions of Lipizza) but wanted to be a horseman."  My daughter had used a book we had previously read, to answer a question in a book we were currently reading.

Sonlight for me means cuddling up on the couch with my kids in my arms reading, learning, crying and laughing together (and yes, I'm learning a ton, too).  It also, as the story above shows, includes lots of interruptions.  I literally can read only about 5 sentences without my kids stopping me to ask a question.  Sometimes it is frustrating, but often it reminds me that this is preciously why I homeschool, to allow my kids to process what they are learning, and process they do.  Finally, Sonlight has a 4-day schedule which allows us to homeschool with flexibility, which I love.

James uses the Sonlight readers for his reading.  Reading finally kicked in for him in high gear and he doesn't want to stop at the recommended stopping points.  We had to start going to the library to supplement his reading need and 5 chapter books lasted one week.  So, I am glad that next year, we went with the advanced readers which added about 9 thick books to his reading list.  Hopefully, this will keep him partially satisfied:)

Math:  Mercea started with Abeka math this year.  While she did learn with it, it was a struggle and very disappointing.  Abeka uses a circular learning method, which means a concept will be introduced and then they get back to it about a week later.  The concepts would totally escape her and by the time the math tests came along, it was often a total disaster!  Fortunately, we made it through the book early and moved on to Christian Light Publications math, which James has used the past two years.  We absolutely LOVE it and Mercea LOVES it and is doing fantastic with it.  Christian Light Math uses a mastery approach, which means only one new concept is introduced a day and the rest of the math time is spent reinforcing the concepts already learned.  They do an amazing job showing the variety of ways you can look at a number and they build upon their concepts in a very logical and orderly manner.  They are also very affordable.  I am 100% satisfied with this math program!!!!!!!!!!

Phonics:  For James, I continued to use Abeka's phonics book to reinforce what he had already learned.  He was able to do the workbook all by himself.  Mercea, is my artistic, creative, dramatic child and reading has been a struggle all year long.  She has great desire which often goes beyond her abilities and unfortunately a lot of reading periods ended in tears.  She also has an amazing ability to write things in mirror image (which means it is completely backwards and reversed, so if you hold it up to a mirror it would be written correctly).  I am college-trained to be a teacher by trade but my daughter was throwing me for some major loops!  Thankfully, the Lord intersected me with the book The Gift of Dyslexia: Why some of the smartest people can't learn to read and how to help them and this book gave me some keys to help Mercea.  While, I don't think she has full-fledged dyslexia she is a very visual learner and the book helped show me where gaps could be taking place and how to help her with the gaps.  It also helped give me more grace and patience while working with her.  She was too young to do the visual reorientation, recommended in the book, so we didn't try those methods.  We have stopped the Abeka phonics method with her and we  moved on to the Sonlight reading program.  Sonlight correlates writing and spelling with what the children are reading in their readers and she just LOVED this.  She loves to write, write, write, so this has allowed her to write what she is reading which in turn is helping her reading ability to improve.

English: We used Susan Wise Bauer's First Language Lessons for a Well-trained Mind for James' English class.  This is a classical learning method which includes directed lessons and verbal responses.  It worked really well for James (and I) in learning about the English language.  Mercea has been listening in and she is starting to chime in with answers so I think it will go well for her too.  As a result of using this program, I did take time to read A Well-Trained Mind.  While I don't feel the need to create a program for myself, I do think Sonlight, infuses the philosophies shared in this book and it helped give me an understanding to the whys behind what I am doing.

We purchased God's World magazine this year.  The kids enjoy it, especially the puzzles and games and it is a great way to keep up with current events from a godly perspective.

Finally, we ran across Homeschool Buyer's Co-op this year.  Homeschool Buyer's Co-op is a free homeschooling organization for both new and veteran homeschoolers. Co-op membership is free and confidential, and entitles homeschooling families to discounts from over a hundred educational suppliers. They also sponsor "Group Buys" for curriculum packages that save homerschooling families lots of money. On the site you'll find lots of free information, such as databases of free curriculum, field trips, and educational contests and scholarships. I recommend this as a way to receive curriculum at a discounted price. We purchased our God's World magazine subscription this year through them.  We also purchased Mark Kistler's 3-d Online drawing program through them.  This is a great drawing program which allows the kids to do art since their mom has no artistic ability.

Are you still with me?  As you can tell, I love homeschooling.  I thank God, usually daily, for the opportunity to be with my kids like this and I thank my wonderful husband for allowing me to be home to teach my kids.  If you ever have any questions about homeschooling feel free to contact me:

Thanks for reading,

PS This post was written because I love homeschooling.  None of the companies I discussed in the post asked me to do a review.  All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. I am entered into a drawing for an i-pad 2 though for my review of Homeschool Buying Co-op but I really do like them!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing! I'm glad Sonlight has been such a joy for your family. Keep up the great work, and may this next year be even better than the last!



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