Thursday, July 7, 2016

Homeschool Curriculum: What We're using this year for Kindergarten and 2nd grade


I get asked a lot, especially my new homeschoolers, "What curriculum should I use?"   That is one of the hardest questions that I receive because the answer depends on so many factors, and there is not a one-size-fits-all curriculum that is best for every family.     I almost always strongly discourage new homeschoolers from using an all- in-one curriculum like Abeka...because it is, frankly, overwhelming, boring, and too time-consuming.   The goal is not to re-create school at home by using dry textbooks, but to use our freedom to teach our kids using real life experiences, real books and hands-on fun!   If you or your child dreads getting out all the workbooks and textbooks, then something needs to change.  If your 6 yr old little boy, who needs to be running and playing; exploring and creating sits at a desk for 4 hours in tears...then you're doing it wrong.

I'm not saying using abeka is bad  (I use a few abeka books myself in the younger grades)...but enjoy the freedom of making school fun.  Kids learn SO MUCH MORE when they enjoy school.   That said, there will always be a need for some workbooks...and there will probably always be some subjects that your child just doesn't look forward to----and that's okay.  But if there is an option to make it fun, or shorter, or less tiresome, then make a change even if it's mid-school year.  

With that introduction....I'll share what I'm using for school this year with my two, little, energetic, "oh look a chicken"  short attention span little boys....who do not have ADD despite the fact that they and every other 5 and 7 yr old little boy could easily be labelled such if they fail to enjoy sitting at a desk all day.  =)

They started back to school this week, so we are 3 days into it.  They already had 2 months off, and it's way too hot to do much else...so I'm starting early with these little fellas cause  1--their school doesn't take all day (we break it up)   2--it's too hot outside to do much for a good chunk of mid-day   3--we're moving in a few months and I want to get ahead so I can take a few weeks off of their school.

The most exciting new find that I've never used before and we are already loving..and they both remind me every day already to do science because they think it's fun....is Science Shepherd Introductory Science.   You buy a workbook for each child....Level A or B.  I recommend B for all kids...with help it's even good for my 5 yr old.         You also buy a 1 year access subscription to their video lessons.  (5 lessons a week for 35 weeks).  $35.   Each lesson is short  2-3 minutes.   I love that there are Bible verses each week that we will memorize.  I love that so far, they are focusing on Creationism, setting the foundation that God cannot lie...that the Bible can be trusted...that Evolution cannot be true.   We are memorizing Genesis 1:1.  They even have an activity or two each week.  Yesterday after learning how God created the world, they had to create their favorite animal out of clay and tell us why it's their favorite.    I'm excited about science this year for the little boys.
The curriculum is for 6-11 yr olds.  I think for the older range,  would add more to it like real books and maybe some documentary videos from Amazon prime or Netflix, but for my 2 little guys, this is perfect!!

For History, I'm using a combination of curriculum I'm piecing together to keep things fun.
I'll be using Abeka's 3rd Grade US history text as spine along with History for Little Pilgrims.  I will also add in some NEST videos from their history collection as well as coloring pages for each American we are studying.  (We are currently on Columbus).  We will also be reading a lot of real books outloud about each person from our library shelves....and doing some fun activities as well.  Young kids also enjoy memorizing, so we will work on the States and Presidents as well.

For Bible, we will be simply reading some of the Bible Stories from a kids' Bible we have that I've used before...along with Bible memory from our Science Curriculum.

For Math, we will be using a workbook.  Abeka math 1 and 3.  (They are both a year ahead in math).  My preference would be Life of Fred Elementary, but with all the other kids I"m also schooling and a move planned this year, I'm choosing to use a workbook to keep us on task so older kids can help them if I'm tied up.

Handwriting they will each do 3 times per week using Handwriting without Tears.
Ransom is using this one.  Gil is using this one. 

For Language Arts, it is a mix of them each reading out loud to me (well, Gilead is reading independently for the most part so he will read to himself more this year).    I like to use real books in their reading so they don't die of boredom..so books like Boxcar Children are good ones to start with(once they are independent readers).  I like Bob Books for new readers.  Then ask them to tell me about it to make sure they are comprehending.

Gilead will use a combination of these books that I've been happy with and used with success with his older siblings.

Explode the Code books 6-8 this year (I've used this series since Aslan for phonics and it's great!!)
Abeka Language 2   (1 page per day--simple, and covers basics in a few minutes)
English for the Thoughtful Child book 1  (I love this Charlotte Mason approach to Language Arts..it's gentle)

And for Ransom:

Explode the Code books 2-3
(along with reading out loud to me)

Ransom, being in Kindergarten this year, will spend about 2 hours a day on school....broken up into small chunks.  That includes all the history, science and Bible with Gilead, and working on his other books with me and reading out loud.   You have to trust me that a 5 yr old boy doesn't need more than that.  He's been doing school since he was 3 off and on as we had time. He is already reading short vowel readers and 1/4 of the way into 1st grade math.  

Gilead is in 2nd grade this year, and like Ransom, his school will be broken up with lots of breaks and outdoor time.  I expect all his school will take 2-3 hours a day.    He is 7 with a very short attention span.  Yet with short, fun school days, he is already reading at a 3-4th grade level and doing 3rd grade math.    

That said, all of our life is school here, so in the kitchen, at the store, outside, working with Daddy or brothers is all teaching moments.   =)

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