Monday, August 22, 2016

Our 2016-17 Curriculum

Our 2016-17 school year is on it's way and I thought I'd share what curriculum we are using this year.

I did lots of research and praying before choosing what curriculum to use this school year and we are going in a different direction this time 'round. I did not purchase a box set as I have done in all our previous years of homeschooling. I selected different books for each subject from various curriculum companies, hopefully choosing what will best fit for us.

I'm so glad I am past the decision making and ordering part. Whew!

I need to mention that I lean towards the Charlotte Mason method of teaching. I am not capable to implement her concept entirely, but her theory greatly influences my teaching approach.

So here is what we're going to use for the 2016-2017 school year:

  • A Sure Foundation - from Christian Liberty Press. The preface in the book explains perfectly why I choose this particular program: The primary goal of A Sure Foundation, is to enable young students to obtain a solid understanding of and appreciation for the essential teachings of the Holy Scriptures. For this reason, the entire focus of the study material contained in this book is centered upon the teachings of the Bible, rather than the opinions of men. Young people within the Christian community, more than ever before, need to be equipped with the whole armor of God's Word so they can stand firm in the faith.   Each unit in this Bible study text contains multiple readings directly from the Word of God that speak to the topic or theme that is being presented. The topic for each unit is driven by a series of questions that are taken largely from the Catechism for Young Children [originally written by Joseph P. Engels in 1840]. Yes, I need help in this area of teaching. I am learning myself to trust the Lord and know what His Word says for myself. I am going to be learning too! I am glad there are tools available out there that will help me to teach my children God's Word. 
  • Hymn Study - We're going to learn a few hymns one by one. We'll take several weeks to read the words, sing the song and learn the background of the song. I don't have a particular book on this. I saw the idea on the Simply Charlotte Mason website and just learn on our own via internet or other resources. Our goal is to learn 5 hymns this school year. 
Language Arts
  • Language Lessons for Today 2nd grade & 4th grade. Sugar Bear is in the end of the 3rd grade book since she didn't finish it last year. We stopped using it to try out Switched on Schoolhouse last January. 
  • A Reason for Spelling Level B and C. We have concentrated on handwriting for Little Man the last couple of years, so this is the first year he will begin a spelling program. After researching and getting to actually look at the product now that I have it, I believe ARF approach will be fun for both children.
  • A Reason for Handwriting Level B. I have taught both children to write in cursive from the very beginning. They have both found ways on their own to begin writing in manuscript and insist on doing so. Jonathan also has a difficult time writing in cursive. With those reasons, we are finishing up the cursive handwriting books from last year and then I'll begin to show them how to write in manuscript correctly using this book.  
  • Copywork for Little Boys and Copywork for Little Girls. Copy work is for learning grammar. This is not a penmanship program. Children will learn the mechanics of the English language without having to worry about whether they have formed every letter to exact perfection. This sounds very simple and maybe even too lax, but I have seen the Charlotte Mason method in action and I believe this will work. I may to give you a little peek at the letter to parents in the front of these books to give you the full idea in another post. 
  • Reading - I am just using some books we already have on hand. I think I got almost all these books from other homeschool moms in times past. Adelle will read through A Beka Book's 3rd grade readers, just to make sure she is reading fluently and A Beka tends to be a little bit ahead of the grade. Jonathan will read through Horizons 2nd grade readers. Depending on how far he gets, he'll start on the A Beka Book 2nd grade readers, which are more advanced. While we are using a different language program this year, I will still use A Beka's Handbook for Reading to help him further his reading skills, especially while finishing up the 1st grade Handwriting w/Phonics book.  
  • Read Alouds - We're reading through the Millers Series books (I'm only short 1 book in this series). Each chapter is a separate story, so instead of reading through one book at a time, I'm reading one chapter from one book one day, then I'll read a chapter from another book the next day and so on.... When we finish with those, I'm going to start reading to them from the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series. We don't have this entire series, but we have enough to get us started. I'm only having difficulty choosing which one to begin with! 
  • Math-U-See Alpha/Beta - We started Alpha last year and didn't quite make it through, so we'll review, pick up where we left off then move on to Beta. Both of them are working this together. Adelle had such a difficult time with math in 2nd grade that I thought putting her back with Jonathan would be good for her. This has been a good fit.
  • Easy Peasy - I'm going to supplement a little with Easy Peasy, reviewing some info they already know in Math 1 and move on to Math 2 a little later on.  I believe MUS will hit on everything the children need to know, eventually. Because, you know, I do worry that they're not learning everything they're supposed to be....  and they do have fun with the learning games on EP.  :-)
  • A Reason for Science Level C- I liked what I saw with ARF Handwriting so I wasn't surprised by what ARF Science had to offer. Cathy Duff Reviews explains ARFS best. "This is an "inquiry" based program that engages children in the learning process through activities and experiments, followed by questions, discussion and written activity. It stresses conceptual understanding rather than memorization of science information. For example, one objective of a lesson in the third grade book is to explore the movement of blood in the human body. Students begin by learning how to take their pulse at rest and after exercise. After the activity, the teacher leads a discussion about the heart and blood movement. Students answer questions in their worktext that require an understanding of the discussion and activity results."
  • Our Nation Under God - This is from Christian Liberty Press. I was able to see a sample of this book. I was immediately impressed that the first chapter begins with God. Chapter 1 introduces students to the concept of God's governance over all of creation, and the means He has established to govern society. In Chapter 2, students are introduced to the concept of the Providence of God and is titled God Made the Nations. We'll move into American history after that. While reviewing other history programs, I just kept coming back to this one, which might be my most difficult subject to teach, but it's so important. I'm going to have to rely heavily on the Lord to help me with it.
  • Geography - The kids had a little bit of geography last year as they were learning American history, looking to find the different countries and states that we mentioned throughout the year.  I wanted to have a more focus on geography, so again we'll rely on Easy Peasy to help us out with that. I have a gigantic world map and U.S. map that was given to me. I have yet to get them mounted and up, but we are going to get some good use out of them. 

So there we have it. 

No matter what books and curriculum we are using each school year, I want to always remember that character comes before curriculum. So, if we have "heart issues" that need to be worked on any given day, we will most certainly make that the priority. The goal here is to raise lovers of the Lord, not just good academic minds. 

After I decided on what curriculum we were going to use this year, I looked to purchase the teacher's manuals from other homeschool moms. I didn't have any luck there, so I compare prices and purchased curriculum from Amazon, Christian Book Distributor and Rainbow Resource Distributor. I saved a few hundred dollars. It was a lot of work, but well worth the money that was saved. 

Just a little F.Y.I....
I came across this little blog that gives a list of FREE homeschool curriculum and resources.

I can most certainly afford free!

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