I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about and researching next year’s curriculum. Brady has progressed faster than I expected in many areas and I’m always cognizant of the need to find a balance between challenging-enough-to-be-interesting and not-so-difficult-that-it-is-discouraging. When it comes right down to it these early years of his education are more about teaching him to love learning than they are about memorizing his times tables. Although he is sometimes doing the work of a much older child, he is only 4 and the odds are that he may not even remember many of the things we cover. So right now it’s about introductions, it’s about exposing him to concepts and sounds and ideas in order to lay the foundation for a deeper study of these subjects when he’s older. Keeping that in mind, here is what we’ll be working on for the 2012-13 school year broken down by subject). I’ve also created a Google doc with prices and links in case you’re interested in any of these materials and would like them in shorter list form. I am not an Amazon affiliate, but I know how hard it is to put together a curriculum so I thought I’d share what I’ve found. This curriculum is mostly a combination of 1st and 2nd grade material, I wrote about our Pre-k curriculum last year.
phonics: We are currently working our way through Hooked on Phonics 1st grade and are on track to finish it during the Summer and begin 2nd Grade in September. I will say that I have been a bit disappointed that the 1st grade material isn’t as engaging as the Pre-K (there are no games on the website for instance, just extra books/worksheets) but the program has worked well for Brady and we plan to continue with it.
spelling: Hooked on Phonics 1st grade spelling Although we have worked on spelling informally with clay letters and magnets this is the first time we will be using a book. We used the Hooked on Phonics pre-K super workbook this year and Brady really enjoyed the colorful characters and I felt the book was of good quality.
reading comprehension: Hooked on Phonics 1st Grade Reading Comprehension Workbook. Again we’ve done this informally when I ask Brady questions about stories we read, but I decided that it was time to begin formal lessons.
handwriting: Brady has made huge improvements in this area lately, but could still use a little practice so we’ll be working through this handwriting workbook.
Arithmetic: Mathematics Power Learning for Children Book I. After considering several curricula I landed on this one because it seemed fast-paced enough to keep Brady’s attention and I like that the lessons are conversational. The few reviews that I have found seem to be positive so I’m hopeful. It is strictly an arithmetic curriculum though, so we will be supplementing.
Time and Money: We will continue to work our way through this gigantic time and money workbook. Although it is slow-paced it does seem to keep Brady’s attention and I know that he really knows the material at the end of every section.
Measurement: It was suggested that to keep current with public school standards (which I have to keep in mind as Brady is required to take standardized tests periodically as an Oregon homeschooler) we supplement time, money, measurement, and geometry. We’ve been working on time and money and when I looked up 1st grade geometry we had already covered everything, but we haven’t really talked much about measurement. This book looks like it will be fun.
Story of the World vol. 1. The criticism I keep hearing about these books is that they’re too Christian for secular homeschoolers and not Christian enough for Christian homeschoolers. History as a story seems like a much more engaging way of presenting it to young children than as a list of dates to remember, though, and I’m willing to skip or editorialize if I feel that mythological characters are being presented as factual.
After reading many, MANY SotW reviews I finally came to the conclusion that I was uncomfortable with both the religious aspects and the many reported factual errors in the text. We will be using World History for Us All (a free online curriculum) along with the SotW activity book and reading some Magic Tree House books for fun.
Geography: We began with the United States (and it’s territories)when Brady showed an interest in Geography since it made sense to me to begin at home and we will be working our way around the globe. Right now we’re covering Canada using this book and this puzzle (and this book just for fun). After Canada we will start with Mexico and then work our way through Central and South America and the caribbean. We’ll be paying special attention to Guatemala (as Brady is 1/2 Guatemalan) and trying a different kind of puzzle.
theory: This First Book of Music seems like a good introduction
composers: We’ll be using the masters in our art and music lessons this year. This seems like a good overview of composers.
Spanish: I’ve been meaning to include this for awhile and haven’t been able to decide how to go about it so we’re just going to jump in this year. We’re using duolingo.com (a free program designed by the minds behind recaptcha to translate the internet and teach people a 2nd language at the same time) as a family. Brady will also be adding Play and Learn Spanish and this Spanish workbook.
Latin: I have never formally studied Latin, but I’ve found the little bit that I’ve picked up to be very helpful with figuring out root words (especially with scientific/medical terminology) and I would like to give Brady some exposure that we can build on as he gets older. We’ll be reading this mythology book and I couldn’t resist Olivia in Latin since she is one of Brady’s very favorite characters.
Science: We have done a lot of kitchen science, but I thought it was about time to start talking a bit more formally about why those experiments worked. We’ll be working through this book to understand the theory and having fun with some experiments from this one.
So that is how our upcoming school year will most likely look. I’m still researching and it’s subject to change until it’s actually ordered, but this is the way we’re leaning. Have you used any of these books (especially the math curriculum)? What did you think? Do you have suggestions that are better? Have you written about your curriculum? I’d love to read what you’re doing.