A couple of months ago I wrote about our tentative curriculum for the coming school year. Over the Summer I have watched Brady’s progress, done some more reading and revised our plan somewhat. Here is our updated plan (comments/additions in italics)
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. We did finish the 1st grade program, but I found that towards the end we were mostly just reading that days material without bothering with the videos or word lists so I bought a lot of 32 2nd grade leveled readers on Ebay and we will supplement those with books we check out from the library.
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..
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. I have decided to forgo a math curriculum for the time being and we will instead be using Khan Academy and various workbooks to work on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and we will revisit a curriculum once Brady has mastered those fundamentals (he has a fairly good grasp on them now, but is still reliant on manipulatives).
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 (andthis book just for fun). After Canada we will start with Mexico and then work our way throughCentral 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.
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. Duolingo is a great idea, but not really geared for Brady’s age .group, I’ve found Rocket Languages (which we can access for free through our local library’s website) to be more engaging for him 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. I will likely buy him those books for fu but we’ll be using Song School Latin as our curriculum.
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 now that I’ve laid out our curriculum, here are this year’s goals:
1) Reading improvement. At his current pace I expect Brady to be reading at about a 3rd grade level by the end of this school year, we will be working to make sure his comprehension keeps pace with his technical skill.
2) Spelling and handwriting. These are probably the only 2 areas in which he is actually working at or possibly slightly below age level. We’ve never covered spelling and he has a really hard time holding a pencil because of his trigger thumb but we will be working to get him up to a 1st grade level by the end of the year (part of that will be continuing to fight with our insurance to get them to cover his thumb surgery).
3) Math. My first goal is for Brady to move beyond the use of manipulatives in his arithmetic and we will just go from there.
4) History. This will be our first year with this subject and History was always one of my favorites so I’m really hoping to find a lot of fun projects and Historical Fiction to make it come alive for him.
5) Spanish and Latin. Like History this first year will be more about exposure than any actual expectation of fluency. I want it to be fun so he will be interested and once he is we will study these languages in more depth.
6) Music and Art. This will be our first year studying these subjects in any formal way as well (although he has definitely been exposed to both his whole life) and I feel like this year it is time to give him some background. That seems to be the way homeschooling works best for us: informal exposure followed by more formal explanations of what he’s just heard/seen/experienced. I’d like him to be able to identify the work of a few composers/artists by the end of the year and have at least a basic understanding of how to read music, but mostly these are just for fun until he gets old enough to play an instrument.
7) Science. All kids are born scientists and artists and Brady is no exception (in fact any fun thing we work on together is either a “science experiment” or an “art project” to him). This year will be full of as many experiments as I can find and probably a paleontology unit to tie in with our World History studies.
8) Swimming. I believe this is important for every child, but where we live Brady is surrounded by water (and yet, for some reason, swimming lessons don’t start until kids are 4). I would really like for him to learn to swim before next Summer and we’ll be enrolling him in swim lessons to that end.
9) Geography. This continues to be Brady’s favorite subject (or maybe 2nd, reading is probably 1st) and since we are studying countries other than our own now I’m going to try to incorporate more of the food and culture of the countries we study into our lesson plans.
10) Social. Our playgroup is currently in the process of being relocated and we don’t know when it will begin again. That, coupled with the fact that Brady will age out of it in April, has prompted me to be more proactive about trying to find ways for him to spend time with other kids. I will be attempting to start a secular homeschool group in our area and we will be looking into 4H once he turns 5, but I’d love to hear how you guys make sure your homeschoolers get the interaction they need (especially those of you that live in areas without established homeschool groups, our town is TINY and there isn’t much to do with little guys).
Ten seems like as good a place as any to stop. So that is what we’re working towards with our new school year. We will begin on September 4th and slowly ease from our current subjects of Phonics and Math to the full course load rather than jumping in with both feet. Since we school year-round I feel like we have the wiggle room in our schedule and many of our subjects won’t take a full year anyway. This is my scheduled planning week so I haven’t fully worked it out yet, but I’m thinking we’ll add probably 2-3 subjects a week and be fully up and running by the end of September. How are things going in your homeschool?