York Swirls

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Alright, I'll admit it.  I'm a curriculum junkie.  Those catalogs, those beautiful catalogs, are the most read item in my house.  The pages are tattered and earmarked by months of study.  A circle around this item and check by that one.  I have a drawer full of them, waiting for another look through.  I just can't help myself! 
So, how does one choose the perfect curriculum when everything looks like a good idea?  Well, usually (and don't laugh too hard at this one), I load everything into my online checkout basket, cringe at the total and start whittling down the list until my financial and educational priorties are in line.  That way, I'm able to take an honest look at my needs versus my wants.  Not an easy process.
This affinity for educational items started when I was a little girl.  My adopted parents had struggled with infertility for 9 years before adopting me.  So, when I finally came along, they were in parenting overdrive.  There was a lot of love, a lot of time and a lot of stuff.  My parents were particularly invested in my education.  I went to a private Montessori preschool and kindergarten for a whopping $1000/month back in the early 80's.  At home, they had stacks of puzzles, games and educational toys of every sort for me.  My mother still glosses over with a look of fatigue when she retells the stories of how she read me 9 books every night before I went to sleep.  Bless them both for that level of dedication.  I was 8 when my brother was adopted and 13 when my sister was adopted.  By the time they came along, my parents had learned to relax a little and just enjoy.  I'm not sure my brother ever sat still for a bedtime story, to be honest.
Now, as a mother of 5, my home is filled with educational toys, books, you name it.  My mother is not suprised, in the least. This year, as I start with a 3rd grader and twin 3 year olds, I am clamouring for more things to hold their interest and attention.  There is no shortage of great ideas either, especially with all the homeschooling blogs out there.  The key is knowing when the bookshelf and the to-do list are full and bravely saying, "Maybe next year." 

Here's what our curriculum plan looks like for the 2010-2011 school year:

4th grade

Our 4th grade son is starting this year at the local charter school.  Not an easy decision at all, but one made with prayer.  My 3rd grade daughter needed more one-on-one time with me or we had to consider holding her back a year.  She has really struggled with a lot of developmental issues from damage done before she became a part of our family.  We're hoping to bring our oldest kiddo back home by the next school year, at the latest.

3rd grade

Math: Saxon 3 (We are transitioning from Singapore 2A.)
Religion: Discover the Scriptures Old Testament, Discovering the Life of Christ, Scripture Notebooking
Spelling: Building Spelling Skills 2 and 3
Grammar: First Language Lessons and Grammar Practice Simplified
Typing: Jump Start Typing
Literature: Veritas Press and Homeschool Share literature guides
Writing: Just Write 1 and 2, literature-based writing assignments, daily journaling, scripture journaling
Phonics/Vocabulary: Explore the Code 7 and 8
History: Homeschool in the Woods: History Through The Ages and Beautiful Feet Early American History for Primary Grades
Nature Studies: Handbook of Nature Study guide and blog (We're planning a unit on frogs and owls and then seeing what else we can add in.)
Human Anatomy: Christian Liberty Nature Reader 5, Skills For Success: Human Body and Grossology
Earth Science: EduPress Hands On Science: Rocks & Minerals
Geography: Geography Matters: Trail Guide to U.S. Geography, Homeschool In The Woods: United States Maps, United States Cookbook, variety of supporting games and reference materials
Spanish: Spanish Big Book, flashcards and practice with Daddy
Music: Homeschool In the Woods: Hands On History Activity Pack Composer Lapbook, Harmony Fine Arts composer packets, Classics For Kids, Meet the Masters cds, recorder course, Alfred piano course
Art: Usborne I Can Draw series, Harmony Fine Art artist packets


Language Skills: Confessions of A Homeschooler Letter of the Week program, LDFR Happy Phonics, Getting Ready for the Code A, B and C, Letter Factory DVDs and Preschool Prep Co. DVDs, Kumon Letter Wipe Off cards, lots of read alouds
Early Math: Confessions of A Homeschooler Math activities, Kids Learning Station worksheets, Preschool Prep Co. DVDs, BrainQuest Shapes and Numbers, dot to dot workbooks
Fine Motor: lacing, sorting, stickers, cutting, pasting, Kumon Tracing and Mazes
Gross Motor: Yoga Kids DVD, ballet videos, lots of play
Life Skills: dressing (buttons, zippers, laces and velcro), calendar, pick up toys, prepare snack, set and clear table, make bed, "Please", "Thank You", "May I...?" and "I'm sorry."
Crafts: stamps, stickers, playdough, finger paint, coloring, Kumon Easy Crafts
Science: nature walks, butterfly kit and activities, Baby Einstein animal flashcards, frogs and ladybugs
Music: rhythm instruments, Primary songs, Nursery songs
Reading: nusery rhymes, poetry, classic picture books, ABC and counting books

Have you figured out what type of homeschoolers we are yet?  Me neither!  I love Charlotte Mason style teaching but not all of it fit.  My kids did great with classic literature, lack of grades and even some narrating.  However, they became a little lazy in their work without more structure and accountability.  We added in some Classical Christian homeschooling and, definitely, some Montessori method for the preschoolers.  We are constantly evolving with 5 little ones to teach. 
I'll post later about how we fit all of this learning into our busy schedule.  Talk to you soon!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Latter-Day Homeschooling

For those of you who haven't stumbled on to this gem, check out Latter-Day Homeschooling at http://latter-dayhomeschooling.blogspot.com/.  We were lucky enough to find this site in its infant days.  It has been a daily source of encouragement in our homeschooling journey.  Really, there a wealth of inspiration for homeschoolers of all faiths.  Take a minute and check it out.  I know you'll love it!

What's In A Name?

For those of you who know me, I grew up in the Washington, D.C. metro area.  I went back to visit earlier this month with my kids.  There were places and people there that I have a deep connection to, but I was amazed at how much things have changed in the last 14 years, since I left for college.  Everytime I go back, I feel my connection to that place and time grow weaker and weaker.  I still have family there that I love and will want to see, but could I ever move back to that place?  No.  I've made my home in other places.
In 1996, I left for college in the Rocky Mountains.  My husband and I have called the Denver metro area home for a decade now.  We love our home.  We love the people and their friendly demeanor.  We love the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.  We never get bored of the amazing view here.  We hike, we camp, he fishes, he hunts and we love to observe the wildlife here in Colorado.  Are we skiiers?  No, but that will come as our children get older.  We are Coloradans through and through. 
So where does the Magnolia come from?  My husband grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, along the Cape Fear River.  This is my adopted East Coast hometown.  In June, we took our kids there for their first Summertime trip to the Wrightsville Beach, (which is the barrier island across the sound from Wilmington).  They fell in love with this place, just like I have.  The sound of the waves and gulls, the smell of the saltwater, the feel of the warm, soft sand under their feet, the amazing food that can only be found there (thanks to Flips BBQ and Trolley Stop Dogs) and a million other things that make this place absolutely bewitching.  For a short time, my husband and I made our home in this place and owned a cheap little boat.  Some of my favorite memories are of riding through the sound at sunset.  Just gorgeous!  Inland, the plantation and colonial homes are surrounded by towering azaleas and shady magnolias.  Magnolia has to be my most favorite scent in the world.  It smells like the South.  It smells like beauty. 
Of course, this name is metaphorical, as well.  It's what I aspire to be.  The Rocky Mountains are wise, strong, steadfast, immovable.  Magnolias are gracious, elegant and they make everything more beautiful around them.  At this point in my life, I have a long way to go to achieve this high standard, but what a wonderful challenge!  I hope this blog will be a way to chronical that journey, to reclaim my writer voice and to give some perspective to my crazy days as a wife and as a mother of five.  Thanks for joining me.