York Swirls

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our Curriculum for 2011-2012

There are those cynics out there who say that the age of miracles has passed.  Not so.  Among the many miracles I've witnessed this Summer: we replaced all of our kitchen appliances with stainless steel appliances, I've slimmed down into a size 4 and XS (a size I could only dream of in my pre-baby years), after 10 years we cleaned up the basement to make a craft area and playroom and, though my oldest 2 children had admission into an excellent charter school this Fall, we have decided to homeschool for yet another year.  Not only that but, because my hubby and I both LOATHED our middle school years (only a year off for my oldest child), we have just committed to homeschooling for the next 5 years.  Not that we wouldn't have otherwise, but we are locked in until my 2nd oldest child is through those dreaded middle school years.  Gone are those homeschool years where we just "took it a year at a time."  This is huge.  I can tell you, candidly, that it was more than a little painful when I dropped that notice in the mail, informing the charter school that we were turning down their generous invitation.  In the same day's mail, I also sent our registration to the local homeschool group.  A little odd?  Sure, but after a few bi-polar months, I make a massive first step into whatever decision I've finally arrived at.  I hear it is an ADD trait, but I'm going to call it bravery, in total self-interest.   

I'll be honest.  Last year was hard.  My oldest child, my son, would certainly be labeled ADD if he were in the public schools.  If I dared to walk away from the school table to change the laundry, give the little guys a snack or use the bathroom, my son would wander off from his work, mentally and physically.  Even when I was at the table, I would struggle to keep him focused.  So for 5 hours a day and with three little ones (ages 3 and under) underfoot, I was stuck at the school table weighing carefully if I could take a 2 minute bathroom break or if I could just wait until lunchtime.  I am not a mother who is gifted with tremendous patience and, for all my calm entreaties to keep him in line, it would usually take me raising my voice to get him focused again.  My oldest daughter also struggled with school.  The damage they physically suffered before we were able to adopt them also hurt them mentally.  Though I wouldn't say they have learning disabilities, learning takes longer with them.  I've had to adjust my expectations.  With all that, I was worried that homeschooling was hurting my relationship with my kids.  Sure, we were plowing through the books, but it was stressful for all of us.  I felt like too many of my words were loud or critical.  I had my days where I had to go to my room for a few minutes to cry it out.  I tried it all, too.  I tried reward systems, more prayer, more focus on our devotionals, planning out positive things I could say to them, planning down-time for me, and more prayer.  Ultimately, all of those things worked and didn't work.  I had to come to a place of acceptance with this process.  I had to accept that I was going to have to keep praying for help everyday, teaching my kids the gospel, make the effort to say kind things, smile when I didn't feel like it, make sure I got the rest and rejuvenation that I needed (especially in scripture study and prayer) and keep praying more...EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I either had faith that God wanted me to do this for my kids or not.  That calling didn't disappear just because homeschool was hard or because I wanted to do something different.  God's expectations for me, as a mom and as a homeschool mom, don't ever change.  He will continue to put high standards in front of me and it is my job to meet them.  End of story.

So, here we are again.  With bold determination (read: a smidge of trepidation), we started our school year on August 1st.  It makes me smile to think that I knew what I was getting into.  After all, I have been homeschooling for 6 years.  I've never had a 5th grader, 4th grader, 2 preschoolers and a toddler, though.  A long homeschool day, last year, was 5 hours.  I felt pretty accomplished if we pulled off a day like that.  With our new curriculum and my oldest kids being ready for more work, our days are running about 6.5 to 7 hours this year.  Amazingly, we could do an 8 hour day, but I have to cut the day off at some point for play and chores.  As I sit typing this, we have already finished 5 hours for the day and I'm sure we could do a couple more.  I am so, so tired.  I haven't found anything non-essential in our day, though.  So, I'm hoping we'll keep getting up at a consistently early time and push forward. 

Now for the good stuff.  Here is our curriculum for the 2011-2012 school year:

Group Time
Bible: Discover 4 Yourself How To Study Your Bible and Discover 4 Yourself Jesus in the Spotlight, Sonlight Core E scripture reading and memorization
History: Sonlight Core E
Read-Aloud and Readers: Sonlight Core E
Geography: Sonlight Core E and Homeschool In the Woods World Maps and U.S. Maps
Spanish: Professor Toto DVD, The Complete Book of Spanish
Art Appreciation: Harmony Fine Arts Degas Unit and Confessions of a Homeschooler The World's Greatest Artists
Art Application: Usborne drawing books, activities from HFA Degas Unit and Confessions The World's Greatest Artists series, Sewing School, Sewing Machine Fun for Kids, art kits
Music Appreciation: Harmony Fine Arts Prokofiev Unit, Classics for Kids and History in the Woods Composer Activity-Pak
Music Application: Alfred Basic Piano Course A, Recorder Fun!
Physical Education: swimming, basketball, soccer, Confessions of a Homeschooler P.E. cards
Other: Webelos Scout goals, Keepers of the Home goals, American Girl class

5th Grade
Math: Saxon 6/5 and D.I.V.E cd
Science: Abeka Understanding God's World 4 and Abeka Developing Good Health 4
Typing: Jump Start Typing
Spelling: Sequential Spelling 1
Grammar: Abeka Language B
Writing: Just Write 2, creative writing prompts and Evan-Moor Writing Poetry with Children
Logic: Building Thinking Skills, Level 1 cd

4th Grade
Math: Saxon 5/4 and D.I.V.E. cd
Science: Abeka Understanding God's World 4 and Abeka Developing Good Health 4
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting, Cursive D
Typing: Jump Start Typing
Spelling: Sequential Spelling 1
Grammar: Abeka Language A
Writing: Just Write 2, creative writing prompts and Evan-Moor Writing Poetry for Children
Logic: Building Thinking Skills, Level 1 cd

Reading: Sonlight Core 3/4 and Core 4/5 books
Phonics: Happy Phonics and Get Ready for the Code A, B and C
Handwriting: Dot-to-Dot and Maze books
Math: Singapore 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B Early Kindergarten books
Fine Motor Skills: Kumon cutting and pasting workbooks
Science: Your Big Backyard magazines and Usborne Complete First Book of Nature
History: I Love America
Language Arts: Evan-Moor Literature Pockets Nursery Rhymes and Evan-Moor Literature Pockets Folktales & Fairytales; 1+1+1=1 Preschool Packs
Art: The Complete Book of Arts & Crafts
Physical Education: Confessions of a Homeschooler P.E. cards, YogaKids and ballet DVD

Posts on our new curriculum choices and new school room to follow!  Hope to see you again!

Sweet Blessings,


  1. Oh Angela,
    You are so inspiring! You'll make it! I always remember the "wise man and the foolish man." Just because we build our house on a rock doesn't mean the rains and the floods don't come! Best of luck (though it's lot more than that, isn't it!) this year. Hope to see you at an activity or two!

  2. Thanks so much for your wisdom! I'm starting for the first time. I appreciate that you are realistic and sharing that it is not easy. Doing anything we are called to do isn't easy. I will have to be diligent myself about praying and being in the word to give me strength for the difficult days. Thanks so much!

  3. Your choices look great. You should send in the photo of your kids reading together to Sonlight for their catalog. It's perfect for that! We start tomorrow and I'm so worried how our new year will all work out, but it does with the Lord's help.