|Photo courtesy of Microsoft Images|
Summer's end is rapidly approaching and the new school year is right on its heels. Has it caught you unprepared?
We bade farewell to kindergarten in the spring, which means... First Grade! Perhaps it is the old state laws that required homeschool families to report their students' work and progress at this particular milestone that lit the fire of urgency in my mind, but for some reason "first grade" meant "business" to me. So I really began my planning for this year before we even ended the last school year. And as silly or unfounded as my first grade apprehensions might have been, it was beneficial because it got me thinking and set the ball rolling before our new baby arrived at the beginning of the summer. (Before I continue, can I just throw my hands up & get a "Halleluyer!" for our new state homeschool laws!! NO REPORTING NECESSARY! Praise the Lawd.) So I searched the public library, read books, scoured online blogs and reviews, and asked questions of other homeschooling friends regarding their favorite curriculum and homeschool materials. I was able to take advantage of our homeschool support group's buy/sell/trade used curriculum event and attend our state homeschool convention, which included both a used curriculum sale AND a fairly packed vendor hall FULL of amazing resources and homeschool wisdom. As June (and Baby's due date) closed in, I could almost say that my purchasing for the next school year was complete! Phew.
Enter: Summer. Now I can kick my feet up and relax poolside with an icy, refreshing tea and a great book while my well-sunscreened children splash playfully and... Oh, who am I kidding. I am the mother of four young children! This kind of scenario never. happens. Instead, I find myself in the never-ending balancing act that is motherhood (precious bliss as it is!) -- changing diapers, potty training, cleaning up spills, washing sheets after the *ahem* third accident of the day, wiping faces, fixing meals, and nursing an infant, oh, pretty much constantly. But I digress. :) Truly, this summer has been wonderful and I do enjoy all the habits of mothering (most of the time). But there is definitely no time for idleness! I have found myself multitasking as much as possible to continue laying out the plans for our 2014-15 school year. More blog browsing, Pinterest pinning, review reading, catalog combing, and ledger logging. It sometimes seems never-ending! However, I think I have finally nailed down what curriculum we will be using. Let's here it for this mama! *hooray!*
Not only will we be doing first grade with my oldest daughter, but we will also be doing some preschool work with my son who is now 4-years old. He is a boy (obviously), and at four he has boundless energy. As of yet, he has really shown no interest in school, though he LOVES books like his sister does and is especially enamored with all things bat, whale, squid, and/or invariably every deep sea creature ever discovered. Wait. I said he has no interest in school... So why are we doing preschool? Well, I use the term veeeery loosely, but what I really mean is intentional, focused reading in the areas that interest him (something we always do anyway, but now we'll do more of it), introducing letters & sounds, numbers 1-20, some fine motor practice to prepare him for writing, games, games, games!, and simply allowing him to be a part of what big sis' is doing in her schooling.
Now, down to the nitty gritty. THE CURRICULUM. bum-bum-buuuuum! I'm very excited about what we are going to be using this year! Come take a peek. (This post contains affiliate links.)
- Reading: Sonlight, Core A
- Phonics: The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading - Picking up where Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons left off, so we're jumping in around Lesson 40.
- Handwriting: Bible Writer, 2.0 - We almost finished Bible Writer, 1.0 last year and loved it, so we will be finishing it up & then diving in to 2.0.
- Spelling: working on sight words as needed
- Math-U-See, Alpha - Again, we will be finishing this out and, depending on her progress, moving on to Beta later in the year.
- Life of Fred: Apples, Elementary Math Book, Math As Serious As It Needs to Be (Life of Fred, Volume 1) - I'm excited to supplement our math learning this year with this book! I've only ever heard GREAT things about it and hope it will help add some "spice" to math & encourage a love for it in my children.
We have family Bible time most evenings before bed when we read from a storybook Bible, sing Psalm 23, and pray as a family. However, I like to begin each day in the Word with my kids as well, because God's Word is SO IMPORTANT, and I want them to immerse themselves in it so that they grow to love it. Mornings are important too, because I want them to form the habit of first beginning each day with the Lord. I want them to have a heart like David, who said, "O God, You are my God. Early will I seek You. My soul thirsts for you. My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water"(Psalm 63:1). To foster this attitude, I will read aloud a chapter in the Bible (Psalms & Proverbs are our favorites) or we will listen to a chapter using the YouVersion Bible app on my iPad.
We Choose Virtues - We will be using these handy flashcards to reinforce what we learn with Laying Down the Rails. (See Preschool Curriculum.)
- Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (Young Explorer Series) - This will be our science "spine." The human body is Jenna's area of interest right now. Go figure! Actually, it makes this mama quite proud as it is a passion of mine! We'll see where it leads...
- Anatomy Notebooking Journal (Young Explorer Series) (Young Explorer (Apologia Educational Ministries)) - To solidify concepts learned and help with review and memory.
- Alongside our "spine," I have acquired several living books on the topic of the human body that we will be reading as regularly as she desires.
- Of course, we cannot forget our Nature Studies! Taking a cue from my friend, Diana over at My Humble Kitchen, we are reserving Fridays as "Exploration Days" and will be incorporating the outdoors in our daily life as much as possible. Living books will be incorporated too.
Sonlight, Core A - This curriculum uses living literature, maps, and timelines to explore and learn history & geography. We love this approach and are looking forward to adding this bit to our schooling!
- Get Ready for the Code - Book A
- READ, READ, READ!!!
Math: As I mentioned before, we are simply focusing on very basic math concepts. To count, recognize, and begin writing numbers 1-20. We'll use various workbooks, manipulatives, and fun games as desired to learn and reinforce ideas we discover & discuss in real life.
Laying Down the Rails - This may be the highlight of our formative learning for me. Charlotte Mason strongly emphasized the importance of forming good habits in children, and I have observed the same in my own parenting experience, especially in my son. We will focus on ONE habit for six weeks before moving on to the next, going back to reinforce habits as needed. This will be a year-long endeavor, not just a school year subject, which means we should have 8 new habits every year! We
will begin this year with Attentiveness. Have I mentioned how pumped I am about this? Woo!
- Living books about the ocean and ocean life.
- The Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature (Dover Children's Science Books) - For simple experiments and extra fun.
That about sums it up! We will be sprinkling different unit studies & field trips throughout our year as well to keep learning delight-directed and fun. I'll probably share bits of those as they come. Also, we are participating in a homeschool co-op again, which I am very excited about! More on that later too. :)
Oh, and hop on over to iHomeschool Network's "Not Back-to-School" blog hop to see this post and check out what tons of other homeschoolers are planning this year!
I'd love to hear what your school plans are for the 2014-15 school year. Please leave a comment & share!