Friday, August 21, 2009

Preparations for School

Although I'm still feeling like summer just started (thanks to all that rain), I finally realized that I need to start preparing for school. Another reason why I'm doing it this late is because I was trying to convince my husband to send Hanover to public school. Apparently I was not particularly persuasive. He was not moved one iota. Sometimes I think he plays me like a fiddle. I think he figures that some anxiety I feel about the coming school year will pass in a few weeks.

I bought a number of items for this next school year back in May. Over the summer I decided to make a few changes. In math, I'll be having Hanover skip an entire year in Singapore math. Whatever she misses, we still have the previous book, so she can review the material. This make sense for me because a) she's clever and picks up on things easily, b) the non-arithmetic work has been below her level, and c) she had been doing long division and multiplication of multiple digits in second grade.

Flurpee will be moving into the next level of spelling without completing the previous book. Her reading level has improved dramatically so it didn't make sense to continue in the lower level book. Flurpee will also be beginning First Language Lessons level 3.

We are continuing with girls' club. We have a lot of older girls now who are all very nice. It's a great group. Both girls are still in History at Our House with full live attendance. They enjoy it a lot still. This time I will remember to reschedule girls' club so it doesn't interfere with Flurpee's class.

So here is the current (because it could change at any time anyway) curriculum:

  • Language arts:

  • spelling: Spelling Workout
    vocabulary: Vocabulary from Classical Roots
    grammar: First Language Lessons
    handwriting: Essential Learning Products handwriting practice book
    writing: ???
    reading, reading comprehension, and/or literature: I make this up as we go along.
  • Math: Singapore math, Building Thinking Skills from the Critical Thinking Company
  • History: History at Our House, along with geography
  • Science: Participating in a two hour every-other-week nature class. That will cover some biology. The rest I will be making it up as I go along if I don't run specific classes. I'll be doing physics and chemistry with experiments. Biology (botony and zoology) will mostly be covered through reading and the occasional experiment. At the very least we will be covering classification.
The observant may notice that there is nothing listed for music, art, or foreign language. I consider these topics to be nice, but not necessary. We do crafts in girls' club, which I count toward art. History at Our House also has an art appreciation class once a week which I consider art as well as history. We have Rosetta Stone for spanish, but the kids just aren't that interested. If we have time and the kids have finished the rest of the their work, I have a beginner piano book which includes information about reading music and rhythm. We could also listen to Classics for Kids radio programs, but we generally don't. I don't have the budget to support private music lessons. Once/if we finish the main curriculum, we don't generally have enough time for these other things.

I am still struggling with writing for my oldest. A new acquaintance of mine is bringing an example of her writing curriculum. It sounds more my speed than the Institute for Excellence in Writing, which sounds nice with the exception of the heavy reliance on the parent learning everything. This one is more guided. I can't wait to see it.

I'm still struggling with whether I'll be doing science for people outside of the family. If so, I still have a bit of research to go. That goes for the middle school science I was thinking of as well. Though I've talked to enough parents of 12 year-old boys to know that many are unhappy with the existing choices for science or are doing science classes that don't include physics or chemistry. Perhaps those choices are also driven by the ease of finding information or curriculum for those options. Chemistry is particularly difficult for homeschoolers because of the need for proper ventilation and the danger of using acids and storing the chemicals properly. Middle school chemistry, however, would be good even without dangerous acids and bases.


Shez said...

I'm going to give Joy Hakim's, "Story of Science" a bash this year. We'll do the first of the books in the series, the one on Aristotle. Hopkins' CTY published a teacher's and a student's handbook/

They list it for grades 5-9 but I think that I can comfortably use the first book with the sprogs.

I thought that FLL was going to be too dry, but the kids love it. I like how it is easy to use. Been debating whether to sign the kids up for one of Hopkins' CTY grammar classes as it looks really good. Just not sure if it is worth the money though.

We do lots of art in our home and I have a teacher come in each week. I don't count it as homeschooling either. LOL

christinemm said...

I was doing HSing planning today too. What a coincidence!

Check out Bravewriter for writing. I'm starting it this year after hearing glowing reports from 3 of our mutual acquaintences here in CT. Did you listen to that free lecture online about BW? I can't find the URL now but I tweeted it around Aug 1st and later someone else put it on the big chat list we're both on.

Kim said...


I keep getting Brave Writer and Institute for Excellence in Writing confused.

The online classes are pricy. The Writer's Jungle, just the materials for the parents, seems more reasonable. I guess I'm worried about not having enough hand-holding. This could very well be the curriculum that was mentioned to me previously.

Something that I wonder about it how much of the writing is expository (something I think is very important) or creative (which is nice, but less important to my mind).


I only read the first book, but I couldn't imagine spending a whole year going through the ancients for science. The book includes a lot more than just science, though. Really interesting math and geography tid bits. It will be a big help if the handbooks include experiments and such.

My daughter fell in love with FLL 3 the minute she diagrammed her first sentence. Kids are funny with things they like. Mine surprise me all the time (though I think it has more to do with me being clueless).

Shez said...

Kim, the handbooks have experiments. I am not able to figure out how long the program will take, but I figure that since my kids are only technically in 3rd grade that I can just wing it. If we finish in half a year, good, if we don't , not a problem. I don't want to move too fast as pretty soon the books will get into issues that my kids don't have the math for.

Crimson Wife said...

We're giving Ellen McHenry's "The Elements" chemistry curriculum a try this year. I've heard it's good for advanced/gifted kids. I'm waiting on my Rainbow Resource order to arrive so we can get started with it.

Kim said...

The Elements looks like it's an interesting way to introduce the elements. I'm glad you posted about it. I like to be familiar with science curricula.