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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Our Curriculum Choices 2014-2015

Catchy title, no?  I know, but what can ya' do?  I mean, that's what this blog post is all about after all, so there you have it.

I think I've been dragging my heels about writing this post for SO long because I was up in the air about some things (and honestly still am) for SO long.  But here is the current plan:

Scott:  Scott is 17.  Let me be honest here and say I'm always on the fence as to how much to share about this child, as I feel like it's a fine line between not having his (or any of my kids') private information "out there" for just anyone to read vs. being able to help others who find themselves in similar situations.  So, the highlights are that this is his senior year, but it will be very different for him than for most other high school seniors.  He has Aspergers, and while most people automatically assume that makes him socially awkward, but smart as a whip, in his case, it makes him exceedingly social, still socially awkward at reading social cues, and with an IQ just above, well, not normal.  So he's maxed out academically in terms of progress, and what he does this year will be maintenance.  He's redoing IEW writing (Level A), and will do math drills, and has a continuous reading list.  In addition, he does Spelling City weekly (an online site where I create lists, and they do activities to learn spelling and meaning, and then there is a spelling and vocab test at the end of the week).  That's all the formal stuff I have planned for now.  Really, most of what he does this year will be life training.  More going to the store with me, learning to shop from a budget, making wise choices in what to buy when you only have "x" amount of dollars, etc.

Mimi:  This was my hard one.  This year is Mimi's freshmen year.  I hemmed and hawed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more.
Science:  She will be taking a Forensics class taught by a local lady I've never met before (talk about a leap of faith).  That will be her science credit this year.
Health: She will be taking High School Health (using AOP Lifepacs) at co-op.  She's also taking Archery at the same church, though not at the co-op. We'll call it P.E., 'cause that's how we roll.
Art: painting with acrylics at the co-op we will be doing.
Math: Algebra, we will be using VideoText.
Foreign Language: Right now, she is using Pimsleur to teach herself Japanese, but when she exhausts what is available from the library, we will probably switch to Mango Languages.
Spelling: Spelling City online
Writing: IEW    Right now, the older three are all plowing through level A SWI because they all did it in the past, and this is a refresher.  Sadly, I don't own level B, and the Level C that I own is a SICC, so the goal is to do the refresher of level A, and then slow WAY down and move into level C with perhaps just Mimi-I will have to see when we get to that point.
Bible, History, English, Grammar, everything else, and really, even the subjects listed above:  Far Above Rubies
Here is the big, huge, wow, this is a MAJOR step for me, for the next four years, she will be doing Far Above Rubies, a unit study based curriculum.  I bought it a few years ago, honestly not even sure that I would use it.  I looked at it and prayed about it all summer.  I read what other people had to say who had used it.  But most of all, I realized that what I want to teach my children MOST is to become learners.  You can never learn everything there is to learn.  But if you know how to acquire the knowledge you lack, you will be fine.  I think that FAR will give her that.  I also think she will NOT love it, at least not at first.  And I think it's more teacher intensive than I ideally would like, but that's because it takes a mother to impart some of those skills to her daughter.   So neither of us may love it, but I think it's what is best.

TJ:   TJ got a bit of a promotion with our move to NC and because of where his birthday falls, he could be an 8th grader here, where in FL he would be a 7th grader.  Personally, we've never been very "grade" oriented, and I don't care what grade they are in, but let's just call it 8th for those of you playing along at home.
Science:  Apologia's General Science  Knowing that he skipped 7th though will explain why he is doing General Science this year, and not last year.  He's doing it at the co-op we will be attending, so I think he will enjoy it.
P.E.: Fall Soccer and a Fishing class at co-op.  Yes, I know fishing isn't P.E., but I don't know what else to call  NC biology?
 Math: He will do Right Start's Geometry (which is their middle school math) for math.
Writing: He is also doing IEW for writing. Once we finish the refresher level A SWI, he may move into the SICC C a little early, but he will probably do an IEW book I have called Rockets, Radar, & Robots, which would be a great fit for him.
Language Arts/Grammar: Learning Language Arts Through Literature 7th grade (because he had read most of the books that went with 8th grade)    Because I'm crazy, and I got it in the Bundle sale, I'm trying something totally new to us and he will be doing this for his Language Arts.  That might implode on me...we'll see ;-).
Spelling:  Spelling City online.
Bible:  As a family, we will do Apologia's Who Am I?  to start off.  For him personally, I think I am going to take him and his younger sister through Grapevine Studies survey of the Old Testament.  I own it, I like it, I haven't done it in years, he hasn't done it ever...sounds good to me!  At some point, we will also use the Picture Smart Bible I picked up in the Bundle sale, but I'm going to do it myself first.
History:  Mystery of History III.  We love MOH.  History is actually the center of most of our study, and everything else comes from that.  For example, most of our literature is readers that go along with the period in time we are studying (pulled from lists like Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, Winter's Promise, or just the shelf of the local library).  Our spelling words then come from words related to the time period or events in history, or from words I encounter as I read stories aloud to the kids (yes, I read aloud to ALL my kids, and they love it, even if it took me years to come around to enjoying it myself).  We keep a timeline, for which we use Homeschool in the Woods figures.  We do mapwork that goes with MOH.  Sometimes we use the MOH maps, sometimes maps from Homeschool in the Woods, or Knowledge Quest, especially their Time Trek maps, which I adore (affiliate links used, did I mention I love their maps and Geography) because they literally progress through time, so you can watch events unfold on the map, like the progress of the plague for example.  We also tie in Geography at the same time then, and this year we will use A Child's Geography: Explore the Classical World, a book which I got to help proofread, and bought as part of my Bundle in the sale because it is just amazing, and will go so well with our study of the Renaissance and Reformation.  We are currently breezing through A Child's Geography:Explore His Earth (all four kids) just as a good reminder of basic geography.

Sari:  Sari is 9, and grade 3/4, but behind in reading and math.  I guess it's God's providence that I was interrupted while writing this because something fell into place that would have been on my original list as I started this post two days ago.  Welcome to my world ;-P.
Science:  Apologia's Exploring Creation Through Botany- she's doing this at co-op and I'm thrilled because as much as I LOVE this Apologia series, this particular book was the most tedious with my other kiddos, as I'm happy as a clam that she gets to do it with other kids and someone else gets to teach it.  YAY!
Math: Right Start Level C-the original, not the new one that came out last week. (She's behind, and that's a HUGE book, which is why they rewrote it, but I've taught it 3 times before so I know we can make it through.)
Writing: IEW Level A SWI.  This is her first go around with IEW, and so it's all new to her.  She's doing well so far.
Handwriting:  Startwrite/Handwriting Without Tears.  Sari still has problems with forming printed letters incorrectly when she writes them.  She also is learning cursive.  We'll use a combination of pages I generate for her with Startwrite and the HWOT cursive book.
Language Arts/Grammar:   Lightening Lit grade 3.  This is what just landed in our laps.  They needed beta testers, and it looks like it works kind of like LLATL, so she will get to do the same type work her brother is doing for language arts/grammar.  This is a big experiment for us, and the back up plan is First Language Lessons Level 3 for grammar with Five in a Row for Language Arts.
Reading:  All About Reading Level 2 (affiliate link).  She's delayed, and I don't know why.  She's had all the right foundation, and she's either just my little Ferdinand, or she has a real reason for the delay.  If I can't work with her through whatever the disconnect is, I'll have her tested later this fall for a learning "problem".  We will also be doing fluency work and using Pathway readers and ABeka readers and anything else I can get her to read.  She's currently loving the Pathway readers, so that's a bonus.
Spelling:  All About Spelling Level 2 and beyond (affiliate link).  I love AAS and AAR.  They were the first, and for a LONG time, the only company I was an affiliate for because I believe in their products so much.  And their method is how I KNOW my daughter has a firm foundation.  And it's not just me.  A local "expert" that I met with uses these materials too.  So we will continue to build the foundation.  And she will also begin Spelling City online to allow me to expose her to more vocabulary.
Bible/History/Geography/More Literature:  All the same as TJ above.  She will do age/grade appropriate readers and activities and he will do more advanced ones, but their core will be the same.
Enrichment: Brain Gym and Dianne Craft.  We are also doing any therapy work at home we can to try to rewire whatever the glitch is that is giving her such trouble in reading fluency.  She's liking the lazy 8's exercise and the cross-crawl stuff, and we'll add others as we need to.  Oh, and her other co-op class is a P.E. class called SCORE that is game focused, and will just be good, old-fashioned physical exercise.

So that's the current plan.  It doesn't take into account field trips or the second semester of the co-op or anything FUN we might decide to do, but the fundamentals are all in place.  We'll see what happens as the year goes on.  Some things I know won't change.  Mystery of History as the springboard for a lot of everything that we do is set in stone.  Right Start is our math.  AAS and AAR are not going to change.  Apologia is our science.  IEW is the writing I adore and am committed to.  But there might be some flux as we give the newer elements a try and see if they fit with our life and our learning styles.  We'll see!

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