Tuesday, August 25, 2009

School, curriculum, etc.

Yes, Anna starts in less than a week. No, I cannot believe it. :)
As I've said, we'll be setting out on the journey that is homeschooling. Years ago when my oldest three kids were little, I loved the idea of homeschooling. Then after my youngest was born, and I had four kids that were ages 3 and under (hehehe), that idea seemed less appealing. I honestly didn't think I could (or wanted) to do it.
Last summer when I got Mono, I had lots of time on my hands. I began thinking about how in a year's time, my oldest would be starting school. I thought about how our life would change, how it would impact my other kids and our family in general. I thought about the current lifestyle my kids have and about how once they started school, there'd be so much less time for family, and siblings. I have four kids within three years of each other. They have a pretty sweet connection, and that would change with all of us running a million different directions every day. I also thought about how I'd be able to really, truly invest in their educations and lives with so many children so close in age, when they were gone all day long.
I read a few books that I really, really loved. The Well-Trained Mind: Classical Education at Home, A Thomas Jefferson Education, and the other was Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School. Two were about homeschooling, the other about public schooling. All were excellent.

In the end I discovered that the thought of homeschooling really excited me. It seemed like a really great fit for our particular family. My reasons for doing so have nothing--and I do mean nothing--to do with fear of or disdain for public education. It has everything to do with lifestyle, values and priorities, etc. I think it'll be good for my kids.

The great thing is, Anna does get to go to school on Mondays, so we got to do all the fun "back to school" stuff like shopping for a backpack, school supplies etc.

I'm keeping it really simple this year, curriculum-wise. Anna's reading at probably an early second grade level, and reads pretty much nonstop, so I'll just be supplying her with lots of books. This is the rest of what we'll be doing:

Handwriting: Zaner Bloser (Kindergarten level)

Math: Saxon (Kindergarten.) I chose it because it came with lots of manipulatives, and I just want to have a fun year learning how to tell time, count money, etc. And we'll be playing lots of GAMES!

Bible/Religion: The Illustrated Bible for Little Children by Ella Lindvalle, First Catechism by Great Commission Publications, I Believe in God: The Apostles' Creed by Father Lovasik, S.V.D. I actually got that Bible on my 5th birthday from my parents! It has short Bible stories, good comprehension questions, and then the reference to the passage in the Bible. I'm hoping to at some point this year have the kids memorize the Apostles' Creed (and this little booklet goes through the different phrases and explains them), and also go through this catechism.

Literature: Lots of reading classics aloud. We're going to start with AA Milne's original Winnie the Pooh series, and from there probably do the Little House on the Prairie series, the unabridged Wizard of Oz, etc.

Basically I think learning ought to take place in the context of real, natural life. I think kids learn at their own pace, to a degree, and that kids need the opportunity to both be challenged but also to just BE KIDS. To play and be creative, etc.
Something wer'e really pretty committed to as well is not spending a fortune on homeschooling. Curriculum is EXPENSIVE and we're quite fortunate to get a lot of the basics for free through
Anna's school program (also free through the Aurora Public School District). I only buy books at the thrift store (or off of half.com) and we'll be using the library a lot. I did purchase the handwriting workbook from the company however.
One of my all-time favorite parenting books, that actually speaks a lot to our personal philosophy behind homeschooling, is Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. It's excellent.
Anyway, we'll see how the year goes. Hoping to have some structure while maintaining flexibility. I'm so excited and as bittersweet as it is, I'm really looking forward to Kindergarten orientation next Monday!!!


joy said...

I'm so excited for you guys as you start this journey! Early 2nd grade level reading?! that's so great. how fun for anna to be reading.

zunzun said...

How exciting! I homeschooled my daughter for 3rd grade and loved it. I had to because we were travelling and wish we could have continued but my daughter loves her school so that was it. I too don't have a problem with public education (mostly) and did it w/ a secular curriculum (Calvert). It was interesting the comments we would get. People either assumed my daughter was an introverted, sheltered, unsocialized little kid (ummm...no)or that we wanted to pass on our religious values.

I loved the freedom of adjusting our schedules at will and incorporating things she enjoyed like Greek Mythology (definitely not something she was getting at her school).

Dealing w/ misconceptions about homeschooling was difficult (I can see where many get defensive after a while!) but the actual process was delightful...I'm very excited for your little ones.

Joanie said...

This is so inspiring! I grew up on the Apostles' Creed. Ah, memories.

Anyway, I taught zaner-blosser handwriting and Saxon math - great programs. (I love your book choice as well!)

It is so excellent how your children are close - and will remain so - and that you place family bonding over activities. Weird how we have to make conscious choices to keep all the outside stuff to a minimum, but there it is in today's world.

Keep up the great work!!!

Dawn said...

You are going to do great and I agree it is a great fit for your family! As time goes on I think you will enjoy schooling them so close in age, there are so many projects and lessons they will all enjoy doing together. Mine are all 20 months apart and we still enjoy it!

JaneeNoel said...

I don't know if it's the same catechism as the one you have chosen, but my girlie has LOVED these CDs: www.songsforsaplings.com

I love hearing her sing the songs on her own while she's playing.

PAHED said...

have fun as you start! :) it looks like you have some really great books to use. Hold on to our kids is still one of my all time faves, too. and you look adorable, you lucky pregnant girl..i looked completely round by this stage! :) darci


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