Summer is quickly coming to an end! Can you believe it? I get a lot of questions about our homeschooling methods and curriculum so I thought this might be a good time to share on the topic since lots of homeschooling parents are putting their plans for the year together.
Since it’s an inferno outside in Texas in August, I decided to just go ahead and start doing school most mornings since it’s too hot to play outside unless we’re in a pool. The plan is to take a nice long break in October when the weather is perfection and spend all our time at the zoo and the park.
Our Curriculum Plans for 2016-2017
Our homeschooling method is VERY laid back. We’re of the opinion that young children love to learn and our job is to nurture and guide their natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge. So we do very little structured school time at this point because “school” is woven into the rest of our lives.
Our three-year-old won’t do any structured school this year (but she’ll probably jump in with her big sister so she can feel like a big kid). Our preschooler will just be focusing on reading and writing. So only our second grader will have structured school time (and we don’t do school every single day. We do lots of field trips and unstructured playtime).
As our kids get older, I know the structured school time will increase so I want to enjoy these days when school feels a lot like play.
Ok, here we go!
Last year we did Singapore Math (1A and 1B) with our oldest. I was pleased with the curriculum but it wasn’t a good fit for Benjamin. He had no trouble with the concepts but with his strong choleric temperament, getting him to sit down with a workbook was like pulling teeth and he wasn’t enjoying math.
I didn’t enjoy math until college and didn’t want history to repeat itself, so we switched to Life of Fred. I really love Life of Fred.
It’s written as a narrative and Benjamin really enjoys reading each chapter. Then we do the short practice section together so I know he understood the content. We supplement with Khan Academy math. (A great free online resource!) Khan Academy is great for drilling the concepts until the student achieves mastery. And there’s fun badges to win, so what’s not to love?
Because my second grader is super internally motivated and already loves to read for pleasure, I don’t make reading part of our “schooling.” It it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! I do enjoy reading aloud to all three kids so we make that part of our morning.
Last year we read a lot of Rudyard Kipling, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Tolkien, and Greek Mythology. I usually do our read alouds first thing during or just after breakfast. The kids are allowed to color or play with LEGO while I read.
For preschoolers, I really love the Catholic preschool curriculum Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven by Sarah Park because the picture book lists in it are worth the price of purchase. I go to this book first when I’m ordering books from the library.
I don’t think anyone’s ever too old for GOOD picture books, but a couple of years ago we added chapter books to the mix, particularly for bedtime reads.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
- Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
- Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
- The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- Redwall by Brian Jacques
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
If you’re interested, you can read about our favorite authors and favorite picture books. We’re also very into audiobooks. I’m not ready for the kids to use an iPad or anything with an internet connection to listen to stories so we just ordered a simple CD player from Amazon and use actual CDs. How old school, right? I came up with a big list of audiobooks we especially love and where to find good audiobooks (and free ones!)
We used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann to teach our oldest to read and now we’re halfway through it with our preschooler. She loves it! Highly, highly recommend.
This is the first year we’re adding handwriting to our curriculum. My seven-year-old boy’s handwriting looks like a seven-year-old boy’s handwriting so we should probably do some work on that. Starting out with Handwriting Without Tears recommended by Christy. I started with their first grade level because it’s not something we’ve really pushed at all until now.
Story of the World audiobooks — We loved Ancient World and we meant to tackle Medieval last year but never got around to it. Giving it a try this year. You can also get Story of the World as a print book.
We may be taking the kids when we go to a speaking engagement in October in DC, so we’re also doing some American history. We just started watching Liberty’s Kids and we’ll probably stock up on good picture books from the library.
The little homeschool co-op we joined last year used Classical Catholic Memory curriculum. We’re going to use it to cover geography this year and maybe join in the little geography club some families in our co-op are starting.
P.E. Art, Music, Science:
We’ll tackle these at co-op. Benjamin seems very interested in science so we’ll probably also do some fun supplementary stuff. He joined the local beekeepers association so that’s fun.
I think this year I’ll start asking Benjamin to do some more focused writing. He occasionally writes little stories, but we’ll start slowly easing into more. He gets frustrated with his handwriting so I think handwriting practice will help with the writing. Not planning to use a curriculum for this, just hoping to wing it.
Benjamin really enjoyed memorizing the poems in his co-op class last year, so we’re going to do more poetry memorization (probably in the CCM curriculum). Lucy (almost 5) also enjoys being a part of poetry memorization, so she’ll join in. Robert Louis Stevenson poems are a good bet and we might learn some Shakespeare.
When I write it all out, it looks like a lot, but we RARELY do more than an hour of structured school time. I am not all about weighing young kids down with workbooks and all about them mostly climbing trees and digging in the dirt.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase a title linked in this post, at no additional cost to you, a portion of the sale will keep Carrots up and running. Thank you!