Wednesday, August 3, 2011
It's that time of year again!
Yep! Back to school! On Monday, we began our fourteenth year of homeschooling. That is almost unreal when I think about it. Fourteen years is a LONG time! All those years ago, I only intended to have Jon and Kelsey at home for the duration of our tour in Germany. We enrolled them in public school when we returned to the US, but that ended up being more of a disaster than the disaster we removed them from in the first place. It lasted three months. Their only other time in public school was that horrific semester in the public high school in Germany the second time we were stationed there. It was that nightmare that cemented my convictions and I have absolutely no intention of ever considering public schooling again. It was during that ridiculously long semester that God really opened my eyes to what that limited and unnatural socialization can do, and now ... well, now I pretty much laugh at anybody who brings up THAT argument against homeschooling. Quite honestly, socialization is at the very top of our list for why we DO homeschool. I believe it is a parent's responsibility to mold a child, and I am choosing to mold my younger children's social education by exposing them to real-world situations instead of the secluded microcosmic environment found only inside the walls of school classrooms.
Sorry, that turned into a mini-rant, didn't it? I mean no disrespect to anyone who chooses public schools for their child's education; I simply cannot 'go there' with my children anymore.
This year, I have two second graders and a kindergartener. Technically, Danica shouldn't start kindergarten until next year, since she doesn't turn five until almost the end of October; but she is just far too ready for me to put it off another year just to fit her in to the 'mold'. She isn't ready for much focused math yet, but considering the curriculum I used for Morgan and Jamie doesn't really have a kindergarten level, I'm not all that worried about it. It's kindergarten. And she's four. There will be plenty of time for calculus later.
Morgan will be my challenge this year, as I suspect she will for most of her schooling career. She is not detail-oriented, so she struggles with paying close attention to words she is trying to sound out phonetically. She also has trouble forming letters with a pencil; her fine motor skills are just not up to par. Both of these issues are starting to make her very self-conscious, so we are going to have to do a LOT of work on them this year. She's very much like her older sister Kelsey, who did a lot of guessing at words and letters, and didn't really care how messy her penmanship was. It affected Kelsey's comprehension skills as she advanced in learning levels, and I really don't want to see that happen with Morgan.
Jamie is an easy learner; she LOVES to soak up information, and the more detailed, the better. While Morgan wants to know WHY, Jamie wants to know HOW and WHAT. Morgan likes stories; Jamie loves maps, charts, and lists. You'd think this would be an easy child to teach but all of her details carry with it one glaringly obvious challenge--perfectionism. Just like her brother, Jamie gets incredibly frustrated if she can't get something perfect the first time. Correcting something is akin to dental drilling without anesthesia!
Curriculum for this lot was a tough call. It simply will NOT do to have a different book for each child. Everything has to be the same, or I get a complete revolt. I've tried a lot of different things over the years, but I think this year we finally have a good fit. I have really come to love Sonlight, especially in the early years, when children can be "hooked" into loving reading. Sonlight's book choices are wonderful, and they offer enough to hook Morgan with an engaging story while providing the detail that Jamie needs to fill her brain. This year we are jumping into world history with Sonlight's Core B, from creation to the fall of Rome. This works well with my overall plan to at least roughly adhere to a four-year cycle of history as outlined in The Well-Trained Mind. Core B is Sonlight's typical first-grade program, but considering I'm using the Core for only history, science, and read-aloud literature, it's not really that big of a deal. The girls' math and language arts books are really all that indicates 'grade level'. Morgan and Jamie are using Rod & Staff's Working Arithmetic 2, and they're currently working through Explode the Code book 3. Danica is beginning her year in Explode the Code book 1, and we are also using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading as reinforcement of phonics instruction. For spelling, we are using Christian Liberty Press' first grade spelling book, mainly because Morgan needs the reinforcement as we repeat, repeat, repeat the phonetic rules. Jamie could probably handle the second grade book, but again ... they *have to* be equal. Funny, considering they are 11 months apart!
My rough plan (I'm a planner, can't stand going into something without a firm idea of where we're going) is to use Sonlight for all of the girls for history, science, and literature in the early years (grammar stage), the Mystery of History, Apologia 'elementary' science, and Learning Language Arts Through Literature for the middle years (dialectic stage), and Tapestry of Grace with Apologia high school science for the high school years (rhetoric stage). I want to transition to Saxon Math for pre-algebra, but for right now Rod and Staff is great for learning the basics.
If you'd like to share what tools you're using in your homeschool this year, or you'd like to see/read about what others are using, hop on over to The Heart of the Matter and join in the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop!