I have had a lot of questions as the new year starts, about which curriculum I am using for the girls. Esther is going into first grade, and Rachel, even though she just turned 4 a few weeks ago, is raring to go, so she is starting K, and doing really really well, she is 100% ready for the work she is doing.
One thing I thought and prayed a lot about is that between all my housework, my business, church responsibilities etc, was how to teach two girls, without burning myself out.
Thankfully, having a more Charlotte Mason philosophy of education, this wasn't too hard to achieve.
I also, wanted something with a level of structure, in that, I had a curriculum, I wasn't putting it together 100% myself, and that it was easy to explain to Josh on the school days he is home, so he can help, especially when new baby Emi arrives.
So here is what we are using so far:
PHONICS - Explode the Code
We like Explode the code because it moves at a pace that both challenges the girls but lets them feel a big sense of achievement. They both really enjoy the worksheet style approach with these books, and lots of the exercises have a level of playfulness that makes them laugh, such as discerning the correct sentence. Normally the wrong sentence is really silly and they like that.
HANDWRITING - Handwriting Without Tears
This is a fantastic curriculum. There are so many fun practice activities and ideas using visual and hands on exercises to get concepts across. When magic C seemed overwhelming, I was able to introduce a magic bunny made of a napkin and a marker, to teach the letter and it quickly de-stressed the situation and made learning a breeze.
Kids use chalkboards, playdoh, wooden pieces & song to learn.
MATH - Life of Fred
Last year we started with Saxon K, which we learned was to easy, but then Saxon 1 was too much of a jump. So then we switched to Horizon which was too much work and brought about our first math induced tears.
I had no idea what to use for 1st Grade. My 1st grader struggles with math concepts, we spent a lot of time just learning numbers the first year, she just struggled to keep them in her mind. So I needed a different approach.
Life of Fred is a totally different approach and I am really excited about it. This is our first week using it and honestly, it's so quick and easy, that I am trying to get my head around it being 'enough'. Yet, it is. It's a math text book, but written like a story book. It follows the life of Fred, a 5 year old genius who teaches Math at Kittens University.
Each lesson, you read a chapter, which encounters a problem in Fred's life, and then you solve the problem. I feel as though in 2 chapters, the girls understand addition more than they have before. It's great for multiple ages, I don't have to sit with 2 separate curriculums and try to teach them totally different things, I already do that with phonics and handwriting!
HISTORY - Beautiful Feet's " Early American History"
I will be honest. The realisation that I had to teach AMERICAN history, was a bit of a shocker. I think we spent maybe half a term on it when I was 14. Sure, we'll learn all about British History in a few years, but for now, I have to teach my little American citizens about the country they were born in.
This has to be my favourite new curriculum this year. I love it. It's 100% Charlotte Mason. Esther and Rachel both can do it all together. We just started reading about 'Leif the Lucky'. I like that someone already made a little guide with color pages, CD's, crafts/activities, dictation etc that I can use, and I don't have to try do that right now!
GEOGRAPHY - Passport Around World / Beginning Geography
I found this great little book which comes with a passport inside and stickers for passport stamps. It covers information on 26 countries, from A-Z! So we will do a country once a week - language, food, location, basic facts.
I also have a great little book that we are covering together about maps, land structures etc.
SCIENCE - Nature Co-op/ The Nature Connection
We are LOVING our nature co-op through the local homeschool association! In the elementary ages, children learn the most 'Science' through playing and exploring the outside world. We are using the book ' The Nature Connection'. We read a segment each week, we also collect items we find and observe animals etc around us, and journal them. On fridays, at co-op, the kids have to do a show & tell. How awesome is it, that school is going out on a family walk, or exploring the garden?
Right now, the core subjects above are my weekly priority, this is what I HAVE to get done. Here are some other supplementary things we try to include each week, and so far, are achieving, but if we have a rough week, or have field trips etc, they tend to get left for that week!
MUSIC/ ART: We do a weekly ' tea time' in the afternoon, we listen to a different composer each week as we sip & snack, and discuss the instruments, the composer, how the piece makes us feel. We also follow this conversation with a discussion of a famous work of art.
LANGUAGE: We are doing ' SONG SCHOOL LATIN' or 'Monkey Latin' as the girls like to call it. They love , love this. They want to do it every day. I adore that they have started greeting me ' Salve Magistra'
LOGIC: We have a few work books geared towards K- First Grade from Critical Thinking. They look fantastic, so far, we haven't got around to them, but we will soon I hope!
PHYSICAL EDUCATION: We are going to 'PEP Club' alternate weeks, where the girls play different sports, games and drills with other children. We are also in the process of looking for some dance classes for them. Also, they are going out multiple