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Homeschool Planning for 2014-2015

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So, it’s the end of April, and you know what that means:  school is winding down.  Whether you homeschool or not, you know that this is the time of year that kids start staring out windows, dreaming of summer and teachers start taking stock.  We start evaluating, planning and dreaming, too.  What will we do the same?  What will we do differently?  What worked?  What didn’t?  (We also dream of summer, but you knew that.)

So, while we’re not done with school here, I am already thinking of next year and making plans for it.  We were doing well on our schedule until my trip to Kenya and the jetlag that followed it.  Now, we’ve got a little catching up to do.  Here’s what we used this year:

My Father’s World Adventures in U.S. History

We’ve really enjoyed this curriculum.  I really liked how Bible, science and history were all woven together.  For instance, when we studied yeast in science, we learned about the Bread of Life.  When we studied certain states in history, we learned about their state birds in science.  At the same time, music was integrated as well.  The curriculum flowed really well together.  We also really enjoyed the read aloud books that were included.  They told stories of children in the different time periods of American history we studied.  The reading lists in the appendix were also very helpful as well.

Saxon Math 3

I’ve mentioned before that math can be a bit of a problem around here.  The Saxon curriculum worked well for us except for the dreaded timed sheets.  I can’t tell you the amount of stress, anxiety and tears they caused this year.  I feel like my daughter has mastered the concepts of the curriculum but has been set back by the fact that she has come to hate those timed sheets.  (And, don’t worry, I’ve tried approaching them almost every possible way, including leaving them out from time to time.   It’s been the hardest part of homeschooling this year.)  I do like the way that Saxon reviews and that the worksheets are shorter than others I’ve done, and I really appreciate the lesson plans.  They make it easy for me or my husband to teach the lesson on any given day.

A Beka Lanuage

I grew up using A Beka so this is a familiar format for me and one that I think is good at teaching basic grammar rules, sentence structure, etc.  That being said, my daughter became so tired of the penmanship pages, and while she does still need practice with her penmanship, because she has been doing A Beka since kindergarten I can see how she is tired of practicing cursive writing.  For many students, 2nd and 3rd grade is when they learn it, but she’s been writing in cursive for a few years now so it’s become a bit tedious.  As for the spelling, I am the one who dropped the ball here.  Seriously.  Even when I taught high school English, I had a terrible habit of forgetting to give the spelling/vocabulary tests.  That being said, we’ll be doing some spelling this summer.

Switched On Schoolhouse Spanish

My daughter really enjoyed this though we didn’t do it all the time.  I let her go at her own pace, focusing more on the other subjects because I plan to let her continue this program next year.  I do think it’s a good program because the words are taught then used in different way (even in English sentences) to reinforce understanding and to review.

We also used the My Father’s World preschool package with our son, focusing on shapes, colors, motor skills and numbers.  He enjoyed all of the hands-on activities, as well as the puzzles.  He loves puzzles.

For next year….

My Father’s World Exploring Countries and Cultures

Needless to say,  I am so excited about this curriculum!  I love studying other cultures, and I hope that this curriculum will help my children to learn to love them as well.  Our four year old will be joining us in a more structured way this year so I went ahead and ordered materials for him as well.  The curriculum studies geography, focusing on animals in science, which my kids will love!

Teaching Textbooks 4

This is the biggest change for next year.  I have struggled with the decision of which math curriculum to use for weeks, knowing only that something has to change.  I am hoping this will be the right change. I looked at so many options until I was completely confused, but I finally settled on this one for a couple of main reasons.  First, I will be teaching my four year old to read and write, which means I will have less time to focus solely on my daughter.  Second, I think she will do better with someone else “teaching” the math.  I will still be involved and helpful, but the majority of the teaching will be done by the program.

A Beka Kindergarten

The decision to use this was based on two pretty simple facts:  I had most of the material, and it worked for my daughter.  My son will require more hands-on, physical opportunities to learn, but I think it’s a solid program to start with.

Spelling Power

I decided to purchase Spelling Power for next year (and the years after).  I also ordered the Spelling Power Activity Cards.

Switched On Schoolhouse Spanish

We will continue using this program.

Seterra

This is a free map quiz game available online.  We’ll be using it to aid in our study of geography, countries and cultures.

Other Changes for Next Year

This year, we did school at the kitchen table.  Next year, I plan on setting up a classroom setting somewhere in our home.  (That’s the project for the summer.)  I think it will be absolutely necessary now that we have two kids schooling and two kids toddling.  Having a dedicated space for school will help my daughter and son focus, I hope.

This past year has been fun and challenging, and I hope I’ve learned a few things that will help next year be even better.