Sunday, June 9, 2013

2013/2014 Curriculum

It's the end of another year, but we're going to BLINK and the new school year will begin. I say these words, but yet hesitate at the same time. Learning happens all the time and isn't limited to certain times in the year. If we are ever to stoop that low into that sort of thinking, we have done our children an injustice.
The past year has definitely been one of learning, adjusting, growing, accomplishments, some flops here and there, successes and an utmost leaning upon Christ. I'll share today our curriculum choices we'll be working on next only to say that these choices are the best fit for our family and they are only a suggestion as it may be of help for a family looking for something to implement in their own family.
As I mentioned in the Scope and Sequence Binder post, my main goal in curriculum choices is for me to be able to teach all of my children the most subjects at the SAME TIME. Workboxes worked great and I think they can work fabulously if you have one or two children or older children who can read. Having several small children that you're constantly having to train how to "do" the boxes got a bit hairy for us and since we've been teaching  more whole group, things have been tremendously smoother.
Math - A Beka workbooks, flashcards, manipulatives and of coarse, everyday experiences of telling time, measuring when baking, adding, subtracting and multiplying various things throughout the day, etc.
Science - notebooking with 106 Days of Creation (very hands on...because Science HAS to be) and lots of living books
Reading - A Beka phonics for the little guys, narration and we use the Charlotte Mason booklist as a mere guide
Copywork - Copybooks (precious hymns, fables and verses in both D'Nealean and Zaner Bloser styles)
Spelling - A Beka workbooks as well as a word wall (hmm...still need to choose a wall for this!)
Grammar - A Beka workbooks and fun games
Personal Development (aka: character training) - We love using For Instructions in Righteousness, also our verse flipchart with these character traits and verses that we memorize. Really, this subject is all day long, constant learning as we're sharing with others, putting one another first, finding ways to sacrifice and show love to one another, etc. We also have The Child Training Bible for a quick flip to a reference when we're struggling with a certain sin. I find the topic of child training to be interesting because it's the parent that has to be trained FIRST in knowing which Scripture to bring the child back to, what to pray for that child and the mere consistency it takes.
Charlotte Mason hits it on the head here...
"And in great measure it is so, because parents are devoid of that knowledge by which this training can alone be rightly guided. For shoemaking or housebuilding, for the management of a ship or of a locomotive engine, a long apprenticeship is needful. Is it, then, that the unfolding of a human being in body and mind is so comparatively simple a process that any one may superintend and regulate it with no preparation whatever?"
Foreign Language - of coarse the BEST way to learn a foreign language is to simply speak it, I'm in the process of gently convincing my Spanish friend (okay, maybe severe bribing may work here) to come and speak Spanish to our kids once a week or so.  :)
History - Veritas Press...hands down. We've used several history curriculums in the past two years, but none compares to this. We started with Story of the World, but it wasn't Biblically based so that went out the window. Mystery of History came next and that was Biblically based but there is no color to the book and Avy found it boring to read. I thought I'd make up my own history timeline (with events I've carefully chosen), but when I saw the hand motions from Veritas Press, I didn't want to have to make up all of my own so we went with them. They hit all THREE learning (reading the SHORT description on the back of the card plus there's a cd with a song of the events in order), visual (there's a colorful picture on the front of the card) and kinesthetic (hand  motions...which my son LOVES).  Even Isaac likes to participate. I'll do a more extensive post soon on why we love our new History approach.
Geography - living books; we'll be labeling various maps pertaining to what we're learning in History. Last year (and through the summer...we got a late start with Veritas in December so we're catching up this summer), we studied Old Testament and Ancient Egypt. This upcoming year, we'll be studying the New Testament, Greece and Rome.
Bible - intertwined with History and Geography; I'm on the fence on this one, but I did purchase The Picture Smart Bible curriculum at our convention this year and I'm going to see if we're going to work it in our studies either this year or next year. We shall see. I think I'm more excited to use it for myself than anything else!
Scripture Memory - we'll be using our character flipchart as well as verses we learn through Personal Development/Character Training. There is a guide HERE, but we use our own.
Literature - lunch time read alouds as well as independent quiet time reading for the older ones. A good, twaddle-free list can be found HERE.
Poetry - We've enjoyed using Robert Lewis Stevenson's A Child's Book of Verses this year, but will move on to Lewis Carroll next year with Poetry for Young People.
Nature Study - nature walks, journaling and identifying species using Stage 1 of nature journaling.
Picture Study - we'll be studying John James Audobon, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Carl Laron, Maxfield Parrish and P. Buckley Moss this year. We'll be using
THIS method to do so. 
Music Study - We'll be studying Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky this year. How will we be doing this you ask? Well, I've had to get creative and I'll let you  know how my experiment goes, but we have a few cds that we'll be listening to in the house and in the car, identifying the composer's works by song. If I get really crazy, I'd like to print out pictures of the composers and make a popsicle stick puppet out of them, allowing us to play games in the car of who can guess the composer and choose the correct puppet. Hmm...we'll see.
*Avonlea had some basic mandolin lessons this year and Lincoln a guitar lesson or two, but Avonlea is gravitating towards the piano. Trying to find a good piano teacher for this year.
Hymn Study - We probably won't get too extensive on this this year, but Rob does play hymns on the piano and I know a few on guitar so we love playing and singing after dinner most evenings. I expect we'll get into greater depth with this as they get a bit older.
Shakesphere - We may touch on A Midsummer Night's Dream this year, but I'm still contemplating.
Handicrafts and Lifeskills - Our kids get a pretty heavy dose of this already, but Lincoln has mentioned getting into woodworking and Avonlea wants to experiment with different breads this year.
As with any kind of learning or "schooling", I sincerely believe that it all starts with MY ATTITUDE. Learning is contagious and if I'm excited about learning about Bach, my kids will be. If I'm excited about studying The Gleaners painting, my kids will be. If I'm excited about our science experiment, my kids will be. They're still young, I get that, but I used to walk the hallways teaching middle schoolers and I found this to be the same thing. If I was excited to stand up, make a fool of myself singing a pronoun rap, my students were as well (even if they didn't admit it..a hem).
Let it be our prayer as parents that our attitudes reflect that of Christ Jesus and that we may always have a heart for learning about His amazing creation whether it be plants, animals, the human body, beautiful paintings of His creation, music, the language we speak, or the awesome timeline of HIStory that He has divinely put into place.
Colossians 3:23...
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord..."

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