Last year we did a split week between 2nd and 3rd grade work, working in Grammar and Math on a second grade level at the beginning of the week, and then moving into the same concept later in the week on a third grade level. This year we are following the same general concept, only using third grade as a basis, and doing some fourth grade concepts later in the school year. Next year, we will use fourth grade as the basis, and use some fifth grade to make it interesting. So we go over the same stuff over and over, helping them to learn by repetition and gradual advancement. I think that this is the best way to approach homeschooling because you really get to watch (in amazement) as the boundaries that the public school system put on your children widen until they burst. I am so impressed when I see my formerly struggling child "get it", and not only get it in their grade level, but be able to process the application of their new knowledge in an "out of the box" type way that transcends grade levels. I love it!
So far, I am loving the choices I've made as far as curriculum is concerned. We are loosely following the Hillsdale Academy curriculum, you can find that list linked below for K-8:
We are also loving History and Science. For history this year, I began working with the "History of US" series by Joy Hakim. I cannot say enough good stuff about this series! The chapters are very short, allowing for a quick move through our history, without dragging your feet. The content is written much like a very good story; you begin by climbing into a "time and space travel machine", and go back in time. The actual history that they choose to go over is interesting and light, yet enough to teach this lady a thing or two... Hey, I know a lot more about early Americans now than I did from my education. Our science is a Christian curriculum series, "Christian Kids Explore", and we are doing the Earth and Space unit this year. It is set up perfectly to do a two day science class, with great vocabulary, journaling ideas, and plenty of experiments and hands on learning. If I wanted to expound on it further, there are resources listed and other projects that we could do, but I like keeping it light, because this program is built so that you can repeat it later, and go deeper.
Another great find was Wordly Wise 3000. We actually begun using the program last year for both spelling and vocabulary, but we used the online list of words for books K and 1. This year we have the books, and we also will be using the supplemental games and practice online. I can't say that there is much difference so far in buying the books over using the list for free, except that the kids have daily work to help them learn them, rather than me having to make my own worksheets. They also, in the book, sometimes have multiple definitions for several words, which was not something I was doing on my own. I am very impressed with their word lists, though, because I probably can only pronounce, let alone define about 60 % of the words from tenth grade to twelfth, so even if you choose to use the program for your high schooler, it would be worth it, if just for SAT prep.
For reading, we have been using Sylvan Reading Comprehension, but will transition mid-year into a simple
"Spectrum" Reading course. I chose to begin this way because the kids had not begun reading comprehension in school, and Sylvan teaches them how to read a story or paragraph in order to obtain information from it. This is one of our lightest subjects, and it usually takes less than half an hour to go over and complete the work. It is something that the kids always look forward to, though.
We have been very blessed to be a part of a library initiative that includes "Mango Languages". Mango is a free service offered by many libraries across the U.S. that offers something like 40 languages in an online learning format (including obscure ones like Farsi and Swahili, and silly ones like Pirate). It is so fun! I actually follow along with the children to learn things that I did not know. What I love about it is that it offers both a brief course, meant to help you learn the basics in a short period of time, and also a much more in depth program in order to truly immerse yourself into the language. We are doing Spanish this year, and the first few weeks of school have been spent on the basics of greetings and gratitude. It is exciting because the children, in five weeks time, can have a full conversational greeting with a native speaker, knowing how to address them properly, and understanding the changes in verb usage. They actually asked me the other day if they could come with us on our date (to a Mexican restaurant), just so they could speak with someone in Spanish! If your library doesn't have the program, I believe it is only 70 bucks per language for personal use, or something like that.. here is the website.
The only subject that I am not fully satisfied with is my Bible curriculum, last year I began using Calvary Chapel Childrens Curriculum. For starting off, I believe it was a good program, it is free, and it has coloring pages, crossword puzzles, and word searches. However, I feel more and more, that it is not reaching the children in a way that I was hoping it would. It is a canonical order curriculum, from the very beginning of the Bible to the end,so it includes many stories, and there is a lot of Bible reading involved, but what I really want is not just stories and recitation as much as an in depth understanding of the historic events that surround the stories,and practical applications of the wisdom that the Bible holds. Any suggestions are welcome!! But for now, we will continue to use the program because I would rather them have something than nothing at all.
So, in summary, almost all of our book choices seem to be working well as far as including everything that we wanted the children to learn. The kids seem to be enjoying all of them, too, wonder of wonders. I suppose in a few months, once we have some more school under our belts, I will update you all on how we feel then, haha.