8.29.2013

Curriculum!

I have had a panic attack about every 3 days when the thought of homeschooling this year creeps up on me.  It's not that it's particularly difficult (uhhh..it is.  but not as difficult as I would have liked to make it our first year) it's just that I had no.idea. what we were going to do.  Violet is so different from GraceAnne and our lives are so different than they were 2 years ago. 

So after 60 days of panic, I knew that my requirements were these:
  1. Few physical books, since we will have to fit everything in the Suburban as we travel
  2. A traditional math curricula that could be challenging enough for GraceAnne, but simple enough for Violet.  Preferably from the same company so that I could get the hang of the teaching style
  3. Integrated learning into daily life so that we don't feel consumed by the work
  4. Non-traditional ways of learning because we are just a bunch of non-traditional people
  5. Not completely reliant on technology, since I don't know if we will always have access to internet
I read a few blogs, researched unschooling, looked at online curricula, but answers were really eluding me, so last week I looked up the minimum learning requirements for their grades in Kansas.   First, can I say it was a huge relief to look at the lists and realize that the kids already had a lot of the stuff down?  If we are completely consumed with our travels this year, we will pretty much be okay.

Second, it really helped me to see that all the things they need to learn are so simple to integrate into daily life.  I have the benefit of being a "veteran" homeschooler at this point and I've learned countless lessons as far as what works for our family and what doesn't, but I still sometimes suffer from "it must look like public school or it doesn't count."  That is so not true it isn't even funny.  In fact, my kids learn better when I teach them to count collecting eggs from the hens or teach them to add fractions by doubling a recipe to share with friends.  In GraceAnne's case, she absorbs more from her books if she is sitting outside to read them with one leg kicked up over something and her head hanging downward.  Violet needs more relational teaching than a classroom setting allows for and Corbin?  Well, sometimes Corbin needs to be beaten.  (Totally kidding, no child abuse in *this* family)

Maybe I should have started off this way.  I have always read my magazines backwards and done my math problems backwards, there's something about thinking ahead to the end goal and then setting the plans that just makes me able to get a handle on it.  I probably could have spared myself a lot of stress, but at any rate, we've finally arrived here:
  1. We have a lot of our Richard Scarrey books still, which the littles love to learn from.  I only have plans to order one Science book.  We will utilize the library wherever we are at for books we can't download on the nook.  The nooks will be our workhorses this year.  (we have 2 nook HD+ that we specifically got for this school year)
  2. Bob Jones math has great reviews from moms with non-traditional learners.  I think the 4th and K courses will be perfect for us.  Thankfully math curricula only consist of 2 books.
  3. I have practiced seeking more learning opportunities and asking lots of questions to engage the kids in their surroundings.  We live in a pretty historic area right now, so this has been very easy.  The kids are also very good at asking leading questions and love to learn.  Lucky!
  4. We sing a lot of lessons.  Violet learns very well in song.  I let the kids dictate how the day will go for the most part.  i.e. "We have ABC and XYZ to do.  How do you want to accomplish this?"  That in itself is a great learning tool for kids.
  5. The nook books will be downloaded, so we will have access to them even without a wifi connection.  The littles use ABCmouse.com and GraceAnne is going to keep a blog, both we can do at the library a few times a week.  Of course we'll have the physical books wherever we go and since we're focusing on integrated learning, that can happen anywhere with no physical tools.  
This year I'm going to be keeping track of what we do on different days and logging hours and whatnot.  Even though Kansas doesn't require us to do those things, (our home state for all intents and purposes right now) I want to make sure I have all my ends tied up nicely "just in case."

Oh, and for anyone curious, for 1st and 2nd grade, GraceAnne and I did Sonlight, which was positively, absolutely FABULOUS for her and for me.  It is definitely not something we can do right now because it is incredibly literature heavy (part of why we loved it and GraceAnne reads well above her grade level thanks to Sonlight!) and we just can't carry that many books with us on our travels.  But we do highly recommend the curriculum to others and it's a great way to get your feet wet as a homeschooler.  I call it "dummy-proof."  There's lots of room to be creative, but it's also all spelled out for you if you need that kind of structure/guidance.  We did actually consider buying the teacher's guides only and downloading all the books onto the nook, but we felt it just wasn't right for us this year.

So for fun, what do you think you would do if you were going to homeschool your kids from the road?  Would you stick to the 3Rs?  How would you integrate extra-curriculars?  What parts of it would scare you?  What parts do you think you and your children would really enjoy?


2 comments:

Mary said...

This right here: "...but I still sometimes suffer from "it must look like public school or it doesn't count."

Ugh. Yeah. Me too. Praying you guys have an amazing school year and I know the learning will never stop!! :)

Dawn Yoder said...

I've found a curriculum that is online, but the material can be downloaded and saved. We're not traveling (yet) but there is so much material the we'll be able to use it for years so whether we have Internet or not will still be able to access the lessons. It requires few physical books, and some are a available electronically. My dd and I both have Kindle fires and the material can be saved on them too.