Friday, August 1, 2014

Let's get ready to rock! Getting ready for our 2nd year of Homeschool

Can you hear that grumble?  That's the sound of my kids grumbling at the thought school is about to start.  Why can't summer last forever? 

All good things must come to an end and we are getting ready to begin our 2nd year of homeschooling.  Wow.  We actually survived our first one unscathed.  All children are alive, dad didn't run away from home, and mom is still somewhat sane.

This year I have a 7th grader.  Allow me to take a few moments to digest that information.  I have a child who is a 7th grader.  I am beginning to plan for high school and transcripts and college.  When did all this happen?

As if having her entering 7th grade wasn't enough evidence of my aging, I also have 2 boys entering 3rd grade.  They went to camp this summer, and came back in one piece (and with a few extra items of clothing in their bags!).  No longer my tiny twin boys, they are proudly over 4 ft tall and growing every second.

Planning for this year was a lot easier.  For starters, I ordered Cathy Duffy's 101 top picks for homeschool curriculum.  This book was worth every penny.  I read it cover to cover in a weekend.  It helped me to narrow down the curriculum I wanted to further research.  

After weeks of research, and research, and more research; I finally came up with the winners for our 2014-2015 school year.  

Drumroll please....

Singapore Math-Standard edition.  I know there are many great math curriculum out there but I love this one.  The engineer in me can't help but love it.  It actually makes the kids think through the math problems, set up simple equations, and I think it's a great foundation for Algebra, and higher maths.  All 3 of the kids are using it. No complaints!
We also use Khan Academy to supplement.  Not because the curriculum needs it but because my kids like the site, and earning points; and it gives them extra practice.  Can't never have too much math.

Another one we kept this year.  Story of the World Volume 2.  I purchased the activity book this year, and I plan on adding more in depth projects for my 7th grader.  I like that it is engaging for the boys, and they are enjoying learning about different civilizations.

This year I chose Trail Guide to World Geography.  With 3 kids, I needed something that could be used for all 3 and this one can be as simple or as in depth as I want.  

I really had to think this one  through.  Last year we used Spelling City and while I liked it, the kids didn't care for it.  Then we switched to workbooks, and that was just not their thing.  Finally settled on Spelling Power.  I love I can use it with all 3 kids, and also the placement tests.  I know where to begin with each, and it's based on their knowledge and not a set school grade.  The fact is a 15 min per day program makes it a winner in my book!

Instead of using one language art curriculum as we did last year, I broke it into the other pieces.  The all encompassing one was great for me, but the kids do better with separate ones.  Editor-in-Chief, from the Critical Thinking Company, is what we are trying this year.  They offer both workbooks and software, and they all wanted something they could do on the computer; so we chose the software.

Reading Comprehension
Again, Critical Thinking Company had what I was looking for.  Reading Detective is what my 7th grader will be using.  Considering the college entrance test include so much reading and comprehension; I want to go ahead and begin to get her ready.   I chose not to purchase one of the 3rd graders yet.  I am going to have them read books and then summarize them for me as part of their writing program; and later on move to a more structured format. 
All 3 will be reading and keeping a log of books read.  At least 2 each month for the little ones, one a month for the oldest since she will be reading bigger books.

So writing isn't one of those things that comes easy to my kids.  Telling any of them to write a paper is asking for a lot of whining and complaining and ... you get the idea.
I came across the Writer's Jungle and had one of those aha moments.  Here was a gentle way to get them started before purchasing one of the more rigorous programs.  My focus this year is to get them writing, period.  Yes there will be editing, and correcting grammar but specially for the younger ones, they need to just get used to writing.

I am giddy just thinking about how much fun we are going to have this year.  The boys will be using R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Life Science; while my girl will be using R.E.A.L. Science Biology 2.  One thing all 3 had requested for this year was lots of hands on activities; and they wanted to do biology. 
I'm a science girl, but biology wasn't my "thing".  I was a chemistry/physics gal and even though I  took biology and later biochemistry in college, I was nervous about it.  Until I found this curriculum.  It's all laid out for me and I'm sure I'm going to be loving biology by the time we get done.

Of course next year we are doing chemistry because it's my turn!

My oldest is going to use Typing Web this year.  I like that it's free because I don't think she needs a whole lot, she already types.  But she wanted a formal typing lesson, and who am I to argue?

I am not artistic.  I will do watercolor painting because it's relaxing and perfect for stress relief but I'm just not artistic.  My kids are, which makes for an interesting combination.  
Aside from letting them create masterpieces; we are going to study some artists; and expose them to good art with field trips.  I enjoy museums so we go as often as time and funds allow.   

We are continuing copywork this year.  Aside from using literature excerpts and exposing the kids to good writing, we need to get in the habit of writing before we begin cursive writing next semester.  We haven't chosen a curriculum for cursive yet though.   

Aside from all of this, two are continuing with their piano lessons, the other with his Han Mu Do (Korean Martial Arts); and my girl is still taking dance lessons.  We are also doing soccer (one of the boys), and hopefully tennis.  They also want to run 5k so my running shoes will be getting some mileage this fall.

I feel a lot more relaxed this year compared to last.  I guess it's in part because I know what to expect.  Also because we are going to homeschool year round so I don't feel like I have to accomplish everything in a short amount of time (as I felt last year).  

Here is to a great new year!