Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is it Working?

I mentioned near the beginning of the year that we were looking into some different curriculum options for "next" school year (next being subjective since we school year round, but we'll say Sept. 2014 to start the next year). And now I'm happy to say we have it figured out and are ready to get down to the serious business of curriculum shopping. I'm going to lay out for you today what's still working that we'll continue to use next year and what's no longer working that we'll be changing next year, and what we'll be changing that to.

Picture taken in Sept. 2013
Now, those of you who've read this blog for any amount of time (or have spoken with me on Facebook) know that we really like A Beka curriculum at least so far as what we use of it. We're keeping their phonics and Language Arts curriculum. It's working for us. We only use their phonics, creative writing, and actual language arts text. We do not use their spelling or poetry portions nor their reading selections.
Picture taken Sept. 2013

Since we don't use those portions of A Beka language arts just where were we getting it from and will we still be doing that? Well, that's a bit convoluted but I'll try to explain. Spelling we were using our "big books" (complete curriculum) and were pretty happy with it as far as it goes, however next year we'll be moving on to All About Spelling in the hopes that it will work better for YCJ. We're still keeping our "big books" because they work for us to give us more to work through in both language arts and mathematics. We never used A Beka's reading selections simply because we prefer to work through books that I (Mommy) decides to put on the reading list per each child's reading level. As for the poetry portion it just hadn't been a major focus with us in the past couple of years, we probably won't focus on it next year either... At least not to the point of it needing to be a whole separate section of our curriculum.

We've also been using A Beka's Arithmetic curriculum. It's a wonderful curriculum that has really worked well for both Cracker Jack's. So well for both of them in fact that they pretty much fly completely through the lessons and are ready for a new text book somewhere in April of each year leaving Mommy to scramble for more math work to challenge them each year. Next year the Cracker Jack's will both be moving to Saxon math for the larger challenge that it presents. There is nothing wrong with A Beka math. It's just not working for us any longer. As for Peanut we'll be moving her from the workbooks she's using this year to McRuffy's math curriculum next year. It's bright, colorful, and engaging not to mention provides challenge and a TON of ways to learn each concept. Well worth the investment in our humble opinions.

We're also keeping A Beka's health curriculum because it's working for us. We only do health during the winter months, preferring to do our more active pursuits (like swim class) during the other three seasons. A Beka has their curriculum schedule set up so that you only do health for a semester and do science for the other. Since we're inside for most of the winter usually it's no issue to get health done in approximately one marking period. We do not use A Beka science...

Next year ECJ will be continuing with Apologia science. And because it works so well, as well as teaches what we believe (along with giving arguments for the opposite points of view when it comes to certain topics), we'll be having YCJ and Peanut begin Apologia as well. ECJ will be doing Physical Science and the girls will both be working with Zoology 1 Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. Apologia is great for both girls working on the same topic as they provide both student notebooks and junior student notebook. 1 text with 2 notebooks and I don't have to think about it twice. 

For history next year we'll be using A History of US by Joy Hakim. This is a secular series that is actually 11 books in total before you count in any teaching guides or student study guides. It's got study guides and teaching guides for each of the first 10 books in the series (the 11th being a resource book) for both elementary years and middle/high school years. ECJ and I worked through the first two books in the series in the winter of 2012/2013 and really enjoyed them. *These books do use the now popular C.E. and B.C.E. standard instead of the B.C. and A.D. that we all grew up with. I simply explain why they use these terms now instead of what we use in our homeschool and move on. Eventually, if the children move on to college as we hope, they'd need to know these terms anyway.* From what we already worked through I know that these books provide scads of information in bites that are easy to handle for even the less than enthusiastic student. It will also provide us with at least two, if not three, years of instruction for the campers in this subject working at a pace of 3-5 text books per year.

Some things with our Bible lessons may change only because the children want more of it in their lives. Mostly it will just be adding to what we're already doing. I may purchase some catechist books for them myself for them to work through at home, or I may not, it simply all depends on where they are in their interest levels in the Fall.

There's always other things such as music (we're adding SQUILT next year), art (we're adding chalk pastel lessons next year), physical education (we'll just have to see what we're adding), and the list goes on. But these solid core subjects have been firmly decided. Yes, some things will cost us more this year than in previous years and we're going to figure out how to budget those in. However, by combining curriculum choices in science for the girls and History for all three children we're also saving money where we could have gone hog wild.

As you can see some things are staying the same. Some things are being tweaked. Some things are being returned to with a more purposeful outlook. And some things are changing completely. I spent many hours researching before I made these decisions, many hours talking to Daddy about our choices, and many hours praying to determine the right course for our homeschool next year. I would never be so bold as to tell anyone that these are the best choices for everyone to have, just that they are the best choices that we can make with what knowledge we have. 

Linking up with Squishable Baby

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