Okay, here you go! I warned you...
I'll preface by saying that I have never bought or used a complete boxed curriculum (one that includes everything) so I can't help with that.
I focus more on my philosophy of homeschooling rather than any one curriculum. I change curriculum as appropriate for my kids, but my philosophy of education is consistent. My goal is to help my children become life-long learners who love learning, who are capable of self-education, and to prepare them to fulfill their missions in life. I prepare them by helping them develop leadership skills and qualities. I also let them make choices and take control of their own education. Our main "curriculum" is reading, discussing, and writing.
I organize a lot of classes and groups for my kids. While they are younger, we focus mostly on love of learning type groups (book groups, history or science clubs, art classes, etc). Once they turn 12, we focus on scholar classes and projects. We have a scholar group that meets together every week for scholar classes.
I also supply my kids with an unending supply of books and audio books. There are really good books on nearly every subject!
This year for math my oldest is doing Saxon Algebra 2, but it is her first year (and quite probably only year) doing Saxon. For the last several years, my husband has taught math classes with her specifically in mind. Next year, he will probably do Pre-Calc with her. My younger kids are all doing Teaching Textbooks. It's not my favorite program, but we were experiencing relationship problems when it came to math. So we needed a program that let them be independent in math. I like that Teaching Textbooks is all on the computer (including grading) so the kids don't get upset at me when they get a problem wrong. Teaching Textbooks does seem to be easier than some other programs (which is a good thing for some kids and a bad thing for some kids). I have most of my kids working up a level or two with it. I actually prefer RightStart Math for elementary math. (I have also used MUS, Horizons math, Harold Jacob's textbooks, etc.) We have lots of math books, puzzles, and games. Here's a link to a lot of great books: astore.amazon.com/tothelimits-20?_encoding
I'm not trying to sell anything with this link. I just want to share some great books we have found.
My three younger kids have dyslexia so we are using Barton Reading and Spelling for the mechanics of language arts. And we may begin IEW with them in the fall as well. For literature, my two youngest kids are in book groups where they read classic books. My two older kids are studying Shakespeare in-depth (as well as other classic books) and writing weekly papers. I am honestly not a fan of most spelling and language arts programs. Barton is very thorough in teaching explicit spelling rules for those with dyslexia and it is helpful and important, but would be overkill for the average kid. My oldest (not dyslexic) learned how to spell well from reading, writing, and receiving feedback from me and other good writers. I believe the best language arts program is reading great writers, discussing those books, writing about them, and receiving feedback from devoted writing mentors.
We are are currently studying American History mostly through good books, original documents and quotes, discussions, field trips and vacations. (Our family vacations the last two years have been to visit and study historical sites.) My second daughter is also taking an American History class and is currently studying the Constitution (as my oldest did a couple of years ago). She memorized the Declaration of Independence last semester and is translating the Constitution into her own words this semester. My oldest is studying great leaders throughout history and is writing papers and giving speeches on them weekly.
My three older kids are studying chemistry this year with a class that their dad teaches. They do lots of experiments, reports, and read science books. (Basher science books for the younger ones and The Joy of Chemistry for the older ones and there is another book with equations but I can't remember what it's called right now.) We also often take science field trips to museums (Natural History Museum, Science Center, etc).
My kids are all involved in karate and my younger three are also involved in dance. In addition to the health benefits, they also learn so much from these classes. They are learning self-defense, leadership skills, working with others, and self-discipline. We also have a workout room at home with a treadmill and other equipment they can use for days they don't have karate or dance. We also swim a lot in the summer.
We discuss healthy eating all the time and we are working on increasing our fruits, veggies, and protein. We are also working on choosing healthier recipes. I have discussions with my kids individually about their health and bodies. I plan to have a more in-depth study of health with my oldest (and perhaps my second daughter too) over the next year.
We read and discuss scriptures every day as a family including applying them to our lives. My oldest is also taking a religious class every day and studying the Old Testament in depth this year. All of my kids that can read also spend time in personal scripture study and prayer. We pray together as a family several times a day. My kids are also involved in doing service regularly at church, at home, and in the community. Learning to give to others (without desire for praise) is so important in their development.
My kids all play the piano, sing, and they have taken lots of art classes as well. Three of them study ballet. We regularly attend cultural events such as the Symphony, ballet, Shakespeare plays, etc. We also visit art museums regularly. My youngest loves art museums the most and she has an eye for artwork that always amazes the rest of us! We also participate in a Shakespeare play (and sometimes a musical) each year. This will be my second year directing a Shakespeare play. That's not something I ever expected to do, but homeschooling keeps us all learning!
PRACTICAL ARTS/HOME ARTS
My kids all learn to type and use the computer and other technology. They have learned to use the sewing machine and how to knit. They all learn to cook. Some years, we have done cooking classes or sewing classes (although we are not doing that this year).My kids all have regular chores that they own and must complete. As they get older, they receive more responsibility and more freedom in their chores. Right now my oldest is currently in charge of all the food at our house. She checks the fridge and cupboards, makes the shopping list, does the shopping, plans the meals, cooks family dinner, and tries out new recipes. She gets some help in all of this, but is now quite capable of keeping a family fed. My son is in charge of all the trash, cleaning the bathrooms, and the pool care. All of my kids are responsible for their own laundry. We have one cat that is cared for by my oldest daughter. We had chickens for a couple years and the kids learned to raised and care for them as well. We talk about money a lot too. I have a list of financial books that I really like and I will have my oldest read those over the next few years. We encourage the kids to develop an entrepreneurial spirit and to work hard.
We also have participated in Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, church activity groups, etc. My two older girls attend a girls camp each summer where they camp and learn outdoor skills. My son is so excited to finish Cub Scouts (he'll be getting his Arrow of Light award soon) and begin Boy Scouts. My youngest daughter is joining a church activity group for girls this month.
SIMULATIONS & FIELD EXPERIENCE
Another important part of education is really letting the kids experience what they are studying in real life. So we include simulations and field experiences as part of our curriculum as well. We like them to be able to study a subject and then experience or apply it by providing experiences that provide real hands-on learning through field trips and vacations. For example, my kids have all visited the Supreme Court while it's in session and next semester, my oldest daughter will not only study famous Supreme Court cases, but she will also get to write a court brief and argue a famous Supreme Court case in front of a panel of judges made up of real lawyers. She will be put on the spot and have to answer their questions just like in court. (I have gone through this experience myself, taught classes teaching other students how to do this, and my younger kids will get this experience when they are old enough as well.)
My husband and I feel it's important for us to set the example and so we are constantly reading, discussing, writing, and learning new things too. Some things we learn out of necessity to help our kids (like me learning how to tutor for dyslexia or learning to produce and direct Shakespeare plays). Other things we study and learn for our own enjoyment or growth. We both really do LOVE learning! I think setting the example is one of the best things parents can do for their kids because it creates a family culture that encourages learning and self-motivation.
Thanks for letting me ramble on. I didn't mean to write a novel and after writing it all down, it seems like a lot. I think I needed to write this more for myself. Thank you for the opportunity. The last two years have been particularly challenging because of life experiences. And this year isn't nearly as fun as our past years, but writing all this down has helped me see that it's okay. Please don't think that we do everything, every year because we don't. We do things as the need or desire appears. We have a lot of fun with homeschooling and enjoy the journey most of the time.
~~Jenny in Cali~~
CoH Winter Term: Gryffindor House
BLC18-22 Azure Destinations
BLC17 Crimson Butterflies
The pain passes, but the beauty remains. ~Renoir
Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage--it can be delightful. ~Shaw
| Pounds lost: 27.0