Saturday, June 5, 2010

Our Curriculum Choices

Several people have asked me what curriculum we've chosen to use. Here's what we've picked....

Age 3
I spent about 15 minutes a day several times a week doing some kind of sticker book like My Giant Sticker Activity Book. We went through it in order. This helps develop just small bits of discipline and helps a child develop a willingness to work through each page to get to the next one he's most anticipating. It's also super-fun and allows kids who don't have well-developed fine motor skills to complete a page without getting frustrated.

Age 4
  • Saxon 1 with associated manipulatives
  • Veritas Press Phonics Museum, K-1 Combo (We got as far through this as we could... about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through first grade)
  • Random science reading and learning, including watching caterpillars grow into butterflies and tadpoles grow into frogs.
  • Catechism and scripture memory program we started at Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville

First Grade

There are TONS of really GOOD choices. These are the things that excite us and seem reasonable for us to use. Some families do a lot more of their own curriculum development, which is great. I don't feel like I have time for that right now. Some families are more or less structured than our family.

The key is to find out what the law requires in your state, decide what's going to work for you and at least meet the legal standard. To learn what the laws are in your state, you can go to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association web page: We are choosing to do MUCH more than the law requires at this point. We're not even required to school the kids until they're 7. My reasoning for that is the simple fact that kids are sponges at this age, and the better foundation I can give them in a wide variety of subjects, the more they'll have to build on as they get older. Learning is loads of fun for them right now, so it's not like I'm having to act as a slave driver all day long. The great thing is that, while we're incorporating a lot more content hours in a day than public schools do, Ladan gets a LOT more free play time than kids in school do. It's like the best of both worlds. Since we're part of the homeschool co-op on Thursday mornings, he gets a class once a week and gets to hang out with friends then. Nice!

As for scheduling the school year, we'll organize ourselves very similarly to what is described in this blog entry. Obviously, since it's just first grade, there will be LOTS of guidance from me and LOTS of redirection when things get off course... but this is the general idea. Every year, I'll hand over a little bit more of the scheduling responsibility to the kids so that by the time they're in junior high or high school, I'll have some sort of syllabus with due dates, and they'll be dividing up their lessons and determining the best way to get their learning goals accomplished.

So, for those of you who are interested, this is what we're doing for now. Hope it helps!

They're Only Little Once

I just finished kindergarten with Ladan today! He took his last math test this afternoon. He finished his kindergarten phonics/reading/handwriting/art/art history curriculum much earlier in the year and has just a bit of the 1st grade curriculum left to complete, but we're taking a break from that at least until July so we can enjoy the weather and his 6th birthday (June 15). Not bad for a pretty young kindergartener, I guess! And given that we've had quite a few things that have thrown us off course this year so that we squeezed our 176-day school year into 133, I'd say it's even better!

While Ladan celebrated by running through the sprinkler with his neighborhood friends, I was online purchasing next year's curriculum! I can't wait for it all to get here! :) Next year we add grammar, geography, literature, science, and lots more history to the mix. I feel like I'm going to need a month just to get myself organized! It is so much work, but it is SO WORTH IT!!!! I love it! I never thought I'd say that about homeschooling. I never even thought I'd homeschool my kids.

Claire is starting to roll all over the place. She is seriously the sweetest baby I have ever met, and I don't just say things like that about my own kids without warrant. I started to question whether or not I was just oblivious, but it's confirmed by almost everyone who meets her... everyone except the strange still model in Neiman Marcus we encountered a few weeks back when Claire was screaming her face off as we trudged through the store just to get somewhere else. For the most part, she shocks people with her good nature. The first few months with her were VERY hard when she was puking on everything in sight... but she's past that now, and it's just a memory... though sometimes I feel like I'm still recovering!

And Gabe... well, he's just a ball of life. The other night he just wanted to go for a ride in "the white car". He kept saying, "Come on, Mom. Let's go!" I had no idea where he wanted to go, and he didn't either. He just wanted to get out and see something. So I cleaned up the dishes, got Chet settled with Ladan and Claire, and I went for a drive with him. We rolled the windows down and drove into the sunset. No music. Just talking about what we saw and enjoying the night. It was refreshing and amazing! That's what I love about that kid! He knows what he wants, and he goes for it! He's got fire in him! It doesn't always turn out to be very convenient when I want him to do something that gets in the way of his personal plans, but we're getting things figured out slowly but surely.

I made cookies tonight while Chet gave the kids baths. When they were all clean, the boys came running down to me and were so excited about their cleanliness! They just had to show me how nice they looked! Funny! I got them each a cookie, and I probably heard four or five times from each of them how yummy their cookies were. I wish I could describe the look of sheer satisfaction on Gabe's face when I walked toward him with his second cookie. He closed his eyes, smiled as big as he could, drew his hands into his chest, and held his breath until his cookie landed on his plate. Priceless! Neither of the boys really knows how to fake enjoyment, so when they are extra thankful and excited about something I've done, I know it's coming straight from their hearts. Encouragement to a weary mom is what that is!

There is so much work that goes into being a mom, and there are so many things that I would absolutely love to be doing and learning that might seem more fulfilling at certain points. But I'd say that I'm learning all kinds of things right where I am, and I'm fairly certain that there is nothing else I could learn or do that is more fulfilling or rewarding in reality. Not every day feels like a reward. MANY days feel like I'm being hit by a truck and I'm crumbling. But these days. Well, they make all those other days worth it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Some of My Favorite Products

In no particular order....

It's good for all kinds of things, including congestion, ear infections, coughs, muscle aches and pains, the list goes on.

We have gone to a paint-your-own-pottery establishment with each of our kids and made these tiles, including the baby's footprint, name, meaning of name, and a scripture that we're praying for that child based on his/her name.

Everyone in our family has one. The kids' were in their bedroom when I took this photo, but they have smaller kid-sized bottles with fun designs on them. We all know which one is ours, and we drink lots of water in the day because it's just readily available. We take them everywhere, and they don't spill.

All I need to say about this stuff is that it is DELICIOUS! Love it!

Found at Target, these are fantastic! So much less sugar than Gerber or other brands, and Claire loves them. The Greens variety has spinach, kale, and something else, and she thinks they're great!

This is a simple, yet fun, card game. Fun at home or on the go. I keep it in the diaper bag or my purse, and when we're out and have to wait somewhere, we play the game. I have to say that I had no idea what Yo Gabba Gabba even was until long after we had this game, and I still don't know much about it, so don't read this as a plug for that show.

These little cups are so helpful! They clip to the side of a bag or the stroller with a caribiner, there is a spill-resistant lid as well as an outside sealed lid, and the kids can easily hold them. We've had two of these for nearly three years, and we still use them regularly. They have been very durable. We found them at Babies R Us, but I know they can be found online as well.

Don't need to say much about this.

What are some of YOUR favorite products right now?