2010-2011 School Year

Preface: This is a lengthy post about the curriculum(s) I am using for my kids this year. You may find this very interesting, or more than likely, you might rather skip this post! I know I enjoy reading what others are doing, but if homeschooling isn’t your thing I don’t blame you for moving right along. :)

For the last two years I have spent hours upon hours researching homeschool methods and curriculums so that when the time came I would have a grasp on what would be best for our family. When it all came down to it, I liked the classical method best. I read most of the Well Trained Mind and A Charlotte Mason Companion.  I think I tend to combine both methods in my style of schooling. Each of these books can give you step by step instructions on creating a successful homeschool plan for all 12 years.

In all of my studying I came across a curriculum that I instantly fell in love with. Tapestry of Grace is a wonderful classical¬† and christian backbone to our school plan. This is a description from their site: “From Grades K-12, all students cycle through world history every four years, with all ages studying the same slice of history each week, each at their own learning level.” Since I knew I would have at least three children :) I wanted a curriculum that I could keep all the kids learning from at the same time.The topics covered are history, writing, geography, literature, church history, government, philosophy, and arts. I added to that phonics, math, science, spelling, language arts and handwriting.

I read from numerous blogs that Tapestry is basically a buffet of ideas and that a wise and sane person would not try to do everything given in the plans. I also read that many first time users go through a “fog” of trying to figure out how to use the curriculum. So for a good year I read blogs and watched webinars that Tapestry of Grace put out. I am also a part of two yahoo chat groups about Tapestry. Those provide such a wealth of knowledge! We are in our fifth week of homeschooling and I am happy to report I didn’t experience the “fog” at all! It may help though that I only have children in one level, the Lower Grammar level. I am sure once you have many ranges of age the difficulty can be greater!

With my children I currently only do history, which is mainly read-alouds, Bible, light geography (think easy maps), and the arts. We have been learning about nouns, pronouns and verbs too, but I rely mainly on Language Lessons for the Very Young at this point. I have been enjoying that curriculum, it does not take too long to do and c likes it. Our phonics curriculum is Sing, Spell, Read and Write which I started with c when he was four at the preschool level. (Now I am re-using it with e) I think c takes after his mom…if I have one vivid memory of first grade it was PHONICS. I had so much trouble with it! So for our spelling I just bought All About Spelling and we actually are doing some review for c as I purchased level one. We are going over the sounds of all the letters. All About Spelling teaches every sound the letter makes at the start, so while a lot is review, some of the letters c is learning new sounds. We’re in the middle of K/1st Gr. level Sing, Spell, Read and Write which takes a different approach to learning sounds. We’ll see how it goes. I just started All About Spelling this week. I am currently looking for a better handwriting curriculum. c is finishing up Handwriting Without Tears but I don’t think I will stick with it. I will say I did not do all the activities that go with that curriculum. Do you have any suggestions? :) ¬† I am following The Well Trained Mind for Science and doing 20 wks of animals, 6 wks of the body and 6 wks of plants. Finally, for math, I have been using Level B of Right Start which uses an abacus and an Asian style of teaching mathematics. Not the typical learn a fact and then practice it with loads of problems. I started this last year and got through the first 43 lessons and then when I started back this year I actually did a review from the very beginning. I think it made c more comfortable and certainly made it less painful for me. He really needed the review!

Since c is still young I keep math around 30-35 min. a day. I try to intersperse subjects with fun activities or physical activity and I certainly don’t do every subject every day! We do math, phonics or AAS, and Tapestry every day. Language Lessons are Monday and Wed., Handwriting on Tuesday and Thursday. We do Science just once a week on Fridays. For Tapestry I divide up the History readings and literature books on various days. Thankfully, I have found most of the required books from our library! I am only in Unit One, I hope the rest of the year will be similar. If I find one book I really like I note it to buy used on Amazon, Abes Books or the Well Trained Mind Forum. It is easy to supplement with other titles though at this age if I need to. We usually do map work on Fridays and I try to do as many fun projects as we can to learn from. I just can’t say enough how much I love Tapestry of Grace!

The other topic that I will devote another post to is Workboxes. Workboxes have literally saved me this year with a 6, 4 and 2 yr. old! They are basically how I organize the day with the kiddos. More on them later tho! I fear I have bored you to tears. :)

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