Monday, August 9, 2010

you'd think i'd have this perfected by now

We started our official school year last week. Kara is in 7th grade, Anna is in 6th, Nathan in 2nd, and Caleb in pre-K. You would think that after all these years of homeschooling I'd have things figured out by now, right? Well, I do know what DOESN'T work. I guess that's a start! And I do know that no matter what I'll spend hours and hours researching and contemplating curriculum choices year after year after year. Well, except for Math. That one is a no-brainer. I did find the perfect math program for all of my kids several years ago and it's a keeper. That program is written in black permanent Sharpie ink in my mind every year. All the other subjects are in pencil.

And for all my homeschool curriculum obsessed are my 2010 winners. Enjoy! (All others may sign off now b/c you'll be bored to death!)

6th/7th grade:

Math U See. LOVE IT. Can't say enough good things about it. Worth every single penny. And it's not cheap, so that's saying a lot. I'd pay twice as much for it if I had to. But don't tell anyone that.

Alpha Omega's Switched on Schoolhouse Science and Bible. Once upon a time I swore, swore, SWORE I would never use DVDs or the computer as part of my children's school. Nope. That was what lazy moms did. And things like that ruined their creative minds. Well, I'll just say that "never" has come and my girls and I love this computer curriculum. If you have more than one child, it may become your best friend too. The Bible curriculum is good for learning Bible content and history. It's not easy. It's a ton of work. This is the second year the girls will be doing it. I wasn't going to buy it b/c we already had the "Who is God?" book (see below). But Anna BEGGED to continue on w/this one as well. Who can say no to a child begging to do extra Bible?! Kara, on the other hand, didn't beg so much. But she is doing it as well. The science is also not easy at all. The girls had gone through most of the Apologia science books and I was looking for a change last year. They both liked this. So we're doing another year of it. Then it will probably/maybe be back to Apologia.

Apologia's new Who Is God Biblical Worldview. Oh my goodness this one is good. It's the first in a series of books from Apologia. I love it. My kids love it. It's that good. Get it. This is a MUST HAVE book for all families. Homeschool or not. It's a great book to go through together as a family.

Notgrass's America the Beautiful. This hasn't even been published yet but is supposed to be out this month. I check my email everyday in hopes of getting an "It's done!" email from them. I'm pretty sure it's going to be worth the wait. I saw a rough copy of it back in the spring at a homeschool convention. I loved it. I was actually looking at their high school curriculum and was falling in love with much as one can fall in love w/curriculum. Some of you know what I'm saying here, right?! Anyway, I loved how it blended history, literature and bible all in one. Three subjects in one?! Now that's speaking my love language!

Latina Christiana. Can't say much about this mostly due to the fact that I don't teach it and have no idea what the kids are learning. They have passed me up in my Latin expertise (uh, that wasn't hard b/c I know no Latin!). This is a DVD curriculum w/a workbook. I do purchase the extra activity book that goes along w/it (Ludere Latin). They all have answer keys and that's how I stay involved. I grade the work. I have no idea WHAT I'm grading, but I do. If I have questions, I ask Anna. She loves Latin.

Diagramming Step by Step. The girls had been using Rod & Staff's Building Christian English Skills for the past few years and I just kind of got tired of it. As did they. It's a great curriculum but it didn't vary a lot from year to year. I'll use it later on for Nathan b/c it was good. But this year I wanted to focus more on sentence diagramming for the girls. I bought this Step by Step book at the homeschool convention as soon as I spotted it. We'll see how it works out. It gets pretty intense so it may take longer than a year to get through.

IEW's Student Writing Intensive. If you're looking for a great writing program, this is it. Zero teacher prep time. Need I say more?!

2nd grade:

Mystery of History. Started this last year w/Nathan but never finished it. It's good. Really good. And I'm determined to make the time to teach it this year. I used Story of the World for the girls. It was good but wasn't strong on incorporating Bible history into the text. My plan is to use Mystery of History for a few years and then switch to Story of the World when Nathan is a bit older and will be able to appreciate/comprehend it a little better.

Writing With Ease. Just discovered this. Bought the wrong level so we haven't started it. But I'm very excited about this one. Again, no teacher prep. Open it up and begin. My kind of teaching!

Math U See. See above.

Easy Grammar. Tried and true. Used this for the girls years ago. Easy. Good.

Spelling Workout. Your typical spelling book. Doesn't work magic but is good for your average spelling student. Ick. Spelling. It's kind of like cleaning the dishes. You just have to do it. Nothing special or exciting. Just needs to get done.

Apologia's Exploring Creation w/Astronomy. Love this. My kids love this. We pretty much read it and enjoy it. They do keep a notebook. Perfect for elementary/middle grades.

Studying God's Word. Good book for independent Bible study. My kids have all enjoyed this series. The only bad thing is that the verses are all in KJV. I ended up buying a KJV paperback Bible so they wouldn't be so frustrated w/the crossword puzzles/games.

Flashmaster. If you've made it this far, I've saved one of my best homeschool finds to last. Flashmaster. It's basically an electronic flashcard/calculator. It's how all of my kids have learned their math facts. Great to take in the car or use when at doctor appointments/etc. All of my kids started out thrilled about doing this but w/in a few weeks dreaded it. Again, it's kind of like doing dishes. Not a lot of joy in it. But it's necessary. If you are at a loss as to how to get your kids to practice their math facts, get this. It's worth the price.