Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 - 2014 Curriculum and Budget

The conventions are done and we are pretty much settled on curriculum for the next year. Obviously we will have to make changes as we go along, but I am hoping that my plan will allow for flexibility enough that I won't have to overhaul everything too many times :)

I was able to find a My Father's World kindergarten and First grade Teacher's Manual at the CHAP convention's used curriculum sale. I will use their program as a starting point and add in SRA Phonics, Explode the Code, and lots of extra reading for language arts. I also got the first level of Rod and Staff math, as well as the first volume of the Life of Fred series. That along with our Rightstart math program should give me enough background to teach to Henry's level as we go.

The MFW curriculum is low key, provides decent tie-ins to biblical concepts, and gives me a framework to start from when building our curriculum. It's not truly an all-in-one for us, but it does help me by limiting the possibilities and giving a little more structure to my mommy-made studies. The kindergarten program starts with a two week intro, then progresses through 26 themes, each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. There are short passages of scripture, some fun activities, and a phonics/handwriting progression. We'll skip the letter sounds but definitely use the fine motor skills practice.

The first grade program is all about learning to read, and employs a bible reader that the child is meant to read independently by the end. The older version of the first grade is not as well laid out as the kindergarten but I am working on putting the info into a plan book in order to make more sense of it.

I also got some extra resources from Rod and Staff, some art resources, picture books from the used sale, a small home worship Betty Lukins felt set for teaching Bible stories, some devotions books, and a couple of Wee Sing cds for extra enrichment. Then I came home and placed an amazon order for any other lit. books I still wanted (getting most of them used). All in all I spent somewhere around 600 on curriculum, and will hopefully be able to pass it all onto my niece and then use it for Stella some day. It seems like a lot, but I actually spent less than I had budgeted! I used money from my and Stella's birthday too.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Homeschool Convention!

We took a break for the last month or so, continuing with some phonics and reading books when we felt like it, and focusing on all the spring social events. We went to weddings, birthday parties, and small group events, and I spent mother's day weekend at the CHAP homeschool convention.

The convention was amazing, way bigger than the NJ convention we've gone to in years past (and will go to this weekend). I talked to some parents who also had early readers, which just filled me with such a sense of relief. There was no trying to say negative things to balance out talking about Henry's reading, no apologies, no assurances that I'm not crazy or suggestions that I'm pushing my kid to do more than he is able to do.

I also found some great curriculum options, which I'll post about separately. Things got a lot easier when I decided to just go with my gut. My first inclination was to find work that was at Henry's level phonics-wise, in other words, second grade stuff. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my desire is for us to have a low-key, low-pressure, enjoyable school experience this year. I'm far more concerned about learning about the Bible, developing character, learning to get along with others, and spending quality time together than I am about academics at this point.

The truth is, Henry will be fine academically, but these preschool years will be over in no time and I want to make sure that he learns to love school. I want him to feel the satisfaction of knowing the right answers, of getting everything right. There will be plenty of time to struggle, to work hard, to be disciplined. I want him, in the midst of learning something truly difficult, to remember the feeling he had of getting every answer. I want him to know that he is smart, and capable, that he can get this.

This may seem obvious to everyone but me, but I really have struggled with the decision of which path to take. Encourage him to do the hardest work he is capable of doing, or let him revel in a job well done? Both are important I think. Anyway, we will be starting kindergarten curriculum soon, a very cool Bible-based kindergarten curriculum that is similar to what we've been doing. I will supplement the phonics and perhaps the math as needed, and we may continue doing our continent boxes just because they are fun! My plan is to finish up the kindergarten sometime around Christmas, and then start 1st grade in the new year.