This school year will be our first "full" academic year as homeschoolers. The oldest girls will be in 7th grade and the little girls will dabble a bit in some pre-K or K for 4 year olds. Things will be a little more structured for the older girls this year than they were last year.
In February/March 2010 we decided (after much prayer) to take Kiley and August out of the public middle school and homeschool them. At the advice of a few homeschooling parents and a book I read, we "took it easy" for the remainder of the year. It was a little lax to allow them time to decompress and unwind from the traditional school setting. During this time I was able to observe and learn a little about their personal styles of learning. I was got a better idea their study habits, styles of working, strengths and weaknesses, etc. I also learned a great deal about myself. I am a lot less anxious moving into this school year. Most of my fears are gone and I'm confident in our decision to homeschool our children. This is most definitely the best decision for our family.
We are currently homeschooling through a public charter school, which means they are still public school students and subject to the requirements of the state for education. I am very much considering a PSA for the next school year.
The past few weeks I've been figuring out which curricula we will be using. I don't want to be tied down to just one set curriculum, so we will have a variety.
Science - We're going to be using Apologia General Science. This came highly recommended by several parents I've talked to. After much research, I decided this will be best for us. We will also be using the State Science book to close any gaps in state standard requirements if there are any. The reason I'm so concerned about the state standards is because we still have to take standardized tests. Most of what we will be covering this year will go way above and beyond the general academics of the state of California. I am confident that the girls will be able to excel much greater than they could before.
Math - I'm still hesitant on the math, but I think we're going to go ahead with Saxon Pre-Algebra. This past year we used Teaching Textbooks, but I was told they are not CA Standard, and the girls fell behind this year in math. They were both recommended a rigorous pre-algebra course. I'm praying Saxons curriculum will provide that. I'm excited about re-learning pre-algebra myself. There is a lot you forget in 13 years. I don't want to give TT a bad rep. I think it would have worked fine for us if we had used it correctly. I couldn't quite figure out which lessons were best for them. It seemed a little younger than the grade it was supposed to be for. Perhaps if I'd had 7th grade TT it may have been right. Who knows. I'm not so worried about it, Adam is very strong in math, along with my mother and father in-law who have offered their help if we need it. One of the men at our church offers an Algebra class on Thursday nights, so we are all taken care of. If all else fails, I can hire a math tutor.
History and Geography - We will follow the Holt or Glencoe/Mc-Graw-Hill book or whatever it is they have. I did this last year. I previewed all the lessons and sometimes had them read about things from different books and not the boring text books. They drew maps and time lines for the Ancient Civilizations this last year, they learned a lot that way. 7th grade will bring us to Medieval and Early Modern Times, I think this will be a lot of fun. I bought a huge laminated world map from Costco and hung that up in our dining room (or main homeschool area).
Reading, Writing and Language Arts - We will follow 7th grade lessons, but I'm not certain which items I will use yet. The girls LOVE reading and writing and so this will be more fun than work. I have reviewed several 7th/8th grade literature and book lists and am compiling our list. They are still shaky on cursive writing, it seems it's not required to know this or write this way in public school so I'm going to reteach them and have them copy Psalms in cursive to learn, both the scripture and the cursive. There are 4 different benchmark writing samples we have to provide to our charter school.
Bible - We will be reading the Bible in 1 year I chose a chronological schedule. We will be studying women in the bible. I will also be including Biblical history and geography direct from our King James Bibles.
In addition to the main subjects, August and Kiley are continuing Violin, taking a Public Speaking class, given by a Christian (fully homeschooled) college student who has won many PS awards and contests. They will be doing 4-H twice a month where they will be taking, sewing, cake decorating, biology, tae kwon do, fine arts, creative writing, healthy living, outdoor study (trees, plants, birds etc). They are playing soccer for their 5th year. Of course they will be learning the wonderful art of homemaking from me. They love sewing, menu planning, baking and cooking and have finally learned how to do their own laundry, Yay. They also really enjoy teaching their sisters, so far they have taught them how to write their names along with small 3 letter words, a small amount of violin and are planning on teaching them to play chess.
Seems like a lot, but it's takes roughly half the amount of time each day as a typical public/private school schedule. And since they are entering that "pre-teen I'm so tired I want to sleep until 10am" phase. They freedom to do that. They also are free to go out and see the world around us each day. We do spend a considerable amount of time outside of our home.
Emily and Julia feel all grown up when they get to sit at the table and do their own school. Mostly it's just been coloring or drawing. I did pick up several pre-K workbooks from the dollar store and Target's dollar section. I've also been contemplating ordering Galloping the Globe a year early. It is a geography unit study curriculum for K-4th grade. It goes through all 7 continents. I'm still checking to be sure they are not too young to grasp it this year. They are very bright so they may be just fine. I'll probably still order and hold on till next year if it's too much for them. I want to get them familliar with the world and countries. With the new world map we have they will be able to know where all the countries, continents and oceans are located. They are learning some basic violin taught by their older sisters. Bible scripture memorization will be added more frequently than before. I like to have them act out the words of the scripture, this helps them remember it better. Above all, they will free play. I don't agree with all that sit down and do this structure for young kids, and am VERY against traditional pre-school, which is relly just a daycare with "school" added to the name to make it sound better. Their sit down workbook time will be at their own request or when they are doing "blanket/chair time". They are so excited to have their own school work to do just like big sisters. Emily and Julia also love, love, love to bake with me. They are quite good and cracking eggs, measuring and stirring. I'm thinking they should be able to read recipes in a year, or memorize them.
It's going to be an adventurous year, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm so thankful for this opportunity to be able to be the one to take control of the education of my own children. No one cares more about their education than Adam and I do. I'm grateful that God provided this opportuinty to us. And I'm happy to live in the United States where I'm free to home educate my children.
EDITED TO ADD: Oh I forgot. All of the girls will be learning to speak German with Rosetta Stone.
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:5-7