Help! I'm overwhelmed and need suggestions for secular curriculum - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 11-04-2011, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's becoming obvious that public school just isn't going to work for my kids...My oldest is in second grade and we may or may not finish out the year.  I'm not wed to a complete curriculum but would love thoughts on any which you'd recommend. (I've been drawn to Oak Meadow for years but also really enjoyed The Well Trained Mind.)  We're also completely open to taking a more ala carte approach for LA, math, science, etc...there is just so much out there and I'd love to hear what worked/works for you. Thank you!!


J - Birth doula and *very* grateful mama to bouncy Q, fancy F, and mighty F!

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#2 of 11 Old 11-04-2011, 11:24 AM
 
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We're all over the place. I've read all the theories and I pick and choose what works for my daughter as we go.

Last year we did Rightstart Math Alpha, Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, My hack of History Odyssey and read some books on the human body for kindergarten.

This year I've ditched Rightstart in favor of reading math books and watching Khan academy videos. We are still doing BFSU. I've added Winning with Writing and wrote curriculum for art, history, geography and human body.
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#3 of 11 Old 11-06-2011, 07:59 AM
 
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Could you get to a homeschool book sale, or ask to see the books of someone you know IRL?  Honestly, I think for the first year, the main thing is to not spend too much, because there is so much out there, and it will take a little while to figure out what actually works well for your family.  

 

Having said that, what are your goals for homeschooling?  Is there a subject your kids especially love? 

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#4 of 11 Old 11-06-2011, 08:07 AM
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For math, we like to do a combo of Singapore Math (for the workbook), RightStart Math (Games kit only), and any sort of hands on way I can think of.  My 3rd grader is a very kinesthetic learner.  My oldest also uses ALEKS math (online).  We also use a variety of freebie online things.  Many games, etc.  I also use the free worksheets at homeschoolmath.net if we need extra practice.  Once, I bought a Math Mammoth book (just for division) because my oldest was struggling with that.

 

For LA, I am starting to feel that I've tried everything and don't really like any of it.  For the early grades (K-3) it turns out that I prefer to use the quirky books from the library that explain the individual parts of speech and sentence structure.  Here is one we loved:  http://www.amazon.com/You-Dont-Forget-Who-Categorical/dp/0822564696/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1320594681&sr=8-2  

Next year (for 4th) I will start using Easy Grammar with my dd.  Easy Grammar has been one of the better LA books we've used in the past.  The 10-15 min a day will work well for dd.  Under the LA umbrella, we also work on reading, spelling, penmanship, and composition.  I use HWT for penmanship.  All About Spelling is the only spelling program I have liked (I have tried 3 others).  I LOVE AAS.

 

For Science:  This year I bought R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey for Earth and Space Science.  http://www.pandiapress.com/?page_id=50

I am really enjoying it because each unit has a list of books to use.  I get what I want/can from the library.  We also watch a video if I find and educational one that I like, and then we do the activities.  There are lots of activities in the book; we have skipped a couple.  Also, when we are on a unit that really interests dd, we do extra activities from one or more of the suggested books on the list.  

Before this, I used BFSU (which is great, but requires mom to plan better than I did).  I have also used Real Science 4 Kids which was ok, but not worth the $$$.  It has a text, lab, and teacher book.  So, if my kids were the type that wanted an actual textbook, this might be worth it.  I did like their labs.  Finally, we have also just followed our fancy.  If it interested us, we studied it.  I like this a lot personally and we still incorporate it into our learning.  However, I really wanted something to follow this year because my kids LOVE science and I tend to drop the ball on it.

 

For History:  This year I bought History Odyssey level 2 Ancients for my oldest, and SOTW vol. 1 with activity book for my 3rd grader.  They both cover Ancient history (which I know nothing about).  The History Odyssey is turning out to be a bit too structured for our tastes.  However, I can't say I love SOTW either.  So, we adapted and take what we want from each.  Maybe level one would have been better.  I wanted lots of book lists (like the science odyssey) and I am not getting that.  We do get some books from the library, but perhaps there isn't much available on the lesser known civilizations.  This was the first year for me to buy a history curriculum.  I did it because we wanted to study world history and I truly didn't know where to start.  In the past I did American History (divided into two years) and world cultures (we randomly selected one each month).  We used the library, museums, and a few videos to tackle these.  I must say I liked this a LOT better.  

 

Well, I hope this helps.  I tried to focus on what my 3rd grader is doing since she is closer in age to your son.  Oh, forgot to mention:  "Draw, Write, Now" books have been a great addition to our homeschool. 


Mom to three very active girls Anna (14), Kayla (11), Maya (8). 
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#5 of 11 Old 11-06-2011, 10:47 AM
 
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Oh my, that's really too big of a question.  :)

 

I suggest before you get too deeply into curriculum ideas, first look more at general philosophy ideas.  Read and learn about Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, classical, Thomas Jefferson, unschooling, etc.  Look at the pros and cons of each, and how they approach child development and their different priorities for early education.  Read more general books like "Einstein Never Used Flash Cards" and "The Hurried Child" and "Dumbing us Down".  

 

You'll then get an idea of what resonates with you (and with your kids), and what doesn't.  You might encounter a way of thinking about something that would never have occurred to you otherwise.  Even learning about a philosophy that you'd never actually use in a million years, can give you insights into how kids learn and develop and open your mind to more options.  

 

You might end up falling in love with the Waldorf way of life (which Oak Meadow borrows from), or find the greater structure of classical methodology more suited to your kids, or anything in between and beyond.  The main thing is just to explore the options.

 

"But, we need to get started, we need a curriculum soon!!"  It's okay to take your time at this stage.    In some countries, public school doesn't even start until what we would call 'grade 2', and the same is true for Waldorf education.  Unschoolers turn out just fine too, in the long run, so even if you don't intend to unschool, a year of 'freedom' while you're just researching isn't going to cause them any harm.  Or you might decide to start implementing an idea here and there and see how it takes, how your kids react to it.  That's actually not a bad idea when you're just starting out, especially for kids who have already been in school and need to re-adapt to life without schooling.  :)  

 

Using Waldorf as an example, since you said you're drawn to Oak Meadow -- maybe start with just a morning walk.  Then add a circle/story time once a week.  Then add handicrafts a couple times a week.  Then try watercolour painting and see how that goes.  Then add more frequent circle times and expand them.  Etc.  Just use cheap or free internet resources at this stage.  If after some time of this, you and your kids aren't happy -- ditch the Waldorf idea.  Keep any of it that you did enjoy and try a different approach.

 

Or if you're loving it and thriving, then you might invest in Oak meadow, or Christopherus, or Earth Schooling.  

 

Anyway, I know this isn't very specific curriculum advice lol... it's just so hard to really give good advice online like this without knowing you or your kids well, it really is a decision you need to make.  It sounds like you're already doing some good research -- keep doing that and keep asking what people enjoy and WHY they enjoy it.

 

As for us -- for what it's worth, we love RightStart Math.  NOEO science.  Life of Fred Math.  History Odyssey.  I love Montessori and Waldorf for younger folks, I'll be doing Christopherus grade 1 with my youngest soon, while she's also doing RightStart B, some ABeka cursive, Five in a Row, Progressive Phonics, Reading Eggs, Dreambox math, and a bunch of Intellego unit studies once she's ready.  We've used History Pockets and Mosaic history and Harmony Fine Arts units and Meet the Masters for art and l'art de lire for french and Teaching Textbooks and Saxon (not a hit in our house), and Easy Grammar and SWI and Sequential Spelling and Philosophy for Kids and some Moving Beyond the Page and some Bravewriter... the list goes on heh, there are other things sitting in my shelf that we haven't even touched yet.  I'm a bit of a curriculum junkie, but I only get stuff after THOROUGHLY researching it, and there haven't been many clunkers.  We change up often, though, as my kids grow and change and their needs and skills and attitudes change.

 

If you have any questions about any of the resources I've mentioned, feel free to ask and I can give you pros and cons real quick.  :)


Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#6 of 11 Old 11-06-2011, 01:19 PM
 
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We use Time4Learning as our core curriculum. It is an online resource that does the record keeping for me and gives my DD access to 3 grade levels: the level she is on and the level above and the level below where she is. That helps because she is a little ahead in Language, but behind in Math. It holds her attention pretty good. 

 

We supplement with anything my DD is interested in learning more about. Lately, we are using The Heritage Series, Teaching Textbooks, and a fun Forensics Science series for some added hands-on activities. 

 

Joyfully,

Jackie

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#7 of 11 Old 11-06-2011, 02:10 PM
 
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I would recommend just starting with math and language arts with structured materials and letting science and social studies be "interest exploration" subjects until you get your feet under you and have more time to research what's available for those. 

 

For math, both our kids (6 and 8.5) are using Dreambox.  8.5 yo is also using Math Whizz, and whatever he is having trouble with I spend more time on at the table with a legal pad and some blocks or Cuisenaire rods.  For 6 yo I just started Miquon, but he asked for an addition workbook so I found a Disney one with Cars :)  He also practices numbers and counting and other skills in some School Zone workbooks.

 

For language arts for 8.5 yo, I love the Flash Kids workbooks - Flash Forward Reading, Flash Kids Reading Comprehension, and Flash Kids Main Idea. These are available at Barnes and Noble.  I also like the Evan Moor Daily Language Review, EPS Writing Skills A, Scholastic Word Sorts, and Scholastic Daily Word Ladders.  He also just finished Click'n Spell and now is doing another spelling program called Wordy Qwerty.  6 yo is using both Reading Eggs and Looney Tunes Phonics, and getting some practice with writing letters in the pre-Explode the Code workbooks.

 

For science I hop around a lot.  I am currently using Steck Vaughn Focus on Science workbooks, and will also be adding Evan Moor Read and Understand Science.  For history I have just never found anything I like or that engages DS1.  I'm still searching. 


DS1 March 2003DS2 Sept 2005,
and 3 , in our happy secular
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#8 of 11 Old 12-07-2011, 06:48 AM
 
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I just started my homeschool adventure, also live in Concord, I found that it's sort of trial and error.

What school does your son go to now?

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#9 of 11 Old 12-07-2011, 10:11 AM
 
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For History:  This year I bought History Odyssey level 2 Ancients for my oldest, and SOTW vol. 1 with activity book for my 3rd grader.  They both cover Ancient history (which I know nothing about).  The History Odyssey is turning out to be a bit too structured for our tastes.  However, I can't say I love SOTW either.  So, we adapted and take what we want from each.  Maybe level one would have been better.  I wanted lots of book lists (like the science odyssey) and I am not getting that.  We do get some books from the library, but perhaps there isn't much available on the lesser known civilizations.  This was the first year for me to buy a history curriculum.  I did it because we wanted to study world history and I truly didn't know where to start.  In the past I did American History (divided into two years) and world cultures (we randomly selected one each month).  We used the library, museums, and a few videos to tackle these.  I must say I liked this a LOT better.  


Someone here recommended the Intellego unit studies at some point, so I'm trying a couple out. We're not as discipined about using them as we could be, but I've been pleased, so far. You may want to give them a try. They have several history units.

 


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#10 of 11 Old 12-08-2011, 11:01 PM
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Someone here recommended the Intellego unit studies at some point, so I'm trying a couple out. We're not as discipined about using them as we could be, but I've been pleased, so far. You may want to give them a try. They have several history units.

 



Thanks, I will be looking them up.  Right now, I think the history curriculum was a giant waste of money.  I use it as a general guide, but I could've downloaded the ToC for that!  It gets worse as the year goes on.  

 

Amy


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#11 of 11 Old 12-09-2011, 10:16 AM
 
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Thanks, I will be looking them up.  Right now, I think the history curriculum was a giant waste of money.  I use it as a general guide, but I could've downloaded the TAC for that!  It gets worse as the year goes on.  

 

Amy



The Intellego units are mostly a guide, as well as a compilation of web links...but they only cost something like $15 each, so it's well worth it, imo. They're also easy to move around in, if you have to. For example, we're doing one on Ancient Rome. There's one activity showing how to make/wear a toga. I don't have any extra sheets hanging around at the moment, so we just jumped that, and went on to the next one. I've had one problem with a link not working, but it wasn't broken - seems to be a problem at the site being linked to...which reminds me that I was going to email Intellego about that.

 

I haven't bought them, but they also have some neat looking ones on economics, for the primary level.


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