So I am still piecing things together. I have a son who is active, distractable, loves to read/learn about history & science, and hates math. Last year I pieced together a curriculum with rented books. This year I would like to have something stronger in science and history since he enjoyed those subjects. I also need to make math more exciting, he thinks he isn't good at it because he compares himself to former school peers. Writing has always been a struggle (mainly due to motor coordination problems but am working on having him at the computer to practice more) so a strong curriculum would be good here. I am/was a teacher and spent tons of time last year planning out assignments and activities. My pacing was very rigorous and turned my older one off (it wasn't a matter of being able to do it). I believe homeschooling is best for him, but want it to work well.
Any specific suggestions for language arts, writing, science, and history? Anything that you LOVED for math? Reasons these would be good (or not) in this circumstance?
Thank you so much [in advance]!!!
Perhaps he would enjoy some of the lessons from the Living Math site, which integrate history and math using readings and hands-on activities.
A fun math book that has a historical & story-telling feel to it is "The Man Who Counted" by Malba Tahan.
If you have access to Netflix or similar, you might be able to find the funky 1970s science/history documentary series Connections with James Burke. Hard to describe, but my kids have loved it. Burke picks up threads from the history of scientific thought and describes how they led to political changes, historical events, etc., influencing the subsequent flow of events and literally changing the course of history.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
For language arts, I suggest "Easy Grammar". This is a workbook that literally takes 10-15 min a day. Also, I liked it much better than most grammar workbooks because things built on each other. This is opposed to books that only cover one concept at a time. Those books make it easy for the student to become a zombie and learn nothing. Example: if a book simply gives a list of conjunctions and then have the child circle them, the child just hunts for those words rather than understanding the job of the conjunction. Later on, they don't have a clue.
For writing, you might look into the dvd course Student Writing Intensive. Don't let the word "intensive" scare you or your son. It covers a lot of ground, but the there isn't an "intensive" amount of writing. The amount of "homework" is determined by you. It really strengthened my dds writing, and we crammed the course in withing 2 months. It could be spread out over the year though!
I don't know what to suggest for science, but for history I suggest the library! Our "best" years of history have been when we pick a topic (US history or whatever), I come up with a loose timeline of topics to cover, and then we use the library for historical fiction, nonfiction, books, and dvds. My kids love hands on activities so I search for ideas that tied in to what we were studying. Another good year we had was more "social studies" than history. We learned about a different country each month. My kids learned a bit of history, culture, tried food, made projects, did mapwork, etc about the "country of the month".
For math, we love using the rightstart math games kit. This wouldn't be a stand alone choice, but it is a great, fun way to cement skills.
Up and coming 5th grader here, and while I haven't pieced it all together for next year, I do know a few things we'll do. Easy Grammar is also on our list; we did it last year, and it really was easy and pretty quick. Dd pretty much just read the instructions and did the corresponding exercises. We didn't do it all, but rather more of a pick and choose method.
For math, we'll be using a variety of sources. Life of Fred is always popular and fun, as well as some of the Critical Thinking Co.'s materials. They have a lot of pre-algebra materials that were interesting (Balance Benders), as well as something that I believe was called Cryptographs where you have to decode a riddle using logic and prealgebra skills. It was challenging for dd, but once she got the hang of it she really came to enjoy those puzzles. In the past we have supplemented with a 'standard' math curriculum (Calvert) but it is pretty boring and dry. I'm interested in that living math site Miranda posted! Oh, and we also have the Right Start Math Game kit, but I need to be better about going through the booklet of games and learning them ahead of time. There are so many there that it is a bit overwhelming.
For history, we've had great luck covering topics related to trips we are taking. For instance, we recently went to Washington DC and spent about a month reading books and watching documentaries about various DC-related topics. The kids were totally engaged because they were excited about the trip, and it was apparent during the trip that they had learned a great deal from the learning we had done at home. It doesn't have to be a big trip either; last year we went up to the camp where Lewis and Clark overwintered in Oregon for the weekend (it's relatively close to home), and it was a great excuse to learn all about that period in history. In between trips, we tackle subjects as they come up, per people's interests, and we listen to Story of the World CDs in the car.
Writing - I haven't really figured that one out yet. A friend of mine is organizing a homeschool newspaper for next year, so I'm hoping that will fit the bill. We'll see...
Science - Taking advantage of a group that was already meeting to do crafts, we kept the kids together for another hour and did some formal science. The projects were quite fun, and the kids had fun doing them in a peer group. We used Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry, and 2 different Knex Educational sets (Bridges and Gears).
I look forward to hearing other people's ideas!
Thank you for all the ideas! I am a little further along than I was but not completely decided.
My Sylvan books arrived for Math and Language Arts. We live in an area that is rich in politcal history. For Social Studies I am going to roll with that and do American History. I am trying to get a hold of a Life of Fred book to see how we like it before ordering, but that looks very promising. The Easy Grammar and Writing Intensive look really promising. I am going to look into the videos and programs listed for the other subjects also. We are trying to get many of the materials on loan from the local library or purchase used if we can. Budget is tight and we would like to do some things that will have costs to them (OT, swim and some kind of music). I know last year, the first few weeks were feeling out the routine so I am sure I will be working on settling into curriculum as well.
Lisa, how does Beestar work? Is it worth the fees? I would love some more info but find their site quite confusing.