Monday, July 23, 2012

Our Curriculum picks for 2012-2013 Part 1

There is something to be said when having to buy curriculum for the new school year. Do you buy it new , do you buy it used?  Do you go with an all in one curriculum, or do you mix and match what you need for each individual child?
I can say its just never as easy as looking in one catalog and pressing the click button when it comes to selecting and buying since there is so much available today then any other time in homeschooling history.

I remember when Marilyn, my oldest, was 4.5 yrs old. The internet was just starting to make its presence in the lives of families everywhere.  I remember when you used to have to pay for spending a certain amount of time on the computer, and the only internet service that was available was AOL when you had to go to the store and buy a disk just to download it onto your computer. If you didn't have that disk , your computer was a useless mess that doomed you forever to just play games on it. Even though AOL and Yahoo are still in existence you are now free to roam the internet for as long as you like and the sky is the limit to those who homeschool. You can find many different types of support groups. Ranging from unschoolers , classical homeschoolers, those who are ecclectic , and those who use cyberschooling. Its almost literally impossible to not be able to homeschool in the year 2012. There are online classes, free virtual schooling, DVD programs and my favorite , free YouTube website, Khan Academy to help on those days when Algebra seems like a foreign language. 

Even Rainbow resource , is the size of a New York phone book just chuck full of homeschooling curriculum, and supplies that can leave you reading it for months.  I remember when all there was to see on the internet for curriculum was Calvert, Bob Jones, and some other scattered curriculum like 100 EZ lessons and Abeka.  I remember when Moving with Math was actually the popular math program, not Singapore or Life of Fred like today.
Just going through these catalogs leaves you scratching your head as where to start even.
Granted this year I believe I have narrowed things down a bit and we will be doing a pretty scattered selection this year as our funds have been very limited due to Maggie's surgery trip this year.  I will say with what I did pick for the girls , I am happy with.

I'll start with Marilyn. Marilyn is my colorful kid. The more bells and whistles we have, the better for her. Marilyn is 14yrs old this year and really wants to vamp up her studies a bit .

 Math:  Marilyn will be finishing up her Horizons Pre Algebra book. We sadly didn't get to much into it since it was almost the end of the year before we found the right math program for her, and I wasn't home to help when she really needed it.  Once we get a little more into it I do plan on trying out Life of Fred with her as right now she loves to read and LOF contains lots of reading. I think it will be a good supplement for her since she says Math is still her favorite subject.

LA- I decided to stick with the Ace School of Tomorrow with her for Grammar. This seems to be the only Grammar that helps her focus a little at a time on the topics. She just really needs it, not to mention at her age there isn't to many 'colorful' English programs out on the market.

Spelling- yes, she maybe an upcoming 8th grader but spelling is where she is totally lacking. I've tried several spelling programs with Marilyn will minimal to not so great success so I'm going to give this one last possible try and try out Sequential spelling out with her. If this doesn't work , I'm not sure what else really will.  It seems simple enough, start with a small work like at , and build on that word with the sounds you already know.

Writing: We bought Writing Strands 3 last year and Marilyn will be finishing up this book and going into Writing Strands 4. I wasn't sure about this program since most homeschoolers  rave about The Institutes for Excellence in Writing (otherwise known as IEW in the homeschool world). We weren't able to afford IEW , and even so we had a brief stint with the program,  and the girls just didn't enjoy it to much when we did have it.  So I searched for a writing program that could take them step by step in the writing process , give me a little hand holding, and be something we could afford.  So Writing Strands seemed to fit the bill for what I was looking for in a writing program , and  even better Marilyn instantly fell in love with it. So much so she even thanked me for buying it for her. Just her thanking me gave me a good enough reason to continue on with the program.

Reading:  We'll be trying out a reading program that was loaned to us by our evaluator just recently from Abeka. I usually at this point like for them to read great Literature, but we'll see how it goes using a reading program. I'm not sure how I feel about the program quite yet since I've never used Abeka's reading program. I've used some of their books off and on for the girls to read for fun when we've come across them. So I'm hoping we'll like it as a reading program.

Science:  This year Marilyn decided that she was done with general and physical science and wants to dig deeper into science. So she chose Apologia's Biology. She really enjoyed the Apologia Elementary Science  when we used it a few years ago. So we'll be coming back to it again but with a little more gusto. I'm hoping this won't be to much for her to handle but I really think she could do it if she really puts her mind to it.  If its to much we'll put it aside and try it next year.

History:  This year we'll be trying Abeka's 8th grade history. Our evaluator has loaned it to us so we're going to give it a try and hopefully this year will be the year where we actually finish American History. We always start with the explorers and have yet to make it past that. I'm also hoping she'll enjoy it , at least a little bit. I also may think I might pass this subject off to dad to teach because he's very good with history. I slept through most of history class growing up, but not dad. He's the human encyclopedia when it comes to history.  I'll admit I was hoping to get a Catholic history book this year , but with our finances being tight I was more than willing to accept something that would help save us a little money. So we'll see how this goes.  I'll have to go through the book a bit to make sure it doesn't conflict to much with our Catholic faith.

Elective:   Last but not least we decided to take Alpha Omega up on their 20% off sale with free shipping today and finally came up with Familiy and  Consumer Science, or otherwise known as Home Ec.  Marilyn did want to chose and Art program but in the end this won out due to the fact she really wants to make her family a tasty meal one night , is really wanting to get out there and babysit, and learn to sew since I finally after 14yrs have gotten our sewing machine fixed.  I plan on adapting this in some way to use with all of the girls because they all want to know how to do these things , not just Marilyn,
If we end up having some time doing all of that I might have her finish up her Switched on School House State History that we started before we left for Cincinnati.

Katie, age 12  is the next of the Reed bunch. The past two years Katie has been on hiatus in private school, but this year she is done with all of that and so ready to be homeschooled once again. I think giving Katie that time in brick and mortar school really did give her an appreciation for being homeschooled. Though I think out of all of my children Katie has appreciated it all along. She has always been my most hard working child out of the bunch. She has to work a bit harder due to some learning disabilities, but she never complains and always  gets her school work done without me ever having to ask her to do it.

Math: Our Math pick for Katie is Christian Light. She will be working on the 400 level and hopefully it will be worked on quickly so she can move on. Math is a very tough subject for her and I want her to work where she is comfortable. I really don't want her struggling like she was last year at the school. To me building up her confidence is more important right now than having her tackling a level she is not ready for right now.  I want to hear her say " I love math" once again.

LA : For Grammar we will be using Christian Light. Katie will be finishing up the 300 level of the LA. Both Katie and Marilyn have never really taken well to Grammar. I'm not sure why but maybe it has had to do with finding what would work for them in the first place. Christian Light's Grammar is pretty advanced anyways so I"m not to worried that she is in this level at the moment. We will at some point work through a summer to catch her up a little more but she is definitely getting more Grammar through this program than most anyways. We'll skip the spelling part as Katie is definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to spelling.

Spelling: My spelling pic for Katie is Sequential Spelling , just like for Marilyn. In my effort to save money I've decided to combine some of the subjects and try to use what I can with all of the girls when I can. Since the spelling in the CLE 300 level in the LA will be to easy for Katie I decided to use this with her too.
I went ahead and chose Sequential Spelling with the two older girls because, well one, they are to established at this point to use something like All About Spelling ( my favorite spelling program). They really need the work with easy words but in the same breath challenging ones at the same time. It takes 7 levels to get to that point with All About Spelling and I don't have that long with Marilyn and Katie like I do with Hannah and Maggie to work with spelling skills.   So we'll see how this goes.

Writing: Again another combo subject. Katie can definitely easily start into Writing Strands 3 just like Marilyn. This is the perfect book for her to start with at her age. The girls can take turns using the book and I know Marilyn will be done with Writing Strands 3 before Katie so she'll soon have the book to herself.

Reading: Katie will be finishing up the 500 level reading. She did start it during the summer for something to do and once she does that either we'll do the 600 or find something else. She wasn't to crazy about CLE's reading but Katie's a good sport and I told her once we have the money to get something else, I will.  Thankfully reading is her favorite subject. Though I do need something more structured for her in this area to keep her on track. She does love to read for fun too, but I do need a reading program for her.

Science: Staying with Apologia for science, I decided to stick with the tried and true and go with the Elementary series since I already have it. We have all but two , the Land Animals and the newer Human Anatomy books. So I figured while I want to save up the money for those two books we can start with the ones I do have. I plan on combing actually, Katie, Hannah and Maggie for science time.

History: Now since Katie actually did do American History this year I felt like I didn't want to bore her with another year of American History. Though it would have been great to find something to combine all 4 of the girls with, but with Marilyn being an 8th grader I figured it would be a very tall order to fill especially when my youngest will be 6 on August 8th. I could however find a World History program to fit this and I plan on combining Katie, Hannah and Maggie all at the same time with this program.  I've heard good thing about it, and want to give Mystery of History a try myself.

 Elective: Will be the Consumer Science. I do find that I need to focus a bit more on Life Skills with Katie. She really struggles with school work and I feel this would give her a real confidence boost by learning things too that will help her in life too.  She struggles with following instructions and common sense can sometimes go out the window in her own life skills. So we will work more on this and I think it really will help Katie. I just won't have her doing any of the question and answers in the book, but more of the activities that will follow it. We will use this course more as a guide for her and her younger sisters.

Well there you have it. That concludes the school pickings of this year for both Marilyn and Katie. This is a bit more eclectic  than I am used to that's for certain. I really like getting from one publisher and sticking with it but this year, more than past years have been tough for us economically. So we'll be thankful with what the Lord has provided and use what we have.

Stay tuned for Part 2,.. curriculum selections for Hannah and Maggie 

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