I love looking at homeschool curriculum. Even before Sunshine started school, I enjoyed seeing what my homeschool friends were using to teach their kids. One of the great part about having a lot of friends who also homeschool is being able to chat about curriculum options with them, and to flip through their books (instead of trying to browse a website). So once again this summer, I found myself carefully thinking about our 2017-2018 homeschool curriculum.
For the first three years of our homeschool, I’ve done something slightly different every year. It can be temping to change books frequently, hoping that this curriculum or that program will make school run more smoothly. As I researched some of the options my friends were using, I kept coming back to one thought: We had a really good year last year.
So this year, our curriculum options look very much like last year’s. I decided what we were doing had worked very well and there was no reason to change. We’ve found a good homeschooling routine, after three years of homeschool, and curriculum options that work for us. Here is my 2017-2018 homeschool curriculum, for Grades 4, 3 and Kindergarten.
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We are once again doing Saxon Math, but this year brings a couple small changes.
Sunshine, going into Saxon Math 5/4, now has a student textbook instead of a teacher’s manual. This is how I remember doing math when I was homeschooling and using Saxon Math. With a new baby coming mid-year, this seems like a good time to give Sunshine a bit more independence in her schoolwork. I’ll have the fall to help her adjust to working on her own, rather than doing the lesson directly with me. Hopefully by January, she can work independently and I can just offer assistance as needed and correct her work (as my mom did).
I will also be doing Saxon Math Kindergarten with Jade this year. Neither Sunshine nor Lily did Kindergarten at home; both jumped straight into Grade 1. For the past year, however, Jade has been the one most excited about school. She has begged me for workbooks and tracing pages and “school” activities just like her sisters. After looking through some sample lessons from the Saxon Math K program, I decided this would be a good fit for Jade. It gives us a few little math activities to do together every day—counting, patterns, etc—so that she feels included in the lessons with her sisters.
Lily, going into Grade 3, will continue with Saxon Math 3 as we’ve done in past years.
Connecting with History
When I pulled out last year’s history books from our homeschool cabinet, to put them away and make room for the new books, the girls immediately descended upon the pile. “Put the books back here when you’re done reading them!” I called as Sunshine and Lily disappeared into medieval worlds. While I love their enthusiasm for the Connecting with History books, I don’t want to search the entire house for the books when we need them again!
This year, we’ll continue with Year 3 in Connecting with History. Our studies will take us from the High Medieval Period (1066, if the date means anything to my fellow history buffs!) to the early explorers (1600). We’ll learn about some of their favourite saints, including Joan of Art and Kateri Tekakwitha, as well as more popular figures like Robin Hood and Christopher Columbus. This year also includes some books about China and Japan.
One thing I debated this year was which level to work through with Sunshine. In Grade 4, she could move into the Grammar Level. Since I do history with both Sunshine and Lily, I decided we’d stay in the Beginner Level for one more year. I’ll assign more reading for them to do independently (instead of reading to them), especially once the baby comes. I think we’ll also focus more on the writing assignments this year. Next year, both Sunshine and Lily can advance to the Grammar Level while Jade starts in the Beginner Level. (Right now she listens in on all the read-alouds but doesn’t do any assignments with history.)
This year for science we’ll be using Catholic Heritage Curriculum’s Human Anatomy and Health (Behold and See, Grade 4). I managed to pick up the textbook for free at a homeschool swap. I’ll likely supplement what we’re studying here with some books and DVDs from the library.
We are also using Catholic Heritage Curriculum books for our language arts. Sunshine and Lily will continue working through the Language of God, Spelling, and Handwriting books. I’m a firm believer in the importance of grammar and spelling and have found that formal instruction works best here. I also think good handwriting is important (even in our world of technology).
Jade will be learning her alphabet with The BIG Book of Alphabet Activities: A Treasure Trove of Engaging Activities, Mini-Books, and Colorful Picture Cards for Teaching Alphabet Recognition, Letter Formation, and More!. I discovered this book at the library towards the end of last year and Jade loved the activities in it. We had started doing some alphabet recognition in January by making huge letter posters. Again, the focus here is mostly on fun, but I appreciate having some ideas to do with Jade when she says, “I want to do school!”
One new thing I’m adding to our 2017-2018 curriculum plans is the Kids Cook Real Food course. This is an online course by a blogger whom I’ve followed for a few years, and I’ve been interested in her course for a while. Sunshine often asks if she can make something in the kitchen, and so far seems to prefer cooking to baking. When cutting veggies for a recipe she’s working on, she still mentions techniques such as “over under soldier” that she learned from a free Kids Cook Read Food video.
My mom taught my brothers and I to cook when we were about Sunshine’s age (or younger). We made lunches for ourselves at home. Now, I’m a terrible lunch cook! I don’t usually eat much myself for a mid-day meal, and the girls often just snack throughout the day, so I don’t always stop to make them lunch. Every year, I have good intentions that this year, I will get lunch on the table at noon every day. Ummm, yeah… With this course, Sunshine and Lily should learn some life skills that we can add to their Student Learning Plans for the year, plus they can take over lunch duties (especially after baby arrives!).
What are you using for your 2017-2018 homeschool curriculum?
I’m joining the 9th annual Back to Homeschool Blog Hop at iHN! Check out other homeschoolers’ curriculum plans and add your own: