One of my favourite parts of homeschooling is choosing and buying our new curriculum. I love browsing through all the amazing resources available to homeschoolers and planning our school year. And the girls are generally equally excited when their new books arrive in the mail! This year, they’re starting grades 6, 5, 1/2 and pre-K. Here are my homeschool curriculum plans for this year!
Last year was a bit of a rough year in our homeschool. I found it difficult to add a third student, as Jade was officially in Kindergarten / Grade 1. She mostly did school if and when she felt like it. I also did quite a few curriculum reviews and tried various curriculum options for the older girls, with mixed success. Frequently changing our curriculum didn’t work well for us.
In January / February, I went through a difficult time personally that made homeschooling difficult. So much of homeschooling depends, unfortunately, upon Mom, and if Mom is depressed or ill, that affects what the kids learn. I questioned what we were doing at home and was even tempted to throw the kids in school. I did sign up with a hybrid (co-op) school board.
Over the summer, our life fell back into a routine. I recovered from the events of January and am now in a better spot emotionally and in my faith. We took a break from school and reassessed what worked and didn’t work. And as I looked at September, I found myself rethinking the decisions I made earlier in the year.
In August, I chatted with several of my homeschool mom friends and my husband about our upcoming school year. Then I re-enrolled with Ascend Online Catholic School, the BC school board we’ve been with since Grade 1. And I ordered our curriculum—the same curriculum we’ve used on and off since Grade 1. Every time I try something else, it doesn’t really work for us. And so this year, I’m back to the tried-and-true curriculum that I really like using.
This year, even though all the girls are working at different levels, I’ve ordered basically the same curriculum for each. My friend Anna is teaching five kids this year (from Grade 8 down to K) and suggested this idea (as she’s using similar curriculum). My plan is to have each of the girls work on each subject, at their own level, at the same time.
So while Sunshine and Lily are doing their math, I can be giving Jade a math lesson. Once everyone is done math, we’ll move onto history or language arts. I’m hoping this will help me keep track of everyone’s work and motivate them all to do their work. It’s like a one-room school house, just at home. I’ll let you know how it goes once we’re into the year… 🙂
As I’ve looked at what curriculum to get this year, I’ve really enjoyed using my Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner. This planner has a great section at the back for making curriculum lists and notes for each child. This has really helped me focus and figure out what to order for this year (and avoid ordering too much!). It was also easy to scan these pages to send to my homeschool teacher before purchasing.
This year, I’m super excited to study Ancient History again through the Connecting with History program. Jade (grade 1/2) will be doing the Beginner Level, while Sunshine and Lily (grades 6 and 5) move into the Grammar level. I’ve pulled out our books from the first time we studied Ancient History four years ago, and ordered new books for Sunshine and Lily.
RC History breaks history into four time periods and then studies them using the classical method. This makes it easy to use with multiple kids (all the girls will be studying the same topic, just at different levels). It also means that by the time the child graduates, they’ll have a better grasp of the topic because they will have studied it multiple times. It will be fun to see what Sunshine and Lily remember from doing Ancient History before!
I’m excited about new historical fiction that the girls are going to read this year. I’ll be using history for some of our language arts as well, since there is so much reading and writing in this program.
I decided to try the notebook pages or lapbooks from RC History this year. The girls also really like hands-on projects and notebooking. The lapbook pages give us another way to be creative with what they’re learning in their reading.
We’ll be doing a history co-op once a month with homeschooling friends of ours who are using the same program. Last year, we attempted to organize a Canadian history homeschool co-op. We did great for the first half of the year, and then found it too much work to find ideas and plan activities. This year, we’ll just meet once a month (at the end of each RC history unit) to do some of the suggested activities and presentations with our kids.
Math is not our favourite subject (as I’ve mentioned many times before!). If we could totally avoid math, most of our homeschool struggles would disappear. Unfortunately, math is a necessary skill (which I can now appreciate, because once upon a time I felt the way my daughters do about it!).
Last year, I tried several online math programs for the girls. While they preferred doing math on the computer, I found myself debating what to do this year. Online math is a lot easier than textbooks and notebooks, but it also created problems with managing who was on the computer when. I found myself wanting to go back to the books this year and spend less time on the screens.
So we are going to continue using Saxon Math this year. Lily and Jade are still finishing their books from last year (grade 1 and grade 4). I ordered Grade 6 Saxon Math for Sunshine. It arrived at the end of August and she promptly sat down to get started on the first lesson. It blew me away; I thought she’d voice more complaints about switching back to textbooks. I guess new books really are exciting!
Having used Saxon Math now for grades K to 6, I have seen the way the curriculum teaches math in each grade and from grade to grade. I really trust Saxon’s circular method of teaching and reviewing, teaching and reviewing. Saxon Math presents mathematical concepts in a very logical fashion, relating harder math concepts to easier concepts and building upon what has already been taught.
I may pull out the Kindergaten Math for Pearl. She’s turning four this year, so she likes to be doing what the older girls are doing. She’s also learned quite a bit of her numbers and letters already by playing Starfall.
We are using the Behold & See curriculum from Catholic Heritage Curriculum for science. Lily is finishing Behold & See 1: On the Farm with Josh & Hanna and will move onto Behold & See 2: More Science with Josh & Hanna this year.
Sunshine and Lily will use Behold & See 6, focusing on physical science, ecology, and astronomy. They share the textbook and each use their own workbook.
For language arts, we are using Catholic Heritage Curriculum. I ordered a Speller and a Language of God book for Sunshine and Lily (Jade is still finishing her books from last year). This will be supplemented with the reading and writing activities in Connecting with History. I may also get Sunshine and Lily to work on Jump In by Sharon Watson.
CHC covers spelling and grammar; Connecting with History provides reading comprehension and writing prompts; and Jump In gives specific instruction on writing essays, stories, book reviews, etc.
Jade is still working on Little Stories for Little Folks, the learn-to-read program from CHC. Last year, she used Reading Eggs quite a bit, as it’s fun and interactive. This year, I want to focus on reading books and increasing her sight word recognition. I’m pretty sure, because of Reading Eggs, that she actually knows quite a few words. I think Little Stories for Little Folks will provide the structure she needs to jump into easy readers and start reading on her own this year.
I’m also planning to work on alphabet activities with Pearl. She can sing her alphabet by herself already. I think we’ll do a letter of the week activity to deepen what she knows. She’ll have fun with little projects and it will help keep her busy while her sisters are doing school.
French and German
I’m super excited that Sunshine and Lily will be studying a second language using Rosetta Stone (full review coming soon!).
Sunshine has been learning French off and on since Kindergarten. I’ve found it hard to teach her French (as I have no interest in it—I should get Daddy helping her). She’s used duolingo, but I wanted something more structured and consistent for her. Last year, I got a print curriculum for her, but it expected that the teacher (me!) had some French background and that didn’t go very far.
Lily hasn’t taken a second language yet, and isn’t interested in French. I suggested German, as I enjoyed studying it during university and one of her best friends is also learning German. My husband said she might never use it (as I’ve never used my university German), but she wanted to try it. So I’m excited to review my German with Lily. She’s enjoyed her first lessons and says German is easy.
Electives: Art & Geography
The girls will also study art this year. I ordered Ever Ancient, Ever New for Sunshine and Lily. It looks like a very neat art curriculum (and was recommended to me by my friend). Because it studies art historically, I’m going to use it in conjunction with our history program. We’ll likely just do the first chapters on the art of ancient times. Like science, the girls will share the textbooks and each have their own ArtPad for art projects.
Jade and Pearl will be using Art Masterpieces: Rhyme Time. These look like a fun way to introduction younger students to classic art and poetry. As Jade starts reading more this year, she can read the poems herself. Both girls can work on memorizing the poems if I read them aloud. Pearl is actually quite good at memorization, as I’ve heard her sing and recite other songs and poems that she’s heard in Starfall or from CDs her sisters listen to.
And finally, we’re going to look at some Canadian geography this year. Sunshine has Canada Map Book 4, Lily Canada Map Book 3, and Jade Canada Map Book 1.
We’ve spent probably hours discussing what the girls should do for sports, music, and extracurricular activities. I picked up copies of our local recreation guides and the girls read them from cover to cover. In the end, extracurricular activities have come down to music and sports for each of them. While I want to encourage them to be social and active, I know that running them to activities every day of the week just leaves us all burned out and stressed.
Sunshine will continue violin lessons, with a new teacher who lives close enough that she can walk herself to lessons. She’s also joining the local youth orchestra, so she’ll have weekly rehearsals and two concerts this year. We’re super excited about this as a way to motivate her to practice, as well as giving her some social support for her musical abilities.
Lily will continue piano lessons, also with a new teacher to whom we can walk for lessons. Jade, for this year, won’t be starting lessons. She has expressed interest in guitar lessons (after briefly trying violin lessons this year), but apparently most teachers don’t start guitar students until they are about seven or eight years old.
Sunshine and Lily are also going to continue playing rugby, with the club we joined last year.
Both Sunshine and Lily also have a Catholic girls’ club to attend. Sunshine’s club meets weekly while Lily’s meets monthly. And all three girls will be doing catechism classes at our local parish.
Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
To see what other homeschoolers are using for curriculum this year, check out the Back-to-Homeschool Blog Hop.
You can also check my homeschool curriculum choices for the past several years:
- Our 2018-2019 Homeschool Curriculum
- Our 2017-2018 Homeschool Curriculum
- My 2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum Plans
- How I Chose My Homeschool Curriculum
What homeschool curriculum are you using with your kids this year?