Next Year’s Curriculum?

Homeschool conventions are coming up soon, and parents talking about which curriculum they are purchasing or thinking about purchasing. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a bit behind the times! We've been so busy enjoying the first year of homeschooling that I haven't learned to plan for next year. I'm not the world's best planner, and if you need to wing it for something, I'm your girl. I am fantastic at winging-it! But for a change of pace, it seemed like a good idea to look at what we would like for next year.

First, we will be buying a few things from Memoria Press - we have been using their First Form Latin, and the boys love it so much that they are asking how long they can study Latin. That says more about a course than anything I could ever write! When they found out I would be receiving a review copy of their Elementary Greek, they were nearly as excited as I was. If the Greek is as good a course as the Latin,  they'll be truly happy little campers. So on the list, which gives us history, Greek mythology and some Science, is:

  • D'Aulaires' Greek Myths
  • States and Capitals (edit: doing our own thing which I'll outline soon)
  • Timeline Program (edit: we ordered and found it is Biblically based-not what we were looking for)
  • Geography I (edit: doing our own thing, which goes along with the states & capitals, and history)
  • Book of Astronomy
  • Book of Insects edit: decided to wait on this because we have our hands full with Nancy Larson which is wonderful) 
  • First Form Latin(Continuing)

The Latin will be a continuation of this year, because we took our sweet time with it. They were younger than the suggested grade, so we took it slow, you can read about our fun with Latin in our review of First Form. It's been the gift that keeps on giving, and we have no desire to stop learning it.

I like the way their curricula are put together. It's all very efficient with no "busy work". That said, after we saw how strongly Biblically based the Timeline program is, we'll be a little more careful about what we order. I do want to emphasize - there's nothing wrong with Biblically based, it's just not how we want to educate our kids in history. We felt there were significant cultures in this set that had strong impact on the development of regions that were completely ignored.

We'll be continuing with Life of Fred for a while yet - it's a blast to read, and they are learning more than I could have hoped for in an approachable math curriculum. Besides - I'm hoping it helps me with the dreaded Algebra when we get there.

Writing and composition tend to be fluid topics, we adapt as we go. I grew up in a family that writes - my earliest memories are of being chided for run-on sentences. So I think I can handle that part, but a fortunate side effect to learning foreign languages is the improvement in in the knowledge of your own language. This has been a fantastic help for us! Their grammar has grown by leaps and bounds, their sentence structure vastly improved just by studying how it would be done in Latin and comparing it to English.

In teaching them cursive, I use my own method drawn from my experience with calligraphy. We break down the basic strokes involved in each letter and practice those until they're automatic. This makes putting everything together much simpler than what some methods have kids do: namely attempt to copy each letter without the knowledge of what components it contains. Yes, it takes longer, but in the end we'll be more satisfied with the result.

An update on the cursive: we are currently using SmithHand for cursive after a long conversation with the creator, and I have nothing but good to say so far. It's quite similar to what I was doing myself, but better put together.

Then we have all the "life skills" and "health" classes the state wants included...those we do as a family, discussing relevant topics as they come up, bringing up our own and helping the boys grow in their understanding of the world and themselves. We read George Washington's "Rules for Civility" for behavior and morality - it helps them think about their actions in a totally different light. I can beat them over the head with, "Don't hurt other people", and the like, but this book really seems to help them. They're sweet boys anyhow, they just need to be reminded that most people don't like to wrestle on the floor like they do.

We manage to make it to museums and play days, practice archery either in the back yard(yes, it's legal) or at the local range, and run around geocaching and bicycling. We laugh and play and they explore the world on their terms - not the dictates of a schedule. No schedule except getting everything done before I have to head out to teach violin.

So in the final estimation, what are we doing next year? Probably winging it, but with a little more structure.

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Gail Nelson

Gail is a mom to four kids, two of whom are at home being homeschooled. She teaches violin and viola, and wrote Teach Your Kids Music in 12 Weeks, and blogs sporadically at As Editor in Chief of Learning Tangent, she oversees the daily operations of the magazine.

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