homelearning: what we are studying this year

Today we began YEAR TWO of this homeschooling adventure!

Ok, ok, we actually began in August and that’s how long this little gem has been sitting in my draft box!

One thing I’ve learned in my first year of homeschooling is that homeschool moms love and hate to talk about curriculum. There is a sense of ‘did I choose the right one?’ rolled into ‘does someone else understand my day?’ when the questions are broached. (Of course there’s also some that are more like ‘is my kid the best and I need to know what you’re doing so I can compare him’ but usually I don’t get that from those I know. The fact is though those moms run in every crowd so look out!) Thinking about and talking about curriculum is a huge part of the homeschool world. While it does not, hopefully, define your home learning environment, in many ways it is one of the most influential factors….and in most states, it’s up
to mom to pick which one!
It’s for this reason I decided to post on ours: I love to read the homeschool blogs, especially the “what we are studying” posts. It’s good to know when that book you’ve had an eye on was a big success- or a big bust!

ALL:
We do several subjects as a group. I know to you public school peeps this sounds nuts but consider an old schoolhouse design: all ages in one room has a good number of benefits for all. One, younger kids learn up. Two, it creates a great “us” dynamic in the family. Three, it makes learning entertaining.

In our “ALL” category, we study History, Science and Geography.

SCIENCE:
Last year I wrote our Science and we did weekly reports in our ‘field journals’ (trust me on this one: kids love field journals).
This year I purchased a curriculum from Real Science 4 Kids. We chose Astronomy. If I’m totally honest I chose this one because of all the amazing projects on Pinterest for Astronomy AND because our local nature center we have a pass for has a really wonderful planetarium and space programs for it.
Science is my younger two sons favorite subject but all four kids enjoy it. (I do too!)
So far we like Real Science 4 Kids very much. I’ll keep you posted.

HISTORY
For History we are trucking along using Story of the World just like last year. There are four volumes of SOTW with the intent for you to study them in order for four straight years while they are young (elementary age) and begin them again at greater depth when they are older (middle/high school age). We are taking our sweet time in History- we landed in Egypt for many months last year but it was totally worth it. I am looking forward to Rome and Greece as we ‘travel’ this year. I do not worry about pace but about content here: they are learning so much and learning-by-doing really sticks.
They also notebook in History, a bit differently than their field journals in Science but the same concept.

GEOGRAPHY
Geography is not a strong suit of mine, folks. I likely could not name all 50
States if I had to in order to save my life. This is a shame, really and I’m rectifying it with my kids. Once they have learned some foundational information, we will weekly study a state: it’s culture, landforms, agriculture, special facts, etc. This will take much time and will be reviewed again, I’m sure, when we study US History when they are older.

CHARACTER
Doing an actual character study is new subject for me. I hadn’t heard of this before homeschooling. I have loved the idea and have created my own curriculum for this using a book compilation of classic stories and poems with meaning behind them. Weekly I read one of the stories to the kids and we discuss it and then they journal about it in their draft books. This gives them good writing practice as well but I really love their thoughtfulness behind it. Example? After a story about thankfulness, they were to write several sentences and draw a picture of what they are most thankful for in our home. Seth (age 4) decided he was most thankful for his sister.  (Precious.)

MISC.
We also study some art and music topics at home together using various books, videos, friends, instruments, etc as our sources. Adam and Noah participate in Chorus (music) at our Co-Op.

INDIVIDUAL LEARNING

ADAM:

Adam is doing 2nd grade work this year. He is a sweet boy who tries hard and has a tough time slowing down. He loves Legos, listening to books read to him, talking about Minecraft and eating peanut butter and jelly (anything else he eats is under duress.)
Adam’s 2nd Grade:
Language 2, A Beka Publishing
Phonics (Letters and Sounds 2), A Beka
Arithmetic 2, A Beka
Spelling & Poetry 2, A Beka
Handwriting Without Tears
Reading Program 1st and 2nd resources, A Beka
He also writes in a draft book, completes art projects, plays baseball and memorizes 1-2 verses a week minimum for Awana (which we also use as our Bible curriculum. I am amazed at what kids can memorize from the Bible.) He says his favorite subject is Astronomy because “I love studying the cosmos.”

NOAH:

Noah is doing 1st grade work this year. He is a rambunctious fella who is a natural learner. He excels in homeschooling because he works very, very hard for short bursts of time and is typically my most independent student.  He is also stubborn and hard-headed and I attribute half of his hard work to this fierce determination to best himself. Noah is well ahead in several subjects- he will begin 2nd grade work by spring.
Noah’s 1st Grade:
Language 1, A Beka Publishing
Letters & Sounds 1, A Beka Publishing
Arithmatic 1, A Beka
Handwriting without Tears
Spelling & Poetry 1, A Beka
He also writes in a draft book, completes art projects, plays baseball and memories 3-4 verses a week for Awana. His favorite subject is math because “It is fun.” (Or so he says! 😉 )

LILY:

Lily is doing Kindergarten level work this year. She will begin several 1st grade subjects in the spring, however, because she began the Kindergarten level during her Pre-K year. I’m a big proponent of NOT forcing learning too young and so for PreK and Kindergarten both, she does not do book work every single day. She is also a natural learner, much like her brother Noah and has yet to struggle in or get bored of any subject. School and learning are fun to her still and I love that for her. (If I could go back and give that gift to all of them, I would.)
Lily’s Kindergarten:
Letters and Sounds K, A Beka
Numbers 5, A Beka
She participates in our Science, History, Geography, Character Study and also writes in her draft book. She memorizes 1-2 verses each week and does an awful lot of writing in her various journals with her various ink colors. She is very serious about journaling. She says her favorite subject is History because “I love back then!” Like mother, like daughter.

SETH:

Seth is my four year old. He is not of compulsory age yet and therefore his school “doesn’t count” and besides our shared subjects, I had no desire for him to have any official work. But he insisted he needed a book like the others! In fact, he was furious at me for the first couple weeks of school that he did not have one. Therefore I ordered him ABC, 123 by A Beka which I now know he is way too advanced for. I could well have started him on Kindergarten materials if it weren’t for my own nagging voice about pushing too fast, too soon. He loves his book and it is very simple for him- therefore he can do a lot of independent work (which is great!) and that is a great start for his future.  His favorite subject is History because “I like stories.”

As I’m posting this so much later than it was written, the update that I can give is only that homeschooling has been a true blessing for our family. I’m amazed at their progress but I am more amazed at the peace and hope in their little hearts and thankful for the chance to spend these days with them. I’m blessed.

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