Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thoughts on Homeschooling: What We're Studying

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When I began homeschooling last year, I knew I couldn't just merrily hum along while piecing together a complete curriculum out of my own creativity.  No. Just...no.  That would not be a gift that I possess.  I didn't know exactly what I was looking for, but here were some of my criteria:

  • Literature-based.  Solid, classic literature that would nurture a love of reading and writing.  
  • Structured lesson plans.  An outline of 180 school days that would give me a detailed plan for how to cover all of the subjects and materials in a way that made sense.  
  • No extensive preparation required.  I did not want to have to spend my evenings doing research and pulling materials together.  
  • Everything included.  Please, no tracking down obscure books at the library or typing up sheets of sample sentences for language arts.  
  • Faith-based, without being defensive, weird, or overly-sheltering.

I looked into every homeschool curriculum I could find, overwhelming myself with the decision, until we finally decided to try Sonlight.  I had heard good things, and from what I could tell, this company's vision fit every necessary line on my list.  I loved their commitment to good literature, and I appreciated their detailed lesson plans as well as the freedom they encourage to make the plans fit your individual needs.  I loved that I'd receive all the needed materials, and I was very impressed with Sonlight's philosophy on solid, non-weird Christian education.  

Ten weeks into our second school year at home, and I cannot say enough good things about this curriculum.  Sure, I've made my own adjustments to their suggested schedules over time, but the overall focuses and the level of education I'm able to provide with relative ease have been a huge blessing.  

This year, Maya (3rd grade) is in her second year of a World History core, with last year leading up to the fall of Rome, and this year picking up with the time of the Vikings and putting us currently in the adventurous Middle Ages.  I am learning right along with her, and as a history-lover, it is so fun to study the people, places, and discoveries that have shaped the course of human events.  

Maya's science studies this year will take us through geology, meteorology, and mechanical technology. She's doing 4th-5th grade language arts, readers,, and spelling and is doing her math through Teaching Textbooks at the computer.  She has weekly Bible memory verses and daily scripture readings and is studying interesting Bible facts as well as powerful missionary stories.  We are learning about world cultures and religions and specific prayer focuses that we can use as we intercede for people groups around the globe.

Noah (Kindergarten) is focusing on reading skills, spelling, language arts, and writing.  He has crazy math skills, so I'm just letting him run with it and when he's done with these workbooks we'll order the next ones.  He's studying basic science subjects like nature, weather, animal groups, etc., and other "world around me" things like typical jobs that make up a town.  He has memory verses as well, and we read from a Bible storybook.

Both of them have been studying art books with me from time to time, and we do some science experiments, crafts, and creative writing too.  

I've contemplated shifting things around so that we're not covering every single subject each day, but having one or two days a week that are heavier in science and a couple that are more history-focused, for instance.  We'll see.  But this works for now.  

And even though there are days when we're all a little off and nothing is going well (oh, hello there, last Tuesday!), we are really enjoying our school time and the things we're learning together.

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