Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Curriculum Confusion!!

Okay for those of you have been following me for a while you all know that I have been loosely following a Classical Homeschool model for the last two school years. I have been very satisfied and happy with my choice up until very recently. I have feel in love with something new. It's the The Prairie Primer(A Year Long Unit Study Based off The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder). Yet in still I was considering delving further into the Classical Method and truly and exclusively doing Classical.

So you see my dilema is I have basically two directions I could take us in next year and not sure which one is the right one. So let me just break down how I was planning to impliment each path and hopefully it will help me sort through it all to see it written down in front of me. Maybe this could help someone going through a similar issue. I just wanted to take a moment and be transparent and show that I don't always have it all planned out nor have it all together. I think it brings comfort to some of us to here that sometimes.

Lets start with what I was considering doing if we stayed the Classical path first. Here is what we are currently covering this year:

7yr old(girl) 3rd grade
Hebrew Studies/Bible
Math- Singapore Math 2A/2B and intensive practice
Reading- Pathway Readers grade 3
Spelling- Sequential Spelling Level 1(Didnt finish from last year)
Grammar- Rod and Staff English 3rd Grade
Handwriting- Handwriting Without Tears 4/5th Grade Cursive
Latin- Prima Latina Memoria Press
History/ Geography- Finishing African History Study from last year. Almost on to Asia(Note that this is the one area that I tweek that makes our Classical considered Eclectic. But we still studying within the continent study chronologically. But I am considering going the more traditional Classical Path with this as well and doing the 4yr History Cycles.)

5yr old(boy) 1st Grade
Hebrew Studies/ Bible
Math- Singapore Math 1A/ 1B
Reading- Pathway Readers Grade 1/2
Handwriting- Handwriting Without Tears Grade 1/2
Grammar- First Language Lessons level 1
He shares Science and History/ Geography with his sister.

If we stick with this method I wanted to add in Art Study, Music Appreciation and Beginning Recorder, Map Drawing, Formal Writing, and Martial Arts. I know I dont have to do everything every day but with this current schedule trying  figure out how to fit new things into it seems overwhelming. I did purchase a Classical Conversations Foundations Guide that helps to schedule out the extras like Music, Art, and Drawing on a weekly schedule that can take away some of the stress of planning. Recently Leigh Bortins of Classical Conversations updated her Foundations Guide from the 3rd to the 4th edition. So they cleranced out the old ones for $15 each and I took advantage of that. For next year I really find myself wanting to use a really cool curriculum called Mapping the World by Heart for geography. Here is the video on it:

Now this curriculum retails for about 69.99. I just recently missed a 25% discount on Homeschool Buyers COOP a few weeks ago but I was not ready to purchase. Hopefully if we decide to go with it they will have another deal.  I was going to use Rod and Staff for Music Appreciation and Usborne 1st Book of Recorder. I already own the Rod and Staff muic books and the Usborne Recorder book and some basic recorders shouldn't cost me much at all. We already have the Home Instructors Guide for all of next years Singapore Math. So all we need to do is buy the workbooks and textbooks. No matter what method we choose I am going to stick with Singapore cause I am very happy with it. It took a while to find our groove in Math. For our next cycle in Science we should be moving on to Chemistry. I am deciding between Christian Kids Explore Chemistry and Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry level 1.  For latin we will just move from Prima Latina to Latina Christiana I. We have truly enjoyed Prima so far. I have learned just  as much as my daughter. We would stay with Rod and Staff for English 4. They are not hard to find used around my area. The only big purchase that I have to still consider carefully but can be used for years to come is Institute for Excellence in Writing Teaching Writing: Structure and Style curriculum by Andrew Pudewa. I have listened to so many free audio and youtube clips of Andrew Pudewa I feel really sold on this writing program. Instead of making writing a separate subject it shows you how to intergrate the writing into the subjects you are already teaching. It comes with a manual but it is DVD based which is good cause sometimes its easier for me to listen and watch than to read up on something. I already have the Art books that we didn't get around to using this year. The books I still haven't cracked open are Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes and Discovering Great Artist by MaryAnn F. Khol and the Classical Conversations Foundations Guide uses Drawing with Children within the lessons too.  I am not all the way satified with our spelling program so I have to keep looking around for that one. So many people I know have been suggesting that we try All About Spelling or AAS but from what a friend has let me see of hers it is way to teacher intensive for what I had in mind for Spelling. I guess I can still look into Spelling Power  or Spelling Workout which was a suggestions in one of the later editions of The Well Trained Mind. I was also going to start Handwriting Without Tears with my Preschooler and some Phonics as well. But mostly just keeping with the Montessori activities and adding in a few worbooks for Preschool/ Kindergarten by Rod and Staff.

If I decided to continue on with the Classical route that we have been doing it would be easy as far as finding used materials and I have already been doing it. But the downside is as the children get older I am running into issues trying to figure out a Classical Education Schedule that wont overload us. The Cost for next year if I go with this plan would be about $500.00 brand new plus the expense of Martial Arts Classes. But I still have an opportunity for savings at my local Homeschool Conference Used Book Sale and a few local Book Sales.

Now on to my next Choice which is The Prairie Primer. Since it is Unit Study based it will cover things like Bible, some Language Arts, Science, History, Geography, and Art. I would just have to continue on with my Math and Grammar curriculum but everything else should be covered. The plus to this would be the fact that I am teaching multiple children. I feel on love with the Prairie Primer after the children and I listened to Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie on audio format in the car a few months back. I was like wouldn't it be great if their was a curriculum that went along with these books. And sure enough as I did an Internet search I found the Prairie Primer. I also found this wonderful blog called We Love the Prairie Primer with a woman who did the entire Primer with her daughters and documented the whole thing and had lots of pictures and supplemental ideas. I also found out they had a an active Yahoo Group as well. The activities in the Primer are truly geared toward the spirit of self sufficiency and old fashioned ways that our family has been moving towards in the past year. So it would definitely enrich our lives to give the children an educational experience rooted in Preparedness and Old Fashioned living. Their are some financial benefits to using this curriculum as well. For all the books, primer, and basic materials it would cost brand new somewhere around $250.00 for the year. So I could stand to save half of my original budget. But knowing me I would probably spend that on extra materials for more hands on projects or an out of state field trip to one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic sites. So it really might just even out.

I have got some pondering to do. But I hope make a decision within the next few weeks. I will keep you guys updated on the choice.

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