Thursday, September 4, 2008

Visiting a Friend and Changing My Mind

The kids and I spent the beginning of last week with my friend Emily in Oklahoma. Emily is my dearest friend from college, and we've been actively trying to coordinate our schedules for a road trip or get together for the last several months. Last week, her husband had plans to be on a business trip, and Emily knew we were preparing to homeschool, so she called me with a bribe: come all the way to her her house and stay for a few days, and she'd give me some curriculum and materials to cover some subjects for this year and next. That was an offer I couldn't refuse!

Emily's oldest son went with his dad on the business trip, so her two youngest (Carson and Madelyn) were at the house to entertain my kids. Both groups of kids are mere months apart -- both boys are "seven-and-a-half" and Madelyn will be 6 in November. For some reason, neither of us connected the closeness in age until this time together. The kids enjoyed each other so much -- the girls played with dress-up clothes and the dollhouse, the boys "fought" with swords, jumped on the trampoline, and "studied" Carson's rock collection with magnifying glasses and flashlights. On Wednesday night, we joined them at a private school they now attend (and where Emily now teaches) for a back-to-school carnival.

Because the kids were so entertained by one another, the time Emily and I spent together was really quality time (though there was still not quite enough). She helped me work through my curriculum concerns and convinced me to go with a more classical approach to my eclectic method. As a result of our visit, here's what we're using:

Saxon Math 2: I've been on the fence about math, and had really decided to go with Rod and Staff, but after looking through the teacher's guide she was sending home with me, all of the skills we need for this year were covered. The student text also seemed to give enough consistent review that I felt comfortable using it. I had some concerns that there wasn't enough immediate review with Rod and Staff (at least for this year), but Saxon seemed to do what we needed it to.

First Language Lessons: I was struggling to find a grammar curriculum because the more I moved forward, the more we were bound to workbook after workbook, and that wasn't at all what I wanted for us. I really liked the BJU Grammar, and may incorporate it in the future, but for now, this grammar program gets us out of a workbook and I'm very pleased.

Dr. Fry's Spelling: This is something I'd chosen previously and am actively using. I watched a program several weeks ago about early American education. The program mentioned several forms of early currculum, but the Webster Blue Back Speller really piqued my interest. I went to the homeschool store to look at a copy, but instead, I found Dr. Fry's. Dr. Fry appreciated the concept of the Blue Back Speller, but he modernized it by creating a computer program that identified 3000 of the most frequently used words in the English Language. He then modified the original spelling program by incorporating these words. It's the best of both worlds.

Story of the World: So many people have strongly encouraged Story of the World for our History (and Science) curriculum, but Emily was so determined that she sent me home with two years worth of books and student activity manuals. Though it's last on our list to figure out and put into practice (sometime within the next few weeks), all the things I've heard about the program are amazing, and I'm very excited to bring it to use it.

BJU Bible Truths (A Servant's Heart): Having a Bible curriculum is very important to me. Part of the reason I brought my kids home is so that there would be enough hours in the day to really teach them about the things we value. A scripture I hold dear to my heart is 3 John 1:4, which reads, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." I really want to do all I can to give them a working knowledge of the Word of God, and to help them cultivate their relationship with their Heavenly Father. Our Bible study is sort of multi-faceted as we are (and will be) incorporating daily reading, devotionals, and scripture memory along with the curriculum. The curriculum helps me with the working knowledge bit. As for a curriculum, I was torn between LifePac Bible and BJU, but when I found the teacher's guide and two student guides for a low bargain price at The Book Cover, the decision was easy to make.

Language is our last subject. The plan was to do an intense study of French, but now I find myself wavering. I think we'll do some light introductory stuff (French songs, picture dictionaries, scripture copy work), but now I'm looking for a Latin program that won't make my head explode. Though I'm not adding in a language study until we get into a really good routine (I'm thinking perhaps after the first 8 weeks), I'm seriously looking for something easy -- Latin for Infants if it's available. Any ideas?

Pictures from our First Day of School


  • Happy Mommy

    We are also using Saxon 2 math this year, we need to talk about the Story of the World, I have never heard of it. Glad you are feeling confident and ready to go, the kids look like they are having a great first week!

  • DeDe

    I am so glad to hear that you found what you needed. Looks like the kids are loving school at home!!!

  • My Twenty Cents Keeps Moving

    There is a curriculum called "Latin's not so tough." It's focused mostly on vocabulary and is a good starting place.


  • Randi

    I love Saxon ... you're right, it's a good review throughout which I think helps the kids really grasp concepts. The curriculum you've chosen sounds great and very well thought out. Hope you enjoy this year!

  • chickadee

    looks like a great day!

  • Leslie Hargus

    hey amanda, glad to hear school is going well for you and the kids. we are enjoying it as well. we must catch up on life, but now that school has started i am finding it takes most of my day....mostly because of the interruptions from the little ones! :) but they are interruptions that ethan and emma seem to need. they get to run around for a few minutes and get their wiggles out.

  • Emily

    I am so glad that the choice to homeschool was the right one for you! I go back and forth on what I want to do (thankfully we still have a few years). It was good to see you yesterday.

  • Vegiemama

    Welcome to the homeschooling world! I saw your blogpost on the Momtourage front page and thought I'd pop over to say that you're in good company, and to invite you to join the community of the iVillage Homeschooling board

  • In His Grip

    Way to go Amanda. We use some of that same curriculum. If you like it and decide to do this next year you should ask some of us for our used books. Keep it up girl and call if you have questions on setting up your day.

  • jenifur

    I might have no place here because I'm not a mother, but I am a home schooled daughter so I thought I'd put my two cents in. I LOVED being homeschooled. We balanced it with regular school a couple of days a week because I am an only child and wanted to meet other kids. My mom's a Professor of elementary ed, so if you need resources or curriculum ideas just msg me & I'll be happy to forward the questions on to my mom. Have fun learning about the world from your living-room!!

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