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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Curriculum

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I think we've settled into a comfortable routine!  It was easier to do than I expected.  Now I waver between adding more of what we want to do or just sticking with where we are for now.  I hate to ruin a good thing when we've all been doing so well to start out.

Language Arts and Math are leveled subjects, which means the child learns according to their current understanding and abilities.  Other subjects can be taught to multiple ages.

Latter-day Learning Family School

The Family School

Our first curriculum choice was what really helped us decide to home school in the first place.  A friend mentioned it to me last year, saying she thought I'd be interested in it.  I'm so glad she did!  This curriculum is designed after the "one room schoolhouse" idea.  Children from 4-14 can be taught these subjects together.  My 5 year old doesn't follow everything we're doing, but she does catch a lot of info, and her participation shows it!  I don't know how well this would work with a 14 year old, but the curriculum writers are adding in instructions for middle school age children.  So far it's working well for us though!

The 6 subjects taught are History, Geography, Science, Literature, Music, and Art.  We work on one of the first three for 3 days of the week, then 1 Literature day, and 1 day of either Art or Music.  The 5th day can be combined with another day, creating a 4 day plan.  There's some great information about this on their website, as well as the entire first month for free!   There is a helpful forum that many families using the curriculum participate in.  I've found this a great way to find help and support.

The curriculum is based on gospel principles taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Each lesson incorporates 1-2 academic concepts and relates it to a gospel principle.  My kids love the attention activities at the beginning of the lessons.  There are multiple suggestions in each lesson to help children retain the information, in form of activities and assignments.  There are also suggestions on using the information taught in other ways in the home and family, such as ideas for outings or family home evening helps.

I have found this curriculum to be a good supplement to our Language Arts programs.  There are vocabulary words in each lesson, which I wasn't doing much with until just this last week when I came across this blog post by another Family School mom.  Now I have the older two write the word and look it up in the dictionary.  They both knew how to use a dictionary, but this is really helping them become more efficient.  I have my 5 year old write the word as I dictate the spelling.  The children also write the academic concept and gospel principles from each lesson as I dictate them.  The lessons use the 4R's method (research, reason, relate, record) and some of the record suggestions range from writing letters to essays and even papers in the older grades.

This curriculum is more money up front than I had expected.  I was chatting with a friend about this curriculum when we were first beginning to purchase books and she said something that really made sense to me.  "You can't put a price on your children's education."   I realized this curriculum was everything we wanted to do that public school couldn't.  So we made it work.


I don't want to make this year too overwhelming for my 5 year old, but I want it to be effective.  She was proud of herself as she began to read at the end of our preschool year, and her excitement continues.  I don't want to ruin that!  Here's what we've continued doing that we started at the end of preschool:

Here's what we began this year:

I'm going to add in All About Spelling 1 soon as well as the All About Reading readers.  I've been researching using it with The Ordinary Parent's Guide... and I think it will be really helpful for a better understanding of phonics.  The Ordinary Parent's Guide... is boring.  She'll do it, and she likes seeing herself progress, but I've found we can't depend on it alone.

In addition to the Bob books, we've been using some sight word readers and some decodable books from my mom's sets (she teaches K!).

3rd grade:

  • Saxon Math 3   I debated doing 5/4 because his placement test indicated he could begin there, but I felt he wasn't ready for the independence that 5/4 allows.  Also, he didn't have a solid understanding of a few of the 3rd grade topics... as well as math facts.  I'm really glad we chose Saxon 3.  We double up the lesson part if it's a topic he is comfortable with.  For the meeting, I prep the meeting strip and coin cup ahead of time and let him do it alone.  Then I do the counting section(s) with him.  This saves frustration for both of us.. because he really doesn't need me saying "How many nickels do you have?", nor do I want to!

  • Growing with Grammar 3

  • Winning with Writing 3

  • Spelling Power

  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 2C   He actually began this over the summer, so I'll be purchasing 3 soon.

I'm going to add in a daily journal soon.  He needs major help with handwriting, and learning cursive is making him slow down and pay attention, but he can't even read his own manuscript most days.  I'm debating switching to New American Cursive for him (and for my 5 year old, but closer to 1st grade).

5th grade:

  • Saxon Math 6/5 - She's doing great with the independent work for this.  Occasionally I do help her work through a new concept, and I imagine I'll have to do that more in higher grades (and will need the Dive discs).

  • Growing with Grammar 5

  • Winning with Writing 5

  • Spelling Power    We only have the book.  I don't see a need for the activity cards or books they sell.  We do bags of paint, salt box, wikki stix, letter tiles, magnets, finger spelling ( with ASL), and more for practice.

  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 5  She just finished this.  I am adding in a daily journal but debating if she should do ZB 6.

Some extra stuff she asked to study:

  • Family History - I still haven't gotten much going for this.

  • Temples - She's completing our temple book.. a picture and facts about each of the 171 temples.

So there it is!  I am sure there will be changes in the future, but I am really pleased with how we've started out.

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