Hello from our first week of school for the 2018-2019 school year! My nerves about having both girls home have been overcome by excitement. Isn’t it grand when you can say those things when the year is still fresh and new? 😉 But in all honesty, I am thrilled to have both girls home with me. This year I’ll be homeschooling first grade for Hailey and preschool (4 year old) for Kaitlyn. I’ve spent a lot of time researching curriculum and trying to envision how we will do our days. I’m really thrilled at how it has all turned out on paper and how our first two days have flowed. Though I know not every day will run smoothly, I am feeling optimistic that we will have more good days than tough ones.
Homeschooling First Grade: Curriculum
While part of me wants to go into great detail of why I chose what I did, I think it will be better to keep it simple as possible by providing a glimpse into what we’ve chosen for us. If there is one thing I’ve already learned about homeschooling is that it looks different for everyone and things will change from one year to the next, so while this feels like a great path for us for this year, I think what works for each family is unique. So with that disclaimer out of the way, here’s what we are using this year!
I opted to make the switch from Math-U-See to Singapore Math. Math-U-See worked fine for us last year. I was never wild about it, as it was rather dull, but it got the job done. I was planning on sticking with it but decided to look around at Saxon and Singapore just for fun. I was blown away by Singapore math, as it is an entirely different way of looking at math than I was taught. It focuses on the relationships between numbers and focuses on solving problems with pictures and diagrams. In general it takes on fewer topics, but goes more in depth. I don’t consider math my strength, and seeing concepts presented in this way really blew my mind. I’m excited to get Hailey started on math (we chose the Primary Math Standards Edition) in this new way and see what happens.
Language Arts (Phonics/Reading/Grammar): The Good and the Beautiful
I like The Good and The Beautiful for several reasons. First, I appreciate the focus on wholesome literature and the emphasis it puts on family, nature, good moral character, and faith. It also requires very little prep time, as each lesson is set up in an easy open-and-go way. Though it seems trivial, I also love that the curriculum is just pretty to look at. We worked through the kindergarten level and started the preschool level this summer and both girls took to it well. Kaitlyn asks to “do lang-age arts” whenever there is downtime, which tells me she enjoys it quite a bit! For a more detailed review of the curriculum, click here.
Writing: Brave Writer: Jot it Down Fairy Tale Project
In addition to the core language arts program, I’m also adding in the Fairy Tale project from the writing curriculum, Jot It Down, which is from Brave Writer. I’ll be doing this with both girls. The core of it includes reading different variations of fairy tales, learning about where they came from, retelling/writing the stories ourselves, illustrating them, and by the end of the year, we will have our own fairy tale books. I plan on really taking our time with this project, doing one fairy tale a month, and I know the girls are really going to enjoy this (as I think I will too!).
Handwriting Without Tears
We used Handwriting Without Tears last year and Hailey liked it, so we are going to continue with it this year. I also bought The Good and The Beautiful handwriting to use as a supplement as well, since I liked the combination of handwriting and then breaking it up with drawing and coloring.
Geography: Beautiful Feet Books
I am GIDDY about using Beautiful Feet Books this year. We are going to use the Around The World in Picture Books curriculum which will help us learn about world cultures and geography through children’s picture books. Along with award-winning literature, this course includes nature study, folktales, fables, music, art, poetry, and history. We will do this all together and I look forward to going in depth with each country, including cooking a authentic dish for dinner, which I know the girls will get a big kick out of.
New for us this year, we joined a co-op! One day a week the girls will be there covering the topics of science and history. They dictated the curriculum, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but by the looks of it, I think the girls will enjoy the focus on land animals! Additionally, we will be continuing our nature notebooks at home weekly
Beyond curriculum, I’ve spent time thinking about how I need to prioritize things this year. Both girls will have extra curricular activities (soccer and dance) and I don’t want all our days to be overly planned and full, so with that in mind, I’ve decided on the following:
Things I am saying YES to this year
Co-Op! I started researching co-op options months ago. A co-op is a group of homeschooling families that come together at regular intervals for supplementary social and educational benefits. Some co-ops are strictly extra curricular based while others take on some core subjects. In many co-ops the parents are required to teach. This was not something I was excited about (I felt I couldn’t put anything else on my plate), so when I finally found a co-op that was started by former teachers, that I was not required to teach at, that took on the subjects of science and history, and had a group of leaders and moms that felt welcoming and competent from the time I first met them, I was thrilled. We will meet one day a week from 10:30-2:30. Hailey is in the 1/2 class and Kaitlyn is in the kindergarten class. We start in two weeks and I just know the girls are going to love it.
Poetry Tea Time. This is the brainchild of Julie Bogart, creator of Brave Writer. She used afternoon tea as a way to gently introduce her children to poetry by making it a cozy and pleasurable experience. My girls will be working on some poetry memorization through The Good and The Beautiful Curriculum and some other local homeschooling friends plan on getting together once a month to read and recite poetry, drink tea, and eat cookies. We will take turns hosting it and I am sure this will become one of our monthly highlights.
Things I am saying NO to this year:
Other morning commitments. Last year I just had Hailey at home and often times we would adjust when we did our homeschooling work if something popped up that sounded like a fun opportunity. While flexibility is one of my favorite things about homeschooling, that kind of loose schedule won’t work for us this year. I’m going to keep our mornings sacred unless a really unique opportunity comes along. I’ve seen that both the girls and I do better when we stick to a predictable routine for the most part.
Comparison. I feel really good about what I’ve chosen for the girls for this year. Of course, if something isn’t working, we’ll switch, but the downside of so many wonderful options out there is that it’s easy to get wandering eyes and second guess my choices or be tempted to add something more in. While I always love learning about what is available and what others are doing, I’m committed to keeping my eyes on my own paper.
I’ve already noticed (a whole whopping two days in) that the girls behavior has improved dramatically. I don’t know if it’s the structure, the more one on one time, or the mental focus busying their brains, but summer had us on a loose system, and apparently we were all ready for a routine back in our lives!
If you have any homeschooling-related questions, please ask away. I’m very open to sharing our journey!
And if you are a homeschool mama yourself, what is the favorite part of your curriculum?