19 July 2014

The Joy of Choosing

It is that time of year again, when, as a homeschooling family, we need to evaluate the past school year and prepare for the new one. That also means, looking at what worked and what did not.

All year long, I was reading this wonderful blog called The Curriculum Choice. They are  (taken from their webpage:)  "a veteran group of home educators from around the blogosphere joined together ... to spread the word about ... favorite curricula in order to help YOU make informed decisions for your homeschool." What a mission statement. I love it.

I love reading what others do in their home school. It is interesting to hear about all the different curricula that exist, that work for others or those that didn't. It broadens my own horizon and makes it easy to sift through the jungle of curricula.

So why are we using so many different ones?

There are  many reasons for it. First, when we started our journey, we used no curriculum at all. I made my own pulling from workbooks and the internet with its many free resources. After two years, I felt we needed a more structured curriculum, so we went with an all-in-one curriculum. A Beka worked great for us, me as the teacher and my son. But after that first year, I had a better idea of what I liked and what suited my son's learning style. So we chose stuff from all over - you can read about it here. It took me a long time to get to this list.

After almost a full year with this curriculum, once again, we have to evaluate what worked and what did not. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that we can choose what works for the entire family, with our family's believes, and with each individual's learning style. Thankfully, we don't have a system dictating us what to do - we can and want to do what is best for all of us.

Also, we grow constantly, together as a family and each single person. So using the same curriculum over and over for the sake of comfort, doesn't seem right to us. I am constantly learning how to teach better, how to plan out our weeks and months, and how to adjust to our circumstances. We are going through different phases, and as a homeschooling family, we can easily adjust to our needs, like travel, sickness, babies,...etc. 

I also like to bring variety into our school, I want to expose my children to as many different things as possible. The more they know, the better equipped they are for decision making later in life. Changing curriculum from one year to the next helps broaden their horizon.
For example, Coqui is a great speller. We have done 'list learning' for two years now, and we have reached a point where it is simply boring to him, and to me. We need a fresh look at things. One way we do this already is by learning Latin and Greek root words ("English from the Roots Up", as seen in my curriculum list from last year). Now, I think I have found what I was looking for by talking to a friend. She lend us her curriculum and I am just done reading through those instructions. I am very excited.

Additionally, I have two children with complete  different learning styles so far. Coqui learns more like me which made things easy for both of us. He is visual, logical, solitary, and physical. Peanut, on the other hand, leans more towards artistic learning, like aural, verbal, and physical. She makes up her own songs to pretty much everything - I wish I could teach her that way - and she makes up her own dances.
Look at the worksheet below. She had to simply match the letters with the picture's beginning sound. I don't get it, but this is the result of fifteen minutes of doodling around.

So with that, I feel like I need to adjust how I teach her the same stuff that Coqui had to learn. What inspired him will not necessarily interest her. Workbooks still work great for him - he prefers having a list and works through it until he is done. My little girl rather cuts and glues all day while singing. Workbooks are a pain for her and she gets 'tired' very quickly. She will need alot more hands-on stuff....

After much consideration, we have our list done, so stay tuned - I have bought some already, some stuff is on its way, and I have to put in one more order. Then, I will share. 

13 July 2014

Drawing with a Master

One of our favorite subjects is Art. Years ago, I bought this DVD series called Mike's Inspiration Station from Hearts at Home Curriculum. They had a deal, and it looks like they still do, and I needed a DVD-based curriculum rather than books. It is meant to encourage the children to copy what they see on the screen. An added bonus is that there is always a Scripture with the lesson, so it is a bit Christian influenced.

Since we put the DVDs on for the first time, we were hooked. It is totally low key, calm and slow enough for the kids to draw or paint along with 'Mike'. When they need time to catch up, I simply stop the DVD for a few minutes. It's actually pretty easy for the kids to follow along and the end result looks pretty good for their ages.

Here is a bird that they did :

I think they both did a good job.