Friday, April 18, 2014

Our Curriculum

This post was written before we had begun to use the Eclectic Education Series.  We are now a year in, and we love it!  I'll post more about it soon.

We realized this year that since our desire is to teach and train our boys up to be godly men, and since the vast majority of our curriculum so far had not been Bible-centered, one of our main priorities was being shoved to the side and ignored.  We began using Rod & Staff textbooks, which are thorough, simple, Biblically based, and still allow for the independent work that I need with my active toddler and a preschooler in the house.  The curriculum isn't an awesome fit for us, but we are finding that we can tweak it as needed to make it work for each child.      

Griffin (8 - 3rd) -
We introduced Teaching Textbooks for Griffin this year.  He loves the auditory part of it, and has taken to doing most of his math mentally.  He definitely needs to memorize his multiplication facts, and we'll be working on that when he finishes TT for the year, from about April through July.  I'd like for him to have them memorized by the time he begins his 4th grade work.  He is struggling with mentally doing the problems in TT toward the end of the book as they begin to expect them to have the tables memorized, but we will finish the course anyway so that we can sell it (it was expensive!) and spend the summer in memorizing mode.  Planning to have a party when he has his multiplication facts memorized, just for fun.  And for motivation!

He does well with oral work in both Reading and English, but when he is required to sit and do written work, he grumbles a lot and doesn't do his best.  He thinks that after he reads something once, he should be able to answer all of the workbook questions without going back to the book for reference.  This could be concerning, as he will need to develop this skill for Bible study, but I'm not worried yet.  We definitely need to work on perseverance and diligence in his work.  He also needs to work on neatness with his printing.  He writes beautifully in cursive, probably because he is forced to slow down while writing.  He is not enjoying Social Studies, and doesn't seem to be learning a lot from it.  Much of it is hard for him to relate to, most likely because it was written for Amish and Mennonite schools, and revolves around that kind of lifestyle.  He still loves Critical Thinking, and I know he would enjoy doing the smaller, more focused books such as Logic Puzzles and Dr. DooRiddles rather than the large book that seems to be focused on preparing the student to take standardized tests.  We will be testing him for the first time in just a few weeks, and I am looking forward to finding out what areas we need to focus more time and attention in.
*Language Arts - Rod & Staff Bible & Reading 3; English 3
*Math - Teaching Textbooks 3
*Social Studies - Rod & Staff Social Studies 3
*Penmanship - A Reason For Handwriting 3
*Critical Thinking - Building Thinking Skills 1

Sammy (6 - 1st) -
Still quite the perfectionist, Sammy will tackle whatever work is on his assignment sheet and work on it until it is finished to his satisfaction.  He is easily frustrated if the work he thought was completed needs to be corrected.  He does not enjoy reading a story or poem and then answering workbook questions about that story.  He wants to do the hands-on work first.  Reading is not his favorite thing to do.  He will do it so that he can check off the box, though.  He really enjoys read-aloud time, and one-on-one time with Mom or Dad.  He does very well with printing, and takes pride in his work.  Math and Critical Thinking are still his favorite subjects.  He also loves the smaller Logic Puzzles book, Dr. DooRiddles book, etc. and doesn't see the point in the main CT book, but he likes doing it anyway.  
*Language Arts - Rod & Staff Bible & Reading 1; Phonics 1
*Math - Horizons Math 1
*Penmanship - Rod & Staff Printing Practice 1
*Critical Thinking - Building Thinking Skills Primary

Future Plans


We will be using the Eclectic Education Series next year.  I received an e-mail a few years ago titled "How Would Laura Ingalls Wilder Homeschool?"  It intrigued me, but I was not at a place in life where I could pay it any attention.  I had just had Oliver, and we had just gone to the annual homeschool conference and purchased all of our curriculum for the next year.  No way was I going to change it up!  But I kept the e-mail, because something in it spoke to me.  The books in this series have been used since the 1800's by established families and schools in the Eastern US and also by "Wild West Pioneer" families who lived lives full of hard work and uncertainty.  The Wilder family was one of those pioneer families, and the children probably used these books, or something very similar, for their education.  The Eclectic books sold over a  million copies when they were published, and they still provide an excellent education, far exceeding the standards of today's schools.

The Series is meant to be tailored to each child's needs, and in both McGuffey's Readers and Ray's Arithmetics the child begins by using the book they are comfortable with (but still challenged and learning), instead of relying on grade levels to determine their learning.  They can even start in the middle of a book if the teacher decides that is the best place for them to begin.  The lessons (especially in McGuffey's and Ray's) progress and become more challenging quickly, and there is much knowledge, both moral and mental, to glean from each lesson.  It is not unusual for a child to spend days to weeks on each lesson, rather than having a new lesson every day.  That is how this set of books:

can be turned into a complete K-12 language arts education, containing phonics, reading, grammar (with the addition of some grammar and spelling reference books because I know I will need help!), and literature.  The selections are widely varied and incorporate almost every genre, style, and content subject available, giving much opportunity to discuss and do extra research on the topics that the child reads about.

I am excited to begin using this curriculum, and I will begin switching one subject at a time to the EES, slowly but surely, until by the start of August/September 2013 we are using it entirely.

Griffin (9 - 4th) -
(E) means it came with the Eclectic Education Series
*Bible - copywork (this will also be where I grade for penmanship), memorization, recitation, discussion
*Readers - McGuffey's 2nd Reader (E), McGuffey's Alternate 2nd Reader (E), McGuffey's Living Creatures (E), McGuffey's Familiar Animals (E), plus selections from William Bennett's  The Book of Virtues and The Book of Man, and from Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.  Methods: copywork, memorization, recitation, dictation (for spelling and grammar correction and instruction), narration (for comprehension), composition and journaling (for writing practice), cartoon-writing, etc.  He will also learn how to write book reports this year, and begin keeping a Commonplace Book (a book where he can copy quotes from books he reads that mean something special to him) this year.
*Math - Ray's Rudiments of Arithmetic (E) and Ray's New Intellectual Arithmetic (E), or Saxon 5/4.
*History -50 Famous People (E), 50 Famous Stories Retold (E), Story Book of Knowledge (E)
*Science - The House I Live In (E)
*Grammar - Longs Language 1st and 2nd (E)

Sammy (7-8 - 2nd) -
*Bible - copywork, memorization, recitation, narration, discussion
*Readers - Resources: McGuffey's Primer (E), McGuffey's 1st Reader (E), Progressive Course in Reading Book 1 (E). Methods: copywork, memorization, recitation, dictation (spelling/grammar), narration (comprehension)
*Math - Ray's New Primary Arithmetic (E)
*History - Wonderful Stories of Old (E), The Kindergarten Home and School Culture (E)

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