Monday, August 2, 2010

Curriculum choices for this year

Not Back to School Blog Hop I am participating in the Not Back to School Blog Hop hosted by Heart of the Matter. This is Curriculum Week so I am sharing my choices for this year. I hope some of what I am listing will be a help to others.

I love to plan for school! Perhaps it's because I am a former public school educator and teaching is in my blood, but it's my favorite thing to do. As soon as school ends, I get the itch to start planning for the next year. I love school materials too! This makes it very difficult to narrow down what I am going to use but it does help to focus on my son's learning styles and look for products that will work best for "him" and not what I am drawn to. My guy is very active and needs hands-on and exciting materials. Textbook learning does not work for him. This type of learning style is hard to cater to when your are a textbook learner yourself. Also, there is a lot of curriculum out there that says it's for the hands-on learner and it does not work with my son.

Here is what I have chosen for this year:

Math: Teaching Textbooks What I love about this program is that it is on the computer and was created specifically for homeschoolers. All lessons are introduced with a lecture that is explained very well with examples given. The screen is not visually overwhelming and the text is large so it stands out. As concepts are explained, the text is highlighted so the student can follow along. There are practice questions given that review previously learned material. During the lesson, when an answer is correct, an animal (in our case it was a mouse) climbs towards the top of the screen and eventually makes it to the top for a reward. My son loved this! There is also a bonus round where he can earn extra points to make up for some of the missed problems. Tests are also given at the end of each unit.
We have been very pleased with this program so far. My only warning would be that it seems to be a little behind in grade level compared to some other curriculums out there but if you just read the scope and sequence for the year, you can easily find the level that's appropriate for your child.

Reading: Stevenson Learning Skills I can't say enough good things about this curriculum! My son has dyslexia and it has done wonders for him. There are many programs out there that are very expensive but this one is reasonable and has brought him up to grade level or close to it. A mnemonic approach is used to attach a visual picture and story to vowel patterns to make them more memorable. It has been quite effective in helping my son to remember phonetic patterns he couldn't grasp before.
The Learning to Read Program I will be reviewing this program this year so I can't say much about it yet. It does have a lot of potential though. This program focuses on the little sight words that have no meaning and cause a dyslexic to stumble when he comes across one. It gives meaning to the words so there is something to visualize when reading. I have high hopes for this program and hope I am not let down.

English: Hands-On English with Linking Blocks This is an awesome English program! What my son could remember after a few months of doing this was amazing. We have spent several years doing English with Easy Grammar (which he didn't mind doing) but still couldn't even remember what a noun was. Within a few months of using this, he could not only name several parts of speech, but he could locate them in a sentence as well! The linking blocks bring this very abstract concepts home for hands-on learners and make it very concrete and easy to remember. All parts of speech are color coded and have songs that go along with them to help remember their function in a sentence. This program only goes over the basics in English and you would need another program eventually but it does a great job of laying the foundation.
English Grammar Revolution This is something I am still considering. I am a firm believer that diagramming sentences really breaks sentence structure down into easy to understand parts. I taught diagramming to my students when I taught school and they always loved it. My son loves sports and bracketology so this is kind of bringing both worlds together. He can do his English on "brackets" so to speak.

Science: The Young Scientists Club These are complete science kits that are mailed to your door either once or twice a month. They contain everything you need to complete the experiments other than a few minor household items. This could be considered an actual curriculum because each kits lays the ground work for the next one. You can start the subscription at any kit you want and can cancel any time. My son loves to do science experiments but I don't do well gathering the materials so it is worth it to me to pay a little extra to have the leg work done for me.

History: Drive Thru History Series We have been studying American history and Drive Thru History now has an American series. These are DVDs which literally drive you through history. Dave Stotts, who does the videos, is hilarious and just the kind of humor we appreciate. He stops at many different historical sites and teaches about what took place there or the important figures during that time. It's kind of fast paced and I'm not sure you could call it a curriculum (probably more like a supplement) but for my son, he will pick up way more with these than with an in depth curriculum. There are discussion questions that go along with these, as well as an answer key. We will probably read chapter books as well.

Bible: This is still up in the air.

Writing: Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series We used this last year and will continue with it this year. This is a simple program that transitions from print to italics very easily. If you have a child who struggles with handwriting but you want him to be able to use a form of cursive writing, this is a nice program.

Supplemental Materials: Fortunately For You Books I love to use our company's materials as much as possible because they are created with children like my son in mind. He always tells me how much he enjoys the activities from our products. I like to pull different ones from our Remember Me Pockets monthly books or use our Pockets of Time reading comprehension tool to go along with a chapter book we are reading. We also really enjoy the Mini Lapbooks, as my son is not a fan of the big regular lapbooks that require a lot of writing.

Organizational System: Sue Patrick's Workbox System This system has transformed our school day and my son's outlook on it as well. He can see how much work is left and is much more motivated to get it done. He also has become more independent because of it. Workboxes have helped me to be better prepared for each week and we don't have to run around looking for materials in between each subject. Yes, there was some work involved in getting it all set up, but once it was, it made my life much easier. Even filling the boxes each night only takes me a few minutes. I would highly recommend this system to anyone! And if you don't have a lot of space, there are yahoo workbox groups with people who have tons of suggestions for that.

So there you have it. Those are my choices so far for this new school year.



Jessica @ Mother of Action said...

Yes, I love Sue Patrick Workbox System! I used this system last year, and although I didn't post, we might use it again this year. I tweaked it a small fraction, but that is the joy of being a homeschool mom/teacher right?? LOL! I will be using CM methods this I'll see how it'll work with Sue Patrick! Thanks for sharing! Happy Homeschooling.

Dawn said...

Thank you so much for The Young Scientist's link, I believe this will be perfect for my son. Only day two of the blog hop and I already have to add to my list!
We also use the Sue Patrick Workbox System only we've had to adapt it for lack of floor space. My 7 year old loves knowing where we start and where we finish and his mom loves that she has less stress with all of the question's.
Thank You again. Enjoy your year!

Heidi said...

I have added some new things to my list as well as I go through everyone's blogs. The blog hop has been wonderful!