Monday, January 11, 2016

Curriculum and School Plans for 2016

Basic goals/philosophies
Right off the bat, I have tried many kinds of homeschooling. Philosophically, I love Unit Studies and their many variations. Unfortunately, they just don't work for us. This means a lot of different homeschooling methods and curricula are automatically removed from consideration. Same for CM unfortunately.

I like the idea, basically, of the online programs that control progress and do the grading, like CTC (buy through Cathy Duffey Reviews and you can get a big homeschool discount). This seems to best insure the right balance between drill-and-kill and not-bogging-down.

Games do this quite well, especially the ones with logins so progress can be saved from day to day or computer to computer.

Next, workbooks work best for me. They keep me on track and cut out my having to plan the day by day stuff (I just can't be the expert in every subject).

And free is always good.

I don't do good with open ended things, or boring texts. So taking all that into consideration:

(Sorted by subject)
  • Bible
    • Private Prayer- Make sure each one has a prayer journal if they want one.
    • Private Bible-Make sure they all have Bibles and reading charts, 15 minutes/day.
    • Foundations-12+ must go through this book at least once. It was written by Grandpa.
    • Together Proverbs
      • Joshua Trace
      • Jane, Jackie, dictate
      • Jennifer and up, own words
    • Bible Story - Draw a picture, give a caption. Ideally, I would have any famous pictures plus a couple of children's Bible pictures of each story, but that's work I know I won't always get to. I am assembling this at
    • Memory Verse- copy into a notebook, practice each day
    • Trivia/Catechism 
  • Language Arts
    • Phonics/reading- Joshua is the only one still doing phonics. 
      • I will start him on Noah Webster Reading Handbook, Bob's Books, and McGuffey Primer this spring. 
      • To fulfill the desire for a workbook (his), I might buy
        • Abeka-2 books, $29 (ABC123, Writing with Phonics K4)
        • Alphabet island $15 cbd- seems it was too confusing, focusing too much on the characters, not the letters
        • All about read $24.95
          Explode the code <$10- Cathy Duffey top 102. Simple.
      • Add to that Starfall and other apps and I don't think he will have any problems.
      • Older kids I will require to have a fun book going though that is not usually an issue (they all like to read).
    • Penmanship- This year I had a book printed for each of the five youngest with the alphabet done as I want it, plus their name. They were to trace than copy. Jane hated it. The others liked it OK. Josh ignored it. Jess is only half done and she is farther than anyone else.
    • Typing-,, or!game Create an account and practice 15 minutes a week?
    • Spelling- All About Spelling: the "official" way to use it is: 
      • put the tiles in ABC order each day (older kids do it backwards), 
      • review the not-yet-mastered cards plus what the beginning of the lesson says to review, 
      • learn the lesson using the tiles, 
      • practice with tiles and pen, 
      • then test the new words and rules, 
      • then practice some more with the suggested dictation. 
      • Go through the AAS app (review phonograms)
      • Copy rules and new words to a 3x5
      • Review none-masterd cards
      • Test- this will cost less (because I don't have to buy a set of cards for each child), be faster on a daily basis, and do a better job of instilling the words and rules.
      • Spelling City is $30 for 5 students. Ok, just put together a free account. It allows me to make and save spelling lists. I have entered the words from level 1 (170 of them) and assigned them to my youngest children. Playing these games would take the place of copying the words onto 3x5s. Future levels should probably be entered in 10 words/lesson instead of 50. Something to think about buying (have to buy to keep lists i think) With it, spelling would look like:
        • Go through AAS app
        • Copy rules into a notebook from the week's lesson (would still need to buy book 4 $22 for just the teacher's manual, $40 for the kit)
        • Play some games (including the one that alphabetizes and the one that identifies the parts of speech)
        • Either test with me or let the program test.
    • Grammar- Easy Grammar and Daily Grams. Quick, easy, satisfying. Though in a  lot of ways I liked Analytical Grammar, it doesn't lend itself well to my monitoring and the kids don't seem to really be learning. Not quite enough drill-and-kill (or maybe I am just using it too independently for me to see what they are learning). However, EG and GD, though designed to go together with new books each year, they were also designed for the public school classroom. 180 lessons in each book x 2 books. Cathy Duffey recommends only using one or the other (going back and forth) and counting on using each book for 1 1/2- 2 years. She points out that the only real difference between levels is the reading level, maybe a bit more difficulty in grammar as you go up, but not to any real extent. Grammar is grammar, so skipping a couple of levels here and there is no big deal and the "grade level" doesn't really coordinate to grades much anyway. We are trying this now. I think I disagree with Mrs. Duffey. I think they are needing the instruction in EG, but the drill-and-kill in DG (takes less than 10 minutes per day each). So, I think I will buy one of each for each still doing elementary grammar (2 or 3 girls).  The company went to a 1 book format for high school as well as second grade.
The biggest problem is the money. Though these books are about average in price ($27 for the teachers book/answer key, $14 for a workbook), when you begin multiplying them by four children, well, it adds up. I do have a few of the answer keys left over from previous uses with older siblings (EG 3 and 5, and DG 3 and 6), so if I place them according to that more than age/grade level, I can save some money. Still, I'm not happy with the potential cost.
      • Jane is easy. She will go ahead and finish 2nd grade, then go on the the 3rd grad books, both of which I already own the keys to, so $28 if anything."If anything" because she won't be finished with 2nd grade for some time, so could just continue with this until tax time 2017. Similarly,
      • Jackie is doing DG3 right now and isn't even close to finished (I just started them in it a month ago). She is in grade 6, will change in July. So, I could get her grade 6 in both (boosting her confidence) and only have to buy one answer key. EGgr6key $34.95, DGgr6workbook $13.95 for a total of about $49 for one child. :-( Alternately, I could put her in EG5workbook (have the key) at $13.95 and DG6workbook (also have the key) for $13.95 for a total of $28. Or let her continue in DG3 and add EG5workbook for $13.95,
      • Jenn is doing DG6 right now. I could just buy her EG+ ($34.95 designed for Jr high) or the EG6 to go with what she is doing (same $34.95)  It would be cheapest to just go with Ugr8 ($26.95) which is what she needs by grade. Or even just add EG5 workbook $13.95.
      •  Jess is doing EG5 now. Pretty much ditto Jenn, but with different numbers. Jess would be in Ultimate gr 10 by age $26.95  I could just buy he EG6 to go with it ($34.95) or EG5 which I already have the key to ($13.95) and call it even (she would be doing EG5 with DG3 in other words, costing only $13.95). $54.85 total
    • Composition-Honestly, what we are doing is fine. Writing on blogs daily. May add weekly assignments ("What I did this weekend" on Monday, comment on the news on Tuesday, etc.) but probably not. There is just something wrong with telling a child "You have to quit writing your book until you do your composition ("learn to write") assignment."
    • Poetry- Same o. Maybe require to write some. Think I have an instruction book.
    • Modern (Spanish)- Duolingo. Is Rosetta Stone better? Yep. Is it $200 a year better? Nope. Duolingo is free, has individual logins, contained totally on the internet, so your place isn't lost if your computer crashes, a problem I had with Rosetta Stone. They solved it by moving to cloud based, but that makes an annual subscription cost (the $200 mentioned above). And that's only for 5 kids.
    • Classical (Latin) - English from the roots Up (I have. Would have them copy each root onto a 3x5) supplemented by the Latin web site
    • Alternative Languages (Signs, Morse Code, Braille, flags, Klingon, Elvish, Minion, Eperante)
  • Math
    • CTC- We are using this right now. I am really liking it. One year's subscription covers video lessons and assignments for ALL grades for ALL children (up to 5). It also keeps all the records. Josh should be old enough to do it on a touch screen, though i don't think handles a mouse well yet. Might do a dollar store book for a bit.
I had the three younger girls start in kindergarten and work their way up. In two months Jennifer (12 and a bit insecure) has finished 2 grades and is a good fourth of the way through 2nd, Jackie (11 and a lot insecure) finished K and is about half done with 1st (really boosting her confidence), Jane (8 and confidant and good at book work) has finished K and started 1st. I had Jess (14 and reasonably confident as long as it doesn't involve fractions) start in 6th, the last real full year before pre-algebra. She is more than half done (remember, we have only been using this for 2 months) and pleasantly surprised at how well she did in fractions. At this rate they will all be beyond grade level by the time we've been in the program a year. 
It covers more than MUS and because the computer grades everything and keeps all the records (including telling me how many times they had to do a lesson before passing it and at what percentage) and I can log in and look at their progress I feel like they are learning more. And with the Cathy Duffey homeschooling discount, it will only cost the same (or less!) than MUS, especially when you figure that we don't have a DVD player that works with their videos anymore and the live stream option is $40/grade/year! $120
    • Mental- Saxon  The only thing I like more about Saxon is the mental math at the beginning of each lesson. So we are doing that part, one lesson a day, with the three middle girls.
    • Logic - Games/links on minimum of 15 minutes a week, Mind Benders, Fallacy Detective, Thinking Toolbox, Youtube classes. Have Logic Primer.
  • Social Studies- I think I will just require everyone to be reading or researching something in this category at all times. This allows everyone to pursue their own particular interests.
    • World History- Streams or Abeka or SOTW
    • US History- Light and the Glory series or abeka
    • Economics- Biblical economics in comics and economics in one lesson are the best
    • Geography- games on the internet or phone.
  • Science- other than the notes below, require each to be studying something.
    • Health and Nutrition- Edit Masterpiece with an eye towards making a child's book, emailing each bit as I do it to them?
    • Astronomy- Weekly, Wednesday night lessons?
    • Chemistry-
    • Physics-
  • Art- Goal would be to understand the connection between art and religion. Also that they would be able to express themselves and communicate in picture/drawing.
    • Appreciation/history- "How Then Should We Live" is good for art history and philosophy as is the Rick steves book with naked David. Do they really need more than that?
    • Drawing- Drawing textbook each year.
    • Painting
    • Sculpting
    • Crafts
  • Music- Goal is to be able to play piano, guitar (or other string), and recorder (or other wind) in church. To have enough basics to be able to learn anything they want later.
    • Appreciation/history- "God's Gift of Music" plus Wikipedia might be all they need. Assign according to age. This before Art App, if only one per year. Jr high?
    • Theory/reading- apps? good application for kill and drill. Theory book, maybe, for olders, but really, the games would do best teaching note recognition.
    • Rhythm- apps?
    • Voice-iPhone app- blobs.
    • Piano-I think I just need to teach this straight and monitor it better. Maybe look for a better instruction/lesson book? Look at instruction books at dads plus fake books.
    • String- JD guitar for worship book plus ditto above. Could use Fake books, actually.
    • Wind- I can teach recorder, need a better book. Ditto the fake books. 
Plus, I want to increase physical activity all around. 

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