Curriculum

I'm amazed at how long we've been doing this already. Long enough that Dragon is starting to demand inclusion, so in addition to Hero finishing up second grade, we've got preschool starting up again, which will gradually ramp its way up into real school... and it doesn't take that long. My babies are growing! Even Tigress isn't so much of a babe anymore!

Anyway. Here's an overview of what we do with Preschool and Kindergarten. In our home, to try to find a division between them would be artificial. It's just a gradual building of expectations as the munchkins grow and their capacity increases.


This is what we're using, as of May 2014.

Posts on Classical Education.
Posts on planning school.
Posts on LDS lesson plans.


Phonics:
Happy Phonics is what Dragon sees, along with some extra games I make up. Or he will, soon. He's very close to making that first blend. I also use The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading to make sure that I don't miss anything. I love the games in Happy Phonics, particularly for a young learner, but the instructions could use some work. On the other hand, the Ordinary Parents' Guide, on its own, is so dry and dull I can hardly stand to read it myself. But they make beautiful music together. Hero's reading has taken off, and he's pretty well done with phonics. Yay!!!

For a more complete review of the programs we use, look here.
Posts on Phonics.


Math:
We've been using Math Expressions and Miquan. We're using Math Expressions less and less all the time; Hero explores so much through Miquan that I have a horrible time keeping him in a decent place in the other book. I gave him parts of the placement test for Beast Academy 3A, and he's slow, but able. The plan is to switch into Beast Academy. There's just too much of Math Expressions that doesn't work for us, even though it's a really good program.

Dragon is doing great with his counting, in both English and Japanese. He's still mostly informal about it, since he's still pretty little, but we're starting to dip our toes into math more and more all the time.

Posts on Math.


Nature Study:
Oi. Nature Study is an ongoing challenge. I am a huge Nature Study fan, but it's a struggle actually getting it done. However. We have been reading the Burgess Bird Book, and we're starting to learn some of the bird songs from there. The kids are really enjoying that. And it's nearly garden time (finally - we plant around Memorial Day this far north), and there'll be some good stuff with that. We are gradually hitting a stride where this actually happens.

Posts on Nature.


Science:
I've gradually realized that we do science very organically, very un-schooly. We'll do something formal for a while, but then we get distracted by something else. With the Daddy being an engineer, and me liking astronomy, and various other things that our family routinely does, we get a lot more than I was realizing. I don't worry about science for pre-K/K, it's just whatever Dragon happens to pick up on. For Hero, we sat down to "study" the body, and other than the reproductive system he pretty much knew the stuff in the picture books already. But as for on-going stuff that keeps coming back, both Hero and I still like astronomy. And we've been playing around with some kitchen chemistry using the book "How Baking Works," which my cousin used in culinary school, and recommends highly. We do about a paragraph a week (when we do it) because there tends to be background stuff to fill in (like what is an molecule, which required explaining atoms and elements...), and we also end up doing a lot of baking to see the differences its talking about.

Posts about Science.


Language Arts:
Dragon won't do this stuff for a long time yet. For Hero:

Rod & Staff grammar is not exciting, but I'm seeing good come from it. We do it a little bit at a time, and I often reduce the writing because Hero's endurance for that is still minimal, though it is growing.

All About Spelling 1 is a hit. Now that his reading is taking off, we're starting to work with spelling a bit. So far, it's easy, and that's OK with me. I like how thorough this program is, and how it reinforces the phonics rules we've already learned. I also like how it's got hands-on and aural components worked right in there.

Copywork is a regular part of our day. I haven't purchased a handwriting program; I just go print out whatever letters I notice he needs work on, using this free Zaner-Bloser program. They're hoping that I'll buy the full version, but so far I'm not feeling the need. We copy scripture verses, lines from books, and practice whatever random letters I notice that Hero is still struggling with. Hero is also starting to write more with our narrations, which are primarily related to history. We also are doing small amounts of Japanese copywork to start learning their alphabet, though this is a much lower priority than getting the English writing happening well.

Posts on Narration.
Posts on Spelling.

History:
We're using the Story of the World 2 as our main history text, supplemented by all kinds of picture books, read alouds, and websites. The SOTW activity guide has some great suggestions, more than we'll be able to use,  and the Usborne Internet-linked History Encyclopedia has additional resources for some topics. We can also print coloring pages, flannel board characters and other items from the Childrens' Friend archives.

Posts on History.

Read Alouds:
I try to have a chapter book that I am reading out loud on a regular basis. I did not expect this to be one of the most difficult things to make happen in our homeschool, but it's turned out that way. I love doing the actual reading, but picking new books always difficult. If we get stuck and I can't find one that makes me happy, then I read poetry for a while instead. Titles Hero has enjoyed include:

Pippi Longstocking
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
1001 Arabian Nights (adapted)
Sir Gawain and the Green Night
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Beowulf (adapted)

Posts about Read-Alouds.

Japanese:
We do kind of a hodge-podge of things for this. Our spine is Japanese Pod 101. I have a bunch of their mp3s that I downloaded, and both Hero and I are working through them. I studied Japanese in college, but never got very good at it, and the podcasts are perfect for me. Hero isn't so crazy about them, but is a good sport about doing them most of the time. The more that I learn and re-learn, however, the more I'm able to chatter at my kids in Japanese. We're getting a couple of sets of words that they're pretty comfortable with: animals, body parts, and foods they all do pretty well with. I also often listen to the news or other fully Japanese language programs in the background to help us all to start catching the rhythms and patterns of the language. The combination seems to be working very nicely, and I see all three of the kids getting more and more comfortable with the language all the time, though it's going to be a long way to fluent for any of us.

Posts about Japanese.


Latin:
I was not sure that we would do this, and thought that if we did, we'd do it later, since we're already doing Japanese, but recently felt very strongly prompted to start it, now. So we're starting. We use Song School Latin, and Hero appears to be enjoying it quite a bit.


Art:
OK. Art is something that I want to do, but getting it done is hard. Hero's Daddy and I used to do quite a bit of drawing, but the more kids we have, the less drawing we do. And we miss it. I want Hero to know the pleasure of a nice afternoon of drawing or other art. Since I feel that drawing and writing are closely related, I have somewhat combined the two, and it's helping to get things done. We have been using the book How to Draw 101 Funny People, and he's having a good time with it. His drawings have improved considerably. We've also introduced picture studies, and he likes these a lot. Our first artist was Dan Scott, a current-day fantasy artist.

Resources for Art Appreciation:
The Vincent Van Gogh Gallery
Claude Monet
Auguste Renoir Gallery
Mary Cassatt
Edward Degas

Posts about Arts N Crafts.


Scripture:
We read daily as a family from the Book of Mormon. Hero and I are reading, at his request, the Doctrine and Covenants. This is an extremely slow process, because he asks me to "stop and go and stop and go." That is, I read a bit, then explain it in plain English. More and more, now, I ask him to have a guess at what it might mean before I explain things. We also do a scripture box for verse memorization with both boys. I am in the process of building the habit of reading scriptures daily with Dragon too: we're reading the Book of Mormon as well, and he's about halfwat through the volume. Baby Girl sleeps a lot still, but scripture is her first read-aloud, and we're starting to get a few verses here and there.  My goal with all this is to instill a love of the scriptures early, and to help my kids be first-language fluent in what I fondly refer to as "scripture speak." It's just not the same as every day language!

Posts about Matters of Faith.

And that's what we're learning!

Posts labeled Preschool
Posts labeled Kindergarten
Posts labeled Grammar Stage (aka elementary school)
Posts labeled Classical Homeschooling

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