I can't believe we are in the final weeks of our sixth year of homeschooling. I have already begun making a list of books to purchase for next school year. (Which is one of my favorite things to do.) Ron and I pray each year and seek God's will for whether to continue to homeschool our children or to place them in public or private school. So far, with the exception of Z's first grade year, we have always felt God leading us to homeschool.
I constantly remind myself to be thankful for the incredible opportunity it is to be at home with my children. I don't take for granted the blessing it is to be here with my kids each and every day. God daily uses my children to teach me about my relationship with Him, and I have never prayed longer or harder than I have since undertaking this grand adventure. In fact, I'd say my prayer life has grown by leaps and bounds! I need Jesus each and every day because the selfish woman that I am could not do what He calls me to do without Him. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids to pieces, but they make me crazy from time to time. Being home with them 24/7 is hard; teaching them concepts or subjects they hate is even harder and tests my patience.
Homeschooling has afforded us the freedom to make school fit our needs. I've discovered, especially now as I prepare to have all four kids in school, that each kid has a completely different learning style and pace. Where one kid speeds through math and spelling, another may take ages to master the same material but may also be better at history and science. Some do well with simple worksheets whereas others prefers to talk it through or use manipulatives. One works well independently, but the others need me to walk them through their work and discuss each step.
It's a joy and pleasure to watch them as they finally grasp a concept we've worked on for so long or as they learn something that fascinates them. It's fun to hear them talking to each other about the things they've learned. I've also learned a lot. I guess I've been in school right along with them. I'm just sorry I didn't enjoy it as much when I did it the first time.
This year God has taught me to relax and not worry so much about what the outside world thinks we should be doing. I've previously buckled under the pressure of keeping up with the social standards of what my kids need to learn and when, even if they weren't quite ready for it yet. I've pushed and pushed at times to make sure they learn as much as possible in a short amount of time because, frankly, I was more worried about how it'd make me look. All that caused was frustration and irritability and ugly attitudes. I did not embark on this journey to recreate a "normal" classroom. I long to make learning fun and different and part of our everyday life. So what if there are certain areas where one kid falls behind? That child will catch on and get it in their own time and we'll all be happier for it.
I yearn to train them up the way in which God calls me, and not the way in which the world tells me. One thing I want to do more of next year is in-depth Bible reading and character training, instilling in them Godly character traits so they will know how to handle life's issues the biblical way. Their time under our influence is really not long at all, so I need to make sure they are equipped to follow God's leading in their lives when they do leave our home.
This next year I will have four children to homeschool. I'm fairly certain this will take even more prayer for patience as I learn to split my time and attention four ways. We complete history, science and Bible together, so that should help. Kindergarten isn't as demanding as 7th grade, so there's that, too.
Before I get into my list of books for next year, here's a fantastic blog post about waiting until your child is ready.
So without further ado, here is my wish list of books for the fall (it's not set in stone yet):
History: We have been going through the Mystery of History course for 2 years now and will continue to use it the next two years. This has been our favorite history course since we began homeschooling. This course can be as involved or relaxed as you want it to be. I usually make Z and E write a summary of the lesson and we create a timeline figure to hang on the wall.
Science: We will continue to use Apologia this year, but Z will be using Exploring Creation with General Science for 7th grade and E and L will do Botany together. We use the note-booking journals that go with the text book.
Bible: Next year, we are going to attempt a new Bible curriculum called Who is God? What We Believe Volume 1 from Apologia. I plan to also use the accompanying coloring book for the two younger kids. We've never attempted anything like this and I'm excited to try it out.
Math: They will all be using A Beka math. Because E and L used it this past year with great results, we continue to use it. Z will be in Basic Mathematics for 7th grade; E will be in Arithmetic 5; L will continue in her Arithmetic 2 that she began at the end of this year after completing her first grade math book; and S will be using Number Skills for K5.
Language Arts/Grammar: Z will continue using the Fix It! Grammar series (she's halfway through the second book and after finishing that one she'll begin book 3). She's made great strides in grammar since beginning this course and seems to really enjoy it. I actually enjoy it, as well. E will continue in the Easy Grammar Grade 5 that he started a few weeks ago after finishing the Grade 4 book; L will be in BJU English 2: Writing and Grammar. I've never used BJU english before so this will be something new for us all. I plan to start her in Easy Grammar next year so this will be a good bridge between phonics work and grammar and will allow her to work on her creative writing skills. S will be using readingeggs.com each day. Both E and L used it in kindergarten and loved it and were fantastic readers and spellers by the end of the year. I'm hoping he'll enjoy it since it's computer-based (and more like a game than work).
Writing: This year I will incorporate a writing curriculum for both Z and E. They could both use some extra practice and study on how to write creatively and beautifully. I have decided to try this with both of them.
Handwriting: I am not a stickler for teaching my kids cursive, but I do want them to have decent, legible handwriting. For that reason, I started them in the Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting series a few years ago. It is a beautiful and easy-to-learn italic print/cursive course. Everyone but Z (who has finished the course) will be using this.
Spelling: E will be using A Beka Spelling, Vocabulary, and Poetry 5 and L will be using A Beka Spelling, Vocabulary, and Poetry 3.
Vocabulary: Z and E will also be trying out this vocabulary curriculum. A friend of mine discovered it and liked it so I figured we'd give it a shot as well. I may bump Z up to the next level.
Foreign Language: I have never used a foreign language course for any of my kids, but Z has been begging to learn French so we bought Rosetta Stone French Level 1 for Homeschool a few months ago and she will continue to use it until she has completed it.
As I mentioned before, any of this is subject to change, but for now it's the list for the fall of 2015. I hope that it has been helpful for those of you trying to decide on your own curriculum needs for your family.