Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What *is* homeschooling curriculum???

Since so many of our friends and family members are not very familiar with homeschooling, we get asked lots of questions.  Often, people are curious as to what we need to homeschool.  Many people think that public schools would give us the textbooks they use, and we would teach from that.  Actually, that's not the way it works at all.  At least in our state, we do not receive any free materials, nor are we required to teach exactly what the public schools teach.  I think this is wonderful, because it means we are free to choose to use the educational methods and philosophies that we think best.  And, lucky for us, there are tons of options of curricula designed especially for homeschooling, ranging from free to very expensive.  We have just finished gathering the materials for our first and second graders for the next school year, and I thought I would show you what that looks like for our family.

We chose to use Sonlight curriculum for next year, which is a literature based curriculum.  We are excited about this, especially now that all the books have arrived from all our orders!  We even had to buy a new bookshelf to hold all the wonderful books!  Here are all the books we will use for Science, Reading for our 1st grader, Reading for our 2nd grader, History, Geography, and Literature (read-aloud books):
Following Sonlight's suggestions, they are color-coded with stickers on the spine.  That's a whole lot of books for our little kids to read in one school year! If you look close, you can see the green dot books at the left for science, the yellow dot books which are readers for our 1st grader, the white dot books for our 2nd grader, and the pink dot books for history, geography, and read-alouds.

While this is primarily a literature based program, of course there is more than just great books.  On another shelf, we keep the instructor's manual (the lesson plans), and an organizer for each child with all their work pages.

Want a closer look at the lesson plans?

Yeah, there's a lot of lesson plans!  The binder is organized by week -- 36 weeks in a school year.  For each week, there are daily plans for Bible, History, Geography, and Literature (Read-Alouds) on one page.  Then there is a page per week for each child's Language Arts, Reading, Spelling, and Handwriting, and another page per week for Science.  And then there are pages and pages of notes and explanations.

Each child has their own organizer.  When I was a kid, we called these "Trapper Keepers," and we thought they were so cool!  It turns out my kids think they are cool, too!  In their binder, there are Language Arts worksheets, followed by Science worksheets.  What I  really like about this program is that it does have worksheets to reinforce concepts, but they are kept to a bare minimum -- one worksheet per week for Language Arts and one for science.  On the left side, you can see a math workbook and a handwriting workbook poking out, too.  Due to the inherent nature of those two subjects, they require daily workbook pages, of course. 

All of this wonderfully rich, literature-based curriculum does not come cheap.  Not including the music lessons, gymnastics, sports, co-op classes, science museum classes, etc., we will have spent nearly $1000 for curriculum for our preschoolers plus our 1st and 2nd graders for next year.  Of course, this is not nearly as expensive as private school, but it is a lot if you are comparing it to free public school.  (I know -- public school isn't free.  We pay for it in taxes, but we still have to pay those school taxes, too.)  Is it worth it?  We think so.  We see the close knit family that results from homeschooling, and we have the opportunity to nurture a love of learning, so that we have kids who learn through reading and thinking, not just completing workbook pages.  We think it is working so far.

1 comment:

  1. Oh fun! Sonlight is at the tip top of my list:) Also, you will use the materials for all your kids so in the end it is a good deal!


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