Saturday, February 4, 2012

Curriculum Highlights

I don't have a post up of the curriculum we're using this year. I just didn't get around to it. Besides, it feels so permanent when put in a blog. What if I end up not liking it mid-year? What if I changed my mind and went with something else? What if? What if? What if? Ahh, that never ending nagger and creator of indecisiveness. This question (or some variation of it) stops me dead in my tracks more times than I'd care to cover here. So, I didn't write a curriculum post at the beginning of the school year.

With half the year over and safely tucked away, I feel confident in showing you what has worked for us and are "keepers" in our school.

For my oldest, a 7th grader this year, I opted for this program to lay a solid foundation on worldviews and logic. It is meaty, in depth and challenging.. and we love it! It references media and movies all over the place and (if you know us well) this is right up my and Chris' alley! We are big proponents of being conscious of the messages being sent with a movie and not just plop down in front of something and absorb it all without thinking it through and discarding what is truth and what doesn't align. This curriculum does that. It teaches middle schoolers to know what they believe and WHY (not just because mom and dad said to believe this). It also teaches them to apply logic to the messages bombarding them.

This wonderful curriculum is called "Lightbearers" and is created by Summit Ministries. It is a two thumbs up here!

Next up is our Grammar and Writing curriculum. It was introduced to us by a friend and we love it. We have taken our sweet time with this Level (4) because it is SO advanced and so concentrated that you can and there are only 8 levels, so what am I to do once we're done?! Eek! I've got to milk this baby! As someone who hold a degree in English, I have to say, this is the most comprehensive, organized curriculum I've seen that makes grammar and writing approachable! I can't imagine NOT using this curriculum. Ever! I wish I had been taught this way when I was in pubic school. I can't say enough great things about this curriculum! Now, don't get me wrong, the jingles are VERY corny and makes us raise an eyebrow at times BUT (and this is a big but) THEY. WORK. So, corny or not, I don't care. The boys retain the information through these jingles. So, it's a keeper in my book!

The curriculum I have referred so many friends to is Shurley English. It is EXCELLENT! Even when I purchase curriculum with built-in grammar or writing, I skip that (usually) because they usually pale in comparison of Shurley English's presentation of the material. I love, love, love this curriculum for its thoroughness and it's ability to make normally dreary topics into manageable chunks of information that is easily retained! Two thumbs up again!

I am definitely an eclectic homeschooling mama. There isn't one "style" that I'm particularly drawn to and feel the need to be 100% faithful to. I pick, what I consider to be, the best components of several styles and see what works for my kiddos. If it works, it stays. If it doesn't, it's gone and we find something else that works better. I am not compelled to stick with any one particular style because I don't think any of us fit into an exact mold or box when it comes to styles. I found this curriculum for our Bible time at a convention two years ago. It wasn't at its own booth nor was it being raved about from any one workshop. It was just quietly sitting on a shelf of a vendor with a wide-range of curriculum. I bought it and implemented it in our school. Since implementing, I'd started and stopped it, going to other curriculum suggestions friends have given me over the past year and a half but I always end up back here. We just love it.

Am I the only one who does that?! Stop something that is working because something that LOOKS better comes along?? Why do I DO that?!?! Well, I'm learning and I learned this lesson big time through this subject matter. The curriculum I have loved is called "God's Great Covenant" created by Classical Academic Press.

There are several things I don't really like about the Classical "style" of homeschoolng but, in this topic and in this season of our children's lives, THIS. WORKS. I know it works because they retain more knowledge in going through this curriculum than in any other we've tried to date. It is multi-age friendly. It is chronological. It is in-depth but in a kid-friendly in-depth kind of way. It. just. works. Why I stopped and started this curriculum a few times baffles me but I have learned my lesson. Don't throw out what is working!

It goes over Hebrew words and terms, the overarching theme of the Old Testament, and details how the OT points to our coming Savior, Jesus Christ. It is SO in-depth that it will take you two years to go through the Old Testament systematically and 1 year for the New Testament.
The Old Testament 1 book is written for a 2nd grade level but that is a surprise to me. It challenges the kids to remember many facts and is universal to several grade levels.

I will be adding another component for my oldest soon. Something for him to do on his own but this works wonderfully to lay a solid Biblical foundation.

I have to mention my love for Apologia. We have used their books since the first year we began homeschooling (4 years ago now!!). They are user-friendly, full of knowledge and LOTS of hands-on activities and makes science interesting for kids. It is also from a Biblical worldview which is a plus for me. We have thoroughly enjoyed working through the "Exploring Creation" series!

Last but not least, I must tell you about Truth in Science. I found this curriculum last summer, somewhere on the Internet and began researching it. Not much is written about it and I couldn't find any blog that was using it that could give a solid recommendation. So, I went directly to the publication company's website and began researching. Once my hesitations were answered and overcome, I ordered this curriculum for my 4th grader for this year. WE. LOVE. IT! It is systematic, thorough, methodical in presenting the two main worldviews on science (even to early elementary grades) and it encourages lots of important skills such as creating visual and oral presentations (which includes research and documentation) in addition to learning the material presented. Jake is enjoying it and I'm very impressed with this curriculum. And in case your wondering, yes, he does this AND the Apologia (we do Apologia on a MUCH slower schedule since both boys have their own grade-level science curriculum). I just couldn't give up Apologia this year!
My biggest disappointment over Truth in Science is that I didn't find it before my oldest moved into middle school. Currently, their curriculum only addresses Grades 1-6.

So, there you have it! The keepers of our school curriculum! I like others but these are the ones that I wouldn't want to do school without!

What is your "can't do without" curriculum?

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