Monday, February 1, 2010
How do you know what to teach?
This is my first post for The Blog Cruise. The TOS Homeschool Crew will be answering homeschooling questions and the links to the TOS Crew bloggers that submit answers to the questions will be put up on the TOS Crew facebook page and on the Crew's Blog page.
Well the question for today's this week's post was,"How do you know what to teach?" Wow, there are so many ways to answer that question. I guess I will just do my best to answer how I choose what to teach. Maybe this will also help Anet@ButterflyWings who left a comment on my blog which said, "I am considering homeschooing, but wish I had started when my kids were younger. I'll be starting 4th and 6th grade. Any words of wisdom?" Anet@ButterflyWings I will write a post just for you this coming week... look for it. In the mean time if you have specific questions feel free to leave another comment.
First another of my blog posts that may also help: Not Back-to-School Blog Hop: Curriculum Week this post talks about the curriculum I choose, and am using, for this year.
Now to our subject for today.
First off I know what to teach because I have researched and studied and tried lots of different curriculum over the years. Some we have liked and some we have not liked.
Second I do not follow the layouts the public schools use. There are guides to what you children should know each year (some made just for homeschoolers, too) but I have always gone my own way and do not worry so much about them.
Third, I started out using a boxed curriculum. That means a whole curriculum from one company, in my case it was Bob Jones University Press. It is ok to use a curriculum from one place to start out. It will help you find out things you like and don't like. If you have time before you homeschool your kids I recommend lots of research and reading for Mom ahead of time. Also, looking at curriculum a friend is using, or going to a homeschool convention, can be eye opening and let you know we might like to try this or I/we would hate that. Oh, by the way the curriculum has to fit Mom as well as the kids because if Mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!! Oh one more thing before I go on to specific subjects... I have used and then sold a lot of curriculum, so if you can, leave a little money in the budget in case you hate what you bought. You can also get a decent education for the younger grades using the Internet and a library to get you by for a time, or change the curriculum to fit you.
For Bible we have used Egermeier's Bible Study book when they were young, Character Foundation Curriculum, Discover 4 Yourself Inductive Bible Studies for Kids, Young Peacemaker, and are now using and enjoying Grapevine O.T. Overview (see my review of this TOS product here).
History we go Chronologically. We started when my dd (now 23) was in 2nd grade by studying Egypt...then we did Greece, Rome, took a break to do Prairie Primer (Little House on the Prairie study), then did Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, Revolutionary time period, Expansion/Pioneers/early 1800's, Civil War, Early 1900's/WWI, Mid 1900's/WWII, then Modern Times. When we finished Modern History we just started over. I use many resources I have collected over the years and I did a blog post on History Resources and Where to Find Them that you might like to read. I make up my own units on each of these and use our books and library books to supplement.
Science I keep a list of topics we have covered through the years and I make sure to cover the major topics in a general rotation, though not a strict rotation. Making sure to cover Creation Science, Biology/Nature, Biology/Human Body, Biology/Plants and Animals, Earth Science- including Geology/Astronomy/Weather, Chemistry, and Physics so that the kids get exposed to each of these subjects 2 or 3 times in their homeschool journey. Again I use a lot of different curriculum that I have acquired over the years and I use library books and make up my own units on each of these.
Math it is easy. I use text books and always have. So we do the next lesson unless the child is struggling with a certain topic. If they are struggling I go back and explain again. They try the same types of problems. Sometimes they just did not understand the way the textbook explained it. Sometimes I have to go to my manipulatives and try to show how it works. Sometimes I have looked for other resources to help my child out: including another curriculum, supplemental booklets, and a math whiz friend, not that I am terrible at math, just to get another point of view.
Language Arts we have used a number of different curriculum. For the early years of teaching Phonics we used, and I still recommend, Bob Jones Beginnings. Here is a link to BJU for the K5 stuff. You can click on the teacher part and the student parts to see more details of what you get. If you have questions you can leave a comment. I used it for K5 for all my kids, though I used the older stuff since I have been homeschooling 19 years now, but the things I liked have not changed in the newer products.
For Language Arts I have never found anything I just loved, except for Grammar, and stuck with over the years. I have looked for weaknesses or areas that needed work in my children and have chosen curriculum I thought might help them. We have used Learning Language Arts through Literature, Complete Writing for the Primary Grades, Complete Writing for the Middle Grades, Wordly Wise, Megawords, Wordsmith Apprentice, Wordsmith, Wordsmith Craftsman, Movies as Literature, and Apples: Daily Spelling Drills for one of my daughters who struggled with spelling. We also partook in a couple of co-ops for writing so the girls could have a place to learn, share and have other mom's as their teachers. That worked when we had two cars, but now we are home bound. I also used The Art of Teaching Writing by Lucy McCormick Calkins and Writing Workshop Survival Kit to teach writing to my kids for a couple years. Daily Grams has been used almost every year from 3rd to Jr. High then they use Easy Grammar Plus for the 4 years of High school. We have also used spelling and language games for the computer like Jumpstart Reading, Jumpstart Spelling and Clue Finders for different grades, plus others. Not all at the same time of course.
Not to mention the enormous amount of educational games in our game closet!
Here is a post on our educational games. It is from 2008 so we have added a few since then. Homeschool Memoirs #12 - Let's Play a Game Also here is a post about our non-school games that has picture of our game closet: Favorite Non-School Games
We teach lots of other subjects but those are the basic subjects. Maybe I will do a post on teaching the "extra's", some time soon. I did a talk on that subject at our homeschool support group's moms meetings once.
So how do YOU know what to teach?
Be sure to check out the TOS Crew facebook page or the Crew's Blog page. Each week (on Tuesday), you'll find a brand new Blog Cruise topic and links to our answers. Next week's question: How do you know if your kids are keeping up with their peers?
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