Since deciding to homeschool, one of the questions I get asked most often is: “What curriculum did you choose?” It’s not an easy decision. When you first make the choice to homeschool your kids, you’ll undoubtedly do a lot of research and discover the rich and varied options that exist. Not only are there many solid curriculums to choose from, but many different schools of thought and methodologies to employ. As I stated in “Finding Your Homeschooling Fit“, you have to do what works for YOU. This is not a choice that can be made based on what anyone else is doing. (I mean it!) There was a homeschooling blogger I followed for years, and when we decided to homeschool, I realized she used a method that would just make me crazy. Then there is another “trend” in homeschooling right now that I realized just didn’t fit with my philosophy of teaching. I had to choose the methodology and materials that worked for my teaching style and my children’s learning styles. I had to find a method that excited me as a teacher, would challenge and engage my kids, and would work with our schedule, lifestyle, and personalities.
Today we officially start school, and I can say that we are all genuinely excited to start. I love what we chose and can’t wait to begin! We are eclectic homeschoolers. I am using curriculum for math, building on and adding to a curriculum for science, using self-designed unit studies for social studies, and weaving our reading and writing instruction into our other subject areas.
Math: Saxon Homeschool
While we will be doing many of our subjects together, math was one of the areas where I felt like my kids really needed individual instruction, and it was clear early on that we would need to find a curriculum that allowed me to meet each of my kids where they were at.
One thing I loved about Saxon, was that they offered a test that allowed you to determine which curriculum you should start with. Their placement tests allowed me to determine just where to start so I wouldn’t waste their time. My kids will be more engaged in math because they are working at their level.
Another reason I chose the earlier editions of Saxon is the lack of Common Core. I did not want my children anywhere near Common Core and wanted a curriculum that was written prior to the changes that have occurred in math instruction.
Child 1/Kindergarten a Year Early: Saxon Math K Homeschool
Child 2/2nd Grade: Saxon Math 3 Homeschool
Child 3/4th Grade: Saxon Math 5/4 Homeschool
Science: Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Creatures of the Fifth Day
Science was another area where I knew I couldn’t design the curriculum on my own. (Know your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher!) I did a lot of research and loved what I saw in Apologia. I loved that it aligns with our faith while still being solid scientifically. Through experiments, inquiry, and firsthand experiences, the kids will spend the year learning all about the ocean and a variety of ocean animals. I love that we will really “go deep” and become experts of sorts.
Apologia had a lot of great choices, but I allowed the kids to select our area of study. I told them the choices Apologia offered, and let them choose what they wanted to learn about. I think it is SO important to let our homeschooled kids have choices in their education. I’ve always been an advocate of child-led instruction. Kids will engage more/dive deeper if they are genuinely excited about and interested in what they are learning. My kids couldn’t wait to learn about the ocean and ocean animals (and possibly take a few field trips to the beach.)
Because I’m not a huge fan of notebooking, I used the Notebooking Journal primarily for the additional lesson ideas and experiments it provided. My kids will be doing a handful of the pages for their morning warm-up activities.
In addition to the lessons and experiments as outlined in the book, I supplemented the material with a variety of fiction and non-fiction books (including a handful of great chapter books), a handful of YouTube clips, a few movies, more experiments, and a variety of field trips. *I will likely be detailing our Apologia curriculum Lesson by Lesson, as many homeschooling families use this curriculum.
Unit 1: Westward Expansion (August-December)
Unit 2: World War 2 (January – May)
How much fun I had developing and designing this curriculum affirms that I chose the style of homeschooling that works best for me as a teacher. I pieced together two great unit studies using a variety of resources. The kids and I will read a TON of fiction and non-fiction picture books and chapter books, do a variety of hands-on activities, play games, watch a handful of movies, go on a variety of field trips, create, cook, discuss, and write.
So much of the writing instruction I give the kids will be tied to what we are reading and learning about in social studies. The kids will be writing responses to discussion questions, writing reports, opinion pieces, poetry, tall tales, and other creative writing pieces based on/inspired by our studies.
Additionally, we will be doing a self-created grammar lesson each day, focusing on different parts of speech, conventions, writing rules, etc.
My husband will be doing music instruction, woodworking, and other project-based learning with the kids.
We will be doing a Bible lesson each morning to start our day.
I hope to share many of our lessons in detail as the year goes on, in the hopes that it will help/inspire another homeschooling family. Have a wonderful year, and please feel free to ask me any questions. Have a great year!