Summer is almost over. I thought I would feel more sad but I don't. I'm ready to start the school year, ready to have a regular routine, ready to not have a week of this and then a week of that. It was a good summer. We had fun spending time with family and friends. I'm just ready to move on.
Last year, we switched math curriculum halfway through the school year so I had planned to continue doing math through the summer so the kids would be able to catch up. We did it about 10 days total all summer. Oops. So I started it up again last week and was pleasantly surprised to see they hadn't forgotten much information. Whew! And Tori was catching on quicker than before. The numbers seem to be making more sense to her and she's able to remember addition facts a little easier. This was a much needed boost of confidence for me as we go into the school year.
One of the drawbacks of homeschooling is that you choose your own curriculum. It's not really a drawback until you begin second-guessing your decision and wondering if another curriculum would make your child smarter and your job easier. I tend to second-guess every decision I ever make. I second-guess the decisions Josh makes for me. And the ones he makes for himself.
Our first year of homeschooling, I chose curriculum from A Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. I enjoyed all the materials but we didn't finish because the twins were born in early February. We still did some work but it wasn't consistent.
The second year, I chose Christian Light because it was all workbooks and Brendan could do them on his own, with a little direction from me. We both hated them. He didn't like all the seatwork and endless workbook pages and I didn't like making him do them. I also disagreed with some of the things he was expected to learn and remember.
The third year I had two that would be in school (before this, Tori had just done little workbooks with us) and I had toddlers. I decided to try Sonlight, which uses mostly books (I think I've expressed my love for these before) and also comes with a teacher's guide already planned out. It felt like Christmas when these boxes arrived. The Sonlight was definitely a better fit for us than Christian Light but as the year went on, I noticed some things I didn't like. The math books they recommended were time consuming for me and seemed to move rather quickly before making sure the student understood the material. Halfway through the year, we went back to Math-U-See and I immediately noticed an improvement. The history books were interesting to read and look at but we didn't do anything with the information after we read it. Around March, I started re-reading A Well-Trained Mind and some other resources to figure out what to do the next year.
I just ordered our curriculum last week and feel good about what we'll be doing this year. I liked the reading program that Sonlight provided for new readers - they give you a guide with what book to have them read and how many pages each day. I didn't have to do this with Brendan - he learned to read when he was 4 and was reading chapter books easily in 2nd grade. He's now reading The Hobbit. Yes, the same one I just finished not too long ago. Reading is not coming as easily for Tori so I want to make sure we have a practice time each day. I also liked the science program through Sonlight. They use fun, regular books and then have worksheets that go along with them. They also have experiments you can do every week and provide the special materials for the experiments and give you a dvd so you can see how to do them (or just watch them if you're too lazy to do them yourself - this happened more than once).
So this year, we are using Math-U-See for math (still working through last years stuff but will order the new books when we finish these), Sonlight for science and Tori's reading, Winston Grammar (a grammar program that I've heard good things about), Writing In Narrative (a writing program that I've heard good things about), Spelling Workout (a spelling workbook that we've used before), Italic Handwriting (a handwriting program that we've used before), and Story of the World (middle ages - I think that will be awesome) for history. The only unknowns are grammar and writing. I like that we've used everything else before and will feel comfortable with it. The Story of the World are history books written by Susan Wise Bauer in an easy-to-read format. There is an activity book that comes with it that has map work and coloring pages and fun ideas that correlate to what you are reading. I remember being so impressed when we used this with Brendan in 1st grade. We put all his pages in a binder and my parents came to visit one time and he went through every page and described what it was about and what it meant. I couldn't believe it had all sunk in!
I opened a box today with the Sonlight science books and Tori asked when we could start school. Here's to a great year of learning!