Curriculum Revisited

Virtually every homeschool resource I’ve put my hands on since we began the homeschooling journey cautioned that any curriculum will likely change at least year to year, if not more frequently.  Well, we experienced that odd phenomenon ourselves this year, and already know we’ll be changing most of the rest for fifth grade.

Math – This is the only one that has proven a stable resource without much struggle.  We chose Abeka’s 4th grade curriculum, and it really works with Bug’s learning style.  We’re repeating it for 5th.

Language Arts – Given how we got started, the curriculum we wanted – Saxon Hake’s Grammar & Writing – had not yet released a 4th grade version by the time we needed to start, so I flung together a hodgepodge of workbooks and Time4Learning lessons.  Suffice to say, my amateur knowledge of curriculum building has proven acceptable, but I definitely know it could be better, particularly since I’ve swapped workbooks a few times through the year when one proved too “baby” and others proved too advanced to start in them.  His curriculum is also woefully short on actual writing, but I think that is a happy accident since his understanding was so far behind that we had to catch up on a lot of the rules of grammar and I believe it would have been overwhelming; we’ll get to it.  Thankfully, Saxon Hake Grammar & Writing does have their 5th grade version already published, so that is what we’re going to use in 5th, and it weaves writing into the curriculum without too much stress or strain, according to reviews we’ve read.

Reading – Much like Language Arts, the Reading curriculum was flung together out of workbooks and Time4Learning, and it has proven acceptable.  That is to say, I have not swapped anything out, but feel it could be more organized.  For 5th grade, we’re going to try “180 Days of Reading” for more formal story element study, and stick to the tried and true method of fostering reading enjoyment by letting Bug select “fun” stories to read and discuss.

Science – We used Science Odyssey (Earth & Space and Life) along with Time4Learning in 4th, and it was good if a bit heavy.  Part of that is all the ground needed to cover since his understanding was so far behind where we felt it should be.  For 5th, we’re going to do Science Odyssey Chemistry with a mix of Health & Safety tossed in using a variety of website resources.  It will also include a healthy dose of stargazing and study of the universe beyond our atmosphere so long as he’s got an interest in Astronomy.

Vocabulary & Spelling – Like Language Arts and Reading, this was also tossed together at the spur of the moment due to lack of time from an assortment of workbooks.  It is the one subject he was not very behind in, and it’s the subject we have not stressed on too much.  Thankfully, Saxon Hake’s Grammar & Writing incorporates this into their Language Arts program, so it will not be a separate “class” next year.

History & Geography – In 4th, we used Abeka and continue to use it, but unfortunately he has not taken to it as well as we think he could.  For 5th, we’re going to try History Odyssey (from the publisher of his science curriculum) in the 2nd level of Ancients, supplemented with a free resource offered by the American Historical Education Foundation.

Handwriting & Communication – This was not taught, per se, in 4th grade, but since Vocab/Spelling will not be a course, we’re replacing it with Handwriting & Communication in 5th.  Bug’s handwriting is atrocious; he never clicked with the methods taught in school, and Mom’s corrections are not clicking either.  I’ve found a set of workbooks, Pentime, that are highly reviewed and within our budget, and we’re also going to start Typing lessons using free resources from TypingWeb.com and BBC.

Spanish – Also not something we taught in 4th grade, but he’s expressed an interest in learning another language, and who are we to stand in the way of his interests?  We found VisualLink Spanish, which has very high reviews for young learners, and it is very affordable and teaches beginners through advanced.  It is free if you just want the lessons, minimal charges if you want the full version that records testing assessments and additional learning resources.

 

That sums up the curriculum journey we’ve taken this year, and where we’re going next year!  Shockingly, he loves computer time but Time4Learning has not been as helpful as we anticipated; he thoroughly enjoys the more animated lessons but has difficulties with sound sensitivities and some of the sounds they use are loud and unexpected.  The non-animated lessons are a bit dry even for his teachers.  Still, it served a great purpose and filled gaps where our rushed curriculum choices were lacking when we withdrew him from school unexpectedly.

For the other resources we are not reusing, he’s succeeding in learning far beyond our expectations.  That tells me the resources that did not work entirely for us are still great resources, but just not perfectly suited to his learning and/or our teaching styles.

To each their own, and I am so pleased and thankful to discover the wealth and abundance of resources available to the homeschooling community, which were not so available just a few years previously as I understand it.  I’m eternally grateful to the brave homeschoolers that came before and showed the demand for the products.

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