This 1st year of homeschooling, we spent getting to know B's learning style and my teaching style. I started the year with a few 2nd grade workbooks. I knew B would not be able/willing to do worksheets all year, but it was a cheap place to start. And, as long as we did them together, and I had some background noise on, B was good for the most part. I tried out a curriculum with Five In A Row, but that was not right for us. The learning was below B, I think and maybe even too abstract for what I was looking for. But I did learn from FIAR that we both enjoyed their type of learning - a literature-based program where we snuggled up on the couch. I also found a hands-ons Math curriculum that is working. But I want to step it up for 3rd grade. Not only do I want more learning to happen, but I want to get on a set schedule, which is something I have trouble doing.
I had been stressing myself out for several weeks over what I'll use to teach B next school year. Not sleeping much while I research curriculums after B and the hubs went to bed. There are SO MANY to choose from! Online; textbooks; child-directed; step-by-step, detailed lesson plans; independent study; high parent involvement; expensive; cheap; bible-based; secular; and on and on. How do I choose? What if I'm wrong?
I narrowed it down to 2 different ones - Sonlight and Konos. Both are Christian curriculums, which I never thought I would use when we started. I said many, many times, "We go to a great church and talk about God with our friends and family so we don't need it in our schooling, too." Even at 39 yrs old, I am still learning, growing and changing. Konos, IMO has much more Bible in every lesson than Sonlight. Konos' lessons are character unit-studys, i.e responsibility, patience, self-control, wisdom, inquisitiveness, etc. Sonlight is a literature-based curriculum that offers detailed lesson plans and books in the subjects of History, Geography, Bible, Reading, Science, Math, Language Arts, Spelling, Handwriting and Art. A woman in one of my HSing groups was selling 7 yrs of Konos curriculum for $15. I was looking at a new Sonlight curriculum for 3rd grade, only, with history, geography, reading, science and language arts for $800.
I am all about the money and I am cheap as hell! Drives the hubs batty how cheap I am. I was leaning towards the Konos b/c of the price. So I borrowed the 3 Konos volumes and looked through them. Konos is very labor intensive for the parents, putting together the lesson plans. Plus, most of the activities and learning seem to be group activities. It's a great program if you have more than one child. You can use the same curriculum for all children at the same time. Each child is learning the same things, but at their level. Each child's assignment is at his age/ability level. But for an only child, B would not have much fun acting out lessons all by himself.
So, I decided to calm myself, pray, get centered and listen for the answer. I needed His guidance b/c I could not make the best decision for B on my own. And the answer came back - Sonlight. It has the subjects that I want B to learn. And since they provide you with all the books and supplies and create the lesson plans for you, it would be easier on me. The hubs and I will still be working outside of the home, and with Sonlight we can just concentrate on teaching. Things are listed out so nicely that the hubs and I can both teach with ease, picking up where the other left off. Phew! So happy that decision was made! Now, how to pay for it?
A friend of mine told me, "Where there's a will, there's a way!" and I took heart in those words. I hate asking my parents for money. They are so generous with their time and love, I don't want to ask them for more. They had told me, after they digested and accepted our decision to HS last year, that where ever they could help out financial, they'd be happy to. B and I went over to my parents to plant a garden and I started sharing with my mom that I had decided on the curriculum I wanted and it was expensive. She said, "Who should your father make the check out to?" And that was it. I have the best parents in the world. My dad had questions, b/c he wanted to make sure this is what I really wanted and was comfortable with. He asked if I needed more time or options before deciding. I gave a resounding, "NO"; I was done with my research, thank you very much, and at peace with my decision. "Alright," he said. We truly understand how blessed we are!
Now that the decision was made, I could not WAIT for our program to arrive. I checked Sonlight's website and then FedEx's tracking page daily. It all came in one, heavy box,
that converts to a castle after it's been emptied.
How cool is that? I lovingly took out all 66 items from the box and laid them out on the living room floor:
I called B into the room to show him. "This is your curriculum for 3rd grade! What do you think," I asked. He stared at it for at least a full minute and then said, "I think this is going to be a very. Long. Year." Hehehe. It is daunting to look at, that's for sure.
The lesson plans are called Instructor's Guides (IG) and I had 4: History/Geography, Science, Language Arts, Readers. I organized the IGs in the big, 4" thick Sonlight binder. I took this pick of B and the binder so y'all can better comprehend it's size:
I am so excited!!! I fell asleep the other night reading from the binder. I still have to decide if I want to follow the 4 day/week lesson plan or the 5 day/week one, when we will start and when we will take breaks during our school year. Sonlight's curriculum is separated into 36 weeks, so that leaves us 16 weeks of breaks to work in as we see fit. All I know is that I will NOT be able to wait until September to start!
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that we still have our Math-U-See curriculum for Math learning. Didn't want anyone to think we weren't going to be learning any of that.
Here is a shot of everything on the bookshelf:
- I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?