Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Our curriculum and our day

Answering a recent question:

How do you ever choose what curriculum to use? And do you plan ahead much or have the staples each day and add the fun as it comes to you?

We have tried so many ideas and different approaches over the years. When we try something new, we complete it. If we have to make adjustments along the way to better fit our family, then we do so. Once completed, we can determine if it's worth the money - does it fit US?

You don't have a Curriculum Committee dictating choices to you. Consider how your family functions, the role you plan to play, your finances, your overall goals for the education of your children, and your schedule. Lots of disorganized people homeschool. Lots of hyper-organzied people homeschool. Lots of wealthy people homeschool. Lots of poor people homeschool. Lots and lots and lots of many, many different kinds of people homeschool. Find your niche. Don't feel bad if it isn't what "everyone else" is doing. These are your kids and your family and your home. Do what works for YOU!

We have settled on LifePacs by Alpha Omega. I have fallen in love with them for a couple of reasons:

They are pretty affordable compared to other curriculum.
They are portable.
They have projects built-in.

My children spend a certain amount of TIME on a subject each day - they are not required to finish a certain number of PAGES each day. (and it is up to you how you want to approach this)
There are little "teacher checks" along the way, so they bring their book to you and you are able to look for any problem spots if they've had a significant amount of time working independently. That's when I get creative to help with retention. The day my son was struggling with the difference between general farms and specialized farms, we went for a drive and found some!

Except for the Final Test of each LifePac workbook, all other tests are "open book." What that does is teach children to know how to find information in what they have read.

And on that note, my favorite reason for loving these little books is just that: my kids do most of their learning and gathering of information completely on their own. They are learning to self educate. It's gold, Jerry! GOLD! (sorry, had a Seinfeld flash-back).

We try to spend time in these areas each day:
Math
Language Arts
History & Geography
Science

I also added on my own:
Creative Writing
Reading

On a "typical" day, the kids have a set amount of time they will spend in each of these areas. They each have a timer. They set it themselves, and move on when it's time. They also have 20 minutes of break time. They choose the order of their subjects and how to divide up their breaks (all together, in five-minute increments, two blocks of ten-minutes ... it's up to them!). If they find themselves getting to a good stopping place a bit before or after their allotted time, that's fine! We are CRAZY flexible.

With Creative Writing, my son is working on an ongoing Star Wars saga in a notebook. My daughter has a daily writing assignment: Rhyming Monday (poems), Headline Tuesday (she has four sacks containing cards - draws one from each to creative a wacky headline, such as this week's: "Slimy Mermaid Trips Over Outlaw"; then she writes an article to go with the headline), Island Wednesday (she draws a crazy amoeba shape and then adds mountains, people, etc., to her island and writes a story about it), Correspondence Thursday (a letter - to anyone - about anything), Cartoon Friday (duh!). If she doesn't finish something, she will pick up on it the following week. I do not correct any of their creative writing. It is just that: for fun and to stimulate their creativity. I stay out of the way.

And our "scheduled" Reading time is 30 minutes a day of a book of my choosing. A is currently working his way through another Boba Fett book. M is reading "Ballet Shoes."

They also have "a list." That is what we have come to call it. "Have you done your list?" It includes some very basic chores, one being to finish schoolwork and put away all of their school items. Each child has different things they are to do: clean litter box, wipe out sinks, clean toilets, 10-minute room pick-up (everyone does that!), etc. It's amazing how a quick once-over of the bathroom sinks and toilets can really make a huge difference in how clean or disgusting your house feels! ha! Each child's "list" is printed out on a piece of paper (my youngest has a list made up of pictures!). They are inside of plastic page protectors. Each kid has their own dry erase marker to check off daily, then erase it clean again.

My second and third grader do their own laundry. When their basket is full, they do a load that day. They don't separate. Everything goes in with cold water. I have marked the washer and dryer with masking tape so that they know where all of the dials should be. They also fold, hang up and put away everything themselves. My youngest helps me with her load. If there are any special dresses or delicate items that need special care, they add them to MY laundry basket and I take care of that. They are still responsible for putting away, though, once their items are laundered. I have to admit, they don't always fold great, and they tend to "cram" more than "gently place" in the drawers. Yet, they do it. They just started doing it completely on their own this year, and I am so proud their efforts.

Then throw in field trips or meeting Dad for lunch or running to the store or loading up and delivering all of our recycling or taking a trip to Grandma's ... ya' know ... LIFE! Well, that's when we toss everything in a backpack and take some work with us ... or forget about it for the day and pick up another time ... or finish up early ... or do a little extra the day before ... or do a little extra on the weekend ...

Did I mention we're flexible? ha!

That's us. We probably don't look like anyone else, and that's okay. Maybe it will help you find your own uniqueness!

1 comment:

Amy T. S. said...

I'd like to send my kids to Christine school! In fact, I want to go to Christine school. Have room for 3 more in a few years? We'll have to board...