Homeschooling is going GREAT. Great. I am feeling so much better, and more confident, about it as we enter into the new year. In part, I think it just feels more normal, and I don't spend quite so much time thinking about it, or worrying about what other people think. Also I've had some practice and have come up with a better system time-wise. As in, not trying to cram a 36 week curriculum into 23 weeks, because I'm a psychotic perfectionist that can't handle starting a 36 week curriculum and not finishing it... even if my child has already attended 3 months of another school. So, there's that. 36 weeks in 36 weeks is a lot more manageable ;)
For those that are interested we are using...
Sonlight Core D for our history, geography & literature
Sonlight is a Christian company, but it is easily (and often) secularized. The Bible study is a separate add on to the main year's Core, and so is easily left out (bonus, it's cheaper w/o it). The rest of the religious tie-ins are mostly teaching points included in the study guide part of the lesson planner... we just skip those points. Last year, there were a few books that had a point of view we weren't comfortable, but this year there aren't any we feel we need to skip. So overall, even from a strictly secular standpoint, Sonlight's benefits far outweigh their religious content, to me. They have a strong literature (last year our books were mostly Newberry award winners) and history base, which really appeals to Kid (and me!). There wasn't a single reading selection she didn't love. Also, not to be looked over, they have detailed lesson plans, so you just open to your day and everything is written out and planned for you. Including reading comprehension questions, discussion prompts, and tie in project ideas. This year I am actually following their assignment schedule, which is a very doable amount per subject, per day.
Sonlight also sells curriculum components from other publishers for math, handwriting, foreign language... all the most highly regarded curriculums available for their subjects. In addition, Sonlight has their own Science curriculum... but... that appears to be harder to secularize as the grades go up... so it isn't a good choice for us.
Easy Grammar for, you guessed it... grammar. This is our first year with this curriculum... and... we LOVE it. Very easy to use.
Handwriting Without Tears for cursive handwriting. Kid has been using this curriculum throughout all of her schools, so we've been sticking with it. And, if I do say so myself... she has excellent handwriting. I bought the preschool curriculum for Baby, too.
Teaching Textbooks for math. We started this toward the end of the year last year. Kid loves it (love might be a strong word..). I love that it is a completely independent learning program. The program is on CD-rom and teaches a lesson followed by practice questions than the lesson questions. You have to option to have every question gone over and the answer explained after you've answered... a great way to learn what you did wrong... or make sure you understand why you were right. It has quizzes, timed tests, and all that jazz automatically built in. The grade book allows you to check each question they got right or wrong and to erase them so they can be done over, if necessary. Kid being a perfectionist... this is KEY for us. Most importantly, it's just much more fun than a practice book or workbook. It's interactive, has enjoyable graphics... and it's taught by someone else... so no attitude for me! Win-Win. Plus... it goes all the way up to pre-calc... so... if you are in it for the long haul (or just want to supplement with something at home) this is a great program to work your way through. I'm in love with it. I want to marry the guys that came up with this. Seriously.
Science is a bit of a mish-mash this year. We have 13 weeks of the Sonlight Science curriculum we bought last year left. That's 65 lessons (with science experiments & necessary equipment all ready paid for) we're going to space those out 2 a week, and expand on the topics with additional reading, projects and experiments. In addition we're taking a Nature Study homeschool class through the Metro Park once a month, and the Toledo Zoo homeschool class once a month. I call that done. Next year we're going to use Real Science-4-Kids... I think it looks great.
Spelling... ah the dreaded spelling!!!!... you may recall that this was one of her biggest OCD anxiety triggers at school last year. This is one area where you are definitively right or wrong... that is a tremendous amount of stress on her and she starts to second guess herself and just fall apart. When I took her out of school last year I initially tried to include spelling in our lessons but it just resulted in major fights and breakdowns... so we decided to take a break and try again this year. We're back to using last year's Spectrum workbook. We're doing it... but I actually think the stress it causes results in here forgetting how to spell basic words she actually normally can... not sure spelling is this important at this point. Since it is a testing oriented subject (the only one we have really) the stress is inherent. Still trying to think of a better way... or just not worry about it this year.
Writing... we're using a writing prompts site I found online somewhere. She has a day where we brainstorm and she writes out her rough day, a day to work on revision (this ties in very nicely with our grammar program), and a day to work on her final draft. Writing is another area that can be stressful for Kid. Last year we focused on letter writing. This year we're focusing on short essays ("the best food I ever ate was..." "if I was an animal..." "If I could fly I'd...", etc.). Using the prompts helps take some of the pressure off.
Is that everything?! Kid is also taking Art, Drama, Gymnastics & Classical Guitar at a homeschooling electives program all day Thursday.
Kid also reads books of her choice all the time. Typically going through a book a day... I'm keeping a comprehensive log, for no reason other than it is amazing how many books she reads a week, and it helps me to keep track of what to look for at the library. She has just started on an old school Nancy Drew jag... which has now, after several nightmares, been ruled a daytime read ONLY! So at night this week she's started the Wizard of Oz series. She reads a good 4-5 hours a day. Weekends? 10+.
You may recall that her public school teacher had her placed in the pre-primer reading group... yeah... that's why we're homeschooling, peeps. That and the fact that they didn't think she could count by twos. Test anxiety is real, thank you very much.
Plus, when you're at home your science experiments might upon occasion look like Guantanamo outtakes...
and that's your business.
P.S. I am having SERIOUS computer problems... jumping cursor... random highlighting & deleting... it took me hours to write this, rewrite it, fix, try and undo edit it, find the new weird word combos it had inserted by moving the cursor... a freaking nightmare!!!! So, hence my more sporadic blogging and lack of comment returning. I'm sorry. Not sure how to fix it right now, though.