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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Homeschooling Second and Fourth Grade (and a little Pre-K)

After much thinking (and let me tell ya, it was a LOT of thinking) and much deliberating with friends who so generously let me peruse their materials and gave me great advise (thanks Beth, Kim, Ann, Kendra!), we've settled on some pretty awesome curricula.  While they are awesome, I wish they were more religious.  The program we are going through won't allow any religious programs, so there is a limitation there.  It is a public school program but as always, I can teach Christianity on my own. Here is the plan for this year:

What Nathan and Abby will do:

Writing/Grammar (Language Arts combined 10 hours per week):
Institute for Excellence in Writing: Student Writing Intensive, Level A and Structure and Style. Also Fix It! Grammar Book I and II (this may be lighter for Abigail but because of her reading ability - she is at Grade 3 reading level, if not beginning 4th - the people from IEW think she can do both the Writing Intensive and the grammar books).

Handwriting (Language Arts combined 10 hours per week): 
Abigial will do Evan Moor. She will start out working more on Modern Manuscript as her handwriting is still sloppy.  Toward the second half of the year we will move on to Contemporary Cursive.
Nathan has beautiful handwriting, both manuscript and cursive.  He will move on to typing, most likely Mavis Beacon.  He had already started this in school, he will therefore build on that.

Reading (Language Arts combined 10 hours per week): 
If we have enough funds, they will both do Evan Moor's Daily Reading Comprehension (Abby Grade 3 and Nathan Grade 4).  Other than that, see book list at the end of the post in addition to library books (classics for each particular grade and books the kids will get to pick).

Social Science (5 hours per week): 
Story of the World, Volume I - The earliest people through the end of the Roman empire.
We have quite a few extra books that go along such as various Usborne books (The Usborne Atlas of World History, The Usborne Book of World History, The Greeks, Usborne Children's World Cookbook, art from Rome and Greece, Ancient Rome by Mike Corbisheley, Step into Reading books, DK Readers, etc)

Science (5 hours per week):
We will go through REAL Science for Kids, Space Odyssey.  Alongside I will also read through Apologia's Exploring Creation through Science.  We had to purchase this on our own (thanks Ebay!) and it is our secondary curriculum.  However, I wanted to be sure to get a Godly perspective into science. Very excited about this subject although parts of me is wondering if we should have done the human body.  The reason I decided against it is because the folks at Apologia thought it would be too abstract for my second grader.  We also have a few DK Readers as well as Step Into Reading on space as well as some Seymour Simon books (great books for this topic!!).  We have the one on the moon and the one on the sun.

We went with Primary Mathematics, Standards Edition. Also known as Singapore Math, this is a very strong math program. While we liked A Beka and Nathan did so well with it, it is created for the classroom and not very suitable for teaching to multiple kids in a homeschool setting.  From what I understand, the program is not as strong after the 4th grade.  If we have to switch after 4th grade anyway, might as well do the switch now where he is still so strong in math.  Nathan is starting with the last chapter of book 3A and Abby is starting with 2A.

PE (3+ hours per week):
Nathan won't have lack here, he will get plenty of hours of physical exercise.  I will also go through some trade books as well as Abeka's Developing Good Health.
Abigail will participate in a local co-ops PE class and do her ballet.  She will also go through the American Girl's The Care and Keeping of You: For Younger Girls.
Both will also read What's The Big Deal: Why God Cares About Sex

While I won't report on art, I hope to still do art and music appreciation.  If I get too overwhelmed the first year, I will tread lightly here. Since I don't have to report on it, that makes things easier and takes off the pressure.  After seeing Beth's daughter's amazing creations from a local art studio, we purchased Mrs. Cherington's art curriculum.  The curriculum starts with the basics: color theory.  We ordered the supplies she recommended from Blick art materials.  The box came yesterday.  Happiness in a box!  We also have an Usborne book for art if we get to it.(Thanks, Kim!)
As for music, if nothing else, the kids will listen to classical music during art time.

Reading List (Language Arts combined 10 hours per week):
The older kids will read to each other or younger siblings or read science books aloud for read alouds.  We will also use some of the books from the following list.  Those are books that were either given to us (thanks Kim who so generously gave me all the Abeka readers!!) or recommended by people we highly esteem and then ordered.  We hope to go through the list but I'm not expecting it, since we will also read many books from the library.
Here it goes in no particular order:
A Beka - Trails to Explore - Grade 4
A Beka - Adventures in Other Lands - Grade 4 (goes well with history to broaden world view)
Dover Children's Thrift Classics - A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Starts - The Red Bade of Courage as retold by Stephen Crane
A Beka -Salute to Courage - Grade 4
A Beka - Liberty Tree - Grade 4
A Beka - Pilgrim's Progress Simplified - Grade 3
Rick Joyner - The Final Quest (Not sure on this one, how we got it, so it will be a read-aloud) (garage sale)
A Beka - Song of the Brook - Grade 4
A Beka - Flags Unfurled - Grade 4
Scholastic Classics - Jack London - The Call of the Wild (given by Sarah R. for Isabelle's baby shower)
Irene Howat - Ten Girls Who Changed The World - (Deep Roots at Home blog - see below)
Irene Howat - Ten Boys Who Changed The World - (Deep Roots at Home blog - see below)
David Bennet - William Booth (Goodwill find)
Catherine Swift - Gladys Aylward (Goodwill find)
Mildred A. Martin - Missionary Stories With The Millers (Deep Roots at Home blog - see below)
Character Classics - Volume I - The Kings Daughter and Other Stories for Girls (I have the one for boys as well that I will dig out of Nathan's room.  It is called "Tiger and Tim") - These are really great, the kids love them. (Recommended by a blog called Deep Roots At Home - see link below)
Character Classics - Choice Stories...For Children (Deep Roots at Home blog - see below)
A Beka - Frontiers to Explore - Grade 4
Marian M. Schoolland - Leading Little Ones to God (recommended by Beth a few years ago)
Patricia MacLachlan - Sarah, Plain and Tall (Deep Roots at Home blog - see below)
East Brockman - Taken: The Quest for Truth (free Kindle book from the Focus on the Family staff)

Overall, the goal is to read girl and boy books, different levels (above, grade and above for some read along), different genres (poetry, biographies - thinking Julius Cesar to go along with history, fiction, non-fiction, etc.)
For great list of older books that teach character well, go to Deep Roots at Home for her post on 100 books that counter the culture.

Isabelle has already started with Hooked on Phonics and is learning the names of uppercase letters.  She struggles with a few of them but has most of them down.  She even knows some names that start with them (such as H as in Hannah and I in Isabelle).

I am over excited to get started as materials have slowly trickled in.  We have already ordered the math books through Exodus Books as the program takes a few weeks to get things to us.  We didn't want to start Math late.  We have some readers, we have the CDs for Story of the World (we had ordered those 3 years ago after hearing of them from my friend Kendra H. whose boys Abel and Lachlan enjoyed them).   Art supplies came in yesterday as well as the art curriculum we already have on the shelf. Oh yes, we have homeschool shelves thanks so my awesome husband!  Thanks you!  Just finished writing my Student Learning Plans yesterday for all subjects and am starting to get my supply list out to my contact lady.   Waiting to hear from IEW on what all I need to order for two students as their packs are always just for one student. We got our regular school supplies (pencils, markers, crayons, erasers, sharpeners, dry erase markers, chalk board markers, etc.).
I'm wide-eyed, naive and excited. In three months I may be desolate or may have gone insane.  But for right now, I'm enjoying this part of our journey.  I know it will be hard, sacrificial, nerve-fraying and most of all, test my patience and endurance.  While it is the only thing for me to do for our specific family, the right thing at this point for our kids, what I hope to get out the most, is a heart that loves God even more.  A heart that draws near to God in my own weakness.  As far as hopes for myself (which is not why I decided to homeschool), there is only one:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10New International Version (NIV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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