Monday, January 24

Considering Homeschooling Part the Fourth

What We Use.

Every spring I begin thinking forward to the coming school year. Usually we are done with formal lessons, formal being said very loosely, around May. The weather is warming, the days are longer and none of us have any desire to be indoors more than we have to. Evaluating what worked and what didn't work so well as I had hoped is a part of looking forward. Mostly I try to tie the kids learning into real life but we use books too. Our favorite books for learning change every year, here are some of the ones that have been working really well for us this year.

Saxon 5/4 - Andrew is using this for his math this year. I had shied away from it for a long time because of it's enormous size. I have had to remind myself that one of the perks of homeschooling is you can do as much or as little as is needed to learn a math lesson, or any other lesson for that matter.

Rod and Staff Spelling 5 - we use this for Annaliese and I'm very happy with it. She is a voracious reader so I don't worry too much about her spelling.

Rod and Staff Time to Plant - this reader and accompanying workbook are great. While Annaliese likes to read a lot, these help her slow down, think about the deeper meanings, comparisons, analogies and such that she might quickly pass over.

A Reason for Handwriting D - We have lefties. Four so far. And for whatever reason, several of our kids need some purposeful handwriting practice. This is one great book for that. Another is:

Draw, Write, Now - all of our kids love these.

Rod and Staff Stories About God's People. At the beginning of the year I determined that Andrew and I would work through these short chapter stories and the accompanying workbook one sentence and one paragraph at a time. At that time he could read the sort of "fat cat sat on a hat" stories. Five months later we've worked halfway or so through the book and I think I could just skip him ahead to grade 3 now if I wanted to. I have loved how everything with Rod and Staff is tied together and it presents the same material from different views. We'll keep reading through this level 2 book for now, since Andrew loves, loves the Bible stories.

For history this year we've been using A child's Geography for a guide and for science we've been loosely using Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day and we are enjoying both.
Four year old Eleanora is working through the Rod and Staff kindergarten books, which include a lot of tracing, coloring, cutting and gluing. She loves having her own "school" books. Other than these I've mentioned, we use a few other workbooks but mostly we order stacks of books from the library.


Elizabeth said...

Every time I hear the words "saxon math" they bring great weeping and gnashing of teeth. I had saxon math growing up and I HATED it. I know it's well loved by the "Back to the Basics" crowd but I feel like it's math with no hints, shortcuts, things to make it easy, and so on. As someone who was not math inclined and needed to figure out numbers in applied or integrated math, saxon math was a real killjoy and I never learned to love imath until I had a retired submarine engineer for a math professor in college who pointed out that math shouldn't be only sums and numbers because most of us aren't going to be accountants. That's a lot of years to hate math!

I love "Every Day Math." It's super clear, remarkably great at breaking things down, and it spirals back to topics so that you're constantly using the new things you learned and reviewing (in sneaky ways!) the old things. I don't have any kids to home educate but I'd probably be using EDM if I did.

Hannah said...

Hi Elizabeth!

If I set Saxon before our daughter Annaliese, or if I had set it before me when I was in school, I would have wailed and nashed teeth also. I am so not math inclined. Andrew, however, is my brainy math child and I believed Saxon would be a good fit for him. Can I tell you it only takes him fifteen minutes or so to finish a lesson? Brainy boy. Everyday math will probably work great for Annaliese in the future. I am all about practical, useful math myself.

Bonnie said...

I had Saxon math too, but it wasn't until Algebra 1/2 that the wailing and gnashing began for me. I never did get through that book, my mom ended up ordering consumer math, which I LOVED-at least as much as someone who is terrible at math can love it. After that, I used the Key To books, which helped me grasp geometry, and a bit of algebra.

Per my husbands request, we went with a complete curriculum for kindergarten with our oldest this year.
I'm having a love/hate relationship with it, which is in the "hate it a lot" stage right now. Nothing major, she's learning fine, its just minor annoyances with the teachers book for phonics. But when you also have a 3 year old, a 2 year old and a 4 1/2 month old minor annoyances can be that much more frustrating.

I'm writing these books down to check out at the homeschool convention this year. I learned my lesson last year by not having a clear vision of what I was looking for. The vendors hall was just a bit overwhelming.
I've used The rod& Staff books for my kidlets too-my 3 year old loves them for his school!

Sarah said...

My Dad is an engineer, and after watching his employees struggle with critical thinking and computations without a calculator (whether they were secretaries or engineers), and tutoring numerous other struggling kids in math, he set math as a priority subject in our home. We used Saxon because the books were written by an engineering professor who'd decided the math education his students were arriving in college with was completely inadequate, and wrote a curriculum to teach what he wished they knew - practical, but also in depth and cumulative rather than focusing on one subject at a time while forgetting others. There were occasional tears in our house as well, but as my Dad would say: math is hard work. My parents ran our local home schooled high school math team, and soon discovered that many mothers (quite understandably!) aren't comfortable teaching math because it was their least favorite subject. However, it could turn into a self-replicating cycle because when Mom's approached math with a negative attitude and minimized it, they ensured the same math challenges they had for their children. The problem is, like any challenging task, math only becomes easier when it's prioritized and worked through with determination to achieve real proficiency - i.e., lots of math. Shortcuts might make things go faster, but they certainly don't build stronger math skills. So, bonus points! - it's not just math, but character formation teaching kids to not take the easy way out, but to face and conquer what's difficult with fortitude, courage, and diligence. This isn't a plea for Saxon math - every child is different, and a curriculum should suit their personality and needs - just a plea for poor, much maligned math :-).

My husband and I can't wait for kids of our own, and teaching them in our home. You do such a good job of looking at each child's needs and helping them grow into the unique individual God created them to be.

Sarah said...

This week I've started considering what I want to use for this coming year. I love the researching and planning process. I love matching up curriculum to meet each child's need. It's actually thrilling to be part of my child's educational learning.

Julie said...

I wanted to thank you so much for your recent posts on homeschooling. I've been really discouraged with homeschooling my 5 yr old son. I also have two younger kids and another on the way. I've been feeling overwhelmed with the time commitment. But your posts have reminded me of what's really important, and my kids sure are! I feel God has been calling me to be better prepared and organized about it. Thanks again for your encouragement! I love how you are tayloring your lessons to your children's individual needs. The sign of a good mamma and teacher!

Anonymous said...

Enjoying your homeschooling posts! And the part about lefties. :0) I finally got a lefty with our 4th - he's not much past 1, but we know. :0) I still remember my sweet kindergarten teacher never letting me curve my left hand around the words as I wrote. Now I see other lefties write that way (in the White House, no less) and wish they'd had a teacher like Mrs. Brooks who would have cured them of that years ago. :0) (Just FYI - We homeschool, too, but before we started, we had a few years of Everyday Math for our eldest in a local school. There is a youtube video called "Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth" - says it all. Sounds like you've got your math covered well anyway. Currently, Math-U-See is our favorite.) Keep up the great blog!