Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Books Everywhere

Getting ready to homeschool, I've done a lot of reading and thinking about how we want to approach things. I'm most drawn to the idea of classical education, but at the same time the way we tend to dive into the interest of the moment around here, I think we may have a hard time sticking to a strict schedule for some things.

I am attracted to the descriptions and ideas found in A Well-Trained Mind. It is a compelling book, but having put none of the ideas into practice with my children, I can't yet speak to how some things will actually work for us.

I really like the idea of studying history and literature in a more or less linear fashion and I know the kids are interested in mythology and the ancient world, so we'll be starting with the Ancients and working on from there. Having checked out almost every book they recommended for the first year to preview, we are going to use many of the suggestions the authors for our basic curriculum, although there were a few books they highly recommend (the ones written by them, that were not as impressive as some of the others).

At least at this point, until we find out that none of it works for us, we're planning to use the following:

  • Saxon Math 1
  • For grammar I liked English for the Thoughtful Child better than the recommended First Language Lessons (which has one repeating the definition of a noun for over 30 lessons and seems to talk down to the child)
  • We're undecided about whether to use Hillyer's A Child's History of the World or Bauer's The Story of the World, so I've bought both to mix and match as I see fit.
  • For science we'll start out studying animals and are planning to use The Kingfisher First Animal Encyclopedia for our basic text and rely on a lot of extra books and trips to the zoo to round out that study. We'll probably move on to studying human anatomy and then plants in the spring.
  • Although, I suspect there are much better books that do the same thing, a friend of mine works for a local religious publisher and brought over a present for the kids a few years ago of the book At Home With God. It offers short family scripture readings and suggestions for discussion and prayers, and something that forces us to do more than a simple family prayer at meals is probably a good way to get back to studying Scripture with the kids in more detail. I'm also partial to the beautiful Family Treasury of Bible Stories which presents one story for each week of the year, as a way to repeat and learn a story and its message in depth.
  • Eventually we'll have the kids take some sort of music lessons, either violin or piano, but for now we'll stick to our family habit of singing and we've gotten tickets to the local symphony's children's concert series.
  • Since I was a German major, I'l probably try to teach a bit of German. Maybe we'll start with some simple folk songs and a few phrases. I still remember the first conversation in the first German book we used in Seventh grade, so some of those things can really stick in there for a long time.
  • We've already got poetry books and mythology books and stuff like that for the kids to read and more can easily be found at the library, of course.

So that's the basic idea, thus far. We'll be working on penmanship too and who knows what else as we have time and the spirit moves us. I'm hoping The Boy and I can both learn to knit this year, since that's one of the things we'll miss out on by not being part of the Hippy German School.

As I said, all of this is untried, but I've looked it all over and knowing how my oldest child, at least, likes to work on certain things and knowing how he learns best, I believe and hope that these books wil work for us.

The only book I can, at this point recommend without reservation, is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I've used it (and followed up with an old and out-of-print book called The Natural Way to Reading, which covers some tricks and sounds left out of Teach Your Child to Read) to teach one child to read very well and my three year old is on about lesson 70 and very excited that she can read words in real books now. Although I have no doubt the book would not be the best teaching method for every child out there, mine have both done really well with it and its slow, incremental approach. My younger brother actually learned to read from the same book over twenty years ago, so it's a program that's been around for a while.

We've got the curriculum end taken care of, more or less. Now to get out and meet some other home schoolers in the area and find some kids to play with now and then.


Jo said...

WOW! You've really done a lot of research already! Good for you. I love the idea of classical education. It just makes sense to me. I am anxious to hear how it goes.

Ellen said...

Gruess dich Monika!
Gruess dich Andreas, wie gehts?
Nicht schlecht. Kennst du Ingo?
Ingo ist mein Freund..
Gruess dich Ingo! Wohnst du auch hier in Buchanau?
Ja. Ich wohne da drueben. (??)
Is this what you were thinking of? I can't believe I still remember that!! Since I haven't spoken German FOREVER and have learned a few other languages in the meantime...

Grouchy Old Yorkie Lady said...

Start saving your pennies and invest in the Rosetta Stone language program -- it's computer software that covers both reading and speaking, with correct pronounciations and sentance structure, and it's the best out there. We used it for Daughter when I homeschooled her and she really enjoyed it. Pricey, but worth every single penny.

Jordana said...

Hooray for Ellen! Proving that I am not the only one who remembers well having that particular conversation drilled into my head.
At least I didn't get in trouble for talking in class often enough to have the rules memorized as some of our classmates did.

chris said...

Story of the world and the activity book is the BEST single thing we have ever done. It instilled a love for history in my children. And I liked that it was linear, because frankly I was a bit clueless on the timeline and how things fit together in different parts of the world.
Don't worry you will do great :-)

MarcV said...

Looks good. You may want to find out if TN has end-of-grade requirements for your 2nd grader (what areas he is expected to know) and if he needs to take a test in the spring. IIRC, Li'l Tater had to know a bunch of junk about the environment for his EoG test, and it was the only area he was below average. Keeping attendance records and the EoG tests are the two main requirements for homeschooling in NC (after you register with the state, of course).
It's unfortunate that you would have to alter your curriculum to accomodate EoG tests, but that's part of the game. If you can find a homeschool group, then it would be relatively easy to find these things out from other homeschoolers.

Jordana said...

We don't have required testing at the end of every year. You have the option of registering with a public school or a private "umbrella program" school and then from there you follow the rules of the school under which you are registered. Most private schools don't require any testing, but offer it, and the public schools require it after 3 or 4 different grades.
It's amazing how different the rules are for various states.

Sharon Ferguson said...

I just got through with a year of doign the WTM homeschooling...LOVED it...except the one thing that speaks more about my own foibles than Wise-Bauer (as if she'd have any LOL) was that it was very intensive in making you do your own lesson plans. I have discovered that a) I am lazy and b) need to have lesson plans already parceled out for me. My temptation was to throw LOTS of info at my daughter, when I needed to measure it up...plus her solution for doing a lot of the lessons involved LOTS of reading and LOTS of essay writing. If your child enjoys doing these things and 'gets the concept' this is great, but I learned that my child prefers hands one manipulatives. She is a very visual child...and writing essays confuses her. So I am having to make adjustments. Sonlight is one curriculum that uses the WTM Story of the World for its History base, but offers the daily lesson plans already dealt out.
Bookmarking your post...and happy homeschooling!!
HS for a little over a year now

Randi said...

Is this your 1st year homeschooling? If so, you sure have done your homework and your curriculum selections look great! We have homeschooled for 13 years now (oldest daughter graduated this year) and we are starting our youngest in kindergarden. It has been a long and wonderful journey for our family and I hope it is for yours too!

Lenise said...

I had that German book, too. Twenty years ago! Aaargh! I'll have to point Paul towards this post. I know he'll be interested, even if we can't DO a whole lot just yet, since our oldest is just starting to talk...

Athena said...

Jordana - that looks like an awesome curriculum. I love the WTM approach. Even though we don't homeschool anymore, I still supplement some stuff here and there, because really, one can't get enough of the "classics."
I'm glad to read about your success with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I just bought that book for Ty, and we're beginning the coming week. He said he wanted to learn how to read when he was 4, and on Tuesday he'll be 4!

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