I’ve finally put together all of our homeschool curriculum choices for the girls in the coming 2021/2022 school year. P (7yo) and L (6yo) will be classified as a 2nd grader and a kindergartener by our charter school; however, based on both of their skillsets, I’ve chosen to consider them both 1st graders at this time.
*SCHOOL YEAR JUMP START
After a summer of relaxation and fun, I don’t like to jump right into hitting ALL the books every day. While it’s true that we school year round, summers are often much lighter, as it’s my busy season at work and I am not going to fool myself into thinking we’re going to crack open the books for formal learning each day. The Kidd is also almost always gone the entire summer visiting family, and that severely cuts out my childcare options, lol.
With all that said, I like to ease back into formal learning with a fun, extended unit study. This year it will be a 6-week dinosaur study, in-line with P’s newest obsession.
*LANGUAGE ARTS & READING
L (6yo in Nov) is finally interested in learning to read, so we’ll be getting started by using ‘4 Weeks to Read’ by Learning Dynamics and also pick up the new reading program by Jenny Chauvin of The Relaxed Homeschool. Together, these have a slated completion time of about 6 months, but knowing how we pace things, they will likely take all year. Once all of this is complete, I’ll be able to assess L’s reading level and decide on the next step to take with her.
For P, she’s just started to develop enough reading skill that she is devouring all words in sight and is beginning to really read for fun instead of just flipping through books to look at the pictures. As a book nerd myself, I’ve really come to enjoy watching her love of books develop in this new way.
P will also be using The Relaxed Homeschool program. We’ll be using the second grade level, and omitting the math portion, which I think could stand to use some better explanations, as it doesn’t implicitly teach the topics as much as it does introduce them. They’re probably great for extra practice, and providing samples to our charter, but outside of that we won’t be using them regularly.
Inspired by the Jot It Down program from Bravewriter, we’ll also be working on reading various versions of common fairy tales this year. From classic writings to modern adaptations and twisted tales, I’m pulling as many versions of each of the 8 stories (Cinderella, Princess & the Frog, 3 Little Pigs, Goldilocks, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Princess and the Pea, and Hansel & Gretel) as I can to cover one a month.
I’m personally looking forward to this part, since it’ll mean bringing out some of my favorite books (the Hans Christian Andersen collection I’ve had since I was about 8yo) and re-watching the old Happily Ever After series.
For years we’ve used The Good & The Beautiful products to homeschool. Usually limited to handwriting, language arts, and math, as to reduce the need for heavy editing out of the religious references, as well as to avoid the heavily conservative history slant and the non-secular science. So when the new math was announced, I was excited to see what it might offer.
One of the issues I had with their old math was that it had so many pieces involved that it felt clunky and took up too much time. The new math definitely solves this problem. The lessons are, in true TGTB fashion “good and beautiful”. They are simple and short, allow for review, and give concise explanations. After having the initial releases in my hands, I went ahead and bought the remaining levels.
Update: Our math programs were purchased before The Good & Beautiful completely shat the bed with their US Constitution curriculum release. While I have now spent the money and made our edits to remove religious references from the books, we will continue to use them. However, I have made the decision not to purchase any more products from the company going forward. For more information on what happened and why we’ve made this decision, Meghann from Rooted Childhood actually has the perfect post that echo my personal sentiments nicely….and with more tact.
Science is included with The Relaxed Homeschool 2nd Grade curriculum. We will be doing it as written, with the suggested books, as well as building on each topic with hands-on experiences, more books from the library, and the occasional Kiwi Crate. I also match up science topics from Torchlight levels Pre-K and K, in order to bulk things up a bit and get more book suggestions. Wild Kratts and The Magic School Bus add even more bulk to our studies, and YouTube playlists are our jam.
*HISTORY / SOCIAL STUDIES
As we touch on science topics throughout the year, I’m incorporating a variety of resources to tie them to world history topics — the main ones being Torchlight level K and The Magic Treehouse book series. We went through Torchlight level K last year, but some weeks were skipped as we lingered on others, took breaks, and really treated it like individual unit studies. From what I’ve seen, this is fairly easy to do with PreK and K, but not so much with the higher levels.
Taking the time to go through the curriculum a second time (honestly, there’s so much you can do with this level that it should be spread over two years anyway) has been a great way to dive into books, projects and topics we may not have gotten to in the last round.
*THE “FUN STUFF”
My kids are fueled almost entirely by their ability to create things — forts, stories, buildings, art, crafts, music — as they should be. Because of this, there are times when our “extra” stuff takes up most of our learning time, and that’s just fine with me. Here are a few things we will incorporate each week:
It’s 2021…your kids should be coding. It’s just a really strong belief that I hold. More and more I have come to see certain STEM skills as soft skills as opposed to just extra interests. Even if your children grow to do something else, basic coding (which involves math, logic, and critical thinking) will be a bonus skill that will come in handy.
We use a variety of coding resources, including Osmo, the Robot Turtles board game, Scratch Jr and its associated coding cards, live classes on Outschool, CodeSpark Academy, Botley the coding robot, and much more.
Want to start with an easy-to-implement program with no extras to buy? Try the lessons from Code.org.
If you didn’t know already, the girls are musical-obsessed (P more than L). They come by it honestly and this is something that was evident when they were just babies. The second they were old enough (4yo), both were enrolled in our local children’s theater group. There is a homeschool play each semester, that rehearses on Friday mornings, as well as a Saturday morning or Tues/Thurs evening schedule for the remainder of the productions. I’ve decided to skip shows like Fiddler on the Roof and Guys & Dolls, neither of which I feel are appropriate for their age group, but the girls have otherwise chosen the following productions for this year:
One of the main things that I learned over the years is that things are really apt to change. Life circumstances may change and the kids’ learning needs might need to change.
It’s good to have a plan, but abandoning it mid-year is NOT a failure.