On to the meat of things – the curricula.
First of all, Texas requires homeschool to include reading, writing, spelling, math, and civics. My dad took care of the physical reading, through blatant bribery. Spelling is a workbook combined with spelling bees while we are driving to various places. Writing thus far has been copy work, and focused on handwriting, both print and cursive. David spontaneously requested to learn cursive, which I have obliged, but he is liable to be sloppy in any style if there is something else he would rather be doing. Math has been Khan Academy – I don’t need a curriculum for math, just a topic list, which Khan Academy provides. Civics the past year has focused on family membership, and has included a hefty dose of home economics, including cooking lessons. David has learned to cook a mean dish of scrambled eggs, and does it routinely after CCE on Wednesdays.
To this core, I added history and science. David has, on the recommendation of my friend Julia, also begun piano lessons this spring which he will continue at least through the next year. At the moment, I’m teaching him, but if he perseveres through the beginner book we have and with daily practice this will switch to formal lessons. I keep trying to do Geography as it’s own subject, but it keeps naturally dividing itself between history, science, and civics, so this year I’m going to divide it up among those. Literature… mostly I ask Melanie and Kyra what I should be reading aloud. We need to do more deliberate reading aloud this year, however David has only just gotten developmentally to the point where he is willing and able to focus on stories read aloud, so I won’t stress about it to much.
David’s inability to listen as I read is chiefly what has slowed our progress through Story of the World. It was not worth the constant battles over him listening, so I put it aside for several months. Since Christmas, he has become fascinated with Legos, so now he is reasonably willing to build things while listening to a book. This is an advantage for literature, that we still have the majority of Greek and Roman mythology and the early Christian era waiting for us, and he will get the Iliad and the Odyssey and all the rest and be able to attend to the stories instead of encountering them the first time four years hence.
That gives me 8 major subjects (plus piano lessons and chores): Reading, Writing, Spelling, Math, Civics, History, Science, Literature, Home Economics. This doesn’t even go into music, art, and technology, which just didn’t happen much this year.
So, for next year:
Reading: My goal is for David to read aloud at least one short book a day, preferably to Raphael. Elephant and Piggie books are great confidence builders for this. And if I can outsource the endless phenomena of the toddler shoving a book in my face and grunting at me, so much the better. On Momo Days, my dad will continue his program of bribing David to read with play time outside afterwards.
Writing: In addition to learning cursive, the copywork will upgrade from words (this year has been his spelling list) to simple but complete sentences.
Spelling: Spelling Workout B, and continuing the impromptu spelling bees in the car. Don’t fix what ain’t broke, and all.
Math: Continue through Khan Academy’s early math. As his reading skills improve, he can be increasingly self directed here, and all the math work is available on the iPad now.
Civics: Spiraling out from family as the smallest unit of government, we will focus on towns and cities this year. We will also focus on mapping our neighborhood, and looking at Google maps of places we visit frequently.
History: It’s the great Middle Ages this year, which means that it’s time for some lessons on bias and using multiple sources in history! Huzzah! I will continue with Story of the World, but supplement with other sources, such as The World’s Story, when necessary. This is possibly my favorite period in history, it’s the age of the dawn of science! For the geography component, I will be incorporating time period maps from Knowledge Quest’s Map Trek Complete Atlas.
Science: This is the sticky one. I have reviewed curriculum after curriculum, and been dissatisfied with all of them. The science work suggested by A Well Trained Mind is fundamentally inadequate. And of the dedicated and systematic curricula, everyone has some metaphysical agenda to push, which at the grammar stage of science I find particularly inappropriate. Also, curricula tend to introduce experimentation at far too young an age. So I’m writing my own. This means I have to get it done by August. *shiver* Most of my mom’s group is going to try out this year too. If you need me this summer, I’ll either be staring at a blank computer screen, or hiding under my covers. In this subject, the physical geography of rivers and mountains and deserts will be covered as their own
Literature: I need to go through A Well Trained Mind to get a beginning book list for this year, and then I will let Kyra edit the snot out of it for me. But I won’t read The Phantom Toll Booth because I hate didactic fiction with a blinding passion. Even when it’s sunny and intended to be fun and has a good message, it just rubs me wrong.
And then there’s the elective set: Art (and appreciation), Music (and appreciation), Technology, and Home Economics. Instead of having set lesson times for these, I want to focus on incorporating them into daily life, in all the between times when screen time shouldn’t be happening. Rich environments and good tools and the forbidding of flashy distractions can accomplish a good deal. But the crucial ingredient in this is myself. I must draw, or play music, or clean the bloody house, if I want David to do it. If I pick up the charcoal and the sketch book, he is sure to join me. So fundamentally, electives come down to me making better use of my time than poking people on the internet.
Coming up next, the weekly arrangement of all this!