Thursday, July 8, 2010


***Warning: very dry, boring post with few jokes, even about myself. Skip if you don't care about what I teach my kids.

Now that there are exactly three of you still reading...

There is a very odd phenomenon, mostly spiritual I believe, that occurs when you say "Yes!" to something out of your comfort zone. I find that even if my "yes" is a miserable, pouty one, God seems to take it and mold it until, before I know it, the thing I've agreed to has become my desire, maybe even a passion.

This has happened with school in our home. Like I said in the last post, homeschooling was not something I had ever planned on. Once it became clear that was where we were being lead, I was not at all enthusiastic, but I was willing to mutter "yes."

You know what always gets a woman enthusiastic?


So, I got online and started hunting for the perfect curriculum. Before I knew it, I had mapped out an education for my first-grader that only required $5,000 and about 14 hours a day to complete it in a year's time. I made myself say "No!" to that insanity and went for the prepackaged "school in a box" that told me what to do and how to do it. This was great for that first year, for this rookie teacher. If you want to know more about the curriculum I chose (Sonlight) and exactly what we read (or didn't read) for first grade, check out the list I included at the bottom of this blog post.

Now, with one year of experience behind me, I am looking forward to kicking off the next school year. I'm still a bit clueless and unsure of myself, but sure that we are again called to homeschool for the year. All this talk about it on the blog has actually got me excited all over again to color by number and write big letters on handwriting paper.

We use a workbox system to organize all of our school stuff. You can see more on this from Jolanthe, the world's most organized teacher in the world.

In a very big nutshell, here's what we are doing for second grade and preschool.

Second Grade:
  • Language Arts, Independent Reading, and Read-Alouds are all from Sonlight, core 2. This includes GREAT books which I read aloud to Punkin and age-appropriate chapter books that she reads independently. Even if you are not homeschooling, there are some great books to be found from this book list if you are looking for great books.
  • History is still a bit up in the air. I absolutely loved Sonlight's World Civilizations curriculum, but with the littler ones requiring a bit more time, I might switch to Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World, which has definitely peaked my interest. Any advice is welcome.
  • Handwriting is a well-loved little curriculum called Handwriting Without Tears. Punkin can't wait to get her pencil sharpened and her tongue swung to the side of her cheek for this year's workbook.
  • Science will be with Queen K, the most amazing homeschooling mother of fourteen. I don't have a science-minded bone in my body and readily admit it. Thankfully, someone else does so we'll be going to her house on Fridays (if she invites us again...did I mention how amazing she is? How utterly charming her home and her family is?).
  • Math is my wild card, the hippie coming out in me. No textbooks, just a lot of fun games, flash cards, a few computer games. We love the old-school Math-It games (except for the hold-your-breath-and-try-to-do-all-your-math-facts-before-you-pass-out part).
  • Fine arts...hmmm, this subject is about as fun for me as science. I can't even do pipe cleaner art successfully. Thankfully, my grandmother holds a degree in music (somewhat unheard of in her generation) and wants to teach Punkin' piano. Just last night, Punkin came home from Great-Grandma's house with a canvas bag full of piano books. The little second-grader has been driving me crazy about all the symbols, as if I have any idea why there's a 3 and a 4 stacked up at the front of the music.
  • We do "traditional" workbooks in the car when we are driving somewhere. These are usually just phonics or math books, mostly from Scholastic.
  • E.D. Hirsch has a great series called "What Your Grader Needs to Know" for each grade level. We have used this book many times over the year to assess whether we were on track or not. This summer, we have used this book to fill in any gaps in Punkin's education (because her mom lost steam right around April).
  • Lots of great books, mostly from the library. I use Sonlight's book list for ideas.
  • It might sound kind of funny, but someone gave us a hand-me-down box of Hooked on Phonics and my kids love it! Sugs carries around her books that she reads all by herself. It's been fun to guide her through this.
  • Letter Factory DVDs and computer games are great for the little ones. They really know all of their letters and sounds and it has very little to do with me. They even press play on the VCR, that's how lazy their mother is. Other shows we label "educational" are Curious George and Between the Lions, both on PBS.
  • Again, the kids actually like to work independently so they "do workbooks" (which might just be scribbling for the Little Man) in the van. Most of these come from Costco or WalMart, and are not great for much except confidence and review.
  • Over the years, I have collected lots of puzzles, glue sticks, glitter pens, Usborne sticker books, Discovery Toys, wooden blocks, MagnaTiles (our favorite!), Pegboards, and even a great Usborne "Educational Disc" that gets rotated through their workboxes on school days. Also, we do a "letter of the week" using Jolanthe's printable Cut and Paste Alphabet.
  • Some of our favorite books are the following: Akebu to Zapotec, any BOB books, the ABC Bible Verses,

  • ...Any Berenstein Bear books, Sophie and Sam, and the Magic Tree House series. And George. Because I love Curious George, the only book character who never sasses his parents.

So, there you have it.

Let me go on record as now, I have officially written the most boring post of the year. Please forgive me the dry, informative post. I'll make it up to you somehow...when some little one decides to embarrass me in public and give me a good naptime to tell you all about it.

Until then, I hope you are...

Resting in Him,

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