Written by contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY.
Our family has gone through a lot of change in the past year. We moved to a different country and have lived in three different provinces or states in the past twelve months.
My husband now works at home and our nearly thirteen-year-old daughter is going through her own monumental life change, moving from childhood to young adulthood.
These life transitions naturally affected our homeschool routines and the resources we use.
- We are English speakers now living in a francophone province. There is very limited English public library service where we live so we access more online resources than ever before.
- My husband takes a much more active part in our homeschool since moving. Specifically in the areas of his interests – computer programming, science and technology in general.
I’ve broken down our homeschool curriculum by subject, though in application we don’t live our days studying “subjects” so much as investigating, exploring and diving into our interests.
Reading & Literature
Our younger two children are not yet confident independent readers so on a regular basis they read to me for reading practice. Graphic novels and comic books are a real hit with our 11-year-old son. Arch Stone publishes some excellent classic fiction in graphic novel form.
These two also listen to a lot of audio books. Here are a few good sources: Audible.com, Sparkle Stories, LibriVox (not always such great narration or recording quality – you get what you pay for) & Audio Cloud.
I read to the kids nearly every day from a children’s chapter book of my choosing. We’re currently working our way through The Chronicles of Narnia for the second time in my homeschool career. Many of these titles are chosen from Honey For a Child’s Heart and Books Children Love.
Our thirteen-year-old daughter Celine chooses her literature selections predominantly from Honey for A Teen’s Heart, Youngzine community peer recommendations, and Amazon.com reviews (with my approval). She also accesses a lot of public domain books, which includes the traditional “classics”, at Project Gutenberg.
I am continually finding titles to both read to my youngest and recommend to my oldest from sources like Thomas Jefferson Education, Sonlight catalog (we don’t follow the program but use their booklists as a resource), and others.
Celine does most of her reading on a Kindle. You can read about how we’re using e-readers in our home in my post Becoming an (e)Reader.
Handwriting. We use Getty Dubay Italic program to teach our elementary aged children handwriting mechanics.
Spelling. I have never had success with a spelling program or even a strong desire to teach this skill separate from writing and reading in general. I changed my methods this year in order to better help our son with his reading. We use All About Spelling and I love it.
It’s logical and is easy to follow and implement. And it’s working for us.
Compositional Writing. We use everyday writing opportunities–letters, e-mail, journaling, lists, self-directed report writing (ie: my kids write reports on their own because they’re interested in the topic), poetry, story writing, etc. – and our reading together to teach grammar, vocabulary, and also spelling.
This year I am using The Writer’s Jungle to help me be a better writing coach and mentor.
I love this resource because it’s about helping our children “express themselves more and more powerfully over the course of their lifetimes… in written form.” (Julie Bogart)
It fits very well with our philosophy of education and homeschool methodology. I consider it a comprehensive guide for grades K through middle school.
History, Geography and Cultural Studies (World Study)
Our world study still looks quite similar to what I describe in this post. Because we no longer have access to a good library I use The Story of The World with the Activity Book more regularly as the core of our elementary history curriculum.
The kids follow their own interests using our personal library of reference and living books. We also watch select YouTube videos and online documentaries. Victorian Farm was one we enjoyed this winter.
An excellent resource for literature-based history, geography and cultural studies is All Through The Ages. This mother of all booklists has book titles for any time period in history or geographical area you want to learn about. This resource is very helpful in a literature-based, interest driven learning environment.
World Events. This is an area of study for our oldest and she mostly uses Youngzine, an online magazine for late elementary and middle school aged children. I highly recommend this site – safe, engaging, and appropriate content for young minds.
This year we’ve followed the general outline recommended in Telling God’s Story and focused on the life of Christ for our Bible instruction. We don’t use the instructor text or activity book.
This is the most straight-out-of-the-box part of our homeschool curriculum.
Our younger two use Teaching Textbooks, which works well for their learning styles. Our oldest uses Math U See. Once we found the right fit for each child, we’ve experienced success (progress and positive feelings about math) with each of our children. These are done largely independent of my instruction or assistance, a big plus for me.
Science & Technology
Computer Science & Programming. My husband is in charge of this area.
He and Celine used Learn Python the Hard Way to start. Celine is currently doing a free, independent course offered by Udacity with Dad as tutor. Damien uses day to day life applications to teach all our children computer science and different technologies, at the level they can understand.
General Science. Science is a very seasonal subject in our home. What we study and how we do it changes with the seasons. We do nature study with guide and reference books, build and take stuff apart, mix and make, and use online resources for inspiration, teaching and further research.
When Celine finishes her current computer science course we may consider a general science curriculum for the fall, if she’s interested. I would appreciate any recommendations.
The other main “subjects” in our homeschool are domestic arts and homemaking, entrepreneurship, creative and fine art. Also physical and outdoors education.
Listing these last in no way indicates their importance in our homeschool; it’s simply that we haven’t used any specific resources for these studies this year. One exception this past winter being Mary Corbet’s Needle n’ Thread, a craft blog, where Celine studied embroidery.
What are your family’s favorite online resources? How have transitions in your life affected your homeschool curriculum?