Q&A Friday: What curricula will you be using next year? (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

Over the past month we’ve heard from all of our contributors, each sharing the resources they’ve found helpful (or not), along with their homeschool plans for the upcoming year.

I hope this information has been helpful to you as you contemplate your planning for the fall. I know I’ve jotted down a few notes here and there of recommendations for future years, as well as browsing through materials I’d never heard of before. And all from the comfort of my laptop!
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High School, Take Two (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

Ages of my children: 14, 10 (and college sophomore, 18)
Educational Philosophy Influences: Literature-based, Eclectic, College-Bound

In August our daughter will begin high school at home. This is our second time homeschooling a high schooler; our older son just finished his freshman year of college. As we enter high school again, we naturally consider what we’ll do the same and what we’ll do differently.

Our son’s input was tremendously helpful. At the end of the year, I asked him what boiled down to: how did we do? I’ve been relieved at his answers. He didn’t have a list of “Things I Missed Because I Was Homeschooled.” He basically had two items on his “wish list.”

  1. That we had talked more about literary elements like symbolism, imagery, etc. and that we’d analyzed more poetry. (You might have guessed that he is an English major.)
  2. That he had taken a language through dual enrollment at the community college rather than using Rosetta Stone at home.

I can definitely correct those two issues! But there are other places that we’ll tweak according to the differences in the two kids themselves and a few things I wish I’d done differently.

One major difference is that we will have more time with our daughter. Our son wanted to finish high school in three years, so we packed a lot into those years. She’ll take four years, allowing for a more leisurely pace.

For our kids, high school consists of a combination of home, co-op, and community college. Why this mixture?
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Middle School Resources and Materials (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by contributor Heather Bruggeman of Beauty That Moves

My Child’s Age: 13
Educational Philosophy Influences: Montessori, Classical, Relaxed

Our family is in its first full year of homeschooling. My girl is an academic who enjoys lessons, grades, and TESTS. As for me? I would call myself a relaxed homeschooler. Somewhere in the middle is where we meet and spend our days.

In the interest of this month’s Curriculum Fair, I’ll focus this post on what we have used this year for our formal curriculum. This includes pre-packaged curriculum as well as various resources that are of high quality and see regular use in our homeschool.

A brief background: My daughter spent her elementary years attending a private Montessori school where learning was celebrated and the idea of school was very positive. Each child felt successful and confident as a contributing member of the classroom community. We did not decide to homeschool because school didn’t work out. We chose it because after graduating from that special school, nothing else could possibly compare.

So, we decided to homeschool.
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Low-Maintenance Curriculum for a High-Maintenance Family (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

Ages of my children: 7, 7, 5, 4, 2, 1
Educational Philosophy Influences: Classical, Literature-based

With six kids ages seven and under, it was important to me that the curriculum I chose did the heavy-lifting, and not the other way around. We’re mostly Classical style homeschoolers with a dash of Charlotte Mason, just for spice.

Here is what works for our gang (currently schooling twins going into 2nd grade and a rising 1st grader, plus doing preschool as the mood strikes).

Core Curriculum

Tapestry of Grace (TOG) – Despite the density of the curriculum, once you get the hang of it, planning is a breeze. I plan by the week, so that if one day goes awry (as they tend to do with my crew), it doesn’t put us behind. We just fit it in somewhere else.

I like that as we add in more school-age children, we can all stay on the same subject and adapt it for everyone’s learning level. TOG mixes the classical concepts with learning through literature, which is especially helpful at this young stage.  No dry history textbooks for us! (My review)
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Interest-Driven Curricula and an Open Mind (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by contributor Hillary Boucher of Infinitely Learning

Children’s ages: 6, 3, and 10 months
Educational Philosophy Influences: Unschooling, Enki, Eclectic

Our children are quite young and so far interest-driven learning has been all we’ve needed. Philosophically, we are what is described as “unschooling.”

I am not particularly attached to unschooling as a rule-set as much as I am dedicated to individualized, case-by-case, interest-driven learning.

If there is anything I’ve learned in life and parenting it’s to keep an open mind and heart. You never know what might be around corner, how life will unfold or how someone’s needs may change.

I’m open to using any tool that helps facilitate growth and learning and I acknowledge that at some point it could include a specific curriculum.
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