Buffet-Style Homeschooling (2012 Curriculum Fair)

One of the most common complaints I hear from new-to-homeschooling moms is, “There are so many choices! I just need somebody to tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

Well, I’ve got news for you, Mamas. Choosing a curriculum is just the beginning.

Several curricula actually offer choices within their content. They provide a myriad of activities, books, and assignments on a topic and allow you, the teacher, to choose what works best for your kids.

It’s a veritable smorgasbord of learning! With these “buffet-style” curricula homeschooling is like a “choose your own adventure” novel in living color!

In preparation for using a buffet-style curriculum when my children got older, I used Before Five In A Row for preschool. Each week we read one book and then had several different activities to choose from that related to that book.  This gave me a chance to practice picking and choosing before I felt all the stress of “What if I pick wrong and they never learn the date of the Battle of Hastings and I ruin them forever????”

I loved the flexibility this type of curriculum offered. I’d read all of the options and decide what we were in the mood for that week. If I thought I could handle a craft without my head or the glitter exploding, we’d do that. If the science option looked more fun, we’d choose that. Anything I chose centered around our book of the week so it all tied together for my kids. I couldn’t make a WRONG choice.
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Reading, writing, & ‘rithmetic for 6 kids (2012 curriculum fair)

Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom

Ages of my children: 14, 11, 9, 7, 5, and 3
Educational Philosophies I Pull From: ClassicalCharlotte MasonLiterature-Based

Back in January, I realized that we were in the doldrums as far as school was concerned. I really wanted to put some wind back in our sails, so I spent some extended time researching different options and analyzing how our days were spent. I rediscovered a love for how we used to do things ”back in the good old days.”

That is to say, I ditched what wasn’t working and started a reread of The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. This was the foundational book for me over a dozen years ago when my firstborn was just a toddler. I read it from cover to cover several times, and my original edition is literally falling apart at the seams. Since then it’s been revised a few times, so I picked up a new copy and allowed it to realign my vision for our school.

Since I have SIX kids, it’s a lot of curriculum to plan for. Rather than tell you about every single resource we’re using, here’s a peek at our reading, writing and arithmetic:
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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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Choosing Curricula for Multiple Students (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom

Ages of my children: 13, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2
Educational Philosophies I Pull From: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Literature-Based

I don’t know if it’s my academic background, my penchant for planning and dreaming, or my love of learning, but exploring curriculum choices makes me happy. Like a kid in a candy store, I eagerly look forward to this time of year when our current books and resources fade in excitement and freshness, and I start thinking toward next year and all the wonderful, new things we’ll be studying.

I admit it; I am a planning geek.

Back in the early days of our homeschool when I “just” had three kids, I mapped out the rest of their school lives, calculating what grade each of my sons would be and what curriculum we’d be using. I wanted to be able to build our school library over time, as finances were tight, and I was, of course, dreaming big dreams.

Over the years our family has grown. Now as I approach “formally” schooling five children in grades K, 2, 4, 6, and 9, I find that my plans crafted many years ago have changed. Big surprise, eh?

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