Every home-school is unique; this is as it should be.
Every child and every family is unique.
And each new school-year brings changes. Adjustments. Tweaks. Personally, I have found that the years when I was pregnant (read: sick as a dog) and post-partum (read: sleep-deprived to insanity) our schoolwork was less organized, possibly to the benefit of the children, because they had much more free-time. The older our “baby” has gotten, the more organized our schoolwork has been, and the more structured. I see this as a natural progression – as the oldest child in the family ages and can benefit from more structure, the homeschooling mom is becoming more experienced and organized.
I’m posting a summary of our current curriculum here for the benefit of those who are new to homeschooling and looking for a place to start. As time goes on, of course, we each develop our own style (and if you blog about your style, fill out the “style questionnaire” at the top of this page so I can link to you!)
Our school-year is 40 weeks-long each year. (Summers are all different – but we still do some schoolwork then!) Every Monday through Friday we begin our day with morning chores and then a morning “meeting.” Details in the post here. I try to put the most important things at the beginning of our day. (If Christmas falls on a week-day, we will still have a “meeting” but it will mostly be to talk about the meaning of Christmas or read a book together – and the rest of the day would then be free. If we are traveling out-of-town during the week, we could still wake up and have a “meeting” to pray together and talk about our day.)
Everything I do with my children is done with an understanding of Montessori philosophy, which I’ve summarized here. I don’t “run” my home exactly like a perfect Montessori school; first and foremost we are a family living together in a home. I also incorporate ideas from “classical” methodology, including memory work and repeating the same information over the years in comprehensive, chronological cycles. Both methods agree that it is important to utilize copious, sophisticated, and articulate language even with the youngest members of the family.
So, with that introduction, here is a summary of our main curriculum for my kiddos who are currently 4, 6, 8, & 10:
- For ages 3-6, I try to introduce all the basic Montessori materials, with a large focus on practical life.
- Our spine for history, geography, and science is the Classical Conversations curriculum. We supplement this material with great books – interesting, well-written books for elementary-age children. In place of the CC Latin, I substitute Prima Latina and in place of the CC grammar, I am using First Language Lessons and Writing With Ease. There are also math, English, music theory (with a tin whistle), classical music, drawing, and studies of great artists in this program. I have supplemented the science studies with Montessori presentations and materials, a series by CHC called Behold and See, and nature journaling. I am considering adding Rosetta Stone homeschool Spanish or Mandarin.
- To beef up my science-minded 4th grader’s science education, I enrolled him in a Plato middle school science course. He loves it. It is a very comprehensive and excellent online class. I enrolled him with the 75% off coupon from the HomeschoolBuyer’sCo-op.
- For math: Shiller Math for all four kids plus all of the many Montessori math materials we own, supplementing as needed or desired with Miquon and Spectrum workbooks, Mathtacular DVD’s, Kahn Academy videos, and computer games like DreamBox and TimesAttack. We have enjoyed playing Rock ‘N Learn math videos in the van.
- Spelling: a CHC Speller for my oldest, Building Spelling Skills for my first & second graders. For Kindergarten, we only use Montessori language activities.
- Violin: I am the primary teacher – we practice every morning. My oldest two continue with a local youth orchestra and weekly private lessons. We are hoping to get a piano some day. I supplement music theory with a variety of materials and workbooks.
- PE: The 3 older children are in a homeschool PE class for one semester. Swimming lessons, soccer camp, baseball, youth cross-country. Lots of outdoor play and exercise.
- Religion: The children attend our parish religion education classes. At home we have daily catechesis and scripture reading. I use presentations from the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as well as Faith & Life textbooks and various liturgical activities. We also do intentional character study and have recently started supplementing with a Catechesis Memory Program.
And that’s basically it – it’s My Style. Some of the work is done as a group, some of it is one-on-one, and some is done independently. More details of when, where, and how we get things done each day are in my post about workbaskets and table time. I keep my sanity using this planner, and I’ve added a more-detailed summary of our daily schedule in this post here!