Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cornerstone Academy Curriculum Picks 2013 - 2014

When we first started homeschooling I researched everything from Reading to Science to History to Art. I talked to veteran homeschoolers and everyone of them suggested Saxon Math. So I bought Saxon Math Kindergarten. We've used Saxon Math for lower grades ever since. Ben is my youngest "schooler" this year. He is currently in first grade. So he gets to be the fourth child to use our Saxon Math 1 book. Each year I purchase new workbook pages {around $20}. I take them to an office supply store and for around $2 they cut the binding off the top and we place the pages in a 3-ring binder. This stops all the ugly tearing {no more ripped pages} and keeps everything neat for the entire year. I purchased a Math manipulative kit from Rainbow Resource 8 years ago. Most of that set is still going strong though I have picked up additional counters or tiles here and there.
The summer before we began homeschooling I was at a convention  and spotted a used Saxon Phonics K set. Since I had heard such great things about Saxon Math and knew I wanted to teach reading using phonics, I decided to give Saxon Phonics a try. I tried another program for a year and didn't like it as well as Saxon. I feel that Saxon does a great job explaining the phonics and spelling rules. I was shocked at how many rules I didn't realize existed. I knew how to spell but I didn't know the reason behind using a c instead of an s or a g instead of a j.  So once again, Ben gets to be our fourth child to read about Zip and Dan. While the stories are getting a little old for Mommy and Daddy, I have three strong readers and I can't argue with results.
That's it for 1st grade. My goal for our Kindergarteners and 1st graders is to get them reading. I want school to be as quick and painless as possible {for both of us}! So we just do phonics and math. In 2nd grade we start adding in other subjects.
I never thought I would be one of "those" homeschoolers that parked my children in front of a computer for their schooling. God sure has a way of showing us that our plans mean nothing! When Griffin started school and I had 3 children trying to complete lessons and 2 littles trying to get into everything I knew something needed to change. I had discovered a curriculum that allowed us to do science, history and Bible together but grade level math and language arts were doing me in. I kept hearing about Switched on Schoolhouse and decided to investigate further. This is our 3rd year using it for two subjects and it's a great fit for our family. My 3rd graders and up can complete their math and language arts independently while I work with the K- 2nd graders.  The assignments and 95% of the grading are done for me. I just assign each child their subjects, tell the program when we want to do school and it takes care of the rest. We do require a B on each assignment so I look back over the completed school work each day and reassign any lessons that weren't mastered.
I can't say enough about My Father's World! This will be our 5th year using the program. {I have used everything from K - up. I prefer Saxon for K and 1st.} This year we will be studying the period of time from the Exploration of America through 1850. I love that all of my middle and older children {grades 2/3 and up} are studying to same period of time. Each child just learns at their level. The youngest might learn that Christopher Columbus discovered America by listing a few facts on a coloring page while the olders will demonstrate their mastery with a report. I also like that we do the projects as a family. We have frequent dinner table discussions about the current day's history or science lesson and everyone {even Henry and Mary Claire} gets to participate!

We are entering uncharted territory for our family this year. We now have a student in Junior High. In just two years, we'll begin the journey of High School. As preparation for completing more subjects on their own and taking responsibility for their own education, our Junior High students will also complete a science curriculum with minimal oversight from Mom and Dad {I think Dad is going to be our chief lab instructor}. While the lab experiments in Apologia are safe for families the detailed directions do not lend themselves to small children.

We began some of our subjects a month ago and look forward to adding the last few in over the next two weeks. Even though we homeschool on a different schedule that traditional schools, back to school time is still very new and exciting!

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