Homeschool, ’09-’10

School started at the Hall house today!!  I am so relieved to be back on a routine again.  I function so much better that way.  Summer’s nice for awhile, but I need structure or everything just falls apart.  The girls, Catherine especially, were so excited to start school.  Elisabeth was excited for school to start so she could play with her new toys we bought to entertain her, since we now do school in the  mornings while she’s awake, as well as in the afternoons during naptime.  So what are we doing this year?  Glad you asked.  Here’s a brief look at our plans for the year:

Catherine, Preschool

Catherine is doing the same things Abigail did her first year, so this is my first time to repeat a year.  She’s doing Bible, Phonics, and “Literature”.  For Bible we’re reading through the Child’s Story Bible and coloring the pictures of the Bible Story Timeline, which will actually take us two years to finish.  She’s also doing something different from Abigail’s preschool year, by sitting in on Abigail’s Bible lesson.  We’re going through John MacArthur’s A Faith to Grow On, which is actually a little simple for Abigail and easy for Catherine to follow.  We’ll finish that one in a few months, and finish out the year with Sinclair Ferguson’s Big Book of Questions and Answers, and Big Book of Questions and Answers about Jesus.  We’ll also work on her Scripture memory for Kids 4 Truth, her Wednesday night class at church, as our school Scripture memory plan.

In Phonics, we’re doing the kindergarten level of the Phonics Museum by Veritas Press.  Catherine isn’t quite up to where Abigail was when we started school, but this is such a thorough program that I’m confident she’ll have no problems keeping up, even doing it a year ahead.  The Phonics Museum is an excellent program that spans two years; the first year focusing on learning all the letters and just a few blends at the end of the year, and the second year learning all those special phonics rules that make the English language so complicated.  🙂

For “Literature”, using the term loosely, we doing Evan Moor’s Literature Pockets.  We’ve started with Nursery Rhymes, and will do both volumes of Folk Tales/Fairytales by the end of the year.  The Literature Pockets introduce a piece of literature, like a nursery rhyme, and then has about a week’s worth of crafts and activities to go along with it.  They’re very fun for the kids to do, honestly, that’s the main reason we’re doing them.

Catherine’s part of the school day will take 45 minutes to an hour, and we’re doing hers in the morning so that 1) Abigail can entertain Elisabeth, and 2) Catherine will be free to nap in the afternoons since she still needs one most days.

Abigail, First Grade

Here’s the part that really feels like we’re finally doing school for real.  Abigail is tackling Bible, Math, Literature, Grammar, Spelling, and Geography this year.  We have tests, grades, folders, paper, and all that fun stuff.  We’re in the big leagues now!

For Bible, she’s doing the MacArthur and Ferguson books I mentioned above, and she will also be working on her Kids 4 Truth verses.

In Math, we’re doing Saxon Math, Grade 2.  Veritas Press uses Saxon Math, and they recommend going a year ahead, and we’re very glad we’ve followed that recommendation.  I think it would have been way too easy for her had we just started Grade 1 this year.  The first few weeks are review, as is the case for every math class I ever had, then we’ll forge on ahead, going as far as multiplication and some division this year.  Her facts worksheets this year will be timed as well, seeing how many facts she can solve in one minute.  There are lots of fun activities as well, but the cornerstone of this great program is the repetition and drill of the math facts, which is so necessary and beneficial at this age.

For Literature we’re following the scripted lesson plans available from Veritas, reading the books they recommend and using their curriculum guides.  We’re doing second grade literature–we’ve been working a year ahead in reading simply because she is such a good reader.  She’s starting the year off with The Boxcar Children, and will read such classics as Little House on the Prairie, Pinnocchio, and Encyclopedia Brown this year.  Each book has comprehension guides and activities to go along with them.

For Grammar, we’re using Shurley English curriculum.  She’ll learn jingles to help her memorize and master parts of speech and sentence structure.  She has a workbook and practice book with activities, assignments, and tests.  This is the one that prompted Clay to say, “Wow.  That’s a real textbook.  We’re really doing school now.”  She’ll use Shurley English throughout the grade school years.

In spelling, we actually deviated from the main recommendations of Veritas, using their “second-place” recommendation instead of the “first-place” one.  Their first spelling recommendation was a program that was all on cd’s for her to listen to, and we’ve committed to stay away from audio/visual driven curriculums as long as possible, so we went for the number two recommendation in Veritas’ catalog, which was the spelling curriculum published by Logos Press, another favorite of ours.  It’s very basic, very similar to the way I was taught spelling:  a word list on Monday, worksheets and activities using those words throughout the week, pretest on Thursday, and test on Friday, unless you aced Thursday’s.  Very straightforward.

Finally, for Geography, we’re using Veritas’ own curriculum, a book and workbook called Legends and Leagues.  It’s a storybook about a man and his escapades, as he receives geographical advice and wisdom from two helpers.  It teaches concepts like reading maps, compasses, and directions, with an activity every week to reinforce these concepts.  We’re also learning states and capitals simply by learning the songs on the States and Capitals Songs cd, by Audio Memory Publishing, and geography around the world from the Geography Songs, Sing Around the World cd from the same publishers.  She’ll learn the songs and color in the giant US and world maps that are now hanging in my hallway.

Abigail’s schoolday will consist of Bible in the morning, then reading her chapter and playing with Elisabeth while Catherine does school, then doing Math.  During afternoon naptime she’ll do her spelling, literature and grammar, with geography activities three days a week.  On Friday she won’t have math or grammar, but she and Catherine will do art with their daddy, which he’s really excited about.

So there is our plan.  I really hope that this year is not as interrupted as last year was, but who knows what the Lord may have in mind.  I just make the plans the best I can, and He brings His plan to fruition.  Lord, pour out your grace on our school year.  May my children learn to love you with all their mind.

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