Considering Curriculum

Since we finished up the alphabet last month, I haven’t prepared any lessons for Gwendolyn.  I’m on vacation, man!  I originally thought we’d continue through the Summer just to be consistent, but it ended up being a lot of work for me preparing stuff each week, marking pages in our stack of books and printing out oodles of resources.

It’s been good for the kids to explore their world, and I find it much less stressful when they learn through their natural environment.  I’m one of those people who loves the idea of unschooling, but I fear that I’ll miss something if we don’t do something “educational.”  I even need to plan the fun stuff!  So sitting back and letting the kids do their thing has been freeing.  It’s amazing to see what they come up with and how well they can [sometimes] cooperate in their pretend play and made-up games.  Getting a stack of books at the library that weren’t researched or intended for a specific theme has been fun!

Since Gwen is a voracious book-lover and has been sounding out some words, I did finally take a suggestion from 1+1+1=1 to label our house.  I may add some of our own words, but for now I just used the ones that came in the download and the kiddos helped me figure out where to put them.  It’s kinda funny seeing words all around – like the floor, stairs, lamp and so forth.  I’m hoping this will be just one more step in word association and learning how to spell.

Since I don’t want to procrastinate forever and be scrambling at the last minte, I have been considering options for the next school year.  Gwen won’t be five until November, so she’s still technically Pre-K but some of her skills are more advanced; I’m thinking a mix of the two levels with more of a focus on K-level activities will suit her best.  I find it easiest just to include Josiah in our activities and won’t worry as much about planning something specific for him.  Since I already a bunch of younger resources I can always pull out something else.

Here is my current list of considerations:

Raising Rock StarsRaising Rock Stars Kindergarten – Having already become familiar with and taken advantage of many of 1+1+1=1’s resources, I’m considering taking the next step with the Kindergarten resources.  There’s also a preschool section, which may be too easy for Gwen, but perhaps I’ll combine them.  The lessons and concepts are very comprehensive and of course I love the Biblical basis.

Brightly Beaming Resources – When I created our outline last year I was inspired by their preparatory curriculum.  The next steps would be their additional curriculums, including Letter of the Week, Sound of the Week, Science of the Week and Country of the Week

ABC Jesus Loves Me

ABC Jesus Loves Me’s 5-year curriculum – One of the biggest contributors to my lessons last year was ABC Jesus Loves Me’s 3-year curriculum.  I used many of their suggestions and stuck to the weekly Bible story outline, which was a huge deciding factor for me. 

Lesson Pathways – A newfound resource, you can customize a curriculum with various “pathways” for each student based on their content.

Depending on what I choose, I may not need to supplement with too many additional resources, but I have a bin full of books from which to choose.  For Christmas we got Step Into the Bible – 100 Bible Stories for Family Devotions by Ruth Graham, and it may be fun to do this with the kiddos, or at least on those days when Daddy is home. 
I have a whole bunch of little Carson-Dellosa Publishing HomeWorkbooks, including Preschool Skills, Letters – Uppercase and Lowercase, Alphabet Sounds & Pictures. I also have some Brighter Child workbooks and a bunch of Let’s Grow Smart workbooks.

One of the books from which I used pages every week was the Big Preschool Workbook. I put most of the pages in page protectors so Gwen could use dry erase markers and she really enjoyed those. The same company puts out smaller workbooks and I have a few of their preschool editions.

Another one of my weekly favorites was Getting Your Preschooler Ready to Read and Ready for Math. I have their Phonics and Math books for ages 4+ and will most likely be putting those to good use.

My mom is always buying educational resources for the kiddos, and she has been the main contributor to our stash of workbooks. Having homeschooled us for a number of years and teaching junior high and high school, she knows what she’s doing and I’ll take any advice I can get! A while back she gave me a dry-erase book for Gwen, but I tucked it away since the suggested age group is 5+. Write, Slide & Learn Phonics looks like it will be a great resource for learning to read, and since it’s completely dry-erase, I’m sure Gwen will love it.

Little by little we’ve touched on other countries on the globe and explored multi-cultural holidays and traditions, and I think My First Magnetic Atlas will be a fun resource for the kiddos. I got it for super-cheap at a local store and couldn’t resist.

The unschooler in me would love to scrap the idea of curriculum altogether, but I feel safe having some sort of structure.  What are your thoughts on a structured vs. unstructured homeschool environment?  Do you have a favorite preschool or Kindergarten curriculum?


2 thoughts on “Considering Curriculum

  1. Penny says:

    I am so with you on this dilemma. I am also a ‘wannabe’ unschooler, with a 7 year old and soon-to-be 4 year old. I have a few workbooks and ‘strew’ them around with all sorts of other ‘educational’ books but I’d rather the kids pick one up and WANT to do it than make them. My nearly 4 year old will happily do 5 minutes here and there. But no longer my son. When he left school 4 months ago, he was used to doing an occasional page from a Maths workbook with me e.g. in holidays. We continued when he left school, he finished it and then it took a while to be able to buy the next level. Mistake!! He was out of the habit of it and he refuses to even look at the new workbook :( But is happy to do his ‘Life of Fred’. I am very free flowing and just feel that as long as they are learning something that appears worthwhile to me, that’s OK!

    I will think about the labelling thing. My daughter knows her alphabet (both sounds and words) very well and can sound out ‘regular’ words just fine, if they’re not too long, otherwise her memory of the letter sounds at the beginning of the word fail her!! but isn’t really interested in all those irregular words yet. I think they make her feel incompetent because she can’t work them out, she just has to learn them, she’s also not interested in ‘stories’ that can be used to explain these words that e.g. Letterlands offers, which had worked very well to help my son to read. I think she’ll suddenly just get them, because I read a lot to her.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Nichole says:

    I might have to homeschool Elijah this September because I don’t have my act together (a job, heh hem; enrollment, cough!) but he soooo needs to be around other kids as much as he desires to learn. I loved your curriculum last year so I think you do a great job and I was wondering if you’d be interested in a co-op type thing? Get together once a week or something like that?

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