Why We Changed Our Entire Homeschool (Plus 1st & 2nd Grade Curriculum Choices)

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We are still relatively young in our careers as homeschoolers, with our oldest (7) entering 2nd grade and kids in 1st, kinder, pre-k, and… baby school, but we still have enough time under our belts to have learned a few things.

When we first started looking ahead into the new school year, I anticipated that we would continue with the curriculum we were using and piece together the rest from resources we found online. However, the more we prayed about it and evaluated the previous year, the more I realized I’d have to bite the bullet and change everything.

Why We Changed Our Entire Homeschool Plus Curriculum Choices for pre-K, first grade, and second grade

 

I’ve learned a lot during this process. Such as…

  • Just because I love the idea of a curriculum doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for us
  • My habits and learning/teaching style are just as important as my kids’
  • Trying to force something to work solely because I really want it to, or because it seems to work for someone else, is a recipe for disaster

Somebody could have told me all those things (and someone probably did) but I like to learn by experience. 😉

Honestly, I feel like we’re sort of starting over. I am a researcher type of person who loves gathering information, so I know a LOT about homeschooling and curriculum. However, I think this coming year is where the rubber really meets the road.

Things I observed about myself in the past year:

  • I am easily distractible
  • I have self-discipline issues
  • I can’t do rigid, because my head will explode
  • I can’t just wing it either, or nothing will get done
  • I sometimes put unrealistic expectations on myself and my kids
  • I want to do everything all the time, and right now
  • I have more anxiety and comparison issues than I realized or care to admit
  • I’m a closet perfectionist who likes to make plans and then chuck them in despair when day 2 doesn’t pan out

Things I observed about my home and family:

  • My children come to the table with a variety of learning styles and needs
  • Toddlers and babies need to be handled first, because nobody learns with screaming in the background
  • My house needs to be clean enough (but no more than that) or we can’t function
  • Our week needs to have a decent rhythm (with flexibility) or we can’t function
  • We need to intentionally balance with external activities and distractions
  • Christ and character come first, for us and our children

 

Why We Changed Our Entire Homeschool

You know what? Our homeschooling isn’t about doing school at home. Homeschooling is about enjoying each other, learning together, and preparing our children for whatever plans and occupations God has for them.

In other words… Homeschooling is a tool, not an end-goal, and I’ve learned that I need to start designing our homeschool experience to fit the needs of our family. After all, that’s one of the many beauties of homeschooling, right?

Here are some of the changes we made:

  • We refined our weekly family rhythm, blocking time for the most important things first
  • We moved to a 4 weeks on, 1 week off schedule, still year-round (fun and planning on the off weeks)
  • We moved to a 4-day school week (post coming soon)
  • We took steps to reduce the household chaos (post coming soon)
  • We now have a “work first” policy (their time is theirs once the work is all done)
  • We greatly reduced screen time (harder for me than for them)
  • I spend a LOT more time in prayer over our homeschool
  • We made curriculum choices that were easier for me to implement and better fit their learning needs

Our 2015 Curriculum Choices for pre-K, Kinder, 1st and 2nd Grade

Why We Changed Our Entire Homeschool Plus Curriculum Choices for pre-K, first grade, and second grade

 

Bible and Character

Bible-Road-Trip-Logo  DoorpostsReview Sound Words for Kids: Lessons in Theology

We are continuing with Bible Road Trip (love it!) which includes notebooking, and Sound Words for Kids for theology lessons. We’ll also be joining Community Bible Study once a week starting in September. I can’t wait to get back into a class, and they have kids’ studies available all the way through high school! 

For character studies, I’m writing a simple curriculum starting with anger vs. self-control that will be coming out soon. Otherwise, nearly all of our character training resources come from Doorposts. We plan to start implementing regular activities from their books Polished Cornerstones and Plants Grown Up, among other things, for our girls and boys.

YWAM Studies

YWAM Heroes Then and Now Unit Studies

We’re pretty stoked about this one! We will be going through many of the YWAM Christian Heroes Then and Now books as read alouds with the kids. I plan to do simple unit studies with them as well. My 7 year old will be using some of their reader versions of the books to do presentations for his dad and another homeschool family that is joining in this effort.

We also purchased the Torchlighters video series, which has several missionary DVDs to go with some of the YWAM books. We already started with Jim Elliot and the kids are really into the story!

Famous People of Church History Notebooking Pages

Reading

We tried Logic of English Foundations for learning to read but there were too many parts for me to stay focused. So we switched back to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and we couldn’t be happier. My 5 year old will be finishing it up soon and her younger sister will start when she’s ready.

My oldest will begin the reading program with Christian Light Education this year. For book lists, we use the one from Exodus Books. The oldest two have daily read aloud times and, of course, we do group read alouds each day. 

Handwriting

Write Through the Bible Junior

We were using Getty Dubay for handwriting but have switched my 7 year old to New American Cursive with Memoria Press. We just like the style and simpler teaching approach of Memoria Press better than GD. My youngers will be using the Write Through the Bible Jr. curriculum and then we’ll probably move them to Memoria Press for cursive. 

Langauge Arts

We switch from Logic of English Essentials to Christian Light Education Language Arts. I love the LOE Essentials curriculum but it just wasn’t working for my son. He was having trouble retaining it and began to dislike language arts. With CLE, we can use their easy workbook and teacher manual format that we love from their math, and I know he is getting a fantastic foundation for some spelling, grammar, and more. 

We’re also giving All About Spelling a shot. We had tried it a while ago weren’t ready. I’m glad a friend convinced me to try it again because I think it’s going to be very helpful and effective, especially where Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons can leave kids weak with spelling. We love that it is hands on and I appreciate the scripted teacher aids and simple flash card system. 

Mathematics

Christian Light Education math

We are continuing with Christian Light Education Math and are pleased with it. My 4 year old using some Horizons K math books we already had but will move to CLE when those are done. With CLE I learned the hard way to just buy their flash cards instead of trying to make my own. Their organization system and card markings are worth the cost to keep everything tidy and moving forward! We also use the free version of Xtramath.com for fun and math facts practice. 

Science

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We were doing our own science animal unit studies last year. That’s really just in theory. I WANTED to do it but I couldn’t find the time to pull things together or the focus to keep it moving. I just need something easy, high quality and laid out well!

We started Apologia’s Astronomy book and I’m very happy with it. It’s a lot of reading aloud with one or two simple and fun projects each week, and then my 7 year old completes the accompanying Jr. Notebook. As we go through it, we are going to stop and rabbit-trail on topics the kids show particular interest in. I’m less worried about them completing the book than having fun and learning!

History

 427298 Wall Timeline

Last year we read History for Little Pilgrims and just loved it. We actually still need to finish it, and we’ll probably just do that during read aloud time since they enjoy it so much. Other than that we did Bible history with Bible Road Trip

This year we started Mystery of History Volume 1 and I’m so glad we did. You can try it out for just a few bucks on Kindle! We’re keeping it light with reading aloud (we have the audiobook as well), a simple project to go along with the lesson, and our wall timeline from Homeschool in the Woods

Again, we’ll rabbit trail when we want to on this one. The kids also listen to the Classical Conversations timeline song and history sentences that correspond pretty well to MOH. 

Art/Music

For art we’ll continue bouncing between ARTistic Pursuits, Draw Write Now, and Pinterest ideas. I would like something that is a little more systematic for drawing with my 7 year old, but haven’t looked into it yet. 

For music, my 5 and 7 year olds are taking piano lessons with another homeschool mom in exchange for me hosting an art activity. It’s working out really well! 

Other Resources

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Notebooking Pages Free Membership

A lot fits in this “other” category. These are things that I hope to draw from as we go through the year and see where our time, interests, and needs lie. 

  • SchoolhouseTeachers.com This is a fantastic resource with several different subjects and courses for homeschooling families and we plan to use it all year. For example, I’m really interested in the literature studies they have, so I’m planning on alternating some of those with our YWAM studies.
  • Geography – With Bible Road Trip, Mystery of History, and YWAM books. I also have the Draw Around the World USA and Europe curriculum from Brookdale House if we can find time for it. 
  • Spanish – my kids have been asking to learn forever, so a hispanic family is helping us learn and we’re also using the free online Salsa videos. Soon we hope to try to review some great Spanish curriculum with the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
  • Unit Studies and Nature Studies – Our kids enjoy unit studies and nature studies, so I bought some that I hope to work them into science and other subjects this year. 

So there you have it! I hope that you have a wonderful homeschool year with your family this year, keeping an open heart and mind to all the things God would have you learn about yourself and your kids. Enjoy!

MORE POSTS YOU’LL LOVE

How we do a year round schedule and a 4-day homeschool week!

Find encouragement and tips at Proverbial Homemaker for your homeschooling journey!

 

 

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. I want to encourage you to continue to put God first always and pray without ceasing. Your post is so timely. Everything you wrote in your post reflects my very story. Sometimes things are timely for you personally and I can say that for this post. I am still evaluating how I am going to change our homeschool and soon will be making changes and implementing. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Tasmin! I’ll take that encouragement to heart. Sometimes it can be so distracting with all the new homeschool plans and tasks, but keeping God first and staying prayerful are so important! Have a great school year 🙂

  2. You sound like me! I have the same issues and we do school year round, and follow a 4 day-school week. Haha.
    I hope all the changes work out for you. You have a nice line up of curriculum there. Wishing you a great year!

    1. Hey hey! It’s always nice to find someone with the same struggles so we can band together! 😀 Thanks for stopping by, and may you have a great school year as well!

  3. Wow! YOu are so brave to make big changes! I think I’m going to be doing the same though. Logic of English is awesome, but I don’t know if it’s going to work for us. I am giving it one more go and then that’s it.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Lisa! I really don’t like changing curriculum but I know it’s for the best! Looking forward to a less stressful school year. LOL! Now that I said that…

  4. We changed significantly in our first few homeschooling years as well. I had never heard of Charlotte Mason, but I knew what we were doing wasn’t working for us. And so when I began to read of her methods and principles, we changes much of what we were doing. And it fit us so much better.

    Now with one child in 11th grade (I can’t believe it!), there are always new things (or old things that are new to me) that I wish I had known when we started. And I’m still always refining- especially with my younger set. I think that homeschooling is always dynamic, changing to meet the family’s needs.

    1. Thanks for that perspective Leah! I always appreciate hearing from homeschool mamas who have been at this longer than I have. I appreciate you stopping by! 🙂

  5. Thank s for the encouragement, It’s helpful to tweek to make your days really work for you, not against. I’ve had to have a schedule to keep me focused. see my blog: too: http://growingthewholehome.com

  6. There is always a feeling of guilt about making such drastic curriculum changes, but over the years I’ve learned to let go and let God have control. You are doing the best thing for your children by homeschooling them. God will honor your obedience in raising them to love Him first by providing for your, and their, needs.

    Seven years of homeschooling and we’re still finding the right fit, but I think that’s expected. There is no “one size fits all” curriculum, and learning styles and needs change from year to year. Children are diverse in all aspects of life, and God meant it to be that way.

    God bless you, Tauna! Have a great year.

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement Lynda! 🙂

  7. I can relate to quite a few of the personality bits you mentioned. We have some of the same resources in mind for this year.

  8. Thanks for putting together a wonderful post for homeschoolers. Language Arts is misspelled…one of those oopsies that easily happens but I’m a blogger and I would want to know about it if it were my post because I’m sure it was unintentional. There is a lot of wisdom in changing things up to fit your family’s needs and your teaching style and your kids’ learning styles. I hope you have a great year!

    1. Lol! That’s just so funny. I once misspelled Thanksgiving on a Thanksgiving post and it was a full YEAR before someone pointed it out. Glad it didn’t take so long this time. 🙂 Thanks!

  9. We sound a lot alike. This year I have a 5th, 4th, 2nd, & kindergarten, plus a 2 yr old and an infant.

    We use clp.org for all of it. This is in no way how we started out. We even used 100 easy lessons. If 100 easy gets daunting, try learning to read by Christian light. So much easier.

    1. It’s funny you say that because I was considering trying it out the other day! We like 100 Easy Lessons but there are so many references to the Learning to Read program in their language arts books that I thought it would be nice to have it all work together. Thanks!

  10. I can totally relate to this, I had to rethink everything this year, too. I especially like the thought that homeschooling is not school at home, but a tool preparing them to be what God has planned for them to be.

    1. Thanks Maureen! 🙂

  11. We also use the YWAM for history. I think it is so important to focus on Christians in history because what others have faced in the past may be what we face in the future. Last year we did Corrie Ten Boom and WW2 and that has even impacted my life so much in what I have been able to apply many of the spiritual truths learned from her life in difficult life situations I did not know we would face this year.

    The Old Schoolhouse has Curiosity Files for science that are occasionally available for free download that we have used and really enjoyed as well. I like how they implement God into the science lessons.

    We had to break away from a very rigid curriculum and do this type of learning because it was making my brain explode trying to keep up with it for so many kids!! I’m so glad for the flexibility of homeschooling to be able to conform to our needs rather than vice versa.

    1. I’m so thankful for that flexibility too! Thanks for the recommendation on Curiosity Files. I’ll check it out!

  12. I stumbled across your blog while researching second grade curriculum. I’m so glad you shared the link to the Salsa videos. My 7 year old really wants to learn and I’ve been letting her play around with DuoLingo. Have you found any other resources for teaching Spanish to kids?

    1. Middlebury languages has also been great!

  13. Oh wow. Are you sure you didn’t write this about me? Your thoughts are exactly me (although I’m not religious, so minus that).
    We have been homeschooling 4 on 1 off for the last 9 months or so and it’s working well. We do take normal school holidays off too but I am finding that this isn’t working and the summer holidays are too long too. So I think come this summer (I’m in Australia so a while yet) we’ll take a month off, or there abouts and then start 4 on 1 off year round.
    I’m off now to see if I can find your anger vs self-control curriculum. We certainly need that for one child inparticular.

    1. I’m glad it was helpful! 😀

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