The Working Homeschool Mom: Curriculum Choices
In case you missed the big announcement we made last week, I’m officially a working homeschool mom. It’s still strange to say it, but the truth is I have a ton going on right now. I am working full-time out of the home, I have this blog (which is a full-time job in itself . . . ), oh, and there’s a hoppin’ Jamberry business too (in case you want to get in on that action!).
The Working Homeschool Mom: Curriculum Choices
The very first thing that needs to change now that I made the decision to go back to work is our curriculum.
In the past, I have schooled the kids four days a week, with the fifth day reserved for field trips and other fun. Almost everything was one on one and parent lead. I do love schooling like that, but with the kids getting older, and with more things demanding my time, we are changing the plan. Now, we are moving to more of a block schedule so I need curriculum that is conducive to independent work and to block scheduling (more on the schedule tomorrow).
This coming school year, Bug will be a fourth grader by public school standards and is working on a 5th-6th grade level in reality. The biggest goal for him is to help him learn to manage his own education more, increase his study skills, and start preparing him for Middle School level work. Mr. Man would be a second grader by age, but we have taken a delayed academics approach to his schooling for many reasons, and he is working at a 1st-2nd grade level. The biggest goal for him is getting him writing more comfortably, and increasing his stamina for seat work. Little Miss is four and is working at the Pre-K to Kindergarten level, and this year, I am hoping to teach her to read. Then, we have Peanut, who pretty much just sits around being cute.
2015/2016 School Year Plans
Fifth Grade Choices
Language Arts: (Lit, Writing and Grammar online while I am at work, Spelling with me)
I make curriculum choices based on weak areas first. I do things this way because I know there are a million different programs on the market, and I don’t want my budget to be limited when I am planning the subjects where my kids need the most help. For Bug, the thing he still really need to work on is his writing skills.
I have signed him up or a Preparatory Writing Class with the Well Trained Mind Academy for the fall. He’ll meet with a teacher online twice a week for a year, and hopefully will grow leaps and bounds. This class covers grammar as well as composition, and uses Writing with Ease 3/4 along with Killgallon Sentance Composing for Middle School.
For Literature, he’ll continue to take classes at Athena’s Advanced Academy.
He’ll continue to do The Logic of English for spelling and additional grammar work.
Math: (Online while I am at work)
Math is one subject I haven’t decided on for the new school year. I did pre-register him for a pre-algebra class with WTMA, but I am waiting on the textbook (AOPS Pre-Algebra with Singapore 6) to arrive so I can be sure he’ll be ready for that level of challenge before I fork out the money for it. Right now, he’s repeating 5th grade math with Great Parents Academy, which I love because it emails me every time he finishes a lesson and that feature is SO nice while I am at work, but to be honest, he needs a 6th grade program, and they don’t offer it. Teaching Textbooks is a consideration too, but I am not thrilled with its level of rigor, or Bugs retention from it, so I don’t know if I want to go that route either!
Let me know if you have any suggestions for math for him- I need a 6th grade program, ideally computer-based or online. I would LOVE for it to auto-email me results from lessons instantly, so I can call to check in with him from work, and know when I need to repeat a lesson with him face-to-face when I get home. Teacher lead is also something I am considering.
History: (Online while I am at work)
Veritas Press Self-Paced History, 1815-Present with the additional reading suggestions.
Science: (with Dad)
Electives: (Online while I am at work)
Homeschool Spanish Academy
Study Skills with WTMA
First Grade Choices
Mr. Man is going to keep working on Time4Learning and Dreambox when I am at work (hopefully- he’s not great at cooperating with these and we may need a second desktop computer). We’ll do Right Start Math and Logic of English Foundations together each day when I am done with work. He’ll also do Nancy Larson Science 1/2 with Dad on the weekends.
Block Scheduled Classes
Art and Music will be done as a family on the weekends with Artistic Pursuits and Zeezok Music Appreciation.
I also plan on doing history as a block on the weekends with the kids. Bug is working on VP Self-Paced while I am at work, but I love history so much that we are going to keep going as a family together to reinforce what he is learning and dig deeper with the stories, mapwork and hands on activities that we love. I am still not sure what the plan is for this, other than I want to focus on Modern times, I want plenty of hands-on fun, map work, reading, crafts, and more. It needs to include all the kids but have an appropriate challenge level for my oldest. Right now, my front runners are Trail Guide to Learning and Story of the World. To be honest, this decision may come down to what programs I love after convention season, and if any review options come up.
Workbooks for the Rest!
We will also have a handful of workbooks around for the kids to work on. Eventually, I’ll be telecommuting from home twice a week, and I’ll still need to focus on my work while also making sure the kids are cared for and on track. Workbooks will be perfect for this! I plan on having handwriting workbooks, a writing workbook for Mr. Man, editing practice for Bug, and depending on the history program we go with, possibly geography workbooks. I figure we really can’t have too many for extra practice and for support on days when “the plan” falls apart.
And, room for flexibility
I’m used to the plan changing, and changing often. We do love to review homeschool programs, and while this is probably slowing down, I always have my eye out for new programs I haven’t heard of, and love to try things that may just fill a need for our family. Plus, I think reviews are a valuble tool for other homeschoolers, so even if they aren’t something we use forever in our home, there is value in trying them and really giving you guys a clear look at them!
Come back tomorrow to see how in the world we schedule this all in!
Tomorrow I’ll go over how our block schedule works, and when and how we intend to pull this all off. I’ll also explain my plans for keeping Bug on track, and how I intend to stay on top of his assignments. I don’t want to totally outsource his education, so do know I will be there every step of the way, even if his class meets online while I am not home!
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Check into Khan Academy for math. It is free, and I’m not sure you’d want to use it as the only curriculum. But you could use it for homework assignments. If you sign up as the tutor, you can see quite a bit of analytics. Particularly interesting is how long they took to answer each question. Might help to spot where there is a struggle, even if they end up with the correct answer.
Hi, We do CTC math [ctcmath.com] and are loving it. It’s online, works great with our visual spatial knithetic learner, you can put a check in the weekly progress reports box in the parents section, have multiple kids on the family plan and the kids can click on the more questions button for more practice and even print out their lesson. Hope this helps if your still looking [they also sometimes have a get an exta 6 months free w/ a years purchase] 🙂