Friday, July 16, 2010

School thoughts

So it's that time again, when I have to sit down and start looking at what we're going to do this school year. I've been getting curriculum figured out since January, making decisions on what to stick with, what to supplement, what to change, etc. I'm not big on change and M1 generally likes what we have (I try to pick everything with him in mind, and I'm usually not far off), so I'm simply throwing a few more things into the ring and calling it good.

If you look on the left side of the blog, you'll see what we're going to be using. Yes, it's a long list. No, we will not be doing everything every day or even every week, but it'll all be there for use as desired. The only things I'm putting my foot down about are writing (which he hates) and math (which he tolerates but is quite good at when he pays attention). Those *will* be done daily.

Let's start from the top. The first three are all handwriting curricula. Yup, that's a lot. But we'll be doing these daily and there's no way I intend to finish all the books except Writing Strands. He's finally up to grade level on handwriting, though I'm sure there will be some remediation and review at the beginning of the school year, so I'm only going to have him use HWT about once a week. He can pick the day, hour, and location lol. The other four days of the week we'll be using Writing With Ease, which is a very basic book, or Writing Strands, which will stretch his imagination a bit more. He's a lot more excited about WS than either of the others, but there are only 12 or 13 lessons, so I'll use it every few weeks as a treat.

Bribery is a good thing.

Spelling Workout is a nice, easy spelling program. He's nearly done with book B and book C is in the mail. He likes this program. It's not too hard, has short little assignments, and is black-and-white which is a major bonus for Mr. Distractibility. Plus the words are printed in both print and cursive so he can practice reading it long before he starts to write it.

First Language Lessons is a grammar book we started last year. It's the only program I'm thinking of throwing out sometime this year, but I already had the book, so we'll see how it goes. If it does get tossed, Shurley English may take its place. He's got a solid grasp on the English language, so I'm not too worried about swapping if need be or even tossing the whole subject out the window and just teaching him as we go. Who knows. A lack of grammar won't necessarily kill him at the age of 8. Or ever. Though I *am* nicknamed the Grammar Nazi by my darling spouse, so the boy can't escape without some knowledge of the topic.

Story of the World is history, and he's excited about it again, as am I. I see a lot of reenactments in our future, with little Army men or dress-up gear or both, and of course more 'feasts.' The Middle Ages is my favorite time span in all of history, so I'm going to be going all-out on this one.

Math-U-See. He does well when he focuses. Again, I'm sure we'll have to review, but he knows the stuff solidly. He's getting tired of straight addition and subtraction, so I know he wants to get through the current book (Beta) and get to the next one so he can start learning other stuff. Not to say that Beta doesn't cover other stuff... he just gets so darn impatient with math. Maybe I'll have to invent some games.

REAL Science Odyssey and E=mc2 are both science programs. I actually have a third book called "Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding" that we'll touch on, but its use will be minimal, I think. I say that. Science is his major field of interest, so I really have no idea how much we'll be doing. I have a rough outline, but he really leads this one much more than any other subject, so who knows. It'll be fun, that's for sure, because he loves space and geology and all the stuff we'll be studying and knows a lot of it already, so we can spend a lot of time getting into the nitty-gritty of it all and delve nice and deep. I'm really looking forward to it.

The rest are electives. I gave him the option of giving up Latin after getting a basic grounding last year with Song School Latin, but he wouldn't have it and insisted on continuing, so I picked up Minimus which is published by Cambridge. It's cartoon-based. Need I say more? Le Francais Facile Jr. is a simpler version of a three-year French program. I don't think we'll get through even the junior version in one year, but if he's learning, that's what counts. Plus, I know NO French. OK, so I don't know Latin, either, but I'm more confident there for some reason. Logic Safari contains simple logic problems for him to solve. He likes these a lot and finds them easy. This book won't last past October, I'm betting, but there are more in the series. Dance Mat Typing is an online BBC typing program involving a dancing goat. It's a hoot. Finally, Complete-A-Sketch and Artistic Pursuits are art programs. Complete-A-Sketch is the one I showcased in May (Post Here), and Artistic Pursuits mentions different artists and uses different mediums while showing off age-appropriate drawings so my boy doesn't feel as inadequate in his own efforts. Plus it ties in with the history we learned last year and some we'll be learning this year, so that's also a plus. M2 may use this program with us. She'll like it, I know, even if M1 doesn't.

So there ya go. All updated and ready to go. Hard to believe that summer vacation is almost over! M2 goes back August 5, assuming she can get her act together (oh, crap, I need to go uniform and back-to-school shopping!), so we start the same day.

Time's fun when you're having flies...

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