Monday, January 26, 2009

Eclectic Curriculum

Ever since our exodus from public school we've been eclectic in our choice of learning material. Eclectic means that we've been using a variety of sources to teach the individual subjects, not using only one publisher to accomplish our goals. We've pretty much stuck to reading real books for history and language arts, using texts only for supplements, or to tie it all together. I never test on the history text, we just read through and discuss. In my opinion Real Books = Real Learning which sticks with you for a lifetime. Just beware of the homeschool parent's bane: Curriculum Overkill.
For example, we've used A Beka, but never the entire curriculum. There was one notable year I probably used a different publisher for every subject. However; if you choose to do be that eclectic, make sure you aren't doing double, or even triple duty on a subject. Overkill on language arts is the biggie. Take it from someone who has been there. Also, how many years of grammar does a kid need? Get them writing and building vocabulary!

In the 5-6 grades we used A Beka for reading and their spelling/vocabulary/poetry. We used Writing Strands for writing. In the 7-8 we used A Beka's Grammar/Composition.
We ALSO used Beautiful Feet American History spread over 2 years, which has some writing and vocabulary. Somewhere in there we tried a smattering of Learning Language Arts Through Literature (LLATL). In the semesters that we concentrated on writing skills, I supplemented with Daily Grammar and spelling lists for grade levels like Pocket Basics and Everyday Spelling that I found online. If he knew the spelling words the first testing he didn't have to write or test on that word. Wordly Wise was the best vocabulary studies we found, and still use them. Can you see how you could get bogged down in the language arts swamp? Thank the Lord that He guided me and showed me that we didn't need to get it all done in one year! That's the big reason I wanted to use programs like Beautiful Feet or Total Language Plus, reading real books, and combining history and language skills, which was my goal from the very beginning.

In the 5-8 years we used Saxon for math. For science we used Bob Jones, wrote our own curriculum one year, then went to Apologia Science, purchased from Home Science Tools.
For Bible we used different things, I wish we had used Discover 4 Yourself Bible Studies, which a friend highly recommends for children AND adults. We used Latina Christiana for Latin studies, which I highly recommend for vocabulary building and biology later. BF Ancient History was spread over 2 years.

9th grade was:
  • 1st semester for English/History: we read some Medieval and Bible history real books (Some of those books were on the BF list, some were Henty books, some our own choice)
  • Timeline from Homeschool in the Woods done scrapbook style
  • 2nd semester still read good books, but concentrated on essay writing with help from the English Works website and The Institute for Excellence in Writing
  • Saxon Algebra (struggled)
  • Sign Language from a co-op class
  • Accounting from co-op
  • Guitar, mandolin, fiddle and choir from outside home
  • Apologia Biology
  • Carpentry & mechanics from dad

The 10th grade has looked like this:
  • Switched to Teaching Textbooks for Math
  • Read through A Beka's World History Text
  • 1st semester more stuff from The Institute for Excellence in Writing
  • 2nd semester we started Total Language Plus-Oliver Twist currently
  • A Beka's Bible Doctrine and Bible reading (no testing, just discussion)
  • Finished Apologia's Biology and started Microbiology outside of home. (more about that later)
  • Carpentry & mechanics from dad
  • ACT prep
  • He taught a co-op class
  • Spanish from outside home
  • Co-op computer class
  • Art classes from outside home
  • Guitar, mandolin, fiddle and choir from outside home
As you can see, the only core courses on our own, ended up being: English, Math and Bible.
Last semester I was driving 4 days a week, so even though it was worth it, I'm glad we've dropped some things! We're down to 2 days a week.

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