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Dum de Dum Dum….Curriculum

2010 August 10
by Pamela

I wrote here about why we decided to homeschool Mary Claire.  Since I am the Newest of all Newbies in this area, I am not in any position to offer reviews about the curriculum we have chosen.  But I will tell you a little about our choices and how we came to them.  Maybe when we are further into the school year I will write my assessment of the material, but for right now I am just happy to report that I can now read and execute a lesson plan somewhat successfully.  I’m nothing if not an over-achiever.

First off, if you are even more of a newbie than me, you will be both relieved and alarmed to know that there are a myriad of curriculum options.  I have joked that you don’t even have to be smart to be a teacher, which is true – at least for kindergarten.  All you have to be is resourceful.  A good place to research your options is with the Rainbow Resource Center.  You can order a free catalog which is as big as our area yellow pages (big).  For me, that is where I became alarmed.  There are SO many options.  Items are broken up by subject and the Rainbow Resource people give a thorough summary of the products as well as their pricing.  They also tell you what needs to be purchased to use each curriculum.  So for Math we needed an Instructor Guide (IG), but the catalog indicated that we also needed a set of Math manipulatives and a “meeting book”.  Knowing what we needed to purchase influenced some of our choices.

There are also curriculum book fairs.  I attended one and wanted to curl up and die.  But that’s just me. 

We used a combination of talking to more experienced homeschool parents, like my friend Susie who is teaching all five of her children, as well as the Rainbow Resource Catalog.  I also had some idea of curriculum that might work with Mary Claire based on some blogger’s posts.

For Math we chose Saxon.  Basically here’s why:  I am a bonafide idiot when it comes to Math.  Instructing even a kindergartner in Math terrifies me.  So when I saw how well-regarded their program was, I was encouraged.  But when I looked through the Instructor Guide (IG) and saw that the lessons were scripted, I was sold.  When I say that the lessons were scripted, I mean that very literally.  They tell you exactly what to say.  I know that would drive some people insane, but it made me feel like there was a Very Smart Person holding my hand the whole way.  Of course I don’t read it verbatim, but a quick glance is helpful.  It also helped that I was also able to purchase a used IG for $15 when they retail for $37. 

For Phonics I went with Saxon as well.  Again I liked that their lessons were scripted.  Their format seemed well-organized and nearly every lesson incorporated something fun. 

History, Geography, Literature, and Bible are all from Sonlight.  Sonlight was the company that I just knew was going to be a great choice for Mary Claire.  They are big on learning through quality books rather than textbooks.  So rather than read about history in the more conventional way, we read books about people and learn about their environment, history, and culture through their stories.  When I first saw the reading list for kindergarten I was a little daunted, especially to see chapter books which I wasn’t sure if Mary Claire was ready for.  But she has been completely enthralled with everything we’ve read so far, even asking to have additional chapters read on any given day.

For Handwriting we are using Happy Handwriting. I chose it because I didn’t talk to a single person who was thrilled with the program they were currently using.  The Rainbow Resource catalog called it the most “pragmatic and no-nonsense” approach to handwriting.  And it was only $14.  I am waiting to start this with Mary Claire for a few weeks.

We are doing Science and Art through a local homeschool co-op and supplementing with books and projects at home.

Next up I will talk about how much to budget for all this since that is something I always wondered about before starting homeschooling but rarely saw anyone address.

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