Friday, May 20, 2011

Preparing for Next Term of Homeschooling

It's hard to imagine, but it is already time to prepare for next school
term. I have been looking at various curriculum online for a couple of
years. I wanted to find one that fit 4 major criteria: had to be
Christian-based, strong in the core subjects, encourage independent
study, and adaptable for Micah's special needs.

Finding Christian-based curriculum is never difficult. There are
numerous providers online. You can also find them through networking
with other homeschool families in your local homeschool association.
The key is to find one that fits closely with your beliefs. Whether you
want one that is more non-denominational or one that is
denomination-specific, the curriculum is out there.

Being strong in the core subjects may seem obvious, but surprisingly
there are curricula available that rush through the lessons. These
leave the child and their parents frustrated when the material does not
give enough practice to reinforce the information being taught. I
wanted a curriculum that would provide plenty of practice and clear

Encouraging independent study is vital to me. While at 1st grade level
it may seem silly, the concept is a sound one. Too often, homeschool
children can grow to depend on their parents to walk them through each
lesson. Though this is fine at the beginning, it is not good for the
children in the long run. I want my children to be able to learn on
their own, without me having to hand-hold them through it. In early
years, I will guide, but at some point in the future they will need to
be able to do this for themselves. Some curricula is set up to
encourage independent work better than others.

Finding a curriculum that can be adapted to fit Micah's needs has been
the hardest part of choosing which to use. For the sake of simplicity,
I wanted to be able to purchase all of the needed curriculum for both
children from a single publisher. I needed something that would
challenge and teach Abbie, yet be able to be broken down into segments
that I could later teach to Micah. This week, I finally found it.

We decided to get our curriculum from Rod and Staff publishers. The
company is owned and operated by Anabaptists (Mennonite) in Kentucky.
In looking through the examples of the curriculum, I found it to be best
for our family's needs. The gentle and steady progression in learning
reminds me greatly of the way I was taught in school. In the 1st grade,
the main focus is on the 3R's - Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. The
reading course is based on Bible stories. There are 3 sets of workbooks
to go along with the Readers: reading workbooks that help focus on
skills like reading comprehension, spelling, English; phonics workbooks
that teach the child to read, and worksheet workbooks that support the
Reader stories. There is a Penmanship course (writing) that is
extremely thorough in teaching proper writing skills. Workbooks and
additional writing tablets of paper for additional practice are used to
teach the children proper formation of the letters along with copywork
for them to practice writing sentences and verses. The 1st grade
Arithmetic course teaches addition, subtraction, measures, money,
fractions, place values, and more. The workbooks, along with speed
drills and blackline worksheets, give the child plenty of practice. The
final course I am ordering from them is "Developing Motor Skills in Art"
which gives weekly projects for the children to complete covering the

Rod & Staff does not have a Science or History/Social Studies course for
1st grade. They focus only on the foundational skills that every child
must have to build on to be successful in future school years. Instead
of having a textbook for these 2 subjects, I am planning to do thematic
studies and activity centers. This will give Abbie the opportunity to
learn these subjects through hands-on projects.

We are really excited about the curriculum. Once Abbie is finished with
it, I will set it aside until Micah is ready for it. For him, I will
have the option to simply cut his worksheets into thirds or half to give
him a manageable amount if necessary. Because of how thorough the
materials are in the presentation of new concepts, I can easily break it
down into lessons that Micah will be able to learn more easily.

Until August, we will continue working on reviews and staying in routine
with the homeschooling. I am also going to set up a better area in the
house for Abbie to have a space to do her schoolwork using the workbox
method of organization.


debbieo said...

You made a good choice with Rod and Staff. My girls loved the readers. I too have the goal of the girls learning to learn. I no longer have to even guide. They set up their own weekly schedules, write out their own lessons and do their own work. The older one helps the younger one when she gets stuck on something and it works great. They get to study what they want and when they want to. I am amazed at how much they are learning and retaining.
For History we have been doing The mystery of history. It combines both secular and biblica history in the correct sequence. It is the first time I ever understood how biblical and secular historical things happend in and around the same times. Makes so much more sense. My girls are 14 and 16 now so it may be a while before you would want to use the history, maybe 5th or 6th grade would be a good time. I would do Rod and Staff until then.

Robin said...

Hi, this is Robin in SW Oklahoma (have posted here a few times). We also use R & S Curriculum and have loved it! My oldest daughter is going into 9th grade and we are having to find other options because they don't have alot of high school level yet. But elementary & mid high level is awesome. Very thorough & conservative. We also use unit studies alot for science, history, art, music, etc. to keep things exciting & fun!! Best wishes to you on your homeschooling journey!!

Anonymous said...

I really like Rod and Staff. I used it for a time with my older two. And I totally agree with the need to teach independent study from a young age. I look at home educating as teaching a child the love of learning and teaching them how to learn. Once they love learning and know how to learn and find the answers to their questions they can learn anything and will be able to learn their whole life long.

Mrs. Dewey Smith said...

we use Rod and Staff for our core here as well. Good stuff :o)

Ann from KY said...

we are not Mennonites, but really like the Christian Light Education material. It is a Mennonite published homeschool curriculum. Check this one out at using it for 3 children next year as my daughter graduated high school this May.