Although we homeschool year-round, each August we officially start our new school year. It is a fun and exciting time when we dive into our new school supplies and books. This post will detail our curriculum and resources for the 2016-17 school year.
Building Good Character
One of the most important aspects of our homeschool curriculum is the focus on building good character. I believe that teaching my children to be honest, responsible, kind people is more important than the acquisition of academic knowledge, so I focus quite a bit of my efforts on character development. My recent post about Core Phase delves deep into this subject and gives lots of examples of how I work to develop good character in my children, so check out that post for more information about how I purposely work on character in our homeschool.
An important part of encouraging my children to love learning is in allowing them to pursue their own interests. This is one of the biggest advantages of homeschooling: that my children have as much time as desired to follow their passions. I'm supporting my children's current interests as follows:
9-year-old daughter Alina
Alina is now several years into having her own chicken egg business. As she is getting older, she is getting to take part in more aspects of the business, such as planning the long-term goals for her flock, making decisions about managing the health of the flock, and learning about profit margins (or, in this case, learning about how far we are from actually turning a profit). Having her own business has taught her much about raising and caring for animals, handling and saving money, the value of hard work, and long-term commitments.
Alina has also been highly interested in horses for the last couple years. I support her interest in horses by taking trips to see horses nearby, by paying a portion of the fee for monthly horseback riding lessons (she pays part of the fee with her egg earnings), and by helping her find books, videos, and documentaries about horses.
6-year-old son Ian
Ian is very interested in cars and machines. I am supporting him in this interest by taking him to job sites to observe machines in-action, taking the time to look at classic cars and machines we see around town, and allowing him to explore the innards of old broken machines and gadgets. I help him find books, videos, and documentaries about machines and cars, and I am also supporting his interest by helping him learn how to use different machines in our home. He is immeasurably excited when he gets to use the steam-mop, Cuisinart food processor, and shop-vac.
One curriculum resource that supports Ian's interest in machines is Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Discovery Kit. Both of my kids love doing the experiments in this kit, and Ian especially loves learning more about how electricity works.
I do not push my children academically, but nonetheless I do give them exposure to plenty of academic subjects and pursuits.
I help set the stage for reading proficiency by reading aloud often. We read chapter books and picture books with beautiful language, engaging storylines, and memorable characters. Through reading aloud, I am able to show my children just what a wonderful world is hiding between the pages of books. My children participate in a Read-Aloud Classic Book Club, wherein the children discuss books with their friends once a month. I also make a point of reading on my own frequently; children naturally emulate their parents, so it is important for them to see me engaging in reading and discussing books as part of my own lifelong education.
My 9-year-old daughter is an advanced reader who reads voraciously, so I no longer do anything in particular to help her with reading. She does periodically ask to do a "reading lesson" wherein she reads aloud from a McGuffey Reader.
My 6-year-old son is in the early stages of learning to read. Besides finding opportunities to practice reading in our everyday lives, he also asks to do reading lessons using either Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane or McGuffey Readers.
We don't use a formal writing curriculum. Instead, I encourage my children to write in the following ways:
I make sure that my children see me writing in my own notebooks on a regular basis. This makes a huge difference in the amount of writing that they choose to do themselves.
Since their writing skills lag behind their composition skills, whenever they ask I will write or type poems, stories, or songs for my children.