Our Homeschool Philosophy and Curriculum for 2013-14 (with a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old)

We are a few weeks into the new school year, so I thought I'd share our current homeschool philosophy and curriculum.  Currently, my daughter is 6&1/2 and in 2nd grade, and my son is 3&1/2 doing preschool work.

Big Changes in our Homeschool Philosophy

Previously, we were doing a rather rigorous Classically-based curriculum (described in The Well-Trained Mind), with a few ideas from Charlotte Mason Companion thrown in (such as incorporating Nature Study for science). But I knew I needed to change something towards the end of spring when my daughter mentioned extra schoolwork as a good punishment for the kids who stole her bike. This made me realize that I was pushing way too hard, and killing her love of learning. At the same time, I was reading Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd), and a light-bulb just clicked on.

TJED is kind of like a mix between classically-based schooling, unschooling, and Charlotte Mason. It is more structured than unschooling, but much less rigorous than Well-Trai

ned Mind in the elementary years. (You can read about the 7 Keys to Great Teaching on the TJED site here.) There is also a huge focus in TJED on the parents furthering their own educations, and focusing on that, which serves as a great example for the kids to want to further their own educations. And that has really worked in our house. The more the kids see me doing my own reading, studying, and writing, the more they naturally want to do those things

themselves, without any of the pressure that I was putting on them before. They are getting to learn lots of things that are interesting to them, and I am getting to learn lots myself rather than focusing so much on their curriculum. And overall we are spending less time on school than before. It is just what we needed.

We are still using some of the ideas from Well-Trained Mind and Charlotte Mason Companion, mixed together with ideas from TJEd.  Our school is now much more relaxed and the kids are getting to focus more on their own interests within that framework. We are all thoroughly enjoying the changes we've made to our homeschool.

Preschool Curriculum for 3&1/2-year-old

The methods and topics I'm using for preschool with my son are the same as described previously in this post. My son is allowed to choose whether or not he'd like to do any school work (and he usually chooses to do school once or twice a week). The specific books he is using right now are:

Bob Books Alphabet Books

Kumon books are great because they use a very gradual progression to tea

ch basic coloring, pencil skills, cutting, and gluing. I love the Kumon workbooks for preschool work; I don't like them at all once they get into grade-school type work as they are too repetitive and suck the fun right out of school.

2nd Grade Curriculum for 6&1/2-year-old

We've been using these resources for a few weeks, and my daughter is really loving it all. No fighting or whining about doing school. She actually now calls it "Awesome School".

In keeping with the TJEd philosophy, my daughter is allowed to choose what school work to do (and I make suggestions each day). She (and her little brother) never say "No" to Life of Fred, Story of the World, or science read-alouds, and about twice a week my daughter also chooses to do some work on paper.