Over the years, we’ve tried many, many different curriculum. There are, however, a few programs that have been a constant here at Humble Dwelling that I’ll share here. We of course study many things throughout the year, but the following is our core school work.
I spent a long time trying to find a great literature based history program, then a friend told me about RC History (Roman Catholic History). Because it uses a classical, chronological approach, teaching multiple grade levels is a cinch! The daily lesson plans are divided into beginner, grammar, logic, and rhetoric levels. Each level has an abundance of book suggestions, and the syllabus is a treasure trove of discussion questions, writing prompts, and activity ideas. A Teacher’s Guide is also available that is a “how-to” guide that can be applied to all 4 volumes at RC History. This one program covers history, Church history, literature, composition, art appreciation, and crafts!
Constantly moving and fidgeting, my oldest child absolutely could not sit still for spelling work when he was around 5 years old. He was struggling with spelling the simplest words. After much research, I found All About Spelling. This was just what he needed! The lessons are short enough to keep a child engaged the whole time, and very tactile using letter tiles to spell out words and phonogram flash cards for memory work. By the time my daughter was old enough for school, All About Reading was out. My kids ADORE learning to read using this program. I have taught three kids to read with All About Reading so far using pre-reading all the way to level 4, and they are good strong readers now. I’ve done a few in depth reviews about AALP here and here.
I do wish I would have bitten the bullet and started this writing program much earlier in our homeschooling lives. We’ve been using IEW for a year now and my kids’ writing has improved by leaps and bounds! Once I saw how well the writing portion was going, I started using Fix-It Grammar with the children as well. Guys, they ask to work on grammar now! If you’re not familiar with IEW or want to use it, but don’t know where to start, I can tell you what I did. The very first thing I did was take Teaching Writing course. It’s a self paced course, so you can go as slowly as you need, but it is a wealth of information. Then I started teaching with the theme based writing courses. There is something for every grade level. I’m sure I’ll eventually move on to a student intensive, but we’re all pretty happy where we are now. There’s also a handy dandy decision tree to help you.
Elemental Science has a few options for students. We are currently using Biology for the Logic Stage and Biology for the Grammar Stage. What I love about Elemental Science is the use of engaging texts such as Usborne Encyclopedia of Science, Kingfisher Encyclopedia of Science, and Janice Vancleave’s Science Around the World. Using these texts and more, the children notebook and sketch about what they’ve read helping to solidify the lesson. What the kids love about Elemental Science are the demonstrations and experiments! Each week the kids have a very hands on lesson that, for the most part, they can do on their own (with some supervision :)) using things found around the home. The kids then record their findings in a lab report where they also write down conclusions to the demonstration. This has been a very fun and challenging addition to our school.
Saxon Math has been our core math from Kindergarten to 5th or 6th grade level. The kids are able to understand and complete this with little guidance from me. I’m very hands on with the little ones, then slowly let the children take over as they grow. By the time my children reach pre-algebra level, they have a great grasp on math and are not intimidated at all when tackling a problem. We are using The Art of Problem Solving for pre-algebra. I won’t render judgement on it until we complete the book, but so far so good!
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