August is upon us and for many of us it brings with it the planning of another homeschool year. Curriculum's and school supplies bombard our senses as we walk through stores and browse online. It can be quite intimidating and overwhelming. I found myself jotting down notes about this upcoming school year while I sipped my coffee earlier this week. Our homeschool doesn't run off of a boxed curriculum like some. That isn't to say that we don't use them at all. We simply don't use them in the traditional way of starting with chapter one and working our way chronologically to the end. We prefer the ability to follow our interests, tumble down rabbit holes, and to get lost in our passions. If you are new to homeschooling, please read my post 10 Things You Need to Know to Homeschool. It answers many questions you may have about getting started.
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Our rising 4th grader is asynchronous in his learning. What I mean by asynchronous is that he is many ages at once. He may be chronologically 9 years old, but have the social skills of a 5 year old, the hand writing of a 6 year old, and the science knowledge of a college professor. He is very advanced in Language and Science yet struggles with Mathematics and Writing. Plus we have added sensory challenges. Because of our son's unique needs we follow a very eclectic homeschool philosophy. Many aspects of our homeschool are unschoolish such as science, history and literature. Last year we discovered that our son NEEDS daily instruction with math and writing. So those things are now required, but they are still presented in fun and inviting ways that he self chooses. Other subjects are per his request but are not necessarily a daily activity. We ebb and flow with subjects and curriculum's based on his needs, choices, and interest. Much of it is unplanned...it just happens.
Our daughter will be turning 4 in a few short months and let me tell you what a firecracker she is! If big brother is learning something, then she wants to learn it too. If Mama or Papa are doing something, then she's right there in the middle of it, HA! She stated back in the spring that she wanted to learn to read so I needed to be the teacher and teach her. Oh yes, that happened. While I think she is too young for formal sit down lessons, I do feel she needs to be surrounded by lots of nature, art, and literature. I also plan to come up with weekly themes for her with the help of Pinterest and her weekly library interests.
An Eclectic Approach to Homeschooling
Reading, Writing, and Language Arts
- Brave Writer - Last year we began incorporating Brave Writer's Poetry Tea Time and movie nights into our weeks. This year we hope to continue the Jot It Down Brave Writer Program. I'm loving how it meets your kids right where they are and allows you to follow your child's interests in developing a love of writing.
- Handwriting Without Tears- Grade 3 Cursive Handwriting
- Writing Through History - Our son loved the writing through history series last year as we covered ancient history. He adores these stories with accompaning copywork. So, this year we will be writing through medieval history!
- The Alphabet: How Pine Cone and Pepper Pot learned Tom Nutcracker and June Berry their Letters! This lovely alphabet book is for our daughter as she learns her letters and letter sounds.
- Read Alouds - I read to the children daily from books that strike their interests. This week it's The Cabin Faced West. Last week it was the Witch of Blackbird Pond.
- Audio Books - We are BIG fans of AUDIBLE. Both our son and daughter love listening to audio books while they play, color, paint, or practice their writing. They are also great for long car rides!
- Library - We love to read. There, I said it. We are bibliophiles of the 1st degree. Last year I kept track of the books our son read...just out of curiosity and you know what? He read 220 books! We would be lost without our library. What's funny is that he wasn't always a big reader. It's true! We actually inspired a love of reading with his love of animals!
This is an area where our son needs more help and instruction. We've tried several different formal math curriculum's that brought nothing but tears. Last year we finally began to see some success with Khan Academy, a free online math program. But since reading is a strength of our sons, we are also incorporating loads of stories too!
- Khan Academy
- Murderous Math series - who says math has to be boring! The children are so excited about this series of books.
- Beast Academy - I've heard great things about the Beast Academy, plus it's in comic book/story form. So, we are going to give it a try!
- Life of Fred - We have been working our way through Life of Fred for a few years now. We are on the book "Edgewood" of the series and should be starting the book "Farming" by September.
- Times Tales - This fun dvd takes your children on a learning adventure through their times tables.
- Prodigy Math Game - An awesome game full of adventure, magic and math. Our son adores this game!
Science and STEM
- Coursera - Choose from any number of free college courses through Coursera. We are currently signed up for "Therapod Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds" and "Ancient Marine Reptiles" classes that begin mid August through The University of Alberta.
- Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth - Our son really enjoys encyclopedias. He sometimes even requests them as read alouds at bedtime. We thought an updated prehistoric encyclopdeia would go well with his Coursera classes.
- Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia - Our son just finished up an Shark Science class through Cornell University. He is still very much interested in the ocean depths and all that they offer. This encyclopedia should go well with this new interest.
- Horrible Science Book series - A funny, cute and sometimes gross way to learn about science. The kids are so excited about this book series.
- MEL monthly science kit - This is a new kit for us. We've tried many different ones in the past and this one looks promising.
- Tinker Crate monthly science kit - The children LOVE Tinker Crate! This is a monthly science subscription box that never fails to deliver fun exciting science and learning opportunities.
- Supercharged Science - Our son may or may not have a scientist crush on Aurora of Supercharged Science. He requested her Marine Biology and Chemistry classes. Supercharged science is a very hands on science program with lots of experiments with objects easily found in your home.
- Nature Study
History and Geography
- Horrible Histories - The children actually fell in love with this series because of the Television Series and now they are LOVING the books! These are a great way to incorporate history into your days.
- Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego - I loved this show when I was a little girl. Our son is excited to watch it as well.
- Curiosity Stream, Netflix and Amazon Prime Documentaries
- Rosetta Stone Spanish - Last year our son requested a Spanish course. This year we will continue it.
Remember, these are all courses and programs that work for our kids and their unique interests. They change with the seasons as do our lives, and our homeschool. Our children are always learning but they don't always learn the way we think they should or in predetermined time frames. Get to know your child's unique needs and interests, but don't be afraid of change. Allow them the space to be unique while setting them up for success.