Thursday, September 16, 2010

What's On Your Back to School Shelf?

Sometimes being a home school mama can feel pretty isolating. I always wonder if I am doing enough or if I am doing things the "right" way. There is no "right" way, mind you (that's the beauty of homeschooling after all. You can do it any way you want!), but I still wonder if I am teaching my children everything that I should be. That is one reason that I love the Internet! It connects me with so many wonderful resources for homeschooling and I love reading blogs by other mamas who home school, too. I love when they post ideas they have and about the curriculum's they have chosen for certain grades. It helps me put together my own plan for how our family will do school, and it greatly encourages and reminds me that I am not alone in this endeavor. So, for your viewing pleasure, I have decided to post the ideas and books we will be using for Emma and Kate this year (the contents of our back to school shelf, if you will). If you have no desire to read about home schooling first grade and preschool, then stop reading right here or you will be bored to tears. No worries! You can't say that I did not warn you :). Here goes:

First Grade

Spelling - A Reason For Spelling
Handwriting - A Reason for Handwriting
Reading - Pathway Readers
Language Arts - Abeka Seat Work Text First Grade
Math - Abeka Arithmetic 1
Science - Abeka Discovering God's World Grade 1
History/Geography - Abeka My America and My World Grade 1
Health Safety and Manners - Abeka Reader 1

I know this seems like a LOT for one little girl, but it really isn't so bad! We really only school for a "full" day (meaning teaching EVERYTHING listed above) two days a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays). On those days it takes us around three hours to complete all of our work. On Mondays we have dance and on Thursdays I have a staff meeting and lunch, so on those days I assign Emma seat work to do involving Language Arts and math. Fridays we use for finishing everything up for the week. We take our spelling tests then, and we complete any work that we did not finish throughout that week. So that's the curriculum that I have chosen, in a nut shell.

I LOVE our spelling and handwriting books. They are very straightforward and focus on scripture. They go hand and hand with one another, so they provide our memory verse for each week. They might be a bit simple for older grades, but they are perfect for younger kids. Love them. Pathway Readers are new to us, but I love them because they are "whole" fiction. They are Amish schoolhouse readers and the stories are very simple, but Emma is enjoying reading about large families and farm work. The stories are about children her age so she can easily relate. For everything else we are using Abeka. Abeka is very worksheet oriented, but that works well for Emma. She loves (oddly enough) to do worksheets and to chart her progress each day. As far as planning fun, hands on activities, I let the ideas in the books guide me for the most part. For example, yesterday we were learning about how our bodies grow taller, so we created homemade stilts out of baby formula cans, so the girls could see what it felt like to be taller. So fun for them! Another example. Yesterday we were studying how God has made everyone with different fingerprints, so we made fingerprint cards for each of us and studied them under a magnifying glass. Also, if there is a holiday coming up, I am sure to check lots of books out of the library to help us learn about that day. Thank goodness I have children who love to read! So far, first grade is turning out to be much more time consuming than kindergarten, but it is going well. So thankful we have this time together. So thankful Emma has an obedient spirit that loves to learn.


I have already shared that Kate is attending mini school for one day each week. I think it is important for children to learn to respect and be obedient towards other adults from a young age. I also think it is good for them to spend a bit of time away from the nest, to test their wings, if you will. So we do preschool one day a week. Currently, the only thing I am working with Kate on is writing the letters in her name. I make her spend a few minutes each day making her K's, A's, T's, and E's. I also have a few preschool workbooks (Richard Scary's Back to School and Abeka's Letters and Numbers) that we do a few pages in from time to time, but I don't push this. If she wants to do work, Great! if not, then no big deal. The time will come soon enough when she will be forced to comply with learning. I do not like rushing children to grow up too quickly!

So, that's how we roll in the "Z" house. Some days feel crazy, others I feel in complete control. We definitely take it one day at a time. We always make sure to have lots of laughs and praise. Life is good.

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