Well, after all my planning, I ended up scrambling a whole lot of things over the summer!
Still on Tapestry. Still on Singapore Math. But we went to a curriculum fair and I have come to realize a few more things, and… pretty much everything else has not quite ended up as I planned! But now that we are working through our first week, it’s all official—if still subject to change!
The first thing is, I switched to A Beka phonics. Now, I really don’t like A Beka. I don’t like what I have read about their business practices, I don’t like their prices, and I don’t like their theology or their rampant civicism. But… While feeling like I still don’t know anything and wishing that I had majored in early childhood education instead of secondary education, I have nonetheless come to the conclusion that I have been going about teaching reading all the wrong way. I think I have been too laid-back and random. E got a hold of math really well, with very little effort on my part, and I thought reading would be the same way, that learning was just a natural process that needed to be facilitated. But it didn’t work. So, while she knows a lot more than the beginning of A Beka Letters and Sounds K5, we are starting in the beginning, doing all the exercises, all the games, all the chalkboard stuff, everything—and we’re taking R along for the ride. They’re doing the exact same thing. It will be a lot of review for E, and a real challenge for R, but they really enjoy doing it together and I am hoping it will serve as a good foundation for R, while cementing a lot of concepts that E didn’t get so well (particularly blending), while building her confidence and mine. A Beka is supposedly about a grade ahead of most other curricula, so while it kills me that my otherwise-first-grader is doing a K5 curriculum, I’m trying to be very chill about it and just ignore the “K5” on the cover. :) And for R, I’m not really expecting her to master the concepts, just to do her best, and then next year we would either move on to something only incrementally more difficult for mastery, or, if she does better than I expect her to, she could keep on with E. They don’t seem to mind doing the same thing. I even have L in on the fun and am hoping he at least picks up his letters, if not his letter sounds, from the exercises. (For him, I am supplementing with extra preschool-oriented worksheets centered around the same letters that the girls are working on.)
I will say that the experience has given me a great determination to be more purposeful in earlier schooling, and I am pursing a more systematic preschool curriculum for L so that he might have a better foundation than E did when he gets to this point. That’s my hope, anyway!
I also changed science. We went to a homeschool fair and there was an Apologia Science display, and I looked at it and really liked it. It is designed such that the whole family studies science together, with different levels of activities and notebooking for the different grades. I really like doing school together. It also, instead of doing every science subject in every grade year after year, picks one major area (botany, animal science, anatomy, astronomy, etc.) and spends a whole year going into great depth on it. That seems a lot more conducive to learning. Then, after I’d decided on it, and went through to compile my supplies lists and pick our experiments and projects for the year, I was even more impressed because it’s full of things that are really hands-on but also use affordable/available supplies and are easily adapted to a wide age range. The only thing I really don’t like about it is the textbook is very word-heavy and has few pictures (and some is downright clipart-looking) and it isn’t bound very well. The text itself is fine, but the formatting just is not very appealing, and it’s hard for small children to be engaged with so many lines of unbroken text. All three children do science together with very different expectations of their participation.
I’ve also added subjects. We are doing First Language Lessons for grammar, which are really short auditory lessons that all three children participate in, which fits well with our school day, A Reason for Handwriting (A & K) for handwriting (I don’t like A Beka’s), Draw Write Now for an art supplement, and Polished Cornerstones for a “character”/home economics supplement. I should add that none of these is terribly time-intensive, nor do I try to do them all every day (except for handwriting). But it is good to have them on my weekly schedule and work them in here and there.