We started our first official week of the 2015-2016 school year on Monday and it’s always a bit of an adjustment period as we switch routines and get back into our groove. Typically, our first day coincides with my husband’s first day back to work on August 1st, but he’s been out an extra week due to surgery and I didn’t want to push back our school year any more. So, Monday, August 3rd it was.
Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2015-16
I’ve typically pieced together components of different curriculums to find what we need. Some Easy Peasy, some CurrClick, some workbooks, some older texts…it’s been a hodge podge and that’s worked in the past for us. This year, though, I wanted something more focused. At the end of the school year in May, the kids did their CAT testing for our state’s requirements and while they were dead on or above their grade levels, I saw some of their weaknesses in writing, grammar, math, and spelling. Nothing huge, but I knew we needed some programs that would pump up those subjects a bit more.
So, this year we decided to invest. I’ll freely admit that I was incredibly hesitant to spend the amount of money we did given our hodge podge practices of the past, but after this first week, I am so, so thankful we did. Here’s what we’re doing:
- MATH: Teaching Textbooks, Grade 3 (for Little Miss who is still technically in 2nd grade), and Teaching Textbooks, Grade 6 (for Ultra G)
- HISTORY, SCIENCE, SPELLING, READING, ART, GEOGRAPHY, SOCIAL STUDIES, (SOME) GRAMMAR: Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Exploration (for both kids)
- WRITING: Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)* (for both)
- GRAMMAR: Fix It! Grammar* (for both)
- ADDITIONAL: MamaTeaches Online CurrClick LIVE Classes (for both – even the 6th grader!)
(*IEW and Fix It! Grammar are both still under special promotion on Homeschool Buyers Co-op! I believe the promo ends on August 31st, 2015. You can check it out here.)
I’m not going to lie, it was an expensive year for curriculum for us. Each grade level for Teaching Textbooks was between $120-160. Paths of Exploration with all of the supplemental books that we’ll need for the entire year was about $350. IEW was $109 and Fix It! Grammar was $19. We’re looking at about $800 for everything after we got out notebooks, some new crayons, markers, and other supplies. Since we’ve normally been spending about $200-300 per year, this was a huge jump for us.
Thoughts After the First Week
We’re still waiting on IEW and Fix It! Grammar to arrive, but we’ve started with everything else. The kids have had no trouble adjusting to and tackling their math independently when they first get up. I review it with them later, but they’ve quickly learned to navigate the Teaching Textbooks programs and will readily admit that they feel like it’s more helpful, more fun, and more informative than the other programs they’ve done in the past. I have them complete the programs on their computers, but also record their answers in their student workbooks. Redundant? Maybe, but there’s a method to my madness. If they get a problem wrong in the program, they’ve learned quite quickly that they have to listen to the explanation of the problem so that they can record the correct answer in their workbooks. Since Ultra G is known for trying to race ahead and never review, this is a pretty huge development for him. I’m really pleased with Teaching Textbooks so far!
Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Exploration was a huge investment. I actually stalked a few eBay auctions for it before deciding to purchase it and all of the supplementals from Rainbow Resource Center. With week one under out belts, I can honestly say that it’s one of the best investments we’ve made. As the teacher, I love the ease of use and comprehensive lessons. There are seven components to each day’s lesson, five lessons a week, and six weeks per topic.
The first topic is Christopher Columbus. So, this week we read about his early life, delved into some geography and map skills, focused on grammar and spelling, practiced copy work and journal writing, explored rug patterns and created our own, made bread pudding from Spain, and discussed our reading and writing. For the first time ever, there was also no complaining about doing 20 minutes of silent reading! I couldn’t have asked for a better first week with a program that’s so comprehensive. One thing I would change though and might still do, is that I’d get a second copy of the reader that they use during the lesson so there’s no fussing over who’s going to read it first and then no wait time while the other reads it. It’s only a few dollars for a second copy, so I may order another this weekend. Overall, I am thrilled with the program so far and can’t wait to delve deeper into it this school year.
IEW and Fix It! Grammar were purchased through Homeschool Buyers Co-op and are due to ship around August 24th, so we’ll add them in when they arrive. I’m not sure if we’ll alternate days for them, or do them both every day in addition to POE and Teaching Textbooks. I’ll update once we add them in.
And, of course, my MamaTeaches Online classes at CurrClick LIVE started back up this week, so the kids are doing them. The “joys” of having a mom who teaches online. 😉
But, all in all, it’s been a great first week back! I’m so happy with our curriculum choices and can’t wait to add in our trips to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia to supplement what we’re learning. It’s going to be a great school year!