Many have been asking for me to post more about our curriculum choices and the "ins & outs" of Sapaugh Academy. So I figured there's no better time than now, as we just completed our 1st 9 weeks of school and today started on the 2nd nine weeks.
I like to evaluate pretty regularly, on an almost "as I go" basis; adjusting what is working and what needs major improvement. I used to have a bad habit of saying to myself "self, next school you really need to do this better" but was convicted a year or so ago with the realization that there is nothing stopping me from making improvements NOW. I didn't have to wait until the start of the next school year to better manage my schedule or to do more hands on activities or whatever. I could do it now. So that became my 'hard thing" and the reason I evaluate regularly - so I can make improvements now and not later.
In general we use a mixture of curriculums: Abeka (phonics, math, language, spelling, poetry), Saxon (math) Spelling Workout, A Reason for Handwriting, Tapestry of Grace (history/geography/literature), First Language Lessons, Word Roots (Latin), Fix-It Grammar, Excellence in Writing (history based), The Easy Spanish, Evan-Moor Geography (map skills), and Apologia Science. I know to some of you that is all like Chinese. There are a ton of curriculum options out there now and it can be quite overwhelming. But you have to do what you find works for your family. You won't always love what you're doing and the beauty of that, is that you have the freedom to switch it up and try something new if you'd like.
A couple things we added this year that I am very pleased with (so far...knock on wood) are Saxon Math (for Tanner's age/5th grade), Fix-It Grammar (for Tanner), and Excellence in Writing history based lessons (also for Tanner). The math was a switch from Abeka, which I have always been pleased with, but the clean, less kid-ish set up of the Saxon curriculum has been great for Tanner. In fact, upon switching, she has told me multiple times how much she likes it! That's always good.
The Fix-It Grammar is a "sentence a day approach to grammar/writing" taking excerpts from classical literature (right now we are doing sentences from Tom Sawyer). It is not overwhelming, but allows her to see and edit sentences, while identifying certain parts of speech and sentence parts. I highly recommend it. The only downside, is that is is written in IEW lingo - and since we had never done anything IEW, I had to (and continue to have to) familiarize myself with the way they teach their concepts; a little extra effort for me, but I think totally worth it!
The same goes for the Excellence in Writing (IEW) history based writing lessons - they are challenging, but she is learning really great writing skills and it is def. worth it! Also, a added perk that the writing is centered around Ancient History, which is the time period we are studying in our history curriculum - so everything builds on itself and enriches other areas of learning. Love that!
Tanner also does Abeka Language. I am a fan of the younger grades with Abeka phonics, but don't prefer the 5th grade Language. Secretly, I just wish First Language Lessons went up past 4th grade level. (If you haven't checked out First Language Lessons - DO! It came highly recommended to me a few years ago and I love it! Quick and easy, but with really great lesson content starting in 1st grade)
I also added the Evan-Moore Geography and Map Skills worksheets for all the girls this year and I like that! We talk about geographical areas we are studying in history, but we haven't tackled basic map skills, so these activities help with that; nothing fancy but gets the job done.
As far as our weakness this year - of course Spanish gets pushed to the bottom of the list. I have these visions that we are gonna all speak fluent Spanish by the end of the year, but then life happens, and the school priority list comes into play, and we end up not having done Spanish in like 4 weeks .....like as is the case now. But I am holding out hope....we CAN get back on the Spanish train! I know we can!
Also, this has been the first year I have put a little in a mother's day out or pre-school program. After the hell that would break loose during some of our school days last year, I thought it would be best to remove little Miss Madden, so we would at least have a handful of "un-toddlerized" school time. That has worked pretty well. The only downfall being that Andie has a lighter load as a Kindergartener & will get done sooner than Presley, and has no one to hang with. I have found that on the days when Madden is home, they will actually play pretty well together giving me time to focus on Presley (Lord knows she needs it)
So. Blah, blah - ramble ramble. I feel like this is information explosion post, but I still hope that those of you interested still find it helpful! If you have any specific questions - leave a comment! I would love to answer -IF I have an answer ;)
Overall, still loving our choice to tackle at home education! It's rewarding it ways I never imagined. And I am free to make and live out my own schedule. Gotta love that!!!
Here is a link to a complete list of our curriculum for this 2014-2015 school year: