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It’s that time of year when homeschool parents start gearing up for next year. I am frequently asked what curriculum I use with my family. I don’t have a simple answer. I’m a bit of an eclectic homeschooler. I want to use “a little bit from this company, something great from that company…. Oh and this activity from another company looks fabulous, so let’s do that too!” As I find things I like, I slowly piece together our family’s school year.
The advantage to organizing our school this way is that we use the best of what any one company has to offer and we skip the areas they are weak in. Want to study history? We’ve picked a history curriculum written by people who love history! Want to study math? The math teacher on our DVDs loves numbers and his fascination for them is contagious!
The disadvantage is that it can take a lot of time to organize a complete curriculum this way. So I was really intrigued when Bright Ideas Press asked me if I would review their Illuminations program. Bright Ideas Press are the same people who publish the Mystery of History (which we use and love). The Illuminations program includes scheduling software which is not only super helpful, but also very customisable. I just went click-click-click with my computer mouse, chose the subjects we wanted to cover and then added or deleted assignments as I saw fit. Using the Illuminations Scheduler, here is the customized curriculum I have put together for my family this year:
Bible – Draw To Learn the Life of Jesus by NotGrass Publishing
Although this is not the Bible Reading that is recommended by Illuminations and corresponds with Mystery of History, we felt is was a great choice for our children. Art is a strong interest in our home right now and this Bible Study program offers a strong art component. Each day there is a reading and a drawing assignment. To save money, we read the assignment from one book and then the children draw in their journaling Bible. This is a pre-cursor to being comfortable writing in their Bible when they are old enough for deeper study and they are creating a wonderful memento to cherish years from now. We also include Scripture Memory in our Bible Time.
I create writing worksheets in software called StartWrite using some of the copywork assignments in the Illuminations program. The selections are usually from the Bible and correspond to what we are learning in Mystery of History.
For most of our homeschooling subjects all the children study together, but they are all at different levels in Language Arts. The younger children use the Rod and Staff Phonics program (which I highly recommend all the way up to grade 8). We also use Easy Grammar Plus (which is excellent!) and English From the Roots Up (a quick activity all the children can complete together).
We use a variety of living books that we bought from Amazon. We pick and choose from the suggestions in the Illuminations program and also visit our local libraries for books that look interesting about whatever we are studying.
All of our children use Math U See. I like it because there is a weekly DVD lesson which only lasts a few minutes. The teacher on the DVD clearly loves math and really understands it. Unlike me, who would rather write and never realized there is logic to the way numbers work.
We are loving the Mystery of History! It’s Biblical, interesting, and there are lot of supplemental activities to go along with what we are learning. We love listening to the audio CD version of the lessons while we color and glue our timeline figures into our history notebooks from Homeschool In The Woods.
Illuminations offers a study guide for The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide. It teaches geography that relates back to what we are studying in Mystery of History and it’s fantastic!
Bright Ideas Press publishes several science programs and we have chosen to study Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space. In our spare time (just because my children love outer space so much!) we also work on lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning that are based on Apologia’s books Exploring Creation Through Astronomy which is also excellent.
Because I am even worse at art than I am at math, we use another DVD program called See The Light. These are Bible based art lessons on DVD taught by an actual artist. She talks about the elements of art and shows the children how to get the picture in their head to come out their fingers and onto the paper (a skill I never did master in school). Yep. My children are now better artists than I am. Even the 5 year old draws better than I can!
Learning to play an instrument takes a lot of practice and I really wanted to redeem the time my children spend learning the piano. I didn’t want them to be spending those hours repeating silly, ridiculous, meaningless lyrics such as are commonly found in beginning piano songs. We’ve been using the Mary Jo Moore Piano course. It is a complete piano study program based on hymns and sacred music and I have been very, very happy with it.
Family Studies (“Home Ec”)
Training Our Daughters To Be Keepers At Home is a fabulous book by Anne Ward! This is a 7 year program which includes lesson plans for several mini courses. It covers everything form Godly Womanhood, to childbirth; from menu planning to knitting. Farm Girl is learning so many skills that she might need one day when she becomes a wife and mother!
So, those are our current homeschool curriculum choices! Do you have favorites that didn’t make my list? Please join our conversation here.