our homeschool curriculum (2017-2018)

This year, rather than do another year of Classical Conversations, we decided to try another new curriculum that allowed us more freedom to work on our own schedule from home. With CC this year, I would have had a newborn, two littles, two in Foundations (one in Essentials), and two going their separate paths in junior high (two different Challenge programs). It would have been a bit too much for this mama. :)

I really wanted us to get back to more of a single stream of learning with a little more quiet individual work to help them focus in between. The kids loved BJU and learned so much from it over the years, but it was very expensive, and required both a ton of books and paper and a lot of shelf space and shuffling. 

Doing Classical Conversations last year gave me more confidence that they could learn a ton just by doing memory work, and their Essentials program is now my favorite writing program ever. The way the curriculum is taught makes writing simple and fun, and we loved our teacher! :) 

With that knowledge and new confidence from CC, this year I decided to combine an individual five-subject program called Switched-On Schoolhouse (SOS) for the older three with lots of Foundations and Bible memory work and then use the Essentials curriculum for writing along with TWSS History-Based Writing Lessons

SOS is completely computer-based, which means all the learning happens entirely on their computers (no books are required). An entire year's worth of curriculum is about $400, and you get to reuse it for subsequent students, which was a huge part of the reason we tried it. (BJU is rental only).

Each child has a schedule on their bulletin board (see our previous setup here), and with the exception of electives in the afternoon, it's the same for all of the older children in school:

I love being back on the same page with the same subjects and time slots! 

Here's our daily schedule:

7:30    breakfast + prep
8:00    Bible devotions
8:30    Bible (SOS)
8:45    Foundations memory work
9:00    Scripture memory work
9:15    Math (SOS)
10:00  Break
10:45  Spelling/Essentials (History-Based Writing)
11:35  History (SOS) + Handwriting
12:00  Lunch
1:00    Science (SOS)
1:35    Electives (SOS + other)
2:00    Schoolroom clean up
2:15    Quiet time
3:00    Chores
3:30    Snack and Free/Play time
5:30    Dinner prep, clean up, and family time

So far, the schedule is working out wonderfully, and the lessons are so fast that the children often complete their work before lunch. Each subject takes about 15-20 minutes, and they really enjoy the lesson as well as the simplicity of not needing a particular printed paper or having to score their work every day.

A month into it, the biggest problem we've had so far is that the learning curve for the SOS program is pretty steep for our crew. SOS only presents each day's reading material with a few interactive elements which doesn't seem to help the children retain the information quite as well. I'm having to teach them how to slow down and take notes on their own so they can remember the important things for the quiz the next day. But I'm still hoping they will get the hang of this new style of reading-based learning, since we've only had a few weeks with it at this point. We'll see. :) I imagine it will be very similar to the online classes they'll be taking in college soon, so I think it might be good experience for them to learn from reading only.

Outside of SOS, we are still learning English, History, Science, Math, Latin, and the timeline of the world as CC/Foundations memory work, as well as Bible devotions (reading through a book of the Bible), two Bible verses a week that they are tested on, vocabulary words, and random cursive handwriting assignments. And the older three kids are really enjoying history through writing our papers every week, so I feel confident that even if they don't end up doing really well with their individual computer work, the year won't be lost. I'm glad we are trying something new and a little more simple this year!

We've tried lots of ways to teach our crew since we started in 2009. Some were great, and some weren't a great fit for us. But no matter which curriculum we choose, I want to remember that my first priority is to teach them about God and His Son, the Word himself, who died and rose again for the glory of God. :) 

Everything else I teach them is secondary, and just knowing that removes that big anxiety of trying to meet the educational standards of the world. Only one thing will matter in the end, and that is the state of their souls before God on the final day. Will they have trusted in God and turned to Him to be saved? Did they hear the truth of the Bible and obey it?

That's really what I want to teach them the most.

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