Math is an essential subject, but of course it is only one small piece of our overall homeschool. Here’s what we’re using for the 2015-2016 school year. My son is eight, and my daughter is five .
Note: The Amazon links below are affiliate links, and I receive a small commission from anything you purchase after clicking through them. Thanks for your support!
What I look for in curriculum
For those of you who like to know the big picture, my overall homeschooling approach is a synthesis of Charlotte Mason/Well-Trained Mind/Circe-style Christian classical education. Cultivating virtue, wisdom, and self-discipline is as important to me as academic goals, so I look for resources that will help me do both at once. For the core academic areas of reading, language arts, and math, I also prefer open-and-go resources that I know will get done.
When I first began homeschooling, I fell in love with so many different programs that I wasted a lot of time putting together bits and pieces of different curriculum. Three years later, I’ve learned that using one solid resource for each subject allows me to focus on teaching well rather than spending a lot of time on lesson planning or choosing between books. So I try to choose wisely and then be done!
Third Grade Homeschool for H-age-eight
Math: Beast Academy
H is continuing slow and steady with Beast Academy, with a goal of working through three books. If you haven’t read my review of Beast, you can check it out here to see why I love it so much and why it’s such a great fit for my son. Three books is only three-fourths of a year of Beast, but I’d rather cover those three-fourths thoroughly and enjoy the process than rush through another book.
H continues to love the monsters and humor of Beast Academy. Level 4 feels even more challenging to him than Level 3, but he still eagerly looks forward to math each day.
Language Arts: Christian Light Language Arts, with copywork and dictation from Writing With Ease
I love CLE’s Language Arts workbooks because they combine grammar, mechanics, usage, spelling, and handwriting in one workbook that my son can complete mostly independently. The workbooks use spiral review so that skills are practiced over and over. H doesn’t love the books, but he doesn’t mind them. And the box-checker in me loves knowing that everything is covered!
At this stage, I find CLE a little light in writing so I do add some narration, copywork and dictation (from The Complete Writer) and some lessons from Treasured Conversations to teach the basics of writing sentences and paragraphs.
History, Reading, Poetry, Art Appreciation, Read-alouds, Geography: Ambleside Online, Year 3
This is our second year using Ambleside’s free Charlotte Mason-based curriculum, and I still love it. It took me a while to wrap my head around Ambleside–after all, at first glance the curriculum looks like a list of out-of-date and boring vintage books–but I am so glad that I investigated it further. It is such a rich curriculum: rich in ideas, rich in literary language, and rich in enjoyment. Each time we’ve begun a new book, I’ve been skeptical that it will hold my kids’ interest, and inevitably they end up begging for more and learning a lot in the process. Managing the different books involved takes a little bit of organization, but it’s been well worth it.
Highlights so far this year have been The Princess and the Goblin, Little Pilgrim’s Progress, and Pagoo. The Ambleside free-read list is pretty terrific, too. That said, I’m not a Charlotte Mason-purist, and I do tweak the Ambleside selections a bit to make them fit my family better. (For example, I have some reservations about the main history text for this year, so we use The Story of the World as a spine instead.)
I can’t do justice to the curriculum in this brief overview, but if you’re interested in learning more, Mystie Winckler and Brandy Vencel are two bloggers who helped me understand how Ambleside works and what it’s benefits are.
Science: Earth Science and Nature Study
I’m using Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia from DK as our spine for a study of earth science. I love DK’s visual encyclopedias for this age–they have just the right amount of detail and explanation, with lots of gorgeous pictures and helpful diagrams. H-age-eight attends a once-a-week enrichment program, so we round out the reading with experiments and worksheets assigned by his science teacher. We also do Charlotte Mason-style nature study.
Bible and Religion: Telling God’s Story
We’re still using Peter Enn’s wonderful Telling God’s Story, Year Two, which contains Bible passages and short commentaries, as our main resource. I learn so much from his commentaries–they really help my kids think deeply about Jesus’ teachings.
We also are reading the second half of Little Pilgrim’s Progress, selections from Exodus, and selections from Luke, along with Bible and hymn memorization during our morning time.
Music, Art, Drama, Spanish, PE: Piano lessons, gymnastics, and enrichment program
H is continuing piano lessons and gymnastics and attend an enrichment program one day per week.
Kindergarten Homeschool for E-age-five
I have seen a lot of benefit in doing a small amount of consistent and focused schoolwork with little ones, but trying to create a full morning of kindergarten-level busywork each day would drive me crazy. So, I focus on the basics. E does reading, handwriting, and math each day, and then she tags along with H for science and read-alouds.
RightStart Addition Facts That Stick and mom-created curriculum
My daughter thrived with RightStart A last year, but she ran into a wall with RightStart B. The program asks kids to tackle large numbers very quickly, and her abstract thinking skills just weren’t ready. I expect she’ll be ready for RightStart B later in the year, but in the mean time she’s learning the addition facts with my Addition Facts That Stick book. She loves the games, and it’s been a lot of fun for me to be able to use the book with her.
Reading and Handwriting: CLE Learning to Read
E was an early reader, but she relied a lot on context and guessing to figure words out. So, I decided to go back to beginning phonics and review them with her. CLE’s Learning to Read has been a perfect fit. It starts with the short vowels and covers each sound thoroughly. A lot of the words are presented without any context, so she has to really think about the letters and not guess. Learning to Read also includes handwriting and beginning spelling, so it’s nice having them combined in one workbook. E really enjoys the sweet stories in the book and the lovely pencil drawings.
Piano and Gymnastics
E desperately wanted to begin piano, so I let her start his fall. It feels a little early, but she loves it, so we’re going with it for now. She takes a weekly gymnastics class, too.
How is your year going so far? Any questions about my curriculum choices?