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Curriculum for Large Families


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I've asked this before but asking again. :) What are your favorite tried and true curricula to use for large families (we have 8 kids)? Is there one that you have used for all of your kids for multiple years? One thing I'm finding is that is seems easier to stay the course and adjust it to the kid rather than switch curricula just so you don't have to get over learning how to teach something new each year. Because of this, I'm looking to really settle down in my choices and just wanted to see what works for large families. 

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I don't know if this is what you are looking for but after 13 years of this, I have finally settled on a firm 4 year plan. Yeah I know. It's recommended in the WTM but I guess I had to find out the hard way. We missed things with some kids and had some get to high school sciences without the foundation that would have helped them. I found so much time try new curriculums that I skipped around a lot. No more. We will be on a four year rotation for all content subjects from here on out.

 

I love five in a row for the 8-9 and under crowd. They participate in other content stuff as well but FIAR is simple sweet and lays a foundation of loving books.

 

The rest, I'm still trying to figure it all out too ;)

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We use Tapestry of Grace as the backbone for our homeschool. I place each child according to their reading/maturity level. Sometimes the older kids have answered the accountability questions, written weekly essays on the assignments, or filled out notebooking pages. I've substituted books, adjusted assignments, and personalized it. But everyone is on the same page, studying similar material (or at least the same time period). We began Tapestry when my oldest son was starting 9th grade and just finished our 5th year using it. :001_smile:

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I only have six, and one of them started at a charter school midway through last school year. I've done both trying to keep everyone in the same cycle and letting each kid branch out on their own. I think the latter were our most successful years though. The kids were more engaged and helped the homeschool go more effectively. Part of this is my oldest leans so far to the humanities side of life that he thinks STEM is kryptonite. #2 is mostly humanities too, but learns polar opposite from the oldest. #3 and 4 are all STEM all the time. Needless to say many of the curricula that perfectly matched the older two flopped for the next two. Trying to bend the book to suit the kid was just causing us both more frustration than it was worth.

 

Spelling is a major exception. Every kid has used Rod and Staff spelling. It's effective, painless, open and go, and the DC can primarily complete it independently. I don't plan on changing this for the youngest two unless it stops working. (#3 bogged down in R&S 6 during seventh grade. I took him through an intensive WRTR plan instead and called spelling done. Everyone else was/will be done after R&S 6. 7 and 8 are vocab books.)

 

Grammar is nearly an exception. Most of them have just used Rod and Staff English after First Language Lessons 1/2. The teens were very successful with it. Kiddo #3 asked for something else and we started the Analytical Grammar products. #4 jumped ship with him. I suppose I could have made them tough it out, but #3 has truly done better and tries harder. We're probably changing it up again this coming year, to something that shoves the grammar more directly into writing. The middle two have looked at samples with me and are helping to make the decision. (#5 is happily plugging through R&S 3, fwiw.)

 

Composition is definitely NOT uniform in this house. The humanities vs the science/math kids have such wildly different needs.

 

Literature is customized for each kid every year. We just read high quality literature and discuss it until high school though. Younger kids get a pile of books I select during the summer and older kids can help choose more specific courses.

 

Languages is one area they've all pretty much used the same curricula, and that's primarily all been Classical Academic Press products. Ditto for logic starting around 6th-7th grade.

 

Math was primarily either Rod and Staff (slow and steady learners) or Horizons (need to move faster/cover more). The teens moved onto Lial and Jacobs. The middle two moved onto AoPS. Wildly different needs. Then came kid #5, who is now using books none of the older kids used and thriving. #6 reminds me somewhat of my oldest, who struggled with math for years. My goal with him is keeping him engaged and comprehending, regardless how much planning that takes. He's currently doing Cuisenaire Rod based math with random resources and I plan to keep next year the same way.

 

Science and history are where I let the kids loose to choose what they'll study, and occasionally make homegrown courses. We do a LOT of living/real books, and our living room looks like a library. I didn't actually have to purchase anything for the little two for next year (but I did add a few fresh titles for my own sake). #4 will have three homegrown courses that she is super-duper excited about, but #3 is just as excited over his purchased Build Your Library schedule and high school bio textbook.

 

When the oldest one was around 12 and under we mostly used Veritas Press history, the do it yourself kind with the cards and TM (NOT online). With a bit of grunt work in the summer it could be made open and go. A 7th grader and a 1st grader could be on the same history card without having to read the same books, but they could all listen to the same read alouds, watch the same movies, and share projects. #5 starts VP history for the first time this fall (all the books she'll need are already on the shelf). I have enough picture books for #6 to tag-a-long, but I'm not sure he's really ready for it anyway. As he grows I'll probably keep them somewhat together until #5 is ready to branch out independently. We won't have a family cycle again though.

 

My most effective big family tool is summer planning. That includes reading ahead, getting familiar with courses, making schedules, printing anything that needs it, making notes in kid schedules, and doing what I can to make everything open and go. Even my second grader could pull out any of her subjects and do what was next this year as needed because I did the work to set them up that way. This does NOT mean my 7yo was independent all year. Her work was nearly all done at my elbow with lots of discussion, and she is good at finding me as needed. But her being able to get it out, use it, and put it away by herself really helped her days flow more easily.

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....

My most effective big family tool is summer planning. That includes reading ahead, getting familiar with courses, making schedules, printing anything that needs it, making notes in kid schedules, and doing what I can to make everything open and go. Even my second grader could pull out any of her subjects and do what was next this year as needed because I did the work to set them up that way. This does NOT mean my 7yo was independent all year. Her work was nearly all done at my elbow with lots of discussion, and she is good at finding me as needed. But her being able to get it out, use it, and put it away by herself really helped her days flow more easily.

 

All of SilverMoon's post was great, but this bit ^ has been especially true for me as well.  I big picture plan year round, and micro plan (make schedules, copy maps/worksheets/whatever, hole punch it all stick it in the binder in order) during the summer.  Having that DONE helps the day to day during the school year flow much better.

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SilverMoon~ I am impressed and inspired!  I will start planning as soon as the rest of my books arrive next week!  I have 5 kids schooling next year, and I have no idea how I will do it.   I have found out that my kids do best with a daily checklist for things they do on their own, it keeps them moving when I am working with other kids.  Even the little Kindergartener cannot wait to have a checklist (that she won't be able to read). 

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Checklists are great.  :001_smile:  My kids had them too. The second grader mentioned above had one in a page protector in the binder that holds her loose papers, and she scratched off subjects with a dry erase marker as she went. The 5yo had one held onto the filing cabinet with magnets and felt super big because of it...lol.

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Silver moon, I'm curious what grammar you used after switching from R&S?

 

I am trying HOD this year. I really like it so far. I am doing R&S with my 2nd/3rd grader. Singapore math.

 

 

Homeschooling mama of 4... Preschool 3, preschool 4, 1st, and 2nd:)

 

My oldest two used R&S until 8th grade, and they each did a Stewart English book to sort of finish the subject. (SE is an older WTM recommendation.)

 

My middle two went to some JAG/AG. I've no complaints, but I'm looking at something like Editor in Chief or Fix It for next year and calling them done. (The older of this pair says he specifically needs help getting it into his writing better, and following his intuition hasn't led me wrong yet.)

 

#5 was content and thriving in R&S English 3 before we shelved it for the summer. She's about halfway through it. #6 is still working on reading. I'm not planning on starting FLL 1/2 with him until the '17-'18 school year.

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I have 5, and I would echo most of what SilverMoon said. We follow the same basic format and planning method she described.

 

We use CLE for math through 6th. Oldest switched to MUS PreAlgebra after that. We use R&S spelling and English. Pentime for handwriting. English from the Roots Up starting in 6th. A big mix of interest-led living books for history, science and geography.

 

We do family read alouds and many CM type subjects together. Map drills on Sheppard's Software. Memory work CD's and audio SOTW in the car.

 

Planning over the summer is key for me.

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May I ask what grade you do R&S 3? Is it 3rd?

 

 

Homeschooling mama of 4... Preschool 3, preschool 4, 1st, and 2nd:)

 

3rd for typically developing kids. DD/3rd started it in mid-2nd because she'd already blazed through FLL 1/2 and I knew she could easily handle the writing volume of R&S.

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We have 11 - age span 20-almost 2.

 

DD (20) was educated with all TWTM recommendations for K-6.   (Initially Five in a Row for K and then Rod & Staff Grammar, Saxon Math, Kingfisher History paired with full/living/real books, etc.)

DD (17) is dyslexic.  Ordinary Parents Guide had just come out.  Loved it - though at the time we didn't realize DS was dyslexic, we were pairing it with magnetic letters, tactile work, etc.  He used so many of SWB's curriculum over the years.

DD (14) we delayed a lot of her academics and kept it far less formal.  No early *formal* math, utilize a lot of boardgames, read a LOT of living books, copywork, etc.

 

While Ana (20yo) was in 6-10, we spent time dabbling in Sonlight, Tapestry, MFW.

 

So, preparing to begin my 16th year, here is what we are using and why:

 

Math - Delay for K through Grades 4/5.  Thoughts on this can be best articulated by Teaching the Trivium site on delaying formal math.  I am using Math Mammoth for the first time ever with my middle kids.  I am trying it.  That said, as a once avowed Teaching Textbooks hater, I have to tell you TT is a lifesaver for a busy mom - truly.  And I believe it deserves a better reputation than it gets.  I know I've written on that somewhere - over on the HS board I think.

 

Grammar - God bless Rod & Staff.  Go down levels if you need to.  I also think 9/10 is overkill.  But I think it's fantastic.  Keep in mind I genuinely like parsing sentences.

I also really love Fix It!  I think it's a very painless 5-10 minutes. 

Explode the Code - I adore these for new readers.  ADORE.

I have a few dyslexics (professionally diagnosed) so Barton is big in our life.  I don't know that I'm a fan exactly.... I'd love to learn Wilson but my brain is fried at this point in my life so I'm doing what gets done.

History - I'm combining this year and going back to MFW for all my K-8.

Science -  Apologia.  I combine this with lapbooks that get done on fun occasion from CurrClick.  The year always starts out good and the lapbooks fizzle, but my kids really like them!

Teaching reading to non-dyslexics - SWB's OPGTTR.  I love this.  We've used it, no kidding, to teach an almost 3 year old  to read.

Writing - IEW.  Despite my good intentions of using a million other things, this ACTUALLY gets done.  I have two girls doing SWI B this summer.  DD (14) will follow it up with Writing with Skill.  I will say that DS used WWS 1 & 2 and followed it up with Comp I and Comp II at the CC and got A- in each class his 11th grade year, so WWS is sufficient in high school, IMO.

 

 

 

 

 

I think reading aloud is THE single most important thing you'll do.

I think every single thing you can do to foster and nurture readers is VITAL. (Giving reading lights as a gift to new readers, mandating reading time in the afternoon for 1-2 hours, allowing extra stay up time for kids who read at night as a "reward," and making sure your readers read at a BARE MINIMUM 1-2 hours each day.  Non-readers should be listening to audio books as well as readers if they love it.  Non-readers should be being read to AND SO SHOULD READERS - right up through high school.) 

I think copywork is the third most important thing you do.

I think computation (fast and automatic wrote memorization) of math facts is the next most useful thing you can do.

 

 

Think in terms of foundations.

If your kids can read VERY well, that is a big tool to equip them.

If your kids have automatic computation, that is an important foundation.

The habit of getting up daily and doing school is more important than the actual curriculum IMO.  There is SO much good curriculum out there.  But if it doesn't get regular use, then even the best is useless.

 

Combine where  you can - science and history and read alouds are definitely all combinable in K-8.

Simplify where you can - independence with R&S Grammar and TT made these two subjects very consistent and doable for me.

 

So far?  Success.  I have enthusiastic willing workers who have a habit of getting school done and are all intense readers.

 

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We have 12 children, ages 8-27. We graduated our eighth this May. The publication of WTM in 1999 was revolutionary in our homeschool. Over the years we've adapted as needed, but WTM has been our main guide for about 17 years. The closing paragraph of the last chapter in WTM is especially useful for large families trying to use WTM or any program, for that matter.

 

These have stood the test of time in our home:

Peace Hill Press/ Well-Trained Mind Press products

R&S English 

Singapore Math

Chalk Dust Math

Spelling Workout

Apologia Science

 

Fwiw, I do very little planning over the summer. The dynamics of our farm/home life -- adult children visiting with grandkids, haying season, summer activities -- don't allow for it. I try to do a bit, but alas summers are complicated here. I make the children's checklists weekly throughout the school year on weekends. That seems to work for us. 

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May I ask what grade you do R&S 3? Is it 3rd?

 

 

Homeschooling mama of 4... Preschool 3, preschool 4, 1st, and 2nd:)

 

 

Personally, if I want these to be much more independence, plan on them being 1-2 years behind the level.  2, 3, 4, and 5 are about on grade level or a little advanced per SWB, but Grade 6 ramps up significantly IMO.  Keep in mind they also only go to grade 9/10 AND that 9/10 is more advanced than they are going to see in their first couple years of college, so I feel NO qualms about placing them in a level "behind."

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We have 11 - age span 20-almost 2.

 

DD (20) was educated with all TWTM recommendations for K-6.   (Initially Five in a Row for K and then Rod & Staff Grammar, Saxon Math, Kingfisher History paired with full/living/real books, etc.)

DD (17) is dyslexic.  Ordinary Parents Guide had just come out.  Loved it - though at the time we didn't realize DS was dyslexic, we were pairing it with magnetic letters, tactile work, etc.  He used so many of SWB's curriculum over the years.

DD (14) we delayed a lot of her academics and kept it far less formal.  No early *formal* math, utilize a lot of boardgames, read a LOT of living books, copywork, etc.

 

While Ana (20yo) was in 6-10, we spent time dabbling in Sonlight, Tapestry, MFW.

 

So, preparing to begin my 16th year, here is what we are using and why:

 

Math - Delay for K through Grades 4/5.  Thoughts on this can be best articulated by Teaching the Trivium site on delaying formal math.  I am using Math Mammoth for the first time ever with my middle kids.  I am trying it.  That said, as a once avowed Teaching Textbooks hater, I have to tell you TT is a lifesaver for a busy mom - truly.  And I believe it deserves a better reputation than it gets.  I know I've written on that somewhere - over on the HS board I think.

 

Grammar - God bless Rod & Staff.  Go down levels if you need to.  I also think 9/10 is overkill.  But I think it's fantastic.  Keep in mind I genuinely like parsing sentences.

I also really love Fix It!  I think it's a very painless 5-10 minutes. 

Explode the Code - I adore these for new readers.  ADORE.

I have a few dyslexics (professionally diagnosed) so Barton is big in our life.  I don't know that I'm a fan exactly.... I'd love to learn Wilson but my brain is fried at this point in my life so I'm doing what gets done.

History - I'm combining this year and going back to MFW for all my K-8.

Science -  Apologia.  I combine this with lapbooks that get done on fun occasion from CurrClick.  The year always starts out good and the lapbooks fizzle, but my kids really like them!

Teaching reading to non-dyslexics - SWB's OPGTTR.  I love this.  We've used it, no kidding, to teach an almost 3 year old  to read.

Writing - IEW.  Despite my good intentions of using a million other things, this ACTUALLY gets done.  I have two girls doing SWI B this summer.  DD (14) will follow it up with Writing with Skill.  I will say that DS used WWS 1 & 2 and followed it up with Comp I and Comp II at the CC and got A- in each class his 11th grade year, so WWS is sufficient in high school, IMO.

 

 

 

 

 

I think reading aloud is THE single most important thing you'll do.

I think every single thing you can do to foster and nurture readers is VITAL. (Giving reading lights as a gift to new readers, mandating reading time in the afternoon for 1-2 hours, allowing extra stay up time for kids who read at night as a "reward," and making sure your readers read at a BARE MINIMUM 1-2 hours each day.  Non-readers should be listening to audio books as well as readers if they love it.  Non-readers should be being read to AND SO SHOULD READERS - right up through high school.) 

I think copywork is the third most important thing you do.

I think computation (fast and automatic wrote memorization) of math facts is the next most useful thing you can do.

 

 

Think in terms of foundations.

If your kids can read VERY well, that is a big tool to equip them.

If your kids have automatic computation, that is an important foundation.

The habit of getting up daily and doing school is more important than the actual curriculum IMO.  There is SO much good curriculum out there.  But if it doesn't get regular use, then even the best is useless.

 

Combine where  you can - science and history and read alouds are definitely all combinable in K-8.

Simplify where you can - independence with R&S Grammar and TT made these two subjects very consistent and doable for me.

 

So far?  Success.  I have enthusiastic willing workers who have a habit of getting school done and are all intense readers.

 

This is golden. Simplify. Do the basics really well. 

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I agree with you about finding something and adjusting it to the kid if necessary rather than starting new things for each child. I use Sonlight and, after about 14 years, am still loving it.

 

I have two younger girls who are at the beginning of their 'official' schooling and I was thinking about new starts and whether to do things differently this time - you know, being all retrospective. So, I asked my eldest dd what she got the most out of and remembered the best from her schooling. Her answer was 'Anything Sonlight'. So, that sealed it again for me. We are doing SL again with the little ones and loving it again. 😊

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