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Getting my Game Plan. Need help with Latin, Literature, Writing, Spanish. Long.

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I have 3 kids, all strong personalities.  A 7 year old who is a young 3rd grader this year, a 5 year old who is an old kindergartener this year, and a very active 2.5 year old who is very disruptive during schooltime.  My 5 and 7 year olds are only 2 years and a few months apart but are 4 grade levels apart because they're each on the other side of the Sept 1 deadline for school.  I am an engineer who didn't plan to homeschool but was not happy with the available school choices and I felt my daughter was too young (just turning 5) to start kindergarten.  I wish she was in 2nd grade instead of 1st.  Even though she does well with her schoolwork, I feel like she's doing too much for her age and that her peer group is too old for her when in activities.  I grew up in private Christian school which was nearly exclusively Abeka with upper level Saxon math, and I had 2 years of correspondence Latin in highschool, and there was a lot of poetry memorization and Scripture verse memorization throughout K-12.  I was nearly always bored in school, and I thought history was especial drudgery, but I think it was the presentation from Abeka.   My children are part of a public correspondence school so we can get funding to cover some of our expenses if the curriculum is secular.
 
So our curriculum...  Both kids do Suzuki music, my daughter in violin for 4 years, and my son on cello for 2 years.  Both kids take Spanish lessons weekly, and I review lesson content at home when I have time, and read them Spanish books and try to make at least half of our limited TV time in Spanish.  I don't have a Spanish curriculum, and while I don't want them to be writing in Spanish yet, I would like a more structured plan.
 
I began my daughter with Logic of English and did too much in the K year, level A, B, and C for my young kindergartener.  Also in K, she did Rightstart Math A, and Bookshark Science.  We liked Bookshark Science so much that we did Bookshark Science and History in grade 1, switched to Abeka math, which works well for my daughter, and repeated level C and did D for Logic of English.  This past year (grade 2), I used Bookshark for Science, History, and Language Arts.  I did this because I felt LOE Essentials was too far beyond my daughter with no graphics in the workbooks and the lessons just looked heavy.  I also felt that we would save time on the reading since the LA reading was part of the history curriculum.  We did continue to use the LOE flashcards and I had her do spelling with the letter tiles.  I also got her a level D book to use through the year, but we actually just began D with her summer school and she was so happy to see it again and is actually asking to work in it.  It's only about 50 lessons, so we'll probably finish before the main school year season and I was planning to begin LOE Essentials then.  BTW, we hated the Bookshark language arts.  My daughter hated the weekly writing assignments and could never think of anything to write.

For Pre-K, my son was attentive to most of the history and science when graphics were involved.  He only occasionally listened to A Child's History of the World.  He was/is usually reluctant working through LOE book A (still not done!) but he's more interested now that he and his sister both have similar looking books as she's working in part D.
 
Bookshark history reading was excellent, and my daughter really loved the reading and asks me to read to her.  I also enjoyed the reading content, but my voice was usually hoarse every night with so much reading and talking all day long.  I want good literature, but I just feel like I can't do the volume/schedule in Bookshark.  I also know that I can't do two grade levels of Bookshark.  My son won't be ready for level 3 (ages 8-11) and I don't really want to restart my daughter at level 1, though I've considered it.  Bookshark science was good, had science kits with everything for experiements and a DVD to demonstrate.  The reading was mostly good, I just didn't like one of the recent sections of the Usborne Book of Knowledge spine which had some pretty detailed machine workings which often were too wordy for my daughter.  I really like the 4 day week schedule, which gave me some freedom on our lesson day.
 
Abeka math is working well now that I know how to trim the classroom schedule.  I also use some Rightstart manipulatives.  We did not like Rightstart in K, but I've thought about trying Rightstart D to use with Abeka.  A friend told me the early Rightstart was not as good as the later books.  Abeka is good for us because  I think my daughter needs to have worksheets to complete.  She says she doesn't like math, but she does well with it.  I also like to feel that she's doing real work and able to see progress. 
 
I'm planning to do year round school.  I need to complete the regular year of courses on schedule for ease with our correspondence school's required progress reports.  However, my kids need structured days, and I don't want them to forget what they've learned, so we're still doing school through the summer.  It is fun school though, with days off for activities and art every day we do our light schoolwork.  I'm not an art person but love Artistic Pursuits for the art history, but haven't had time in the past year, so we've restarted it.  I would also like to start our regular school subjects earlier (maybe August 1) so that I can have some freedom throughout the year to take time off when needed.
 
I've already ordered Abeka math 3 for my daughter and K for my son (I'll also add some Rightstart projects for him).  I'm still debating getting Rightstart D for my daughter.
 
My son may repeat LOE A.  I haven't decided yet.  He's only starting to read short vowel words and his handwriting could use some extra practice.  My daughter will do what's left of D over the summer, and then I think we'll be getting Essentials for our Grammar.  I don't like the LOE Essentials  add-on Readers and writing program.  It looks boring and writing isn't from real literature.  I have looked at IEW, Blackbird and am now looking at Cottage Press.  IEW looks too time consuming with having to watch DVDs, and may be too much work for my daughter who hates to write.  Blackbird looks much simpler, and we can buy one unit at a time to go at our own pace.  Cottage Press Fable and Song looks like my daughter would enjoy it.  We read through all the Aesop's Fables with Bookshark and always loved to hear them.  I'm just worried that it's too much to do with LOE Essentials also.
 
I've tried to keep with secular materials because our homeschool will not pay for faith based materials and I have to purchase them on my own.  I would however like to establish more Biblical influence in their daily lives.  I really want to try Science in the Beginning.  It's structure appeals to me that it's chronological science series, has short lessons, and daily demonstrations.  I think it might help to shorten our workload.   It is also faith based, but only $40 for the year so not a budget problem.  I'm having a problem with the classical writing programs being faith based so they will not be reimbursible.  IEW would be reimbursible, but I'm just not convinced that it's right for us.
 
I have been strongly recommended to use Story of the World for history.  I like the sound of the program, but am kind of worried about delaying American history for my daughter for 4 more years.  However, I guess we could supplement American History in the summer time.  I was also thinking of supplementing Story of the World with Mystery of History CD (purchased myself)  Someone loaned me a Book 2 to review and I disliked parts of it, although the Level 1 Old Testament history would probably be better for us, so I am still considering it.
 
I'm now reading more about "classical" education and am thinking about including Latin next year.  I've had my daughter in Spanish lessons for 3 years, and my son for 2 years.  In school, I had Spanish, French, German, and Latin and cannot speak anything.  I put my children into Spanish because I want them to speak well in a practical 2nd language.  I now am reading  all the classical method essays that Latin is better for children to understand grammar and I wonder if I had an advantage that I didn't realize because I had a bit of Latin in my education.  Now, I'm thinking of adding it in, but where?  Could I do Latin just 2 days a week?  I don't really like to schedule that way, but I don't see how I can add another thing to do everything every day.  I feel like I cannot stop Spanish before they've mastered it.  I was really planning to add in Russian in 3 years so they have a different language type.  I just feel that it broadens their minds.  I'm also pretty passionate that music broadens the mind in the same way.
 
Anyway, I'm sorry for the lengthy post but I was trying to present a full history.  I posted a week ago, but didn't have all the info there and didn't respond because I didn't have a working computer and didn't want to type it up on my phone.  I'm an engineer, not a teacher.  I'm not even really a kid person, though I like my kids:)  I'm a bit of a perfectionist and get stressed if things are not done the right way.  I am reading online about Charlotte Mason, WTM, and classical education.  I haven't read the books.  I really feel lost in what to do.  I guess I'm more classically minded.  I think structure and memorization are good.  I would like to do more poetry and Bible memorization.  I feel guilty that we haven't done much at all, even though it was a big part of my childhood.   We do memorize math facts and phonics.  I like the idea of memorizing a history timeline, but I don't know how to do this or if it's included in Story of the World.  I've read a lot about Classical Conversations, and though I like some things about it, other things won't work for us.  I also seem kind of Mason minded in that I really want more literature to be used.  I am even feeling like I should do bird studies.  We do a bit of nature studies based on what we're doing outside.  I love what I read on Ambleside that the CM method uses folk music!  I love folk music and teach it to my kids, trying to teach them something new every month or so, and sing them at bedtime.  With what I know of Waldorf, I am not inclined toward that method as it's not practical enough for me.  I feel guilty that I do so much with my daughter and not enough with my K son.  I really want to combine their history, science, and read alouds.  Spanish is combined, and we could combine Latin if I'm brave enough.
 
My other problem is that I'm really striving for a sense of balance.  I realized this with music.  It's consuming our life, and I don't want that for our kids.  We practice daily, have weekly private lessons, weekly group lessons, monthly performance classes, semester recitals, more special performances, a yearly Suzuki insitute for 1 week, and a separate fiddle class for a week later in the summer.  Our teacher is wonderful and so are her students, and my daughter plays beautifully.  While I want her to do her best, I don't want to funnel her into being a music major in college.  Yes, if that's what she wants, but I don't want her to feel that it's her only option.  I'm a pianist, and music is important to me, and I want my kids to be competent musicians to be able to have fun playing with others and in church.  I want them to love folk music, not just classical music.  I also do not want them to be burned out and dislike music.  Anyway, I'm seeking balance because of this awareness from music, but also in other areas.  I'm trying to cut back a little on activities.  They were in swimming lessons Saturdays until February, when I quit and it's been so nice to have free Saturdays.  They ski on Monday nights, and I just hate Mondays, because it's violin lesson, Spanish lesson, and ski lesson.  Such a long day.  Speaking of balance, where do the mothers make time for themselves?  I have no idea.

I don't know.  I'm trying to figure myself out.  I know I can obsess with anything and go extreme on anything.  So I'm trying to cut back and do less, but now I'm trying to add more in with Latin.  Maybe it will be less if kids are working together with some subjects.  I don't feel confident enough to build my own curriculum by collecting books and teaching my own lesson plans, though Ambleside will be a great resource for extras for us.  Every new curriculum I hear about seems like the best and the one, until I read about the next one.  I feel truly lost and out of my element nearly all the time.  I feel like we are doing too much and need to cut back and then sometimes I panic that I'm not doing enough, and that I should have been doing things since K that I hadn't thought of until now, like Latin.
 
So for next school year:
Math - Abeka K and 3, and some Rightstart
Grammar and Phonics - LOE Foundations and Essentials
Grade 3 writing - Blackbird, Cottage Press or something else??
Story of the World
Literature Read Alouds ??  Does Story of the World have a good literature reading list?  I really wish it was packaged like Bookshark.  I hate shopping.  And I can't even see the list until buying the curriculum.
Science in the Beginning
Spanish - want to add more formal oral curriculum ?
Latin - Song School 2 days a week?
Artistic Pursuits - 1 day a week, also considered Atlier art, but it will probably be beyond our budget since we use all our extracurricular money on music.
Suzuki Music
 
I also just got a computer and tablet for my kids do some learning apps / games.  We really limit screen time for kids, so this is a big deal for them.  I do have Spanish Rosetta Stone from our school library (looking forward to trying this) but would really like any recommendations for any learning games or apps.
 
Well, even if no one reads this very long post, it has at least been a form of therapy for me to type it out.  Any suggestions would be wonderful!

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Wow take a big breath!

 

It can feel a bit overwhelming with all the curriculum options out there. Especially at first.

 

Home Education is a marathon not a sprint. I want to say don't overdo it and burn yourself and your kids out too soon. That said you probably will because we all do it 😆

 

Firstly on book shark - we did sonlight which is the religious equivalent and had the same problems. I lost my voice and the kids didn't retain much because it was too much. I ended up slowing it down and doing it over two heats which was better. However - the best features for us were the book choices. And we don't have to do the whole program or schedule to do the books. We just get the list, put them on hold at the library and do what we can. Your older dd will start reading more literature on her own which will make it way easier to get more in.

 

For writing - have you looked at writing with ease at all? It is the well trained mind writing program for the first four years and I didn't use it all the way but I quite like it. I believe it's secular. Otherwise you can just do DIY writing with copy work, narration and dictation.

 

For history - story of the world is really good. Remember that over 12 years of school on a four year history cycle you are going to do American history four times. If your daughter is a little older maybe only twice but you will still get it! If you are really worried you could do an American history unit for your school holidays.

 

We just started Latin this year with dd and she's just doing song school Latin and only the videos. I can't say how effective it will be longterm but it requires nothing from me. And it gives is a taste to see if we like it enough to keep going.

 

As far as time for mum goes - well that is really the hardest challenge. It's not the curriculum, it's none of that its finding balance. I quite like Sarah McKenzies stuff and plan to read "teaching from rest" this year. Maybe that will help you as well.

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You may want to check out Build Your Library. The first four levels incorporate Story of the World, with levels 5 and 6 for US History. It also has literature read alouds and readers for 3rd grade and up.

 

http://buildyourlibrary.com/

 

Regarding IEW, you could look at doing a theme book instead of the Student Writing Intensive videos. These two are very popular:

 

http://iew.com/shop/products/fables-myths-and-fairy-tales-writing-lessons

 

http://iew.com/shop/products/all-things-fun-fascinating

 

I know you have Science figured out, but I'd also like to recommend Mystery Science. It's really fun, not a lot of prep, and it can be used for different grade levels.

 

https://mysteryscience.com/

 

Good luck to you!

Edited by Vintage81

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It does sound like streamlining might help you not feel so overwhelmed. Maybe consider cutting back to the basics for a bit and once you've got that well established consider what to add in. Memoria Press has Enrichment guides for K-2 that are great. Each week usually has a theme that follows a Sept-June type of schedule that incorporates the seasons and holidays but is very manageable with a weekly book, artist, musician, poem and some small science theme. It's a great way to add a little extra to round out your week but not as overwhelming as Bookshark sounds. You could easily choose one guide for everyone to enjoy. With SOTW all of your kids could learn together and the extra reading isn't too much.

 

I'm not familiar with LOE but if it's taking up too much time consider doing something else. Learning to read took up most of DS "school time" and once that took off I replaced it with spelling and writing but it takes maybe 30ish min. so it's not a lot of time for him everyday. He does spelling with AAS and then grammar and writing with ETC, FLL, ELTL and WWE. What are you trying to accomplish with LOE? Is it getting done what you want it to? Is it taking too much time to do that? Can you work with another child while one is doing she writing? DS is only 7 so I sit with him the whole time but we have a routine where he does certain things in a certain order and I know I can do some things with DD at the same time. She's only 4 so it's not much yet but she needs me watching while she's practicing writing her letters and numbers and answering questions so I can do that with her while he is doing his copywork. You might find things easier if everything could be a little more efficient so consider how that might work.

 

I highly recommend Science in the Beginning. It's the first science I've actually enjoyed so I think you should give it a try. It's very easy to use. There's a little reading, a short experiment/demonstration and then a discussion about what happened. It's the first science I've found that's written well and actually incorporates the experiment well. It's been a pleasant surprise. We also use a virtual charter school that only pays for secular materials but after trying Elemental and Real Science Odyssey with charter funds I'm glad that I paid for SIB. The lessons are short but really teach and explain well.

 

Don't be afraid to make changes. You don't want to burnt out and be overwhelmed now. I want my children to learn but they are little so I want them to have fun and enjoy being little too. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is how well I can teach them so efficiently. DS does about 90 min. or so of seat work and has most of the day to be read to and play.

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I will just comment where I have experience.

 

We Love Bookshark. We also homeschool through a public school (well, a charter), so we have some of the same constraints curriculum wise. We used lots of Bookshark and self-purchased Sonlight offerings last year.

 

Story of the World can be picked up in any order, so don't feel obligated to go back to book 1. We started using it this year after having studied Ancients with Sonlight last year, so we started in Volume 2. It has been a very enjoyable book to study. The Activity guide has many simple mapping worksheets that have helped us with geography. The Activity Guide is also where you will find the book suggestions to round out History study "Bookshark style". It has an extensive list, actually. One way I include a bit more Christian influence and perspective in our study is to choose some of the corresponding literature suggestion from Sonlight's programs. I request all secular ones through our charter, and the Christian ones I purchase myself. 

 

You may enjoy reading "The Well Trained Mind" before you solidify your choices, if you are leaning more towards classical education. I enjoyed it very much, and found it helpful to inform my choices for next year. In it, the author recommend Latin beginning in 3rd or 4th grade, and then a foreign language beginning in 6th grade. OR, if a foreign language is something you desire to do first, she recommends starting that in 3rd, and latin in 6th. So, it seems you are doing wonderfully introducing a foreign language now, and can put off thinking about Latin until 6th grade, if you feel comfortable with following the course in the WTM book. I am on the fence about what to start next year. Latin or Spanish. I kind of feel like if my kids get one down pat, I would rather it be Spanish. 

 

For writing. If you are interested in classical education, I would very much suggest you read WTM, or the articles available through the Well Trained Mind website, before you decide. In my experience 2nd and 3rd grade (an my son is right on target for age) is too early to expect original writing, and may be very frustrating to try to elicit this (it was for us). I am unfamiliar with the offerings you listed, but am mentioning this as it was a wake-up call to me, and also perhaps the springboard that lead me to actually look into Classical Education. There is the structure of Classical Education with the history and science cycle, and other content recommendations, but then there is the practice of Classical education, which in my opinion respects child development better than traditional-style education. Writing is very much a developmental level dependent skill, and therefore it is very appropriate to approach with the classical method of schooling, in my opinion and experience. Writing With Ease by the same author as WTM is a great approach, and it is secular. We used it last year after ditching Sonlight Language Arts, which was frustrating my son to no end, and getting us nowhere. You can purchase the book and do your writing program "Bookshark style" by using your History and Science literature as your writing material as well, or you can purchase it in a workbook, leveled program that is pre-prepared for you. We enjoyed English Lessons Through Literature this year, which combines a WWE style writing program with a grammar program as well. Until this summer it was Christian, but the author has reworked it to make is secular for us who get it with school funding. It includes literature to read aloud to students, or for them to read themselves, but the selections are also easily incorporated through audiobook if your reading load happens to be heavy at the moment. For a 7 year old, I would go with level A or B, but definitely not level C. We did level C with my 3rd grader this year, but he is 9 and experienced a lot of maturity over the summer when it comes to writing. Likewise, if you used WWE, you would use level 1 or 2. For your Kindergartener, you wouldn't use it at all yet. 

 

For science, the WTM includes a list of book suggestions to enrich science study, you know, "Bookshark style", so yet another reason to check out that book. For a more focused Bible study, we just use whatever is enjoyable for us. "Telling Gods Story", which is what WTM sells in their bookshop, has been marvelous. But mainly, we just have an open discussion of how our faith intersects with History, science, art, etc. Look at Sonlight's website for ideas about biographies of missionaries, and other faith inspired stories and such that you can work into your school year. :)

 

 

ETA: Check out Barefoot Ragamuffin Curricula's website in the freebies section "Planning Pages". They have a marvelous layout of SOTW broken down by week of school, so you can easily see what will be covered that week, then you can check your Activity Guide for corresponding literature to schedule. I even schedule some science unit studies or geography studies or composer/artist studies to go along with what it being covered. It is a wonderful way to make your own literature rich History plan. http://barefootmeandering.com/site/freebies/

Edited by coastalfam

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No, I have not looked at Writing with Ease before.  It looks like it could be a good fit!  I just looked at a sample and read about 8 reviews.  I really am attracted to the fact that it is supplementary because I feel that it will be more workable with our LOE program.  I guess I could do LOE 3 days, and writing 2 days per week, but that scheduling feels prone for failure on my part, but I guess I could try it.  A blog review didn't like that it didn't have creative writing but that would probably work better for us because my daughter's biggest problem is that she can't think of what to write.  She needs to be told what to write.  I'll read more about it.  Thank you!

 

I did look at Build Your Own Library.  I felt like some of the unit studies might work, but didn't feel the year plan was a good fit.  I think I didn't like the book choices.  I don't quite remember.

 

I also looked a Konos, which I thought was very interesting.  I like the character studies.  My kids need more of this.  Actually, as I look at it again, I'm drawn to it.  I really like that all the books come with the program like Bookshark.  I can request holds at the library, but it seems like so much extra time.  So Konos looks like literature, maybe includes some history?  There's a timeline but no history books.  I don't see writing, but I'm guessing it's there?  I think if this is supposed to be all inclusive, it's not as rigorous as I would want, but I do like the character trait emphasis.  http://www.konos.com/www/kiabox.html

 

What I liked most about IEW were the themed books!  I liked the mythology and others.  What I was told at the curriculum fair was that I need to start with their basic program before doing the themed books.  This required DVDs for me to watch (in my free time?) on how to teach, and some DVDs for my daughter to watch.  It was actually quite confusing to figure out how the curriculum works, and I still probably don't understand it.  Then 2 Classical Conversations mothers sold it to me on how it was the best ever, then proceeded to try to get me to join Classical Conversations because it's also the best ever.  It was really quite an overwhelming whirlwind of a curriculum fair.  And it was a small fair, not a convention like some of you attend.  In 2 days, I found 3 or 4 things that I felt we must use, then decided I was unsure on all of them.

 

I haven't heard of Mystery Science before.  I'll see if I can find samples.  My kids love experiments and demonstrations, and I feel like it's so better for cementing concepts, and we just need some active work and fun in our days.  Apologia science was recommended to me by a super star homeschool mom that I know, so I looked closely into that and it looks b o r i n g.  I don't want boring textbook reading for my young kids, and it would just be more reading for me.   Leads me to another issue.  My daughter doesn't have great comprehension.  She is a great reader, and we are doing our library's summer reading program.  The librarian said that since she's in 3rd grade, she should be reading chapter books.  I bought a huge stack of K and grade 1 books from the Sonlight table at a curriculum fair for 40% off.  I thought these chapter books would be easy enough for my daughter and my son would like me to add in some of the read aloud content.  So, her first summer reading book was McBroom's Wonderful One Acre Farm, which was very short.  She read it over a couple days, complained about chapter length, then could not tell me what it was about.  I was very concerned that she didn't retain anything.  We read it aloud last week and she listened attentively, asked questions sometimes, but enjoyed the book.  She couldn't grasp the exaggerations when reading it herself.  Maybe this book wasn't a good guide because of the exaggerated style, but I am now concerned about comprehension and surely couldn't assign any independent textbook reading (like science).

 

I'm so glad to hear a good experience with Science in the Beginning!  It does look both easy and fun.  I figured $40 was definitely worth a try.

 

I'll see if I can find a copy of The Well Trained Mind.  A while back I tried the library for some of these methods but didn't find the books there.  I'm not sure if WTM was one of them.  I hate to "waste time" reading methodology books, but maybe it would be a help.  I certainly helps to hear that we're not late starting Latin if it's recommended for grades 3-4.

 

Thank you for the recommendation for English Lessons Through Literature.  I think I've seen the acronym on these forums but didn't know what it was.  I've been getting lost in all the acronyms on this forum.  Someone I know uses something similar, Learning Language Arts Through Literature, I think.  I looked at that book a couple years ago and wasn't impressed but don't remember why at the time.  I think it seemed to simple but maybe because I had no experience working with kids or of these teaching philosophies.  I'll look at ELTL

 

I forgot another thing I wanted in a writing program and that I liked about Cottage Press.  It has sentence diagramming, though I don't know if it's in the Fable & Song level.  I really don't know if kids do sentence diagramming in 3rd grade.  I just think diagramming is good and I want my kids to do a lot of it.  LOE Essentials has some diagramming but I do not know when it is introduced.

 

I forgot!  I'm also passionate about including geography.  My daughter went through the Troxel geography songs with Bookshark, and I planned to keep doing these along with puzzles, but would like to get a game that gives cultural information for each country / region.  I also bought Galloping the Globe on ebay (2 years ago) and want to start using it as it has some recipes and other fun projects and facts.

 

I am concerned about burn out.  I don't want to stress my kids and make them hate school.  I do feel like they're getting a better education than our local schools, but I worry that I should have been doing more and earlier with them.  I just don't know how to prioritize life.  I want so many things.  I want an active family life.  My husband and I are very outdoorsy, like hiking, fishing, camping, etc. Now all kids are old enough (2 year old in a backpack) that we can do more, and I really want to add this in.  I'm sure as they grow it will get easier to fit it all in, right?

 

Thank you, coastalfam and everyone for all the good suggestions!  I will research, and come back with lots of new ideas, I'm sure.  I just really wanted to settle things and order and be ready to start our fall school earlier this year.

 

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I'm folding laundry and watching Writing with Ease videos on youtube. I'm almost sold! It looks like what we need and looks pretty fast to use.

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I didn't read any of the replies, but from your OP I think you should take a look at Veritas Press as either a supplement or the spine for your history. The earlier years have Biblical history and an easy timeline song.

 

Maybe for writing/LA you should check out English Lessons Through Literature with Reading Lesssons Through Literature.

 

For some perspective, you might want to to look at SWB's audio lectures on the WTM website. I love the writing ones, The Joy of Classical Education, and Homeschooling the Real Child. For $4, these are great pick-me-ups.

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It is easy to get overwhelmed in the homeschooling world  :001_smile: It sounds like you simply haven't found your footing yet. It takes time to figure out what works for you and your family. There is no one right way to homeschool. That is why there are so many good curriculum options - because there are so many approaches and philosophies of education that work for different people. It sounds like the classical education model appeals to you a little more than others who have heard or read about. I will second the recommendation to read The Well Trained Mind. I think you will find it helpful and not a waste of time. It helped me gain a clearer understanding of what the priorities are for the different stages of education. There is a lot of practical explanation and advice. 

 

We all have seasons of doubting whether we are doing enough in our homeschool. What has helped me the most is to identify what my goals are for my children's education. What do I want them to be able to do by the time they graduate? After reading a lot of posts on this forum from parents with a lot more experience than I currently have I came to the conclusion that what is most important for my children's education is that they learn how to learn and think. I also want to foster in them a love of learning. My curriculum choices and yearly plans are filter through those goals. It helps me not get swept up in the "latest and greatest" curricula that everyone says you need.  :huh: Another thing that helps me is to keep in mind that curriculum developers and publishers ARE businesses, so of course they are going to market their products as something that you need to buy. I find this to be especially true for Classical Conversations - I hear so many people talk about CC as if it is the only way to provide a strong, academic homeschool education! 

 

You mentioned that you are striving for balance. For the ages of your kids, I would say that "less is more." Focusing on fewer subjects and less "school time" will result in a richer and more enjoyable experience for all of you. Kids can be wildly creative and inquisitive when they are given the time and space to do so. Not everything has to come from a curriculum or a prepared lesson. My 6-year-old has learned so much geography this year first because she had a $2 plastic placemat with a world map on it and then because we added a huge wall map to our dining room wall. We simply talk about different countries or continents during meals whenever the topic comes up. You said your family likes to hike and go on outings. Let that be your nature study. I believe that stuff like that has a higher return on investment in the early years than any worksheet or preplanned assignment. Even schools can't teach it all. The key is to concentrate your efforts on teaching the skills of learning, so that they are able to learn anything they have a desire to learn throughout their lives. 

 

Now for a few practical recommendations: 

- Audio books - They are a great way to expose your children to more literature without you loosing your voice. The Story of the World is great on audio. Our public library even has it. 

- IEW has a poetry memorization program that you might like. It's designed to be used over 4-5 years. The poems are already selected for you, included in the book, and even available as a separate audio recording. 

- I wouldn't add Latin yet if I were you. You are already overwhelmed. Adding a second foreign language now would likely not be successful. There is plenty of time to add Latin later. 

- Classical Conversations materials can be purchased from their website without you signing up for their program. They have a pretty good timeline song that a lot of kids like. It's available on all 3 cycles on the audio work CDs. 

- Keep in mind that as a homeschooling parent you get to steer the ship. You don't have to replicate a public or private school experience, or scope and sequence, or what other homeschooling families are doing. You get to decide what is important and what you will spend time, energy, and money doing. If the charter school adds to your stress or limits your choices more than you wish, then maybe it is not the best choice for your family. 

 

Ok, I think I've said enough now!  :ohmy:

 

 

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