Monday, November 28, 2011

Switch Gears or Stay the Course?

What do I know about choosing curriculum for my kids?  Apparently, not much!  As we are approaching Christmas, I have been evaluating what is working, what isn’t, what the kids like, and what they don’t.

One thing is unanimous, they love Apologia science, right now we’re using the Astronomy book with Junior notebooking journals.  I can’t say enough good things about it. Love it! Fun!

So far, mixed reviews on Learning Language Arts Through Literature.  I like the concept of this set.  I like that it’s all in one big book, but in reality, it’s not working that well for us.  The big book is hard to work in, directions are sometimes unclear.  There isn’t the right continuity for us.  Spelling words are given at the beginning of the week, and not reviewed.  Then, they suddenly pop up a week later, as in “ which of last week’s vocabulary words fill in this blank?”.  It’s frustratingly slow for Colleena’s age level, and I find myself skipping most of the activities. We already bumped her from the kindergarten set to the grade one set based on her ability. Yes, that is the beauty of home schooling, but if I am skipping all of it, what is the point?  I find myself admitting that I won’t use that level again unless I happened to have a child who was still really struggling with what sounds the letters make by grade one.  Time required is very inconsistent.  Some days they need an hour, some days 10 minutes! 

And, mixed reviews on the ABeka math.  Baden finds it distracting that the pages are colourful.  They tend to put questions where they can fit them on a page, and it’s not always linear or consistent. Baden keeps missing questions because he just didn’t see where they were.  He doesn’t feel there is enough teaching sections.  Colleena loves her math book and is flying through it, but doesn’t seem to retain enough of it.  She is able to kind of float along and answer the questions without really understanding enough of the concepts. That could just be her fear of being "put on the spot" though.  She tends to freeze when she is afraid you're testing her and she might be wring.  I  add extra activities to make sure she really is getting the concepts.

They love the Bible course from Alpha Omega, but I am frustrated at the use of the King James Version.  It’s just not functional for us, so we have to reference a more familiar version.  Not a huge problem, and they are really learning some neat stuff that they retain well.

So, I am now asking myself… switch gears or stay the course with what I’ve got?   Baden has requested a plain math text with more questions and less pictures. Seriously buddy?  So, he looked at Saxon Math and loved the samples.  I tested him with their placement test, and he flew through grade 3 and into grade 4.  Do I make him finish the grade 2 that we have now?  I also looked into “Christian Light” math.  It appeals to me, especially with the smaller books, but it may be distracting to him still.

I also like the look of the Bible, Reading and Language Arts programs from “Christian Light”.  I am torn about just what my kids should study for “English”.  Do they need grammar rules already?  Spelling lists and practice?  Comprehension activities?  Read alouds?  All of the above? 

French is still the most difficult issue.  The Easy French Junior level is good for Colleena, but far too easy for Baden who does already speak French well.  I did find today the set the school uses to teach in Kindergarten and grade one at the Carrefour Fransaskois and I am able to borrow it for the year.  I think I'll begin using that on top of what we have.  They also had awesome games, books and cd's to borrow.  love the local French library.  I also want to find some activities and work sheets that would be the equivalent of Language Arts in French.  Still looking into a few recommendations I got.  It's hard to know what should be taught in which order.  Anyone know what they should be learning in grade 2 for French?  Is it still just vocabulary building?

I know this is my first year, and I knew that I would have a lot to learn as we went this year, but I really thought I knew my kids and their learning styles better!  Have any of you had to switch gears mid year?  Was it a positive change, or did you regret it?  Have you used Saxon or Christian Light programs?

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