So, since we ditched most of the Sonlight curriculum, I figured we probably should do something for the last 4 months of school ;)
After talking extensively with other moms in our church, reading up on the subjects and surveying their opinions on different curriculum benefits and possible negatives, we decided on some pretty cool stuff.
Now, again, Sonlight might work GREAT for some kids and some families. At this stage in our life, I just couldn't devote the hours upon hours to reading every day to my kids (we still read a ton together… but we integrate other methods of learning too!). I needed something that my kids could do on their own. Cade is fully reading and able to read a year or two above his grade level, but I still wanted something more than just reading. Sonlight has no tests and no real gauge to know how you are doing or how much your child is really absorbing. I wanted some sort of cohesive curriculum that also had a form of testing + activities built in. Again, we also wanted actual Christian curriculum. Not just a lesson plan (like Sonlight) that tells you how to explain the topics in the secular books.
So, we've taken quite a bit form Susan Wise Bauer and the Charlotte Mason way of learning. I know very little about education or how to educate, so I feel like sticking with the way kids have learned throughout history is probably a safe bet. :) Classically learning, focusing on reading, writing, and arithmetic with lots of memorization, copy work, dictation and playtime! :)
Bible: I'm trying to get into the habit of reading more actual Scripture with the kids than extra books. So, every morning we start with actual Scripture. I so easily forget that I need to actually get my Bible, and physically open it up to them! No iPad Bible for our morning time! :)
Leading Little Ones to God (A sonlight reccomened book we are almost finished with and i love). +
Egermeier's Bible Story Book - I love this one because it includes a lot of detail on each story and has full pictures.
History: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child - Volume 1: Ancient Times - Textbook - Test/Answer Guide - Activity Book
Language Arts: Explode the Code 2 1/2 (Its actually very easy and simple for Cade but at least it gets him practicing his handwriting!)
First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind
Vocabulary for the Gifted Child - Grade 1 - A super fun activity book Cade can complete on his own.
Writing: The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease - Copywork and Narration guidelines to use with your own choice of subject matter.
Continuing to use: A Reason for Handwriting - Grade 2
Science: Apologia - Astronomy + Astronomy Junior Notebooking Journal
(love this, I can't say enough good things. Looking forward to Zoology in the fall!)
French: Personal Lessons with my mother in law :)
and we also got these fun flashcards to help them study
Math: Still using Saxon, but jumped a grade to Grade 2 to meet his level and challenge him.
Art: Draw Write Now! + Discovering Great Artists
Readers: I found a book list on Pinterest that Looked promising and went from there! Currently we are reading : Stuart Little
I am planning on reading the Whole Chronicles of Narnia series with the kids starting this summer.
We will also, Lord willing, be joining our local community of Classical Conversations. It is a super rad program that focuses on, no duh, Classical learning :) Memorization, repetition, rhetoric, all packed into one "on campus day" at a local church. And, the big perk, is that the program starts at 4 years old, so Reese can have something to do! Yay!
Of course, this is what is working for us right now. I don't think the overall method will change a whole lot, since I can see the value in the classical way of learning. However, textbooks and scheduling might change a few things next year. We'll see. Its exciting. I never, ever, ever x 1000 thought I would want to homeschool but I love it!
Again, if you are reading this blog with no intention of ever homeschooling, never say never! ;)
One thing I have learned throughout this past year of homeschooling: I really don't know that much. God has continually used my homeschool to humble me and grow me, and for that I am very grateful. Of course, last year when I was researching curriculum and deciding what our plan of action would be for our first grader, I was convinced that I knew what I was doing. I did a lot of "research" (aka. looked online for stuff) and thought I had struck a gold mine for our little school.
When we went to the CHEA conference last June, I walked through the convention hall completely stunned. How in the world could there be 50 different MATH curriculum options!?!?!? It was eye opening, but I had already purchased our goodies for the fall and knew I was in the right. We chose the Sonlight Core B program and I was set.
Now, this is my honest, real-life review of Sonlight. I fully acknowledge this is my own personal opinion, and therefore, means very little :)
What I loved :
It is a solid Christian company. The books used were not all "Christian" books, but the instructors guide always laid out word for word what you could tell your child when certain topics came up in the reading that they might question (Like, how do you teach them about the Greek gods… obviously they weren't gods, but how do you instruct them from a Biblical perspective?) The IG (Instructors Guide) was helpful in navigating the topics that were a little more challenging to address on my own.
It was challenging. It was definitely NOT what he would have gotten in first grade public school. It is pretty advanced. But, he learned! He was able to keep up! I think I didn't give him enough credit for his ability to just adapt and learn what we were reading.
It's all in the box! When you purchase a complete curriculum set from Sonlight, every since thing you need (with the exception of a few science supplies like flour, water, etc…) is inside the box. Every lesson plan is laid out for you. Every book you will read or reference is in there for you. No library trips needed, no printables needed… It was all there. This was a huge advantage for us. I had no clue how to plan a lesson let alone WHAT to plan! So, I loved that Sonlight offered the complete package deal. You also purchase all the textbooks, readers and encyclopedias, so you have all you need for every successive child you will home school.
It was "reasonably" priced. Sure, it is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but when you begin piecing together your own complete curriculum set, the cost is comparable. Of course, you could just purchase the lesson plans from Sonlight and then check out the books weekly from the library, but that was too much work and planning and I liked that I could pay the money and get it all in my home, ready to go, for a price that was cheaper than what I could have got on Amazon if I purchased it all individually.
It follows the classical education model. A lot of reading, writing, dictation, copy work. All things that were important to me.
They gave options. They provided their top math, handwriting, and elective courses for you to choose from. They specialize in their own Language Arts program, History, and Science program and recommend other programs that are excellent and have stood the test of time to produce competent students.
Quick support. I had some questions and a book was damaged in shipping and I immediately received a reply and a replacement book was in the mail the next day.
What I didn't love
It is challenging. I know this was also a perk in the list above. However, we had to skip over some content because either it was super duper boring, or I didn't feel it was age appropriate. The first week of school we read "Missionary Stories with the Millers" which is a rad book on real-true-life missionary stories from the trenches! Miraculous stories of how men and women survived robberies, performed emergency surgeries, etc.. However, the majority of them were majorly above the appropriateness for a six year old. We skipped quite a bit of assigned reading. Also, some of the readers were just plain boring. We started reading other novels instead.
It is very disjointed. Some weeks, we were reading from 5 different history books. Granted, all of the books were great and top quality, but it felt so disconnected at times, and then at other times, I felt like we read the same information from five different sources.
It is a ton of reading. Again, that can be a good thing! However, almost all of the instruction is just you reading to your kid. Which, of course is needed and so good, but with a newborn and a 3 year old, I didn't have two+ hours uninterrupted per day to sit and read.
We did not like the science. It was basically the Usborne Science Encyclopedia with plain and boring repetitive and slightly confusing worksheets (I had trouble with a few). I love that Usborne book, but it taught evolution and all sorts of other mumbo jumbo that we specifically were trying to avoid in our curriculum choices for this year. (Because the evolution teaching was a top reason why we pulled him out of public school). We switched to Apologia and are absolutely loving it.
We don't need all the books. I thought initially that it would be awesome have all the books we need but really, it is a TON of books. And, if most of the readers were pretty boring… we are now the proud owners of a lot of boring books.
Overall, I still think Sonlight is a great company with a top quality educational product. However, for our family, I have found that other things work better for us. I know there are people that love and hate any curriculum and that just illustrate God's creativity in making people with different strengths, weakness, preferences, styles, and learning abilities. With almost one whole year of homeschooling under my belt (haha! I am saying that sarcastically!!! I know nothing!! ;), I do feel a little more prepared to plan and organize my own curriculum. I know how a day typically goes in our house. I know my kids and what will keep their attention.
I'll post next on the new curriculum that we switched to that I am loving! So that's my two cents… and I think it really is worth only two cents.
Just a little recap of whats been going on around here.
Ian led music for the high school ministry so it was the first time I had to get all 3 ready for church by myself. I LOVE homeschooling for the fact that we are HOME all the time… so, going out (and having to look presentable) is a big deal :)
We are working on the renovation of our backyard so in the mean time, its a mess and it was hot enough the other day for sprinklers! A little taste of summer.
Cade is participating in the AWANA Sparks Olympics this year. So fun! I remember competing when I was his age!
Cade is doing really well in baseball. It seriously is the cutest thing. He fist pumps and waves to us after each play :)
Cade's Saturday morning Fan Club
Gran Gran making Drew laugh
Ian is so great. Holding the baby and scrubbing the kitchen. True Love!
The new swing set has been a hit but the crazies are finding all sorts of ways to be dangerous.
My Dad's turn with entertaining Drew baby :)
Lately, I feel like our days are the same. We came up with a new routine for our day and it has been super helpful:
This schedule has made things much easier around our home. Cade knows what to expect and the complaining and whining has been lessening.
Drew turned 4 months. He was 13lbs 2 oz last week! Growing ahead and catching up to babies who were actually due in November. He is laughing and smiling a ton and is just a joy to be around. He has been sleeping an 8-10 hour stretch at night! Wahoo!! He usually eats, and goes right back to sleep until 8 or so. I am very thankful. He's nursing exclusively and doing so well. Really, such a blessing, and I know that. He really is a super sweet baby, still doesn't love his carseat… but we moved all 3 kids in the middle row of the van so Cade is on plug duty. With his pacifier in, he's great. When that thing falls out, watch out.
I can't believe he was born 4 months ago. I do feel much better than I did 4 months ago! I'm still recovering from bed rest and I know I need to be patient with my body and my progress. I gained so much weight (maybe when I'm at my goal weight I will share all my official numbers :/ ) But for now, I am trying to focus on my eating and being disciplined. I don't want to exercise too crazy because of my milk supply, but I know being active is important to overall health and well being.
Alright, back to work around the house. So much to do!
These days I need quick, easy, nutritious meals for my little flock. When Ian is home, I am able to spend more time in the kitchen but when I am alone during the day, lets be realistic: I need food ready, and fast.
These pancakes I initially found on Pinterest somewhere and was super skeptical. Two ingredients? Come on… Well, they live up to their name and I think they will be a hit in your home as well.
My Reese is doing awesome with trying new foods and actually enjoys meat, chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and so much more than she ever has! However, eggs are still a big NO… Ugh! They are so good for her and she will not touch them… Maybe that is why I love this recipe so much… I just watch her gobble these up and just laugh to myself…
They are light and fluffy with no banana taste. They remind me of a pancake/crepe. We eat these dipped in Whole Milk Organic Plain Yogurt or Fresh Whipped Raw Cream. I serve it with fresh berries and the kids dig it!
SIMPLE EGG PANCAKES
2 Organic (Pastured, if possible) Eggs
1 Organic Banana
(Optional : 1/8 tsp of organic cinnamon)
Butter a pan (at first, and in-between each pancake) - I use Organic Grassfed Ghee.
Whisk ingredients together in a little bowl and pour individual mini pancakes into a hot, buttered pan.
(Just like making regular old pancakes flipping occasionally).
This makes enough for 3 servings…
Let me know if you try these and like them! Super simple, fast and easy! Super duper kid and mom friendly!
Oh, and if you don't use Ghee, you should!!! Has a super high smoke point and is the perfect complement to veggie dishes and great for coating cooking pans! Bye Bye Pam!
My husband is seriously too kind to me. He gave me the day off! What?!
I needed some time to plan out the rest of our school year since we ditched most of our curriculum & needed to catch up on some record keeping.
So, he told me to go! & go I did! First stop was mi corazon, my favorite little organic Mexican restaurant in Glendale's Kenneth village. Ate my fave tinga beef tacos, Hung out & planned out all of our subjects & lessons for the next ten weeks. (Yes I had a regular (not diet!) Mexican coke. Made with real sugar. Sure it's not great but it sounded good & I can't remember the last time I had one. So sue me ;)
Stop two, was to pump in the car :)
(Sorry no photo)
Stop three, brand park for more school planning, meal planning, some design work I've wanted to get to & relaxing.
Stop four: I've been wanting to try the Orchard Flats Cold Pressed Juicery & with kids in tow, it's not a practical stop.
So, tried it out & loved the #2 greens juice! Check them out!
Stop five, I was gone long enough to need two meals! Did I say my husband was awesome!?
Dinner was at The Melt! In downtown Burbank. Super yummy grilled cheeses!!
I feel bad asking for a break, as if I'm saying I don't want to be around my kids, but it really has been refreshing to pray over the next ten weeks of school in our home & come up with some new exciting projects and activities for the kids.
It's crazy but my life really is all about my family these days. With one & even two kids eventually, I felt I could do extra stuff outside of the home... But three kids has pushed me over the edge, in the sense that, they are my everything & feeding, clothing, schooling, cleaning, & being a wife is all I have time for. I am realizing that this is a very good thing. I am so thankful I can stay home & invest all that I am into these little people. It is hard work, with no regular scheduled breaks, but It really is the most rewarding job I've ever had.
At mi corazon, I overheard a woman talking with her table about how successful her career was & how much $$ she was making. Everyone was ooohing & ahhhing over her & it mad me think. My job doesn't pay like that but the fruit of my labor is different than the paycheck she earns. My pay comes in the form of milestones reached that I get to see. Learning & teaching that I get to participate in. Cooking & blessing my family. Sure, there's no monetary paycheck but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm so thankful for the day break I had today. I needed this perspective. Time to think & pray & thank The Lord for my family. My crazy, energetic, demanding & incredible little family.