Saturday, August 21, 2010

Back to School: First Grade, here we come!

It's hard to believe that Fall is just around the corner, which means that school is also just around the corner! We are excitedly gearing up for Sam's first grade year. Before we went to Ohio, I had started thinking about buying curriculum. I knew that I really wanted to buy Sonlight Core K, but with Jim's work being slow, we just didn't have the money to buy it new. So, I started looking at used options. Prior to this, whenever I had looked at used curriculum, I had ended up discouraged because it looked like I was going to have to piece together so much. A few books here, a few books there . . . it would be a lot of work just to get the whole core, doing it that way. It might save a little money, but seemed like such a headache. Well, I decided to check again on Sonlight's used curriculum forum. Lo and behold, I found a lady who was selling almost her complete Core K. It's from 2006, so some of the books have changed since then, but that wasn't a problem because she threw in her old instructor's guide, too. AND, she also generously threw in a bunch of science stuff, including books and a DVD! The complete core (minus readers, which I'm going to get from the library--as well as using some that I already have) cost just over $100, including shipping. What a huge blessing!! When we got home from Ohio, this package was waiting for us at the post office:I was so excited to open it and look everything over! Here are the books that were inside (plus another book which I am borrowing from a friend, and the Writing With Ease instructor text):
There was also a huge binder with the IG and another binder with some worksheets, which I didn't include in the picture. Hooray! It's so thrilling to have the Core and the IG ready to go.

Next, I needed to order the other subjects: math, handwriting and language arts. I decided to order math (Singapore 1A&1B) from Sonlight, since I had a 10% discount if I ordered from them (because I ordered a core from them last year, which gave me a 10% discount plus free shipping on every order for the next year. About a day before I planned to order, I received a $10 coupon code from Sonlight, which really filled me with excitement--now the math curriculum was only costing me around $35 instead of $45! Yay!

Last week I ordered the rest of what I needed from Amazon: A Reason for Handwriting, Manuscript A, and First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind:Level 1. I was able to find the handwriting book from Amazon "warehouse deals" for a few dollars less than regular price (the cover has a wrinkle). Score again! The language arts book isn't available yet (not till mid-late September) so we will just start that a little later. I plan to use Writing with Ease as part of our language arts program, also. My sister-in-law blessed me by passing on her copy of the teacher's guide, which she wasn't using. I plan to make up my own writing lessons using that (at this point, anyway--I may go ahead and buy the student book later, if it turns out to be too much of a hassle to make up my own lessons). We will also continue with his lessons in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.

And I think that's all! It looks like a lot when it's all written out like this, but we won't do everything every day. Handwriting, for instance, will probably only be 2 or 3 days per week. And I'm only planning to do school 4 days a week, which I'm sure will make Sam very happy. :)

In closing, I wanted to share a link to this post by Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking, listing her family's top reasons for choosing to homeschool. I thought this was a really excellent post, and well worth reading!

**So, how are the rest of you homeschoolers doing? I'd love to hear about your plans for the coming year! :)**


Katie said...

I love to hear what other people are doing in their home school too. :) Especially since this is all new to me. Luke is in kindergarten this year. He turned 6 in July, and last year we decided to wait on school until he was older instead of at 5. Homeschooling would not have been my first option, actually. But God has made it clear that this is His plan for Luke (and all of us!) this year at least. We are all excited.

I'm trying to keep it very simple, with the only two "subjects" being Phonics and Math. I bought Veritas Press' Phonics Museum - whole kit and caboodle with teacher's book, workbook, readers, flashcards, games, music CD, etc. For Math, we will be doing Saxon 1. Someone gave me the teacher book, and I purchased the manipulatives last year, so I only had to buy the work book and "meeting book." Other than that - we will be working on various memory/recitation. I gather that I'm like you in loving the ideas of classical education as presented in A Well Trained Mind. I also really love Charlotte Mason, and my goal is to combine the two philosophies. We'll be memorizing a hymn, a poem, Scripture, and catechism each month. For art & music study, we are going to get books & resources about Edgar Degas & Tchaikovsky over the course of the semester.

Since it's my first year at this and I'm a bit nervous, I am trying to be very prepared, but leave room for flexibility. :)

I've been hearing a LOT about Singapore Math lately! I'll have to check it out some time. Have you ever used Saxon? Do you know how they compare?

Alicia said...

Thanks for posting your detailed plan! I, like Katie, LOVE to hear what other people are doing. Mostly so I can sponge off their good ideas. :) I'm already thinking I'll copy Katie's hymn and verse memory plan. :)

I'm feeling like a super dork for not even knowing there was a used curriculum forum on sonlight's website!!!! I'm a sonlight wannabe. :) I'm waiting to hear back from a friend of a friend to see if I can use her sonlight K instructor's guide.

My plan is singapore math (though I only bought one workbook so far -- want to see how Chloe does with it before investing more) and LOTS of manipulatives and fun math stuff. I ordered a huge set of plastic math blocks as well as tangrams. My hubby wants to do a lot with Chloe's math too so he bought several small math workbooks from Target. My main goals are teaching Chloe time, money, and addition facts. Anything else will be a bonus! :)

I'm doing a reason for handwriting, level K. It seems easy though for my writer so I envision moving on to level A during the year.

Science I'm doing as unit studies. Trying to follow the seasons and do field trips along the way. Also hoping to participate in our county's metropark kinderrealm program which offers monthly science classes for 3-5 year olds.

I had hoped to do a different program than hooked on phonics but it's not working out that way. :( Still trying to acquire sing, spell, read and write from the library system.

(to be continued . . .)

Alicia said...

'm super excited about starting Chloe on her own special Bible time this year! Following Noel Piper's recommendations from Treasuring God in Your Traditions, I purchased the Word and Song Bible (includes 5 cassettes) and the Egermeier Children's Bible.

The rest of my plan includes TONS of reading! I have a huge box of scholastic readers and a ginormous read-aloud list I've compiled from sonlight, Jim Trelease's read-aloud treasury (he wrote "Read Aloud Handbook), five in a row (we did most of the books in volume 1 last year so now we'll tackle volume 2), and 1,000 best book list.

We'll see how it goes! I'm super nervous to embark upon such an important task with two other little ones underfoot. I'm starting to make a skeletal plan but want to be careful not to start out with too high of goals/expectations.

By the way, if you're doing 1st grade with Sam, why are you using the sonlight K level?

Carrie said...

Oooo, Katie, I love your hymn/poem/Scripture/catechism monthly memory idea!! We will already be memorizing a verse every week or two for Bible, but I'd especially like to incorporate teaching the kids more of the old hymns. GREAT idea. :) Thanks for sharing the things you will be doing this year! I don't know much about Saxon math, or how it compares to Singapore. I've heard mixed reviews on Saxon--some people love it and others have a hard time with it. Not being a "math" person myself, I have no idea what's best, but I'd heard good things about Singapore, so we went with that and it seemed to work well last year, so I'm sticking with it. :) My SIL homeschools mostly in the classical method and she uses Classical Math (not sure what company it's from), and her kids seem to be doing well with it.

And yes, I love the literature/Charlotte Mason/some classical approach to learning. It's completely different than the way I was taught (I wasn't homeschooled, but went to Christian schools that used either A Beka, ACE, or BJU curric.)--but it's the way I would have loved to be taught, if such methods would have been available. As it is, I know I learned way more history from the "living" books I read (I was a total bookworm) than from all the history books. :)

Alicia--you should totally check out the Sonlight used curric. forum! There is another used curric. website that often has Sonlight stuff, too--I'll have to see if I can remember what it is and post another comment about it later. I've also seen the IGs on ebay for fairly reasonable prices. Hopefully borrowing an IG will work out for you, though!!

I'm doing K for Sam's 1st grade year because I've seen that recommended on the Sonlight forums. (The Core letters or numbers don't always line up perfectly with the grades they imply.) But I've heard that plenty of 5 year olds do well with K, too. Just that an older child might get a bit more out of it. We did P4/5 last year, and while some of the books were a bit young for him, he mostly loved them all (and it was also nice because Julia enjoyed them too!). I think lots and lots of reading is so wonderful--my kids absolutely love being read to, and it provides such special times together. It sounds like you have a super plan for Chloe's year--we'll have to all encourage each other along the way! :)

Carrie said...

Oh, I forgot to mention we will be using the Egermeier Bible, too--it's part of Sonlight K, but we actually already owned it. We bought it a few years ago, but shelved it because it was over Sam's head at the time (not enough pictures :)), but I think he'll do well with it this year--I hope! I'm also really wanting to buy the Jesus Storybook Bible . . . maybe for Christmas.

SarahBee said...

That is wonderful that Sam is going into First grade. I can't wait! I love to hear about when my cousins are starting school.

From Sarah Tatham

Anonymous said...

Just checking in to see how school is going. -Joey

Carrie said...

Sarah--thanks for the comment! I hope school is going well for you, too. :)

Joey--thanks for checking in! Things are going well so far. (We just finished our fourth day.) I'm hoping to get a chance to post about school and also some other stuff, either today or tomorrow, hopefully!! Hope all is going well with you guys! :)