Monday, June 24, 2013

Homeschool Curriculum for 2013-14

I finally did it... I chose our curriculum for 2013-14 year. And I took the plunge... we are going with Sonlight!
According to their website:
Sonlight Curriculum is a Christian homeschool curriculum company specializing in literature-based homeschool curriculum programs. We provide complete homeschool curriculum packages and individual resources and materials so you can build the preschool or K-12 homeschool curriculum that best meets your family's needs. Sonlight is based in Littleton, Colorado and serves homeschoolers in over 150 countries worldwide.
Instill in your children a life-long love to learn. Prepare them to engage new ideas. Challenge them to impact the world.
I am very excited about our decision. I considered using it last year, but because of it's higher price tag I went a different direction and used an eclectic approach. I was planning to go that route again this year but after talking to a few other homeschool moms I realized that at least for the season of life we are currently in I need to have everything handed to me. I don't really have the time and mental energy for lots of lesson planning, running to the library every week, etc. So, a plan where I am given everything including all of the books I will need for the year was very appealing.
My husband also lovingly pointed out that we will definitely get our money's worth out of buying all of the books since we will have 4 kids going through our little homeschool (Lord willing!). We  are going to use Sonlight's Core A: Introduction to World Cultures. Max and Sophie will do most of their school together although I did purchase separate readers (Kindergarten for Soph and First Grade for Max) and handwriting programs for them.
The only thing I didn't purchase through Sonlight was their math curriculum (although it is one of the ones that Sonlight recommends). We are still working through Saxon 1 after we switched from Horizon's last year and then I was able to purchase Saxon 2 second hand so we will move onto that whenever we are ready.
I am really excited to get everything and start checking it out. I am not sure when our official school year will start. This will be our first year logging hours (for Max) and that can start on July 1. Missouri state law requires 1000 hours, 600 of which have to be in the core subjects.
So, I am feeling excited for this year. I am hoping that Sonlight will be a good fit for our family. I feel like it really fits well with a lot of our goals in homeschooling our children. But, as always, I will keep you posted!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Why we homeschool...

At the end of this current school year I found myself totally discouraged. So discouraged I found myself actually researching public school and private school alternatives... Despite my discouragement I told Nick I would give it another year and see how it went. Then maybe we would give a university model school a try (where students go to school two days a week and then parents act as tutors the rest of the week at home) next year.

Then this week I hosted a end of year wrap up party for homeschool mom's at my house. We were blessed to have a couple of experienced homeschool moms who had graduated several children from their homeschools. We also had a few moms share their successes from this year. I heard several stories about the closeness of these families and especially how close the siblings were to each other. I found myself saying, "this is why I wanted to homeschool..."

And then it hit me. I had forgotten why I had chosen to homeschool. I had gotten wrapped up in all of the "academic benefits" and totally forgotten the rest. Our culture is obsessed with academic excellence and whenever I chatted with people about our choice to homeschool it became about academics. If they agreed with my choice they would list the academic benefits. If they didn't agree with my choice, I would list the academic benefits... Desperate to justify myself and for approval of our choice.

But, here is the thing: I don't really homeschool for academic reasons. At the risk of sounding over confident I think I have really bright children who could achieve "academic success" in almost any setting. In fact, despite numerous studies stating the success of homeschoolers there is a chance my kids could receive a better education somewhere other than in my home.

So, of course I was feeling discouraged. I was doing something really challenging without ever thinking about why I was doing it..So, after chatting with my friend Crystal this morning, she suggested I create a "mission statement" for why I homeschool so I would have something to look back at throughout the year and be encouraged by.

I decided to start out by listing out my reasons and thought I would go ahead and share what I came up with!

We homeschool because...

  • We value family unity and want our children to be each other's best friends
  • We believe that developing character in our children is more important than academics
  • We believe that God has called parents to teach our own children about Him throughout the entire day
  • We want to give our children the time to explore their own personal interests
  • We want to give our children a low-stress childhood with lots of time to play and imagine
  • We want to be the ones influencing our children along with other adults we trust and respect rather than our children being influenced mostly by peer pressure
  • We want to physically and emotionally protect our children during their young and formative years
  • We want to be the ones with our children during their "best" hours of the day when they are awake and alert and ready to learn
  • We want to determine a schedule that is best for our family and not be at the mercy of the school district
  • We want to give our children the opportunity to have friends of all ages based on shared interests and values rather than just age
  • We want to choose resources for our children that are glorifying to God and beneficial to them as individuals
This is just a handful of reasons that I came up with this morning. I am going to try to put my top reasons along with my husband's into a mission statement and then I will share that here!

*Disclaimer: This is why WE homeschool. I do not believe that everyone has to homeschool in order to achieve the ideals listed above. I just believe for us personally that this is the best way to do it at this time.  :)