This year has been interesting. I started eclectic homeschooling (i.e. doing my own thing based on Ambleside Online and then oldfashionededucation.com) in 2007 mainly because we didn’t have much money to pour into a curriculum.
I researched a bunch and was at one point drawn toward KONOS, but what I really wanted was SonLight Education Ministry’s unit-study-based curriculum (not to be confused with the ubiquitous and well-known Sonlight). It’s an Seventh-day Adventist Homeschool curriculum that weaves Biblical themes and character traits throughout every topic you’re studying at any given time. From 2nd grade on, you can school your upper grade children together as there are different levels of questions/activities at the end of each lesson for them to complete. Anyway, to get everything I’d need for 8 grades of school, it was going to cost a pretty penny (which we didn’t have) so I just let it go.
But joy of joys, this last Christmas, my parents decided to bless me by buying it for us. As soon as it came (mid January), we started with the Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking (which they recommend for 1st Grade) since I hadn’t done an official LA program with Geo and I felt he had some things to learn.
We’ve been plugging away at it all year and will probably finish it some time around the new year. It’s a great program (very thorough, lays a strong foundation in spelling, grammar, composition, phonics, reading…) and I don’t regret getting it, but it doesn’t seem to be melding with Geo’s personality (or maybe it’s his age). Whatever the case, this year hasn’t been my most fun or rewarding. I can’t wait till we’re done with Riggs and can start the actual SonLight program. We are already using the Family Bible Lessons (the Bible part of the curriculum) for worship and nature study and that’s going well.
In addition, this year, we’ve been going through Book A of McCall-Crabbs Standard Test Lessons in Reading (will finish tomorrow!), he’s in his 2nd year of piano lessons, he earned a Bible from Kid’s Time Kids Club by reading a year’s worth of Bible lessons and passing all the tests in less than 1/2 a year, and we’ve been trying to keep up with the kids’ Sabbath School Lessons (My Bible Stories, My Bible Lessons and My Bible First).
SonLight adheres to the “Better Late than Early” school of thought so they don’t suggest starting school till at least age 8. They also believe in waiting on math until at least grade 2 (they have many studies showing how beneficial it is to hold off on math till middle school) to let the right side of the brain develop more fully and better allow faith in God to develop during the early formative years.
Not knowing this, we’d started math in first grade, first using MEP (challenging, free, British math curriculum), then Math on the Level (which I will use again to supplement SonLight’s math next year). MEP was good, but there were so many problems to be solved every day and Geo was balking at the amount. When I came across MOTL, I was intrigued by the 5 problems a day method and Geo took to it right away too. I love the record- keeping and the math problems to chose from. All this to say that as soon as we read their reasons for delaying math, I stopped it to focus on Riggs.
Gigi started doing a little bit of homeschool last year (reading, math, writing, Bible, nature study…), but after I got the SonLight curriculum, I have backed her off to light reading, her recorder lessons, early phonics (in anticipation of Riggs which she will start as soon as Geo finishes), and Bible/nature study. We will let her start Riggs a little early (when she’s 7 1/2) because she is really anxious to start it. I will probably take it a little slower though and aim to complete the program in a year and 1/2 so she’ll join Geo in SonLight for 2nd grade.
I’ve had a bit of a hard time figuring where to place Geo as far as grades. The way we were going before, he would be entering 4th grade this year (August). But since he’s 9 and we’re just doing the first grade level of SonLight with him (catch-up), I’m not sure whether to say he’s 2nd since he would be if we’d waited to start him at age 8 and that’s how the new program goes, say he’s in 1st because he’s doing the first grade year of the SonLight program, or to say he’s in 4th this year (doing 1st grade catch-up work?). For now I’m saying that, because we got started on Riggs at an odd part of his 3rd grade year, that his 4th grade year won’t start until January. I figure since it’s a unit study curriculum, that he’ll easily be able to jump to the right grade level once we start the SonLight program. I also am not sure if it would be discouraging to him to be told that he’s not in 4th grade like he thought he was, that he’s really only in 2nd grade (at least according to the new system). Boy, things can get confusing. With Gigi, it won’t be such a big trouble, she’ll start first grade when she starts Riggs and since she doesn’t have a firm grasp of time and how long it should take to complete a grade, likely won’t catch that she should be going into 2nd this year instead of staying in first.