So I ended Easter Sunday with a bang of a meltdown. Not meaning to, the Hulk came out and began a screaming nightmare on the entire family. See it all of sudden hit me that none of our curriculums have been working and what really brought this to an inferno boiling point is the fact that my deranged "rest of the world does it better" thinking is, that we must be done with this years education at the end of May. Mix this with the fact that somewhere in December final nesting kicked in with the pregnancy and I magically threw out two months of schooling. Then the fact that I never submitted an homeschool portfolio for the year and my former engineer brain is envisioning the binders of engineers reports that would be submitted for a permit. All this equalled an unfair tyrant explosion onto my entire family.
I allowed fear to make me a hulk and expected everyone to take responsibility in it, yikes, how selfish of me. The real source of my problem is that the curriculum we intended to use at the beginning just did not work. Then the worst was that it really stopped working for us in mid October (we start in September for the "new" year), but we floundered with it until the first of the year. At the first of the year I found the Robinson curriculum and fell in love with the entire concept. The kids could teach themselves, once they learned to read. Well, love the Robinson (RC) curriculum, especially for the price, but it is not something that I can employment yet. For the price of $100, I did obtain the hundreds of electronic books for my home library.
As for RC, I consider it an awesome tool. The biggest thing I learned from it, is my teaching style and ability. With the things that need to be done with the five kids ranging from 8 years old to 3 months, I do not have the luxury of time and energy to teach every one everything, one spoon at a time.
So as the public school masses are finishing up their school year, we are not yet half way done. Well, after my bossy fit to my children I started an all out assault on a better curriculum. I have tried several things and found some great tools, but they did not fit our needs. Our list:
> rod and staff curriculum - math, reading, and English 1 st and 2 nd. Now this is what we originally started with. The math was good but became overwhelming to my second grader. I liked the simplicity of, but I think it drowned my children with the mastery work of the math. Reading was good , but here again, when you have slow workers the task becomes gigantic and they shut down on me
> plaid phonics by modern curriculum press- 1st and 2nd. I liked it and of all our things this lasted the longest. I only had the workbooks and did not have teacher manuals. In the end it began to feel like busy work.
> spelling workout. I liked it a lot, but it was too easy again to go through the motions without the reverent ion of proper spelling rules.
> writing with ease level 1 & 2- hm try to deliver this 2 separate times was doomed to fail with my routine. I also had the grammar one at 2 levels, yep we couldn't always fit it in and it too fell away.
> story of the world - love it, we might actually pick this one back up when we get things in a better balance. My children learned a lot. Not sure if I will do any of the worksheets, since I use them as a crutch and stop engaging the learning experience. My children from the first chapter were so encompassed in the story and their need for food that the family would eat lizards, well, my children and their rock stomachs had to give it a try, yuk! Well if a book could get my children to eat lizards raw, it says something about the books, they were wanting to live it out.
> mammoth math- must say I do like it. I used it just for a month. If I didn't go for the entire grade set on lifepac, I would have stayed with it. The Worm (2 nd grade) actually began to see math in the mental form to perform addition and subtraction with ease. The worm's change in attitude is amazing.
>life of Fred - love the book, but I have a hard time using it as a core lesson. I would consider it enjoyable math reading that you would use the pencil and paper. We grasped bigger concepts thanks to it and it also helped me to better talk math to my children. We might still use it as an enjoyable enrichment activity.
> logic of English - cant say enough about it. Loved it, still using it somewhat as a reference. I would enjoy going through the lessons myself, to fill in any errors. With the easy to learn spelling rules, we finally got my husband to stop saying cayenne pepper with a soft c. Yeah for my ears. I took out her reference sheet for phonograms and spelling rules and we use it with our lifePAC spelling list.
>logic of English cursive -completely awesome. Best way to teach cursive, it even had my 5 year old attempting handwriting, my 7 yr old began gaining confidence. We use this as our foundation for learning the appropriate formation of letters.
> science was an awesome Evan Moore plant thing with way to many printable sheets. Nice but again, I worksheet my kids to death that it failed.
That is a ton of materials to go through in a single year for just 2nd and 1st grade, and yet I had no idea where they were and keeping them progressing, honestly, I felt like we spent the last 3 months in a holding pattern. Well, a few things came to light in my homeschool heart.
1. My kids have a preference to learning in a specific style, but if it is not conducive to moms other million responsibilities or moms natural thinking and amount of sleep available, it is going to fail.
2. I am a cover to cover kind of mom. I know sounds way to lame, but I don,t have the mental energy to think on my own, I need to follow a path provided that my children and I can walk hand and hand together. Not me pulling them like a stubborn donkey, and in some case a curriculum that would allow them to drag me through it.
3. I need a chapter at a time glance, not the entire year. I like programs that spilt the books up to little books versus my kids and I looking at a huge text thinking will I ever get done with this.
4. Feeling like we are by the seat of our mental pants and space limited and energy deprived, I need something thAt doesn't require me to chase down a ton of books, and to have huge teacher manuals, supplements. I just do not have the space.
5. I wanted something we could jump into mid year. And would give me the ability to grade and give assessments.
With these factors and a few others I began doing my research. I read probably several hundred reviews, and I began pointing towards lifepac, even though they have a lot of mixed reviews about their effectiveness and also being a subject behind and taking no time to complete. With all those factors I came to my own conclusion, that I think the lifepac starts of slow and easy until 3rd grade. Makes since building up confidence and keep points before asking them to work very independent. In reviewing the reviews I gathered that there are a ton of projects and if you just focus on the work text and do not review and include the teacher manual, then yes you could fly through it and miss the depth,
There is not clear perfect curriculum, but I needed to find something that would keep me from leaving my children behind academically and would not ouch of the edge to Hulkhood. The part I liked was that you can assess the kids and fit them in to not just a grade but a book to. So I reviewed their skills and realized worm, should start of in book 5 of second grade, which is really right were we are in instruction. Sadly I seen were I have fail the Rooster, I needed to place him in just book 2. I think I could have pushed him above, but we are in need of confidence building and self discipline for sitting and working on Our work. I did not want to take on that task while teaching completely new concepts.
I bought the entire core curriculum for second and first. This is the first time I bought an entire grade of a complete curriculum for my kids since I flunked out of Abeka k4 program with Worm. I did get excited about all the pretty boxes, for some reason they make me happy.
I plan to come back and report my findings as I start this travel. Mostly because I have not found a lot about any families that are actually using then.