We are quickly approaching the halfway point in our “American History” year, so I thought I would review what changes we have made from our original plans for the year. We planned to try some new things this year and some worked for us and some did not. Since I shared our plans here on the blog, we have found other things that are more amazing instead. It’s important to give any program a fair try and even make adjustments to it before giving up. But don’t underestimate the value of being flexible and being willing to throw it out and try something completely different. Unlike a traditional school your curriculum, choices only have to be a good fit for your family, and not other people. Each family is different. What your best friend loves may not work for your family, and that doesn’t make you a bad homeschooler!
Our Original Plans for 2nd, 5th, 6th American History
Morning Time Changes
History– We didn’t get our Beautiful Feet curriculum before I wanted to start it, so we started the year with a Native American Unit Study When I finally got the Beautiful Feet program in my hands I realized it would not be thorough enough for what our family has become accustomed to. We are continuing with the “History of US” series and using the Beautiful Feet book selections for enrichment and independent reading.
Recently the oldest was lamenting the children’s section in our library didn’t have a unbiased biography of Aaron Burr. She could only find books that described him as the man who shot Alexander Hamilton. She wanted to know what his own contributions were as a Founding Father. Looks like it might be time to introduce her to the adult section of the library!
Science– In the past we have loved Sonlight’s Science. It’s open and go and we can skip the experiments without missing information. But as our family approaches the middle school years, I haven’t seen the depth of information increase at the same rate we desire. We used Science D for 10 weeks before deciding to try something different. We switched to the Good and Beautiful Unit Studies and are enjoying the Kingdoms and Classification Unit.
I was hesitant to use any faith based resources for science but the depth of this program has me impressed. It’s exactly what I was looking for to walk us through the various Living Kingdoms. We have learned plenty of new vocabulary, labeled our microscope and cells and next week we will be growing bacteria. The kids are asking for more and the faith content supports the studies and isn’t overwhelming.
Geography– Because we started our US Geography unit over the summer we are done for the year and are switching Geography for Poetry. In between, we did a short Election Unit Study. Stacking our different subjects in this way allows us to keep our morning time manageable and focus on a few ideas at a time. We will be reading from A Child’s Introduction to Poetry. We will study different kinds of poetry before the holiday break and read different authors after the Holidays. I’m sure we will experiment with our own prose along the way as well.
Independent Work Changes
5th Grade Language Arts- We had planned to use Grammar Planet for my 10-y.o.’s Language Arts this year. Very quickly we realized the rigid negative feedback of being locked out of the program for wrong answers was not a good fit for this child. Over the summer we had tried the Good and the Beautiful Language Arts which needed more parent involvement than the child wanted. I had a 5th grade language arts textbook I got for free somewhere and we tried it and it’s been a good fit for this child. His Autistic brain needs be explicitly taught each concept and he wants to be independent. While I don’t like teaching from a textbook and would not choose it as my teaching style it’s what is working well right now for this child so it’s a good fit. The chapters alternate between grammar and writing composition.
2nd grade Math- I’ve written before about the different math programs we have used at different times. We started the year planning to use Beast Academy. It is well suited for strong math minds and gifted kids. But in our case it hasn’t been a good fit and we moved back to our favorite traditional program of Math Mammoth. His Dyslexic mind had trouble pulling the teaching parts out of the heavily illustrated textbook and the challenging puzzles in the workbook were overwhelming. He is thriving and racing through the Math Mammoth 3rd grade now.
The bottom Line
As we look at what our plan was for the year and what we actually have settled on now that we are well into the year, I am reminded of a few things. First, my kids love diving deep into their Science and History, so i need to be looking for the challenge, regardless of suggested grade levels. Second, we need to remain students of our kids, always listening to what their behavior is telling us. They want to achieve and they will, if they have a program well suited to them. When they struggle, we can’t assume they just want less work. We need to assess the material as well.
Finally, I’m reminded each child is born completely unique and the programs and curriculum that works for one is not a guaranteed fit just because they are siblings and have the same teacher. And the beauty of homeschooling is we get to be flexible and make these adjustments for our kids when needed.
What are you needing to tweak as you find your groove this year?