Its been an interesting challenge sifting through the many possibilities and choosing curriculum for next year. Last fall when we started this adventure I didnt really do much looking at different curriculums; mostly I just bookmarked any websites that looked interesting. We were pretty tight financially at the time and since we already had several workbooks that we had picked up from Costco, the only thing I bought was a set of Math-U-See blocks because I felt it would benefit Buddy to have some manipulatives. I figured it was just Kindergarten after all and the important thing was to concentrate on the 3Rs to get him ready for first grade.
There is so much more to look at and consider for a First Grader as opposed to a Kindergartner history, science, grammar, etc. Wading through the seemingly endless possibilities has taken a lot of time. It has really made me do a lot of thinking about what exactly I want my children to learn. Some things are fairly cut and dry like phonics and math; its just a matter of which curriculum I think will best fit my kids. Others like history and science require more thought about my goals, expectations, and teaching style. How broad or focused do I want the curriculum I choose to be? Do I want something that involves a lot of reading or something more hands on? Of course, science and history curriculums also tend to be mostly non-consumables; so I want to choose something that will hopefully work for each of my children. I know one of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to tailor things to each childs learning style and interests; but I also dont want to be buying a different curriculum each year trying to find the one that fits. (I cant afford it either.) History especially seems to be a subject in which I need to look ahead because most curriculums are designed to cover several years, if not all twelve.
My biggest challenge has been choosing a science curriculum. There are so many good curriculums out there and they all have their pros and cons. It seemed every time I would start to narrow down the possibilities I would discover a new one. I know I eventually want to do Apologias Jr./Sr. High courses. Figuring out what to focus on between here and there however has proven difficult. I think Ive finally decided that while I want to make sure each child has a solid yet broad foundation so that they are ready for the higher level courses; this is a subject that I will need to take one year at a time so that I can take into consideration their individual interests.
So, after much deliberation I have chosen the following for Buddys first grade curriculum:
Bible: Building On The Rock from Summit Ministries It seemed like most bible curriculums consisted of just reading through the Bible and while theres certainly nothing wrong with that, I felt there should be more to it than that. I also didnt want to replicate what my kids are already getting in Sunday School and Awana. BOTR has a bible survey portion, but its main emphasis is on building a solid Christian worldview foundation. Its a bit pricey, but they tell me they are working with Apologia to bring the price down and make it even more homeschool friendly.
Math: Math-U-See He will be ready for the Beta level this fall.
Phonics: Explode the Code I think book 4 is where we need to start.
Grammar: First Language Lessons Im still a little torn between this and Easy Grammar. I think Buddy will do fine with either one and both have pros and cons. However, I think when Princess is ready for grammar that she would do better with FLL. Well see.
Science: Studying Creation Through Astronomy from Apologia Space is definitely Buddys area of interest (anything that involves flying or rockets or outer space) and since his sisters wont yet be old enough to fully participate this next year I decided to pick something that was more specifically for him. I am planning to purchase the coordinating lapbook from Live and Learn Press.
History: Mystery of History I am grateful to my dh for taking the time to sit down with me and talk about what was important to both of us that our children learn about history. After comparing the different options MOH stood out to us both as the best fit for our family; not only because of the worldview it presents, but scope and sequence it uses.
Handwriting: Getty-Dubay Italics I definitely like the idea of this approach to handwriting verses the traditional manuscript/cursive approach. (Personally I do not like cursive and only use it for my signature.)