One of the first things to consider when deciding whether to homeschool is deciding how to do it. And when mean “how,” I am referring to methodology. There are so many different way to educate at home; it can be quite overwhelming. Honestly, the only way you are going to know what will work for you and (most importantly) your child, is to do your research, then see what sticks.
After almost two years of research, I chose the Classical method for my child when I finally decided to take the plunge and teach her at home. This method emphasizes study in the humanities, encourages rigor, and develops critical thinking skills; all of which were important to me as a parent and educator.
Choosing a Curriculum
Choosing curriculum was the next step in the process. Now this is a daunting task! Luckily, I read The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise before beginning this step. It is an excellent text that I recommend to anyone even thinking of using the classical method to homeschool their children. It provides a detailed framework for the Method, curriculum recommendations (including the authors’ own), and sample weekly schedules to help you get started. Though I did not heed all of the advice of the authors, I have incorporated many of their recommendations. That’s the great thing about homeschooling: you keep what you want, and toss what you don’t! Here’s what I chose for Little:
Little loves math, and her dad is a math teacher, so I put a lot of thought and effort into choosing this curriculum. I decided on Primary Math’s Singapore Math, a popular choice among homeschoolers and many traditional schools. This method emphasizes mastery, so there is a lot of repetition. We use the U.S. Edition instead of the Common Core version, as I want to simulate as closely as possible how students in other countries are learning math. Little is currently on level 3B, and we use the Workbook, Textbook, and Home Instructor Guide.
So far, I have not found the instructor guide to be useful other than for providing solutions to problems I don’t want to work out. Little works in Singapore Math everyday. We supplement with Khan Academy, and a coding app (CodeSpark) which she thoroughly enjoys.
I want Little to have a say in what she learns so I allowed her to choose the topic of study for science. She has an interest in animals, so we decided on life science. We are currently using the National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia, which I picked up from the local Barnes & Noble. Honestly, I was a bit nervous about using a non-textbook with no set curriculum, but this book serves its purpose quite well. The book is organized topically, so it’s easy for me to assign reading in a logical sequence. It also lends itself to manageable narrations, which help Little retain the information. Additionally, the photos are beautiful, which is a huge plus.
Little works in science three days a week, reading, discussing, and completing a written narration for every couple of pages.
My choice for the history comes directly from Susan Wise Bauer. In addition to penning The Well-Trained Mind, she also created a history textbook series that follows the classical model. Story of the World: History for the Classical Child is divided into four volumes. Volume 1 covers ancient times while Volume 4 takes us into the modern age.
Though Little is in 3rd grade, I decided to begin with Volume 1 and not Volume 3 because, well, she should begin at the beginning. I was worried that the text in Volume 1 would be too easy, and that Little would get bored, but this has not been an issue AT ALL. Nothing is watered down, and even I have trouble pronouncing some of the words. Little reads the text independently, then we go over it again together. This ensures she is not overlooking any important information.
We use the textbook, and the test book, which provides tests for each chapter. I also purchased the activity book, but have only used it once thus far. The great thing about this series is you can buy pdf versions of the book from the publisher’s site if you are looking to save money and trees.
Language Arts and Literature
In addition to the above-mentioned classes, Little also studies Language Arts and Literature. Language Arts covers the art of reading, writing, speaking and listening. The study of literature allows Little to read and analyze fiction and nonfiction text of different genres.
My next post in this series will cover the texts we use to tackle this subject in a rigorous, yet fun and engaging way.
In the meantime, be sure to check out this video where I discuss all of the chosen curriculum and how it is working thus far: