For many home-schoolers, summer break began as soon as the weather got warmer. Around my house, we actually quit mid-May. Our trip to California was an educational experience in itself, but we couldn't really get back into our school schedule after the vacation. Our minds would've been on important summer musings. So - we took off early and our summer began in May.
Home schooling is one of the coolest lifestyles God could bestow upon a family - well, our family anyway. It's so flexible, enriching, and miraculous. I could go on and on about the joys of home school, for now though, I'll get on with my current topic.
Friday, June 22nd, I'll be joining many other parents in a frenzy of book shopping at the annual Used Curriculum Sale for CCHE (Clark County Home Educators) group to which I belong. I'm actually really excited about the whole experience, now that we've finished our first year and ironed out many of the wrinkles we ran into initially.
Last August was when we decided to pull our daughter out of her private Christian school, in order to attempt what we felt God was leading us to do - home school. We just dove right in and I attempted to research curriculum over the internet with moderate success.
I decided to try one publisher for all subjects, since this was our first exposure to the huge variety of curricula in existence. Bob Jones University Press seemed to fit our needs best. I had found an amazing website of reviews done by parents who'd actually used each type of curriculum: HomeSchoolReviews.com. This was and still is an amazing asset to our family. I highly recommend this site for even seasoned home-schoolers looking for a new curriculum.
BJU Press was a blessing. The lessons were laid out and the Teacher's Editions taught me how to teach my daughter. I had help - backup so to speak. Initially, all of these things saved my sanity and curbed my worries of, somehow, damaging my little girl's education.
After the first week or so though, I realized that even home school books didn't have to be followed to a tee. So - I improvised. In Math, my daughter was quite a ways ahead of the book, so I let her take the test and if she scored 90% or higher, she could go on to the next one. In English, the book was arranged so that every other chapter was about writing a different kind of essay (persuasive, compare and contrast, etc.) - well what third grade kid really likes to write an essay every other week? Not mine. So - we reviewed the material and moved on to more grammar and sentence structure type stuff. The point is that I altered nearly every book from it's original state, to something that fit my daughter's learning style. That's the beauty of being her teacher.
So after a year of tweaking the books to suit us, I'm able to recognize much better what our specific needs are. This is a tremendous advantage when picking out curriculum for our next school year. I've finally made some decisions and hope to find at least a few of these curricula at the sale on Friday. We'll be going with the following:
*Math - A Beka
*English - Rod & Staff
*History/Social Studies - Bob Jones Heritage Studies (an excellent program)
*Science - Neoe Science (Chemistry 2, Physics 2, or Biology 2)
*Spelling - A Reason For... (Level E)
As for Reading and Bible, we do our own thing. My daughter reads everyday, on her own, and I have her either write a short journal entry on what she's read, or tell me, in order to check her comprehension. This is unconventional, but I want her to develop a love for reading that is personal, and not just read because I said so. (I also developed a rewards program where she gets one penny per page she's read, only after she's finished the entire book.)
For Bible, I've taken a more practical approach. I've prayed about it, and for now, we're using an amazing teaching Bible my dad gave me a few years ago and trying to apply it to our everyday lives. If she's having a disagreement with her friends, we look up what the Bible says about that. If her attitude is a problem, we'll look it up. I've also found a really great devotional series for her called Devotions for Girls: God and Me, and one for me, as well, (God's Little Devotional Journal). Our goal, even in summer, is to start our day with a page in our devotional books, so we start out focused on the Lord, which gives us perspective throughtout our day.
So while all the children in the land are dreaming of swimming pools, ice cream trucks, and sleepovers, parents like me are preparing for the fall year of home school. The sale this week will be a fantastic opportunity to buy, as well as sell, my used curriculum. Every year, kids move up a grade and others leave behind the books we'll be needing and vice versa. It's a beautiful thing. All those discount books, all that knowledge, all waiting to be delivered and found.
Most people don't realize that home school does, in fact, cost money. It's not as much as private school, but it's definitely not free. So local sales like this one are a chance for us to sell the old books and hopefully get some money toward next year's learning.
It's funny because it's not even officially the end of her 3rd grade school year, and I feel like 4th grade will be fantastic!
Update: The sale was fantastic! I found about 70% of what I needed for our upcoming 4th grade year. Yay!