Thursday, May 1, 2014

Books I Love! - The Rest

Now, we come to the nitty-gritty, the less fun school subjects that my children check off each day (ideally). These are not complicated, but we are happy and at peace with these choices. Both of my students have used all of these materials with success with the exception of typing, which my son is about to begin next fall.
Seton Religion

Up until First Holy Eucharist, I prefer to use a very eclectic mix of catechetical resources. There are many, many books I love (and I could detail those in a separate post another time), but not one of them is a traditional textbook or one you would find in a parish Religious Education program. I did use Faith & Life with both children, reluctantly, because that is what our parishes required, but I supplemented like crazy. This year, I needed simplicity, and I now see that including the Seton Religion books has been an inspired decision. My children have been well-catechized thus far, so most of the material is not new to them. But, they are able to dig deeper, and most importantly, read the material on their own, coming to me to answer the review questions each day.

Math U See

I cannot sing the praises of this math program enough! My first child struggles with math and therefore strongly dislikes it. This works for her. My son enjoys math and computations come naturally. This works for him. Both began with Primer and my oldest is finishing up her Epsilon book. I have already purchased Zeta for next year. Yes, we have done one book each year, so far, but I intend to allow my son to speed up if he chooses to do so this coming academic year. That's the way the program is intended, to work outside grade levels, but I wanted to avoid a competition and so kept him going slow and steady until she could master enough material to feel competent.

Handwriting Without Tears

Again, this is a program I highly recommend. I did not find it until my oldest was learning cursive, but we have used both their printing and cursive instruction with success. There are two books for each plus an additional book for older students who need review. After using that printing review book, my oldest's printing improved dramatically. Yay!

Spelling Wisdom

As a former middle school Language Arts teacher in the public schools, I am so pleased with this program that teaches spelling in context, not in arbitrary lists. My children are excellent readers, and I know they have the background to see the words correctly when they understand context. Their spelling consistently improves the longer we use this, and my oldest is about to finish Book One.

Drawing Textbook

Simple. Do-able. I'm not artistic. Have you glanced at my lousy photos? But my husband is an excellent sketch artist, and I see the same talent in my children. This book has helped them develop that talent without my having to know anything about drawing.
Dance Mat Typing

We tried a few other typing programs, but this wins. It's simple. It's fun. It's free! And, I think the animals singing with British accents are too precious!

Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish Homeschool

We invested in this program several years ago, and it is worth every penny. My children use it most days, and I wish I had more time to use it, too. I'd love to relearn my lost Spanish!

That's what's working for us this year. The only significant thing I really left out of this list or my previous one is our literature/reading, but I just pick books for them to read. It's not a curriculum or list that I use. The selections are entirely dependent upon the child, the time of year, the other books we're reading at that time, etc.

There are a few books we were going to use that I really like the few times we used them, but I just didn't prioritize enough to include them very much. Making Music Praying Twice was going to make me give some focused attention to the three-year-old. Discovering Great Artists was going to make me do some messy art in a structured way. The All Things Girl series I borrowed from a friend (I think it's out of print) was going to help me start the conversations I need to be having with my daughter. When we used them, they worked. Here's to hoping I can use them more over the summer and next year!

It is SO important that we find materials that work for our children. What have you found that you love with all of your children for multiple academic years?

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