Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What we do all day-curriculum

Before we home educated, I was curious to know what those home educators did and now I home educate, my curiosity about other people's curriculum is great.   So, this is an overview of the curriculum we use, or don't use, for the younger two children. I may post about Middle Son's curriculum at a later stage but that is very different.

These materials are mainly for Miss Belle, aged 5, who would be in the UK reception year. Mr Exuberance who is 36 months joins in some aspects.

We don't follow the National Curriculum but I do keep an eye on it. My headings are not all standard National Curriculum headings.

This comes first in our day. We are Christian home educators so we start with prayer. We try to pray for the needs of others and often this is an opportunity to talk about the needs of friends in other lands.

I had been reading Training hearts, teaching minds by Starr Meade which goes through the Shorter Catechism with a short thought for each day. This worked well for Middle Son, and sometimes for Miss Belle, but was way over Mr Exuberance's head. Recently, we have read a children's version of a Biblical narrative followed by that section from the Bible. This has worked much better.

We work on Bible memorisation-this is very slow but we are currently working on the Lord's Prayer.

There are several strands to this

-Five in a row is a literature based curriculum for 4-8s based around mainly classical or award winning children's literature. I have blogged fairly extensively about this. The basic building block is a book for the week which is read daily for a week.Activities are done related to the theme of the book. These include social studies, language, maths, art and science. We don't slavishly follow the book and I often add my own ideas or those found around the internet.
I love Five in a Row. It works well for us. Mr Exuberance enjoys the books even if he is unable to participate in all the activities.
 Some weeks it seems that there is more to show than others and some books work better than others. We change book after a week to prevent overkill although I know many people will use a book for longer successfully.

-Reading aloud-plenty of this goes on. I was using the idea of 5-a-Day from  the Imagination tree. 5-a-Day books involves reading the same five books  for a week. This has fallen by the wayside recently, as Miss Belle has started to enjoy chapter books. I should probably re-institute this for Mr Exuberance.

-Phonics-this really applies to Miss Belle. Having said this, Mr Exuberance loves the bath letters and fridge magnets and has learnt many letter sounds from this but this is completely informal.
We use Jolly Phonics with Miss Belle and are currently using the readers as well as ideas/writing sheets from the handbook. The recent addition of Reading Eggs has accelerated progress quite amazing although we have spent a fair amount of time on phonics recently using a variety of approaches and materials.

This is where I have to admit that we don't really use a curriculum although we have a set time to do number work, each day.

At the beginning of the year, I went through reception and year 1 maths objectives and decided that it would be fairly easy to use an informal approach . We use games, books, life ( there are eight of us and we have two guests so how many plates do we need etc.) and some work books with games and number stickers.
I have to decide in the next few months whether to continue this approach next year or whether to use something more formal.

There is a weekly science activity to go with the Five in a Row book but we supplement this with some other informal science, often using the Usborne book which I have written about previously or doing some nature study or science from around the house.

Again, there is usually some idea linked with Five in a Row but often the art ideas are a little old for my children. There are so many wonderful, creative ideas for children of this age. Most afternoons the children will be either doing a science activity or  something "arty" or both.

We use Five in a Row ideas for these subjects. Miss Belle loves history so we have done some extra trips for her. The cultural exchange is a fun way that we are using to learn about other countries.

When we pray for people in other countries, we look up that country and try to learn something about it.

I currently use 2 Simple French for the younger children. This is a programme on the computer which is spoken language based with pictures-ideal for me as my French accent is poor to say the least!

Physical activity
Most days and most weathers see Miss Belle and Mr Exuberance outside, either in the garden, the local walk or walking to the library. Miss Belle also has swimming lessons.

Thoughts on curriculum
This isn't a perfect or ideal curriculum. It works reasonably well for us, at present. but wouldn't necessarily work for others.
 I find that by looking at what others use my own ideas become clearer or I find a resource that would work well for us. This is the spirit in which this is presented.

Do feel free to add thoughts and suggestions. As I said, I love to know about other people's curricular materials.

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