Below is a list of the curriculum and resources we currently use on a regular basis. Felicity is in 3rd Grade and August is in 1st. They were in 2nd and Kindergarten, respectively, before schools closed this spring, and I assessed them as ready to begin the next grade level’s content.
We are using Moving Beyond the Page for our core content. This curriculum covers the ares of math, language arts, science and social studies. I chose it for many reasons, but here are some of the ones that made the biggest impact.
- It’s literature-focused. Each unit of study incorperates authentic literature, including math. As someone passionate about literature in general, it was a huge draw for me to know that my kids would be immersed in literature of many different kinds at all times.
- It’s hands-on and project-based. Each unit teaches the concepts to students in a bunch of different ways. They are reading and writing, but they’re also making things and drawing, and expressing themselves with music or making a recipe, which is awesome. Each unit also has a culminating project, verses only a pen and paper test. This allows my kids to show what they’ve learned in a tactile, visual way, and to present that information to others, which I feel like is most authentic to how we demonstrate our competency in a certain area in real life.
- It’s integrated. The language arts units align cooperatively with a science and social studies unit. For example, Felicity is reading Sarah, Plain and Tall in language arts, which takes place on the praires of Kansas in the 1800’s, and she is in the middle of a social studies unit about the land, with an emphasis on farm life in the past and today. In an upcoming unit, she’ll learn about Hellen Keller, and will study the biology of the ear in science. The overlap and connectivity of the units of study were also a huge draw.
Note 1: I know a lot of Catholic families enjoy using Classical Curriculum, which I think can be great for many families. Within my personal philosophy as a teacher, I’ve learned that I’m not a good fit for a curriculum that relies heavily on memorization at any stage of the game, and prefer more hands-on integrated, conceptual approaches to learning. So, while I know it’s a fit for a lot of my Catholic friends, we’ve personally decided to go a different way.
Note 2: Both Felicity and August spend time independent reading each day, books of their choice at their level. August currently does 20 minutes of independent reading through Reading A-Z, which has been helpful since the library is closed. Felicity usually does her free-choice reading before bed. They are both currently reading above grade level.
Note 3: We supplement math with tasks from YouCubed, and also the Mathematical Mindsets curriculum from the same site. Mathematical Mindsets approaches math from a very visual, integrated framework. It focuses on the interconnectivity between math disciplines, seeing math visually, working flexibly with numbers, and problem-solving/creative thinking. These tasks are rich, and open-ened, and are wonderful for helping kids embrace a growth mindset, and for encouraging thinking that realizes in math there are often many valid, useful approaches to solve a problem.
We have chosen to use All About Spelling for our spelling curriclum. During my years in education, I became a big proponent of spelling based on the Orton Gillingham approach, and this curriculum is just that. It’s sequential and systematic, and avoids memorization as a primary spelling technique, which, as I mention above, is not a good fit for me as a teacher. For example, did you know that when a word starts with the ‘k’ sound, we have the option to use c or k, but that we try c first? And that c makes the s sound when followed by e, i or y, but otherwise it says ‘k’? I didn’t! It takes the guesswork and the memorization of words out, and replaces it with rules my kids can count on and transfer across any future words they will encounter that make use of that rule. It’s also really hands on.
We are currently having both our school-aged kids go through this at the same time, and I expect that my 1st grader (August) will go through it once again with Mary when she starts, and that we’ll just kind of rotate like that through the levels over time.
JP and I experienced a huge shift in our worldview and marriage when we started learning about Theology of the Body, which is an integrated view of the human person, and the view that giving one’s self as a gift fulfills the meaning of human existence. There is a lot to unpack in TOB, but we want to do the best we can to make sure that our kids grow up with this worldview at their core, vs. just internalizing whatever messaging is popular in our culture at any given time.
For this, we are integrating two programs at the moment. First, is the Theology of the Body Rooted curriculum through Ruah Woods Press. I like this because it’s also (surprise surprise) literature-based! TOB is taught through authentic literature, and it explores the different TOB themes using a mentor text as a launching point. The second is TOBET, The Body Matters. This is more explicit instruction on Theology of the Body, but at a child’s level.
For this, we are also teaching the 2 older kids the same concepts at the same time for now, and will level them up together, eventually looping back down again to scoop up the younger kids.
The big kids are, when restrictions lift, attending Religious Education through our parish. I like this because they have a chance to interact with other kids their age from our community who share our Catholic faith. I also like the chance for them to prepare for the Sacraments in communion with others.
We’ve purchased Kodable for the kids to learn coding skills. This, I’ll admit, is a skill I do not have, but there are great teaching resources available, and I love that it encourages logical thinking and problem-solving, and that it’s a relevant skill in our world today. As a linear thinker myself, the progression of this program just made sense to me, and I can clearly see their progress. It’s a good fit for now.
I think it’s really important for the kids to express their thinking in writing, and typing is just so much faster than handwriting. We also communicate electronically so much more than we communicate by written letter, so I think this is a skill worth learning well sooner than later. We are using Typesy for Homeschool.
This is an area that’s still in progress for us, since we just started this whole thing. We’ll be wrapping in a foreign language at least for Felicity soon, and I’m still researching curricular options at this time.
We’ve been really enjoying piano lessons from Hoffman Academy. It’s an online piano lesson program, and it has super kid-friendly lessons and structured practice sessions that Felicity can pretty much complete on her own. Our goal with piano lessons isn’t for her to perform recitals or concerts of any kind, unless she decides she wants to. Our goal is that she learn to appreciate music, and to express herself musically. We feel that piano lessons are a good foundation for this, and will be a strong launching point if she pursues other instruments in the future.
Since the Big 2 are already reading, this will come more into play when we start kindergarten for Mary in a year, but I’m looking into All About Reading as well as Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I’ll make a final decision closer to Mary actually starting homeschool.
Physical Education/Fine Arts/Etc.
We’ve joined a Catholic Co-op for homeschooling families called Splendor of Truth Catholic Home Educators. Things aren’t really in session right now due to Covid, but our kids will attend regular enrichment classes through both this, and other community offerings throughout each year.