Hi everyone! I’ve had several questions from readers asking how our 2012 curriculum choices are going. I think one of the things I like most about homeschooling is the ability to be flexible and note when something is working well and when something isn’t working! That said in order to maintain my own sanity, and thus the sanity of those around me, I’ve decided to change the things that weren’t working. And while I hate to waste money, sanity is priceless, no?
Change Number 1: Saxon –> to Math U See
I said at the start of the school year that we were trying out Saxon for the first time. Well, I have to say that Saxon just wasn’t a right fit for us! Partly because I had a hard time adjusting to teaching it, and partly because my kids just weren’t getting how they explained certain things. I found myself pulling out our Math U See blocks and trying to re-word the Saxon lessons using the Math U See principles so it made sense. After awhile of saying “remember in Math U See when we did it this way?…” I wondered why I was trying to hard to make Saxon work, when clearly MUS was what was working for us!
The other reason I originally switched to Saxon was because I thought MUS wasn’t covering some of the side subjects as well such as money, time, and measurement type of activities as well as we needed. Saxon does cover these topics well. However with the instruction time it was taking me to get through 3 different levels of math I found myself skipping some of those parts just so we could get through math and onto the rest of our day. Considering that was why I choose it to begin with, add to that the fact that I was having to re-explain the Saxon lessons so my kids could understand them, it just didn’t make much sense to keep going.
I decided it would be easier for me to add those things in on my own if needed…and so…
After about 3 months of trying desperately to make Saxon work, and me wanting to tear my hair out, I made the choice to switch back to Math U See. I have to say the first few months of school this year were H A R D. Hard, like I think I’ll stop homeschooling and ship my kids to the nearest school, HARD. The day we switched back to MUS was like smooth sailing and I’ll never look back. If I do feel free to remind me about this post ;o)
Now, let me say I’m a “finish the book” type of homeschooler, we finish what we start, and typically it’s done in one year. Starting MUS 3 mos. in means we’ll either have to continue it next year, or I’ll spend the summer making my kids do math. I’ll keep you posted on that ;o) But the amount of peace the change has brought makes it all worth it.
Change Number 2: BJU Kindergarten –> All About Spelling + All About Reading + Abeka K
(We’ve been using AAS & AAR already, so no change there, just didn’t want you to think I stopped because NO WAY! You’d have to pry it out of my cold dead hands!)
I switched off of BJU Kindergarten just about a month into our year because I didn’t like the format of the phonics lessons. This was surprising to me because I’m still using BJU for my older kids. And I actually really like it!
The main issue for me was the BJU phonics. They are built around a family of characters that represent the vowels and consonants. They tell stories about the characters and worksheets are made using them. That said it’s really hard to get around the whole family of characters. Since we’ve been using All About Spelling Tinkerbell was confused. She didn’t understand why I was trying to explain this family and who likes to hang out with who when I could just tell her the phonics rule straight up like AAS does.
So…I stopped using BJU Kindergarten and also the phonics portion of the BJU Press English for my 2nd and 3rd graders (it’s weaved into the Reading lessons, and not hard to skip at all). And for my kindergartner, I am doing All About Spelling Level 1, and All About Reading Level 1.
I had Abeka Kindergarten already since I’ve used it previously, and so I just pulled out those workbooks and started going through their phonics lessons as well. What I’ve found is I really don’t need Abeka either, but since I had the workbooks already I thought it wouldn’t do any harm to have her doing some extra phonics and reading practice through Abeka. So for now, she just completes one of the phonics worksheets per day. I make sure to check the TM to see if there’s anything that AAS isn’t covering that might be on her worksheet, but so far that hasn’t happened. Next year I’ll probably scrap it all together, but I hate to waste a workbook!
What are we keeping? (a.k.a. What do we LOVE!)
- Art: World’s Greatest Artist Study Vol. 1
- Bible: Grapevine Studies
- Phonics/Spelling: All About Spelling , All About Reading, & Abeka Phonics
- Math: Math U See Primer
- Geo/Hist: Road Trip USA!
- Science: Young Scientist Club Kits (We are using these randomly right now. Some of the kits haven’t gone so well, and supplies weren’t quite working the way they should, yada-yada, but we’re going through as we have time.)
- Spanish: Speekee TV (Tinkerbell)
- P.E.: Family Time Fitness
Turbo (2nd grade) & Strawberry Shortcake (3rd Grade)
- Art: World’s Greatest Artist Study Vol. 1
- Bible: Grapevine Studies; Kay Arthur Jesus In The Spotlight (and others in the series)
- Phonics/Spelling: All About Spelling
- Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting
- Math: Math U See Beta and Gamma
- English/Grammar/Reading: BJU Press Level 2 & 3
- Geo/Hist: Road Trip USA!
- Science: BJU Press: I found BJU Press Science 3 at a used book store and started going through the lessons. They’re fun, easy, and hands-on! (We’re still doing some of the Young Scientist Kits as we have time…see Tinker Bell’s list for details)
- P.E.: Family Time Fitness
- Typing: Typing Instructor
- Spanish: PowerSpeak Spanish
- Writing: Write Shop Primary
Moral of the story:
I’m sure Saxon and BJU Press Kindergarten are solid programs, They’re just not for US and that’s what matters. No homeschool family will look the same, and when you find something that works, stick with it! If it’s not working, give something else a try. You might just relieve yourself a huge amount of stress in the process!
More awesome curriculum ideas available on my website:
Road Trip USA & Road Trip USA Animals!
Expedition Earth World Geography:
Expedition Earth World Animals:
World’s Greatest Artists Vol. 1
BJU press does look like it has a solid curriculum, but I am wondering how to get around the modern handwriting style???? As a former kindergarten teacher in a public school system that used D’Nealian handwriting, I found that children confused the lowercase letter “l” with a capital “J,” and a capital “E” with a number “3.” My children have been taught traditional manuscript writing in private school, and now that I have pulled them out to homeschool them, I hate to turn everything upside down on them! Even my preschooler has already been taught manuscript. Although he has one more year before kindergarten, I don’t want to switch his handwriting program. How are you working around that with your older kids? I’d like to use the BJU press for some of our curriculum, but just wish they’d use a traditional print in their workbooks!
I don’t use their handwriting, I use A Reason for Handwriting. I only use BJU this year for English and Reading, none of the D’Nealian handwriting is in that so it’s not an issue.
Hello, I am a tad bit late on this thread but wanted to add what I have discovered on the MUS /Saxon Math topic. I have been schooling my children for 8 years ( Son 9th grade, daughter 6th grade and tiny tot is 2 yrs old). We used MUS every year, loving it and feeling confident we were mastering everything. I enrolled my son into a math class for homeschoolers and in the 8th grade level discovered we had (still have) HUGE gaps in his math skills from MUS. While I love MUS and will use it with my tot however, I will not use it past 3/4th grade. My son has struggled and been so discouraged and quite frankly, MUS allowed him to feel so confident that now that he is working through his gaps with Saxon… he is frustrated that I did not switch him away from MUS. So… keep in mind for those upper levels of math.
What a nice site you have!! I just digressed from reading your info on blogging. I hope you post more helpful tips as I have only been blogging since last August.
I am leaving a comment because I want to encourage you. I have homeschooled for 25+ years (forgot how many) and we used MUS for years. I did the same thing as you by switching to Saxon for two years with my older two and then my younger five for another two years later. It was terrible!!!! MUS has improved over the years in the layout of their textbooks. It is such a wonderful curriculum especially for younger and middle children. We used it through Algebra.
The greatest thing about MUS is that you don’t have to do every page! What we do is: watch the lesson, do page A, score page A. If there are errors, they fix them, and then the do B the next day. If there were no errors on page A, the following day they take the test on that lesson and the day after, they watch the next lesson and do page A.
I am looking to get A Reason for Handwriting for the first time for my first grader. I just checked out the website and I see there is a Teacher Guidebook. Is that necessary? Or what all do you buy from them for handwriting, just the student book? TIA!
I have been debating between BJU Reading and All About Reading. Now after seeing what you shared with your kind. daughter, I am wondering if I should lean towards AAR, because we are for sure doing AAS. Thoughts? Are you keeping her with AAR or will you switch her to BJU Reading this next year?
Another question – with me ordering both AAS & AAR, do I order divider cards for both or are they the same?
I’m curious about your ABeka Phonics curriculum for Tinkerbell. From what I’ve gathered it seems as though ABeka groups Phonics in with Reading and Writing. How do you do just Phonics?
I’m interested because I want to use AAR and AAS with my almost-kindergartener, but I do like ABeka’s phonics system. I thought I was going to have to choose one or the other.
I was just wondering with the curriculums you purchase do you also purchase the teachers manual or only on some of them? And if so which ones do you purchase? With your bible study what books do you use for Tinkerbell? I went online and notice there are quite a few.
I’m new and as horrible as it sounds I’m going to use your curriculum for Tinkerbell for this year since I have no clue what I would purchase. So I’m using it as my guideline. BTW, Im also going to purchase your Kindergarten curriculum so how would you incorporate it with the english curriculum. Thank you!
you know We are so much enjoying your this Expedition Earth and your books here really i have started . I really needed to hear that others change mid-school year and i also think that I’m not going to run 4 different saxons next year.
Math Practice Test | 5th Grade Math Practice
Kumon books fill in GREAT for time, money and measurments. EASY EASY EASY !!! The age range on the book may be lower then your child but these are great to fill in Math U see.