23 August 2014

With the coming school year nearing, I've been collecting books and curriculum for the kids that I think they'll enjoy. Without really intending to, a couple of books turned into a few more and now all of a sudden I have four cardboard boxes in my livingroom and my coffee table is completely lost under a sea of books.

Between some books I bought from friends, a couple of Kijiji ads for curriculum, and the local library booksale it didn't take long for things to add up. We've got a mix of curriculum, reference books, fiction readers, and picture books. My goal this week is to cull our bookshelves (blasphemy, I know!) and rearrange the different areas in the house where we keep books so that everything gets a home.

I'm excited to dig into the curriculum that I found for the kids, because I think I've picked up some things that will give each kid a chance to have something happening at their level while giving lots of opportunity for everyone sitting in on things. My goal is to offer more structured learning opportunities for the kids now that everyone is old enough for me to properly divide my attention and now that Nick is on the cusp of his high school years.

Starting from the bottom up, I have a copy of Five In a Row for Ollie. It's a really neat looking system based on a selection of some classic children's books. The format is to read the book with your child and then do activities which draw from the themes in the books and touch on social studies, art, science, and other areas. I've got a copy of the first book we'll start with, Lentil by Robert Mccloskey, as well as some notes jotted down about which activities we'll use from the book. I've also found a few (ok, maybe more than a few) printables and further activities on Pinterest we can also use.

Along the same lines, I also picked up a copy of Beyond Five In a Row. This text is the same format as the previous one, but aimed at an older age bracket. Depending on how things go, I see this as either being something both girls work on with me this year or else something we set aside for upcoming years.

For my middle Lily, I found some Konos books. I purchased both volumes one and two (for a small fraction of the full retail price, yay!) which gives us a large amount of info to peruse. These books are set up so that the student is presented information broken down into themes and topics. These are covered through family read-alouds, individual reading, writing assignments, and various activities. From what I've seen of it so far, I appreciate both the guidance in choosing materials and the flexibility it offers. The suggested schedule has the student covering about 10 hours of work each week, but we'll definitely be taking a much slower pace than that. I can see this curriculum drawing all three kids into its activities.

For my oh-so-grown-up Nick, I found some physical science books from BJU press to fit in with Nick's area of interest. I've taken a read through some of the teacher manual to get a feel for the material and to see how we would approach things. In the opening chapter, there is an emphasis on how belief in God and the pursuit of scientific knowledge go hand in hand (since it's a Christian science textbook and all). I was dismayed to see a line addressing how the earth is thousands of years old because the Bible says it's so, and dismissing the scientific view of the earth being much older than that. I discussed my concern with both Liam and Nick over finding information in this text so early on that I disagree with. I've decided to take it as an opportunity to encourage and support critical thinking (something Nick enjoys!) and we'll see if the rest of the information is a bit more factual. If it ends up being ridiculous we'll just scrap this curriculum and I'll remain grateful that I purchased it used for a good price!

And there you have it, the bookish learning opportunities I plan to build into our year! I'm looking forward to getting things rolling over the next weeks and seeing what the kids do with all of this.


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