A few years ago I found myself completely lost in selecting what curriculum we’d use. The multitude of options available these days is both a blessing and a curse. After hours & hours of staying up late, falling down internet rabbit holes, I pieced together a process that made the most sense to me.
First, it sounds super cheesy, but I took online quiz to determine my ‘homeschooling style’. There are so many different philosophies & styles of homeschooling, many of which I’d never heard of before. This helped me narrow down the ones I wanted to research further. Second, I read through options using Cathy Duffy’s website. She has been reviewing curriculum for 30+ years. I found this to be a reputable source of knowledge, as she was referenced by countless other books, homeschooling blogs, and websites.
From there, I found a company that combined elements of the three styles that most interested me: Charlotte Mason, Classical, and Unit Studies. We’ve been using My Father’s World as our core ever since.
MFW combines several subjects & incorporates a family learning cycle, meaning there are many subjects we learn together (and therefore I only have to teach once) while Math & Language Arts are taught individually according to grade level/ability. In the older levels, MFW does not include Math or LA and those subjects must be purchased separately, either through them or any other resource you choose.
Here are our plans for 2022-2023:
2nd/3rd Grade with My Father’s World: Exploring Countries & Cultures
Geography/History: We’ll learn geographic terms, map skills, and read about different ethnic groups and countries. One of the best things about MFW is the extensive ‘Book Basket’ list in the back of their manuals. Countless recommendations for picture books, chapter books, and read alouds that we’ll be pulling from. I’ll also be using some of the free country guide resources from Little World Wanderers. MFW even provides pretend Passports that we can ‘stamp’ as we travel the world.
Science– As we travel the world, we will study the different ecosystems and biomes, along with the animal & plant life found there.
Bible– We will be learning about different missionaries and focusing on character traits, along with scripture readings from the Gospel of Matthew. We will also continue with Bible Study Fellowship in both the preschool & student program, which is such a large class of homeschoolers it’s essentially a co-op.
Electives or Beauty Subjects (I plan to cover each of these, with exception to poetry, one day each week in a rotating or loop schedule.)
Music– MFW includes information about different styles of music & musicians from various countries. I’ll also include mini composer studies as we travel, using A Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra and other books.
Art– MFW includes art & craft projects (and even recipes) that correlate to different world regions. I’ll be adding in extra projects & artist studies for some of the countries using various resources.
Nature– MFW encourages weekly nature walks & journaling. We have a weekly Nature Club group we meet up with and I’ll be reading from Slow Down. I’ve used Exploring Nature with Children as a resource for a few years now & will continue to pull from there, as well.
Poetry– I select a poem every 6-8ish weeks for us to discuss and memorize together. We read this together almost daily during our Table Time, which is how we start our school time together.
Phonics, Reading, Writing, Grammar: The Good and the Beautiful. It combines multiple components of LA and it’s open and go. For extra phonics practice we use Explode the Code.
Spelling: Spelling You See. While TGTB includes spelling, my kids have had better success with SYS as it is pattern based. I’ll either incorporate or skip over some parts of the spelling components in TGTB.
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears
Math– Horizons, with lots of manipulatives added in.
For the last couple years my youngest (now almost 4) has enthusiastically joined us at the table, so I try to include her where I can. I keep a stash of activity boxes (learning toys, sensory bins, puzzles, etc.) for her to use during school time but this year she wanted her own workbook. I picked up the Preschool book from TGTB and we’ll be working our way through the BOB book series, starting with their Pre-Reader Collection. Last year we loosely went through The Peaceful Preschool by The Peaceful Press, so I’ll be including that material as well.
This is where I noticed our schedule getting carried away, so this year I limited each child to one activity. Our girls will be taking a ballet class & our son will be taking a swim class. I also plan to look into something like Hoffman Music Academy, where we can do piano lessons online at home.
Side note: I know many people have this preconceived notion that homeschoolers perhaps don’t get enough socialization, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. While our kids are not in a school setting for 40 hrs/week, there is something to be said for quality vs quantity. They have more than enough quality time interacting with friends & other adults every day through avenues such as BSF, Nature Club, extracurriculars, MOPS, church, the park, the library, play dates, and family.
However, the most important thing I’ve learned about curriculum is…. you don’t actually have to follow it! If something doesn’t work, just change it. Or stop it. Or take a break. Make it work for you & your kids. There will never be one perfect choice that meets every need or requirement you have. I will likely end up changing some things around as the year goes on. The ability to be flexible and adapt to what works best for each child is one of the greatest perks of homeschooling.