(Edited on September 21, 2011: After a few weeks of school, I made some changes to our curriculum for this year. I'm being lazy and don't feel like retyping them all here, so read THIS POST to see what we've dropped and added.)
I'll admit.........it took me quite a bit of time to decide on curriculum. I'm sure that is true of nearly every first-time homeschooler. After we made our final, for-sure decision to homeschool back in February 2011, I obsessively spent hours on the computer every night after the boys were asleep, researching curriculum options. I heavily relied on Homeschool Reviews. It was very beneficial to read what other homeschoolers thought about the various choices. As I write this in July 2011, here is what I'm planning to use with SC (10) and LG (6):
SC (10; 4th grade)
Math: Right Start Level E
I had planned to use something else with him for math, but after I attended our state homeschool conference and saw the materials, I knew I wanted him in Right Start. I had originally planned to just use it with my youngest son. I took advantage of the conference discount and ordered it for both of them. My son was so excited when these materials arrived. I admit that this is a pricey curriculum. However, it comes with many great tools that we didn't already have. I was truly impressed that there was a measurement tool that I had never heard of before called a goniometer. Of course, Mr. PhD Hubs had heard of it and knew what to do with it. Still............I'm pretty sure I never used one in thirteen years of public school. Anywho.......SC has already been working through some of the beginning lessons in Right Start even though it's only the beginning of July. Pretty awesome if you ask me!
Reading/Language Arts/History/Science: A World of Adventure
For my oldest son, I knew I wanted to study history chronologically. I wanted to use living books with our literature correlating with the historical period we were studying. I thought I might have to create my own unit studies to get what I really wanted. Then I found AWOA. The online reviews looked good, so I went ahead and purchased it. It looks like a really great resource. I love that it incorporates literature, writing, grammar, spelling, history and science all together. This year-long study is divided into six 6-week units. Each unit focuses on a time period, beginning with Ancient Egypt and ending with the Age of Exploration. I am very excited to learn right along with my son. This approach is exactly what I would have loved when I was in school. In addition to all the resources in the book, I will supplement with materials I find online. For that reason, I've started a separate page just for this curriculum where I will link to related blog posts and other resources.
LG (6; 1st Grade)
Math: Right Start Level B
I am so excited to start LG in this program. In fact, it was this program that made me decide for sure I wanted to homeschool him this fall. (I had originally planned to only homeschool my oldest son.) When I saw how this program lays the foundation for mathematical thinking in a way that is so different from what is taught in American public schools, I knew I wanted to get him home so he could learn that way from the beginning. I wish I had had access to this program when I taught struggling learners in public school. Oh, how I wish!!
Since I have taught reading to beginning readers as a professional educator, I feel pretty confident in my ability to continue to help LG move forward with his reading. So, I don't have a reading curriculum for him per se. However, I believe whole-heartedly in the importance of having emerging readers practice a lot in text that is instructional for them (i.e. not too difficult and not too easy). I will probably write quite a few blog posts about teaching reading because I think I do have some expertise to offer others in this area. To supplement books we own and library books at his level, I have a subscription to Reading A-Z. I used this website A LOT as a teacher. It is awesome. There are printable books at many different reading levels on a variety of topics, both fiction and non-fiction. I have already printed out several books for both LG and SC that correlate with the time periods and science units we will study. The great thing about Reading A-Z too is that every single book has a printable lesson plan, printable worksheets, and comprehension quizzes. It is a truly wonderful resource.
In addition to using Reading A-Z materials for the reading process, we will use Five in a Row selections as our basis for literature study. I am really excited to dive deeply into these wonderful books with LG. I have created a tab at the top of the blog for FIAR where I'll post links to our activities and resources.
Spelling/Writing: All About Spelling & Primary Arts of Language (Institute for Excellence in Writing)
After all my research early on, I wanted to have LG do All About Spelling for his spelling program. When I attended the homeschool conference, I was glad to see the company in the exhibit hall and went ahead and purchased his materials there. In addition to the spelling materials, I ordered the writing program. In hindsight, I now wish I hadn't because I'm not sure I really like it after getting it home. However, in fairness, I haven't tried it. I was thinking about sending it back, but I may hold onto it and decide to use it after all. We'll see.
Science/History: I am planning to involve LG in the science units that SC does in his World of Adventure curriculum. He will also sit in on the literature we use for read-alouds if he chooses.
Geography: I'm not completely sure if I will have time to fit this in, but if I do, I'd like to use the Expedition Earth geography program available at Confessions of a Homeschooler. I love how this program is set up, and the price is so reasonable for everything you get.