This year will be our fourth year homeschooling. Zarf attended public school for kindergarten, and is now 9 and in Grade 4. Seven-year old Klaxon has been exclusively homeschooled and will be registered as a Grade 3 student.
I've spent the past few weeks researching and ordering curriculum that jives with the British Columbia Prescribed Learning Outcomes, in accordance with the provincial government's Distributed Learning program. Ordering curriculum is both exciting and demoralizing. It's fun to plot out the year, and find resources that will inspire the boys' imagination and intelligence. But it's frustrating that many programs and texts don't meet our needs. Retailers, publishers and authors neglect Canadian, secular homeschooling parents. We are a small splinter group in a marketplace dominated by American and/or an evangelical-Christians. This makes choosing curriculum difficult, but I am happy with our selections for this year:
I'll break them down by subject.
Making crafts! Getting messy! Learning artistic expression!
I hate health. Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for germ-filled, sloth and emotional emptiness. But as a homeschooling subject, it's hard to buy or even create a concise health curriculum. Healthy habits and attitudes are a natural extension of living a good life. I use a lot of public health websites for activities and videos.
(Do other nations teach social studies, or is it a Canadian thing?)
We'll be learning about Canada's geography, culture, national symbols, government and politics. To get a true sense of our nation and quality of life, we'll also read about other countries. Current events will be discussed in a gentle age-appropriate fashion.
Although not mandated, I devote a lot of time to history. But it is an area that's problematic. Many world history texts (ie Story of the World, by Susan Wise Bauer) use American landmarks, milestones and leaders as a reference point and assume that all children (and their parents) will know their significance. Who the hell is Paul Revere, anyway?
This is why I'm grateful to have found Modern History Through Canadian Eyes: A Canadian History Guide for All Ages, by Heather Penner. It provides an excellent framework to use other resources to teach Canadian history within the context of world history. I'm learning a lot.
I'm not a big fan of the recent trend in language arts (in Canada) that emphasizes creative writing from an early grade. It's counter productive to assign emerging readers the additional task of sitting and writing stories. Every. Single. Day. I suspect this movement has caught on because teachers know that writing is an easily quantified task. But it requires a skill set (manual dexterity, prolonged focus, sedentary position) that very few boys (and many girls) are capable of before the age of 10. This anti-boy bias (the repercussions of which, we are only now beginning to understand) is one of the reasons I'm glad that we've kept our active, boisterous boys out of a traditional school.
I believe that the goals of language arts is:
to make a child literate,
instill in him/her a love of the written word, and
teach him/her to communicate effectively via the written word.
In our house, this means a lot of read aloud books, exposure to complex vocabulary, opportunities to write and edit their work. The boys will also be practicing penmanship, learning the rules of spelling and grammar, and reading everyday.
This will be our third year using JUMP Math. This program is made in Canada, for Canadians. Everything is taught using metric units, not inches, pounds, or pints. It also uses Celsius measurements for temperature, and Canadian denominations for currency.
The boys are completing Kumon workbooks on the times tables. Concepts will be reinforced with the use of manipulatives.
This is the toughest subject to plan, but also the one Zarf and Klaxon love the most.
I will not use a "science" book that is really Creationist-propaganda employing scientific phrases and terminology to make that dreck more palatable. Attention people who refuse to believe the world is 4.54 billion years old: acknowledging Genesis is an allegory is NOT going to get you a free pass to hell, but perverting the fundamental principles of science because you lack faith in your faith makes me feel like I AM IN HELL.
We follow the Canadian education system's framework that breaks down scientific study into the units of Life, Physical and Earth/Space. As much as I love REAL Science Odyssey, I can't use their resources because we can't dedicate an entire year to ONLY biology or chemistry. Instead I pull together different experiments and readings from many different sources.
If you take all these books, and a few dozen others from the library, add in several sessions of swim lessons, membership in the ski club and assorted field trips, you've got our school year:
(Wow -- I think that shelf is going to break under the weight of these books. I better go rescue my particle board bookcase pronto.)