A Do-Over: The New Start of Our New Academic Term

If you read the recent post about my "curriculum crisis of faith, " you know I've kind of been through the wringer the last two weeks and ultimately made a decision I really never imagined I'd face. The process sure wasn't fun and - because of my "Rou-Tina" propensities as well as concerns about possible "fallout" now that I've made my decision public - I'm still feeling a bit unsettled about the whole thing. However, there's no mistaking the presence of a "peace that passes understanding" (Philippians 4.7), too...and an excitement born of the confidence that (for now) I've chosen correctly.

And so we will start our new academic term for real on Monday, August 1, using some new stuff:

Mystery of History, Volume 1 (2nd Edition): Creation to the Resurrection
This is, of course, the biggest news - switching from My Father's World (MFW) to MOH. Like MFW, MOH provides a four-year walk through history from Creation to modern times, and I'm excited to (re)start that journey. One big difference is that MOH provides for only history, whereas MFW is a more "complete" (ostensibly integrated) curriculum. But I feel really good about the MOH book - the readings (which remind me of the very engaging Story of the World narratives but from a solid, unapologetic Christian perspective) and the different types of accompanying activities. And I feel more confident than I did with MFW that I can effectively include Anna, the soon-to-be five-year old for whom I babysit.

By the way, the plan (for now) is to continue on with MOH, completing all four volumes over the course of the next five calendar years - just in time for the girls to commence their high school studies after that.

106 Days of Creation Studies
I've known about this Simply Charlotte Mason resource for a few years and am really excited to use it this year to rather systematically delve into science for the first time. In fact, we started this last week, and it was a hit. So I fully expect this coming week's study and activities about light (as we're joined by the girls' good friend, Hallie) to also go over well, too. And, as with MOH, I can easily include Anna while still challenging Rachel and Abigail, who will do the "older student" activities based on an additional text, Considering God's Creation, in addition to what we do as a whole group.

And, to satisfy the planner in me (because, after all, God tells us in Proverbs 16.9 that we can make our plans as long as we're willing to adjust if/when He has different ideas!), I've tentatively slated us to begin the four-year God's Design for Science series by Answers in Genesis after this year. I first discovered these books through our MFW program last year and - while the book used then was beyond the girls' interest level at the time - I believe the series will be an excellent program for the four years before high school.

Artistic Pursuits
We've actually already used Artistic Pursuits for a few years now and are near the middle of the third volume. We'd set it aside to try our hand at the MFW-recommended art for this year, but quickly saw a lack of fit in that resource. And so we - well, Jeff and the girls, because I have the blessing of a graphic artist husband who's willingly taken on art instruction with the girls - have simply resumed where we left off last spring (i.e., just the other day, they did a lesson on Rodin that included making their own small clay models).

The Picture Smart Bible
My very wise friend, Kathy Koch, recommended this unique Bible study resource to me a couple of years ago, and I finally felt compelled (for reasons I didn't understand at the time) to buy it at the convention I attended in May. I wasn't at all sure how I'd squeeze it into our MFW studies - the process involves taking several days to "draw" the heart of a Bible book's message - but now (because I'm planning to do the four years of MOH over the course of five calendar years) that'll be easy. And so the plan is to take time out of our regular studies a few times a year to do a Picture Smart study, and I can hardly wait to try it.

Leading Little Ones to God
As with Artistic Pursuits, this isn't a totally new resource for us; we've had it for a while and used it as daily devotional material in the spring. Now we'll get to continue.

The Answers in Genesis Book for Kids, Volumes 1-4
I bought these from Library & Educational Services earlier this summer simply because I got a good deal. But, in looking through them this week, I realized they will provide an excellent devotional resource after we complete Leading Little Ones to God.

We all love to sing and really enjoyed learning a new patriotic song every few weeks when we did MFW Adventures. So we chose to learn "This Is My Father's World" as a supplement to our brief time with MFW Creation to the Greeks in July and will continue using this book (and, perhaps, others in the series) to learn at least one new hymn each month.

MFW recommends using Writing Strands. But I looked at that last year and knew it would not be a good fit for us. So, after a bit of research this spring, I settled on WriteShop (using Primary C) for this year, the girls' first with formal instruction in written composition.

I'm very excited that - because of the nature of these new resources - I've been able to come up with a schedule that will allow us to have at least one "enrichment day" every month (as well as monthly field trip days, too!). On enrichment days, we'll set aside all our regular studies - history, science, math, language arts and reading, Spanish, etc. - to do different types of educational activities. We'll likely play board games as well as games to review math facts and geography (with the emphasis being on the game aspect), and we'll use some of those days to do special unit studies for holidays like Christmas and Easter. And I'll definitely use these days to:
  • read through and discuss the current month's issue of God's World News;
  • do a brief composer study (using Stories of the Great Composers);
  • go out to do some nature study (which we'll also get to do on a regular basis during science lessons).

And, of course, we'll continue with several resources we've enjoyed for quite some time already (even though none but Rosetta Stone was an MFW recommendation):

And Anna will get to continue her work on K-level skills with:

Of course, we'll have our extracurriculars, too:
  • weekly Sunday school and Awana;
  • probable weekly piano lessons;
  • weekly ice skating (Anna is so excited to finally be "big enough" to join!);
  • weekly dance class;
  • regular visits to the Y for open swim (so Rachel and Abigail can maintain their skills, though they've chosen not to join swim team at this time).

I'm still working out how all of this will play out in terms of daily schedules; I anticipate very full days, especially since I'll also be caring for Anna's infant sister, Leah. However, in terms of amount, this is really not much different than what we've done with MFW in the past - only composition is a new subject. The biggest difference is simply that the materials now come from several sources instead of one "package"...which means I'll have to create some sort of weekly plans (similar to the ones that were done for me with MFW). But I pretty much did that last year anyway since I had to tweak so much from that year's MFW core. So I think it'll work out just fine once we get going.

Photo Credit: microgirl32 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmarler/4889044588/)


Q said...

Ahh . . .don't you just love the grip and peace that comes after a curricula crisis?

So happy for you that the Lord has proven faithful, once again. Blessings in your endeavors this academic year!

Christcrew said...

Don't you just love the freedom from having the curricula work for you instead of being a slave to a box? I too have fallen in love with one curriculum and needed to switch to another. Even though my kids are high school and I think all our plans are set, I still go to every vendor every year to see what is new. Sometimes it helps me and sometimes I see things to help others. You don't need to apologize for research and obedience to God.

kristie said...

Hi Tina,
As I am one who you raved MFW to, (and consequently, we purchased) I wanted to let you know that all is fine and well with me, I think nothing less of you at all, and the thought would never have even crossed my mind!! So no worries!! I just want to encourage you to continue on in being you ~ a lovely, well-thought-out, and well-spoken individual who's willingness to help others is outstanding! Wishing you the very best this year for school, Love, Kristie

Gator Mommy said...

Thank you Tina for visiting my blog "Baby Gator University". I have visited your blog in the past but just visited again to read about your curriculum choices. I really appreciate your honesty and will be taking many of your recommendations to lower ECC. I had anticipated many of the alterations that you recommend (I've already packed away some of the texts). I can't tell you how good it is to read about how you came to your decision. I, like you, was thinking that MFW was the answer but now I will remember to take it year by year. Thank you again and have a great year!

Melanie said...

Been there done that! :) I hope you have a great year!

Carla Olson Gade said...

I'm enjoying reading your journey in choosing homeschool curriculum. There are so many choices out there, even more so than when I homeschooled my kids. You've put a lot of thought and prayer into it. I hear you on the all or nothing! I'm sure it will be an exciting and wonderful year for you and the children. Many blessings!!

Homeschooling6 said...

Looks like it's going to be a good year for you. I'm looking forward to reading about it too! =)

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