It is that time of year again! The school year is finished and it is time to begin thinking about choosing homeschool curriculum for next year. (Or you are homeschooling for the first time and you need to know how to choose curriculum!) Choosing curriculum can be very overwhelming because as moms we feel responsible for teaching our children “everything”.
I want to encourage you not to worry about teaching everything. Excellent teachers do not teach “everything”. Excellent teachers teach their students that learning is enjoyable. Because when it is fun to learn, the students become lifelong learners. Then they can learn anything they need to learn for any job they desire to do.
That being said, there are some basic subjects that every elementary age student needs to learn and I have broken the subjects down into 4 categories. I want to give you a checklist of sorts so that you know you are definitely covering the academics that need to be covered.
Subjects to Study for the Elementary Years
It is important to have a solid program for math. Math is a subject which you build upon every year. If your child doesn’t completely understand addition and subtraction, then she won’t understand multiplication and division. There are some really solid programs for teaching math including Singapore Math, Abeka, and Bob Jones. I have used all of these at different times, and each one has its strengths. All of these programs can be “advanced” so it is okay if your child is a little behind in the curriculum. It is not unusual to be 1 year behind in the Singapore Math. That is okay, as long as you are steadily building complete understanding of the math concepts. One more thing-if your child has trouble understanding reading clocks but is learning the more important concepts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.) than that is okay. They will learn how to read clocks eventually, and that skill is not required as a building block for understanding math.
If your child has not learned to read, you will need to choose a good phonics program. Phonics is essential, though it is important to note that kids are ready at different ages. If you have to do the “kindergarten” kit at 6 years old instead of 5, it won’t affect your child’s future-many “late” readers are very successful adults.
Abeka has some really good phonics materials. There are child kits with the textbooks for the children and parent kits with the teacher’s manuals and teacher’s helps. (The Kindergarten kit includes math as well).
Abeka’s Language Arts programs are very thorough. It is a tried and true program-many children (and adults!) have excellent reading and language skills because of Abeka. It is a solid phonics program that tells you exactly what to teach. However, Abeka’s phonics program can go too fast for some children, and Abeka is an expensive program.
A less expensive program is Memoria Press’ First Start Reading: Phonics, Reading & Printing. This program is also a very solid program for teaching phonics and it also tells the teacher exactly what to do for each day. The First Start Reading Kit is for Kindergarteners or First Graders who haven’t learned their phonograms yet. This program is easier to teach in my opinion. It is a little more user friendly, though maybe slightly less thorough than Abeka.
After beginning phonics is taught (usually in kindegarten), more phonics is taught in subsequent grades. Abeka has a Handbook for Reading Phonics Textbook with lists of words that follow certain phonetic rules. For example there will be the letters “sh” at the top of the page and then words that have the “sh” sound (shout, shy etc.) Memoria Press has a similar book-Classical Phonics: A Child’s Guide to Word Mastery.
3. Grammar, Punctuation, Handwriting, Creative Writing, Spelling, Reading Comprehension, and Vocabulary
You might be wondering why I grouped all these subjects together. It is because I believe it is best and easiest to teach them all together in the elementary years with one very simple tool-Copywork. Copywork is simply copying. At first a child copies one letter. Later as the child’s abilities grow, the child copies a word. Then later still the child copies sentences, and finally the child is able to copy whole passages of writing.
As a child copies they naturally begin to pick up on how words are spelled and how sentences are put together. (Obviously the teacher will want to choose well written sentences and paragraphs to copy). Many great writers and speakers first learned the English language by literally copying other great writers and speakers. In the same way, children must be exposed to enough excellent literature to build their own knowledge of the English Language. Later, they can transition to being great writers themselves!
My oldest daughter is eloquent and loves to read and write and I taught her very little “grammar, punctuation, handwriting, creative writing, spelling, reading comprehension, or vocabulary”. I read great books to her and I had her to do copywork. As she copied I would occasionally point out that sentences have periods at the end. Or I would help her to understand how to write the letter b more neatly. In this way I taught her some. And she learned beautiful creative writing from copying great sentences and paragraphs from literature. Copywork is also the tool that refined her handwriting skills.
Copywork can make your schoolwork easy and effective!
I am going to stop here and save the #4 for my next post. Stay tuned-I have something exciting to share in my next post!! 🙂 You can sign up for email updates here:
You may also be interested in: How to Choose Homeschool Materials-free printable included!