Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What curriculum are you using?

This is, so far, the most frequently asked question that I was not expecting from folks who don't themselves homeschool. I feel at a loss to answer, because I'm not sure that what we use will mean much.

On the other hand, it's what they're asking, so I say, "We're using a variety of resources: Singapore math, a mental math approach; Classical Composition, an imitative writing program; Explode the Code for phonics; for grammar and a language, we're doing Latin; and in history we're studying the ancient world, tying in art history, music as best we can, writing projects, and other projects for fun. We're learning about weather, geography, and astronomy. We're also doing some art lessons and beginning piano." I usually forget the weather, geography, astronomy part, and Italic handwriting.

Is that enough of an answer? Should I be answering differently? What does a non-homeschooler really want to hear?

For instance, we're actually using a Classical approach along with a four-year cycle through history. This simplifies things tremendously while covering what we need and want to do. I chose Classical Composition to teach the tools for writing, because Son1 has no problem with creative writing but needs a solid grasp of the tools. He imitates and expands on a chosen text (currently Aesop's fables) by way of the writing exercises used from the Greeks to the 19th century. Grammar, logical thinking, and the experience of a different language are all wrapped up in learning Latin, just as the classical languages were used in education for centuries. For history, I started our four-year cycle at the beginning, with prehistory and the ancient world; it fits great this year with Aesop's fables and starting Latin.

This is streamlined and focused, and we have plenty of time to do fun stuff and play and delve into whatever interests us. This week I'm continuing our focus on writing, art, and construction in the ancient world (ie, around the Mediterranean, and in India, China, Meso-America, Africa, Australia).

To keep on track, I take a look at the state's grade-by-grade goals a couple of times a year, and I'm very happy to have recently acquired a copy of Home Learning Year by Year: How to design a homeschool curriculum from preschool through high school, by Rebecca Rupp (Ph.D., microbiology, and homeschooling mom).

Or should I just say we are following "an old-fashioned model," doing Singapore math, composition and phonics, Latin, history, and projects?

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