I am like many homeschoolers. I don’t really believe in grades– grades as in “rating” a child as an A or B student, or as students who Passed or Failed. And grades as in 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, so on and so forth. I will not talk about this here in detail (in another post, maybe). Just mentioning it here in passing because we are now getting ready for a new school year! In our family, we start and end our school year anytime we want and it could go from one year to several more, depending on the progress and pace of our student or depending on what’s happening in our life as a family. After all, homeschooling, in essence, is a way of life. Though as much as we would like to be full-fledged unschoolers, we choose not to. There are definitely elements of worldschooling and unschooling in our homeschooling style but we still opted to enroll in a homeschool provider so that Q has school records.
We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards, gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys, in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else. – John Holt
Anyway, so, after 2 years of doing “1st grade”, we have now decided to enroll in “2nd grade”. (Note: We “follow” these grade levels because the homeschool provider applies the traditional school “grade leveling” [which I think is for purposes of organization and order]. As to the course plans they provide, we get the “grade level” we enrolled in but we are not required to follow them. These course plans are just guides. As to what to teach our children [what to include and exclude] and when to teach them, is up to us parents. And it is the parents who give the “grades”* not the provider.
(*I submit these grades as part of the “security” of having a transcript. I don’t even show these “grades” to my child. I “grade” him based on the actual work he has accomplished using the curriculum not on what he has actually learned during a given time or what his abilities are because really, I don’t think these letter grades are accurate measurements. I mean, how does one fairly measure aptitude?).
Anyway, one of the exciting parts in preparing for the “academic” aspect of homeschooling are the new books!!! Ours have arrived, finally!
I did not purchase all the books specified in the curriculum. I just chose the ones for subject areas that I feel need some reinforcement and/or areas that we need more materials on. All the books are great! I wish I have the time to talk about each one (we haven’t started on reading them all) but I must say the Macmillan Dictionary and the Catholic Children’s Bible are very impressive. We also got Hamlet from the Shakespeare Can Be Fun series by Lois Burdett and we’ll see how we’ll like it. I’m so thankful for awesome homeschooling parents who recommended these great books.
books we already have
We still have books from previous school years that we still want to use. I intend to still use First Language Lessons for the Well-trained Mind by Jessie Wise as a guide for language arts this year. We are mostly literature-based, so I just consult the textbook for the “technical” stuff while we continue to use children’s literature as a foundation in our homeschool. I don’t do a lot of grammar exercises. We just read, read and read children’s books and inject some grammar rules along the way. Writing with Ease by Susan Wise Bauer covers four levels, so we will still be using this book for a while. We just recently utilized these two methods that are taught in this book: copywork and narration.
For Science, we still want to finish covering Harcourt Science 1 (before we start on 2) and use it as a reference book when reading science-themed children’s books. As for the Catholic National Reader Book One, we still have a few more pages to finish and its old-fashioned English is just so beautiful, it would be a shame not to be able to finish reading it.
Greek Myths is an ongoing thing since “1st Grade”.
This year will not just be exciting but also very special. Together with other homeschooling kids, Q will be receiving his First Communion this coming December. So we are eagerly preparing for it and Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism and First Communion Catechism are helping us do this. We will also put together a sacramental preparation portfolio (courtesy of a generous veteran homeschooling mom) to make Q’s anticipation of this event even more joyful.
I am not proud to admit that learning Filipino is our (my family) biggest hurdle. Speaking conversational Tagalog is one thing (it’s already hard as it is) but learning grammar rules, reading stories and instructions (and understanding them) in formal written Tagalog is another. For many of us regionals and non-Tagalog speakers, this is quite a burden. Thankfully, there is the option of learning in the vernacular (or the Mother Tongue as they call it in regular schools) which I think works better for us (my family). But I am also a proud Filipino. I also recognize that learning Filipino/Tagalog is a way of preserving the Filipino identity. So, even though it will be bloody, I will face (gulp) this challenge head on for this school year. 😜