This week, someone asked me what curriculum we use in our homeschool for our older kids (above grade 4). Although FreelyEducate.com is not only for homeschoolers – I post content for all educators here - I thought my reply may be helpful to anyone wondering which sites, of the dozens (hundred/s?) I've highlighted for FreelyEducate.com, make their way into our tiny school. Note: This list does not include all of my favorites or the many sites I'd love to try out soon. But it's an honest list of what we actually are using right now.
Here is my reply to the questions: Are you the primary teacher or do you use an online program? If you're the primary teacher, what curriculum do you use for your older children (above grade 4)?
I'm the primary teacher of our kids (grades 1st, 4th, 6th,
8th), although to be honest, I'm learning right alongside them! I try
to seek out the "masters" of whatever we're studying. Instead of
learning from a textbook or a computer curriculum written by somebody
paid to write it, we want to learn from someone who is passionate about
the subject, a master of it. The passionate "teacher" might be National Geographic or
Mythbusters as well as Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, and Amelia
Ambleside Online is the place I go for history and reading/literature books. I don't follow the Ambleside levels, though, because it makes me
crazy when I try to teach 4 different levels at once. So we study just one level each year, together. If I can't find a suggested book free
online (to read off my Kindle), or at the library, I look for an
alternative that's free, either by searching online for a good
book or by looking at a different Ambleside level.
it's Mythbusters (on TV) and experimenting with all sorts of kits and supplies and
gadgets (rocketry, electronics, chemistry by baking, etc.). Science is
a natural around here — we're curious, experimenting folk. We supplement our experimenting with a few sites like Katz on nutrition, Stossel's free DVDs, and this elements chart. Also, our 8th grader is in the Civil Air Patrol where there is an emphasis on aeronautical science.
The 8th grader needed to start Grammar (online program) this year. I felt like he was ready (but don't think it's needed in younger years).
Our 6th and 8th graders also needed some Current Events. I like Izzit for that.
the kids have the freedom of using any supplies they like when they
like. We completed every video from illustrator Jan Brett. And this year, to give them some information on drawing basics,
we're using Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes. Our 1st and 4th graders also take a free art class at the local library and our 6th grader takes ballet lessons (not free!).
For writing, we do a lot of
copywork (copying high quality literature from their reading books and
often the Bible). Dictation once a week (I read a passage; they write
it down. We then go over it together, discussing spelling and punctuation).
I find that it's best to learn spelling from words you're already using
or reading, instead of from spelling lists, so the above methods
(copywork, dictation) work well for us, but last year our
then-5th grader was having a hard time because she was
so-very-phonetic, that after reviewing All About Spelling, I started
using it for her (here's a post
on why). I have our 8th grader "teach" it to her (90% of what you
teach, you retain, so I've heard). It's made a difference, but
honestly, I think reading great books is making the biggest difference
p.s. Listen to this sometime, if you can: Sir Ken Robinson speaks on education for TED Talks
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