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Monday, 18 September 2017

Homeschool Curriculum 2017-2018


We are eclectic homeschoolers. We do not follow a particular homeschool philosophy, instead we pick and choose to suit our family best. This is the great thing about homeschooling; the flexibility. We are free to choose what to follow and what not to. We follow a few different curricula but not too rigidly. We believe in free play and being child-led as much as possible. Saying that, we also believe there are certain subjects a child has to learn, such as maths and English, but we try to make these as enjoyable as possible.


I have thought long and hard about our curriculum choices this year and this is what I have planned.


Nature Studies



Nature studies will fill the majority of our schedule this year. I have found an amazing nature studies curriculum called 'Exploring Nature With Children' which covers weekly nature studies for the whole year. Each week covers a different topic. For example, in the first week of September we covered the topic of seeds and seed dispersal. The children found it fascinating to learn about all the different ways seeds are dispersed and thoroughly enjoyed watching seed heads exploding on YouTube! The second week covered minibeasts. There are so many interesting topics this curriculum covers. Other topics include leaves, pond studies, the harvest moon and butterflies.





Each week we go on a nature walk to the same spot to see how it changes over the year and we study the things in that spot that are the subject of that week. We keep nature journals where we can record the things we observe in our nature spot. Nature journals are a wonderful way to slow down and observe the things around you really closely. They form part of the Charlotte Mason philosophy which I am quite drawn to. This nature curriculum is based on the Charlotte Mason philosophy.

Also, for each week there are lists of activities to do with your child about each topic. These could be arts and crafts, writing exercises or experiments. There is a poem to read each week and a piece of art to study. Poetry and picture study are also very much a part of the Charlotte Mason philosophy. 

There are also book recommendations for each weekly topic and chapters in the Handbook of Nature Studies to read. What I like about this curriculum, apart from being nature based, is it covers so many subjects. It covers not only nature studies but also science, art, and English too. You can find out more and purchase the ebook here. I would highly recommend this curriculum!


Maths

For maths we are continuing with Conquer Maths which is an online curriculum. I am not a fan of maths myself so following an online curriculum takes the pressure off me. It covers the curriculum from age 4 to 16. For each lesson there is a short video to watch which introduces the topic. These videos explain the topic very clearly. After watching the video, the children answer some questions about it. After they have completed the questions their marks are displayed. This is useful for parents as you are able to check which subjects they know well and which subjects they need to practise more.




Apart from this curriculum, I also set up activities myself for the children to do. I have found it useful to follow the topics that are given in the online curriculum as a guide to what kind of activities to set up. I try to make sure the extra practise is fun and enjoyable for them as I do not like pure testing. I believe children learn best through practical methods so I always try to set up practical activities for them.

I am not sure how this curriculum compares to other maths curricula as it is the first I've tried but the children seem to be enjoying it and I do find it a useful guide.

English


For English, we mainly read books. At the moment the children are reading through the Ladybird Keyword books. I find these books excellent for teaching children to read. You can read a review of some reading schemes here and look at how these books compare to four other reading scheme books. 



We are also working on these textbooks, by Schofield and Sims, for spelling practise. My 7 year old is following book 3 and my 5 year old is following book 1. I like these textbooks as they teach the children a lot of spelling rules and have good exercises for the children to complete. Both children enjoy using these.


                



History


For history we are following the Story of the World curriculum. I love this curriculum. It comes with two books, a story book and an activity book. The reading book tells the stories of people who lived in the time periods it covers. The children love listening to these stories. It is a fun way for them to learn about history. Then the activity book has lots of activities to go with each chapter of the story book. It also gives you questions to ask the children about what they have heard in the story book, colouring pages, maps and suggestions for further reading on the topic.

We have covered the stone ages so far. You can read about some of the things we have done to cover this topic in the following articles:

Learning about the Stone Age

Building a Stone Age Den

Learning about Stonehenge

        

Science



We are not following a particular curriculum for science but there are lots of scientific topics covered in the nature curriculum we are following. Also, we attend a project group each week for home educated children and we mainly cover science topics. 

Geography

We are not following a curriculum for geography. I am planning to pick a different country to learn about each month starting with Turkey as we have lots of family there are I would like the children to learn more about their heritage. Other countries we will cover throughout the year include Poland ( again for heritage reasons as my parents are Polish), China, India and Brazil. 

Islamic studies


We will be following the Safar Islamic studies curriculum for the first time this year. I have heard great things about this curriculum. There are two books per year, a textbook and a workbook. They are beautifully illustrated and cover a wide range of topics.

Foreign language studies


As you know, we are a bilingual family speaking both English and Turkish at home. We also learn Arabic as a foreign language. Unfortunately I have not been able to find decent curricula for either of these foreign languages. If you have come across any do let me know! 

Both my seven year old and five year old attend language schools at the weekends to learn these languages; Arabic school on Saturdays and Turkish schools on Sundays. While language schools are great for the children to be able to hear the languages from different adults and practise it with other children, they are not enough. Therefore, we do a lot of extra language learning during the week. 

The children attend a private Arabic class once a week, as well as the Saturday Arabic School. Turkish they learn from their father who speaks it to them in the evenings when he comes home from work. At least once a week, I will do a more formal Turkish lesson with them making sure they know certain vocabulary by topic. We do this in a very creative way using arts and crafts, games or role play. I believe young children learn best through play. Here are some of the fun ways we learn languages at home.





We also use some great language learning resources such as the wonderful WordUnited flashcards. You can read my review of them here which include a voucher code for 20% off! The children also learn these languages through online websites and apps and they watch children's programs in these languages as well.

I hope you found this article informative and useful. Are you using any of these curriculum too? I will keep you updated on our progress and let you know how we get on.

Disclosure: This posts contains some affiliate links.

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