UPDATE: 2021-2022 Curriculum Pick Changes
I'm a planner and in true form I picked and purchased our curriculum for the 2021-2022 year a few months ago. You can see a YouTube video going over my choices here:
Or you can read my previous post going over these affordable choices here: 2021-2022 Master Books Curriculum Picks - $400 Budget - K-3rd grade - Affordable Homeschooling
I uploaded that video to YouTube in January, and since then I've made a few tweaks. A little back story, I may be a planner but we are very relaxed homeschoolers. One area this becomes very apparent is our schedule. Specifically when we start new books. Our "Academic Year" runs July-May. We take June off, and also break throughout the year of course. So our academic year always begins in July, but that isn't when we start new books necessarily. We switch levels throughout the year, whenever we finish a previous one.
Initially we started making the switch to Master Books mid year, one subject at a time. So we are kind of all over the place in levels. This doesn't bother me. I know some might try to change pace to get all the books to line up, but I haven't worried about that. When it is time to break, we simply pause wherever we are, and pick our books back up when the time comes. The open and go nature of Master Books makes this incredibly achievable.
So all that backstory is to explain why we've already started some of our 2021-2022 curriculum picks, and made some adjustments!
The first adjustment I made happened rather quickly. Originally I purchased a single Teacher Guide for each family style subject. I planned to make copies of the worksheets. This lasted about a week ha! It may just be that I don't have a great printer, but it seemed to be such a hassle to make copies. I also found it hard to keep up with having the copies done beforehand. We would open a lesson, and I'd realize I hadn't made copies yet. It caused friction in our day, and I would lose my children's attention as I went off to make a copy.
I ordered more Teacher's Guides, and now I have a worksheet ready to go for each child who needs it. You can see above that I combined my guides on Happy Planner Discs. I'll be putting a post all about how we use discs in our homeschool, but I'll explain the guides briefly.
I didn't like having to pull out multiple books, so I combined the guides (of the same subject only). This was labor intensive, but I'd rather prep a lot in a short amount of time and be prepared for the whole year rather than having to continually do it over time. If that's not your style, no worries. I just struggle with consistency and this method of working in batches as helped set me up for success!
In the guide pictured above, you can see there are two page 87s. I had the two guides in front of me, punched and ready to be put on the discs. I grabbed a page from each pile and placed them on my discs in order. This way, when I open to any given page, I have all the copies needed for that day right there. I remove these from my discs and hand them to my children as needed. When they are finished, they file them on to their own set of discs for completed work. If that sounds a little complicated - it really isn't! Be sure to look out for my Discbound System post in the future for more on this system!
We decided to add in Elementary US Geography & Social Studies (from Master Books). This course is a blast. We are doing it at a slower pace than the suggested schedule, and I think it'll take us about 2 years or so to complete. We cover about 1 state a week, and make the recipes on the weekend. We use this as part of our Morning Basket Loop and all the kids join in. The younger two just listen, while the older two complete the activities and worksheets. I adapt some of the worksheets for my 2nd grader, but she can complete many as written.
The Family Morning Basket (from Master Books) is a great collection of books! We use this to start our day off together. The Marvels of Creation books hold everyones attention! I love the focus of the Fruit of the Spirit devotionals as well. This helps everyone ease into our school day and get focused as we transition from breakfast/chores time into school.
At first, we started a timeline as a group using the Timeline Packs that Master Books offers to go along with the America's Story series. We used a 3 ring binder. We glued the pieces onto cardstock and then put them in sheet protectors in the binder. My kids wanted to add in events, people, facts, etc that they found interesting. They wanted to draw pictures or find pictures to print online, and it just made sense for each of them to have their own timeline to customize.
I decided to go with the blank Wonders of Old timeline book Master Books offers because its slim size means it will fit in their work cubbies. The binder timeline did not! I ordered another Timeline pack and now E and R can customize their own timelines!
I think the last major adjustment we made is adding in Stepping Stones (Master Books). I don't generally purchase curriculum for preschool, but H constantly requests to "do school" like his sisters. Even though he tags along in subjects like art, science, and history, he wanted to have his own special school book.
Stepping Stones is great. It is designed with children's developmental needs and abilities in mind and I have found it to be very gentle and focused on the whole child, not just the skills they can preform. The lessons are short and sweet, just what we needed! I don't push school with him, and only pull this off the shelf when he asks for it. The activities are simple and easy for us to do with items and supplies we have on hand. So far we've had lots of opportunities to go outside and try to observe the things we've learned. It's been great to see him make real life connections to the topics discussed.
I can do a more in depth review of this program later when we're further along, but if you are looking for some structure for your tiny learners, I'd recommend checking Stepping Stones out!
We could have happily stuck to the basics that I had originally planned and it would have been a great year. I don't want anyone to think they have to add in all the extras or do *all*the*things* because you really don't. That said, I found that the way Master Books is set up, we were easily able to complete everything we were doing, and had time to delve into interests or subjects.
My oldest loves cooking, and I could have facilitated this without curriculum, but the recipes in the Geography course were perfect for this, and I love that it tied into learning about the US States! Anytime I can cover multiple topics at once, I'll take it! Again, I know myself, and I know I struggle with consistency. I can make a great plan, but I need things to be truly open and go if they are going to happen more than sporadically! That is why finding courses that work for our interests is the best option for our family. I admire moms that can pull together unit studies, or unschool and facilitate all the things, gather all the resources etc, but I'm not that mom. I need a little help.
Knowing what really works for you and your family is such a great tool in homeschooling. No two homeschools need to look alike, I encourage you to reflect on your own homeschool and assess what is working and what needs changing. Hmmm that sounds like another post idea - How to evaluate your homeschool! Keep an eye out for that in the future.
I pray that God blesses your homeschool journey. I hope that you are all having a great summer season, and enjoying the process of preparing for the year to come! Please feel free to comment here on the blog, or reach out on my YouTube channel Cris Clark.
Until next time, Happy Schooling!