As you may have heard, we are not back to school this year. That’s right, we’re homeschooling! Here is the first of a series of posts on our homeschool plans for this year. We’ll see how things go, but here is the plan!
I’ve received several questions about what we’re using this year, and I’m really excited about our choices. So I’m going to share them with you! (This is one of several upcoming homeschooling posts, so I apologize in advance to those aren’t interested – just click on through. Although I’m considering doing a sister site with this kind of info sometime…Thoughts?)
A word about our homeschooling situation: We homeschool because it’s the best choice for us. For now. Every year, we review the decision, and aren’t opposed to sending the kids out to school if that were a better option. So far, though, it hasn’t been. As a general rule, I want the kids to be around the local schools’ level for all their subjects, although I might introduce something later or differently. And if they want to get ahead in anything, I am perfectly happy with that – we support their interests. We just are sure to cover the basics, too. If we ever do transition to a school, I want the kids to be able to jump right in.
Ds8 is in 3rd grade this year (2012-2013). He is a hands-on kind of guy, and he can read and write well, although he doesn’t like to write if he can avoid it. He excels in science and math. He is a master strategist and planner. He likes computer learning especially and legos, comic books and dirt (really, he specifically wants that included). And jumping on our trampoline and riding bikes and scooters, too. He is a super sweet kid!
My specific academic goals for him this year (in addition to getting through the expected 3rd grade knowledge) are to increase his Hebrew reading fluency, work on middot, increase fluency in English reading and writing. (I have more specifics laid out for myself, but that’s where we’re looking to go. It’s not a goal if it’s not measurable, you know!)
For Hebrew/Kodesh studies, I’m looking at 6 “subjects”: Hebrew reading, modern Hebrew speaking, Parsha (weekly overview/project), Humash (decoding/translating skills, usually one parsha or maybe two in a lot of depth over the course of the year), halachot/observances, and middot. We also daven, and some of those tefillot are what we will be studying with the Hebrew reading curriculum as we go.
For secular studies, we have language arts, math, science, typing, and history/social studies. We also are taking some classes with other kids for fun, but these are the things I’m actually working with him on.
In addition, we have practical lessons (AKA chores). I consider our kids apprentices in our house, and that means they get to “practice” doing things around the house until they can do them right. And then, they get to do their part for our family and in their own homes in the future iyH. Bli neder, I will put more of that up in detail in another post.
Now for our materials and resources. We’ll start with Hebrew / Kodesh:
- Hebrew Reading: The Cap-it program. Ds8 is going to get a good review with Level 2 for better fluency (with his younger brother tagging along), and then we’re moving on to Level 3 siddur edition. I’ve heard good things about this program, but haven’t started it yet. It looks good, though! The director was extremely helpful when I was looking into it. We’re also doing some work in the Handwriting with Tears Hebrew version (K’tav b’kalut), which is good for going from print to script as kids are writing more.
- Hebrew Speaking (modern Ivrit): We have the Rosetta Stone program. I am on the fence about it, but the kids do like it pretty well. We are also looking into an in-person tutor who has Hebrew as a first language to help with fluency. We have some vocab books and games like Hebrew/English Zingo we play, too.
- Parsha: We read the parsha weekly in English. I do skip over some of the long lists and geneologies, but we get through the basic ideas and most of the secondary ones, too. Then comes a project – see these in the bar across the top of your page – click on “Parsha.” We have the interlinear chumash, and usually read some of that together, too. Then we sum up and answer questions using these books (and this is what I read for the younger kids).
- Chumash: We’re still trying to find something that works well for us. We have homemade flashcards, and started with some of the other big programs. We’re still looking for something that clicks, although I’m going to be trying some of these with ds8 – the format seems to be something that would really appeal to him. I think it will be good for the necessary rote learning. Here are some other online word lists, too (dahbear!) This is also something we might be hiring someone to work with him on.
- Halachot: We aren’t following a set curriculum here. A lot of this comes from daily life. We also review relevant daily halachot when they come out (we are Sefardi, so that site is perfect for us!) and found this workbook on mitzvot on the ever-awesome chinuch.org.For the holidays, I pull together some things for the kids to do. For Elul/Tishrei, ds8 will be doing some of the work from here as well as other eclectic sources.
- Middot: We are starting in on a (secular) character curriculum from Character First. We have 36 traits in a binder, and we are going to be working on recognizing and strengthening one each week. I’ll probably write more on this in a separate post.
This has grown long, so I will continue with our ds5 and our secular choices in separate posts (bli neder).
See anything you like? Do you have anything to recommend? Would you be interested in a review of these resources? Any homeschool readers out there?