Feb 27, 2014

Ahrens Academy purchases Curriculum for 2014-2015

Education decisions for any parent are stressful.  Is this the best setting?  The best curriculum?  Is my child learning?  Retaining?  Enjoying?  Growing with?   The list can go on and on.  After weeks of stressing (which translates into a ton of research and research on top of my research to the point where I generally begin hallucinating and confusing the many curriculum in my already jumbled brain.)  Aside- this might have been the cause to the 13 day-long migraine headache I clustered.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

So, I went The Homeschool Hangout in Alpharetta, Ga.  We met Geoff for lunch at the mall, then wandered around the corner to get my homeschool high.  I think I had an orgasm when I walked into the store.  They had classical music playing, and immediately, Chaz says, "Oh, classical music!"  Then he spied an ancient Egypt book, and that was it.  I was left with the owner of the store for an hour to discuss our needs.  Wow.  That man is amazing.  

First, I began homeschooling less than six months ago.  While it feels like a lifetime ago, I am still feeling out each and every instructional day.  Learning how each child learns best, figuring out motivational strategies for one child, and personally finding the happy medium in my own daily life have all been issues to consider.  For the most part, we have enjoyed the learning curve.  However, the hardest part for me has been curriculum.

Here's is a reply I sent to one of my earlier blog posts on homeschooling after someone commented on how she was glad that we had such a positive experience with our very first homeschool curriculum.

 "We used the program (Time4Learning) from September 2013- December 2013.  While both children were engaged, and seemed to be learning, the carry-over was poor and I was not disciplined enough to make sure that we were supplementing with practice to correlate to each lesson or subject.  After finding that we went through up to two grade levels in such a short time, and then I went to evaluate retention, I learned that we were not on target in that area.  At which point, I opted to go the next affordable route- complete curriculum type workbooks.  We have three of those, and have also moved very quickly through each one.  Nearly six months into our homeschool experience, I have placement tested each child and have decided on continuing the Orton-Gillingham style of learning for my currently second grade son for reading, writing, and spelling, and will be moving forward with the BJU curriculum for my seven year old daughter.  While she works at varying levels, the store that sold us our curriculum was able to not only piece together various grade levels as dictated by my daughter's needs, but was also able to find deep discounts based on used books available.

While I still think Time4learning is a great program, I think it takes a little more work than I was prepared for the reinforce each lesson.  The children did love it, and were sad when a cartoon would no longer be presenting daily lessons.

I had also used the program when my advanced daughter was home schooled for her pre-k program, and loved it then, as well.  Would still recommend for anyone considering.  I think the value is incomparable."

I walked in the Homeschool Hangout and looked this man in the eye and said, "I am lost.  Help me, please."  And after doing my research, and talking to the owner of the store, I decided on BJU curriculum.  Based on the needs of our family, this curriculum seemed to be the best fit.  I know very few homeschooling families, and even fewer that use a boxed curriculum.  I understand that each family is unique in why they homeschool, but BJU offered one of my children every aspect of education on her checklist, and most of everything necessary for the other child.  After all was said and done, tax and all, $402.71 for a complete curriculum for one child, and half the curriculum for the other child.  The only deviation to the complete curriculum was spelling. I ventured out to the "Wordly Wise"  workbook series.  Just so happens, I explained my philosophy of spelling, and the owner walked around the corner from where we were and returns with this workbook.  I was floored.  That was the program I had when I was in school!  *My philosophy on spelling is this- I don't want memorized spelling words each week to test on.  I want my children to be able to read and write based on understanding of certain rules in the English language.  Also, I like the idea of building on vocabulary.  Wordly Wise meets that criteria for my school of thought.  Just a personal preference.

While my son had an I.E.P. (Individualized Education Plan) from the time he was in the three's program in preschool, he never had a plan that truly met his every need.  As a homeschooling mom, I have created what I feel will best nurture his personal learning environment needs.  Now, my daughter, working two grade levels ahead in reading, writing, and language arts, also has her own I.E.P.

I am currently having Shay spend thirty minutes a day on typing, about 15 minutes a day on cursive practice, and it takes about ten minutes a day to do math drills on xtramath.com.  She is also doing multiplication while we drive, eat meals, etc.  I was advised to literally dump as much information into my kids as possible, and some will stick and others won't.  Won't know until you share it with them.  Karen is so wise.  While she is an educator, that was the most brilliant tidbit of advise I have ever received.  That nugget makes the difference in my days.  While I feel unaccomplished some days, it is knowing that one day, it will click.  Shay is reading Anne of Green Gables right now.  While I doubt some of that context is comprehensible to her, she is enjoying the book, and that is all I care about.  

This is the price for everything you see on the table at home, in the picture above.  3rd grade science for both children, second grade social studies for both children, second grade math book for Shay, third grade math for Charlie, spelling for Shay, third grade reading/writing and language arts for Shay.  The workbooks are new, but many of the teacher/parent books are used, as is the literature books.  This is a Christian based curriculum, that I have chosen, but not only does it align with our family teachings, it aligns more closely to the education I want for my children.  The nice part is that when Charlie is up to level with Shay, I will only need to purchase workbooks for him to work out of and then can resell the other books when done.  

Fit neatly into this box.

This was the discernment phase at the store.  It was brain wrinkling work for me, but the owner was amazingly aware of what was what.  

The BJU handbook will only get you so far.  Being able to delve into each book was amazing and saved me on deciding which grade level we really needed for science and social studies.  

Incidentally, I met a mom at the YMCA Kids in Motion class yesterday.  She and I are really on the same paths, in personality, intensity, and desires for our family.  She is not homeschooling her children, but I can tell she feels a draw to it, yet seems overwhelmed with the idea of it.  I am here to say- homeschooling is not for everyone.  It is for everyone who has a desire to do it.  If you feel that tug, research, pray, meditate, and you will find that homeschooling is actually easier and can be less money than sending your children to public school.  After I paid for gas to go volunteer at the school a few days a week, all the teacher gifts, all the extras we had to send in for different events, fundraisers, etc., I am spending the same, if not LESS than what I was spending for two children to attend school and not get an individual education plan.  Plus, I have a smidgen more time to sleep, cuddle, get to know, and enjoy my family.

A day last forever while the years last only a moment.

PS  These two pictures were taken today.  Throughout the day, I text pictures of the migits to my hubby while at work.  Yes, we really do stay in pajama's- ALL.DAY.LONG.  Luckily, we leave the house each day so that we have an excuse to wear real clothes ;o)
We had to re-do some work.  She was excited to work at her brother's desk this afternoon.  It's the little things.  

This is Shay's handwriting sample from the day.  I expressed my concerns about her not connecting letters in cursive very well with the owner of the Homeschool Hangout.  He calmed my concerns.  She is seven.  It takes time.  Give it time.  

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