The South African school year follows the calendar year, starting in January and finishing by December. We chose this schedule for our homeschool, which allows more time off during our summer season (your winter—seasons are opposite in the southern hemisphere), usually a busy time for our ministry.
Normally I would start our school year about mid-January; but this year I’m starting early to accommodate our upcoming furlough, planned for May through August 2013. That’s one blessing of homeschooling—you can accommodate school to life, rather than the other way around. I hope to leave all the textbooks and teacher’s manuals in South Africa and enjoy America without worrying about the children’s studies. Their education will be America itself. (Plus I want every single pound available for the luggage I plan to bring back with us!)
So although the title says “2013 curriculum,” I actually just started week 1 this first week of December; and we will probably be playing catch-up into 2014 to finish this year.
ABeka 1st grade language arts covers phonics instruction, handwriting (we’re starting cursive this year), reading, spelling, and language. Spelling is a colorful workbook with lists arranged by phonetic sounds, rather than specific spelling rules. Language is also a consumable workbook, supplementing the phonics instruction in the beginning, and easing into a bit of creative writing at the end.
Caleb is at the Alpha level of Math U See. He got a great foundation with ABeka kindergarten math. I’m excited about this mastery-based math curriculum, if not its name. The lessons are multisensory, involving the use of manipulatives to let the child actually “see” the concepts. The author teaches every lesson on DVD so the parent can learn how to teach the lessons; older children could watch the DVD themselves, freeing me up for the younger children’s lessons.
Story of the World follows the classical model of education; volume 1 covers ancient history through the fall of the Roman empire. We also have the audiobook read by Jim Weiss and the Activity Guide, a large manual with hands-on activities, review questions, literature suggestions to accompany history (for all those lucky people with access to a library), narration prompts, maps, coloring pages, and memory work. This follows the classical model of education. I was given a year-one schedule from Biblioplan and use that just to schedule Bible, history, and read-alouds.
Our Bible reading coincides with our history this year! We will read the Old Testament while learning about ancient civilizations in Story of the World; and when we reach the Roman civilization in history, we will study the life of Christ. We are using a children’s Bible here at home. We are also memorizing the catechism we wrote in Tsonga and English, based on some of the historic catechisms.
106 Days of Creation Science follows Charlotte Mason’s educational model. This book gently covers all sorts of science topics, organized by the six days of creation; it also includes nature study tips. It’s the perfect introduction for both Caleb and me and is not so overwhelming that it doesn’t get done. I love it! It is biblically-centered, young-earth, and matches nicely with ancient history.
Modern language: Xitsonga. Currently I’m inventing this “curriculum” myself, but I recently heard of a potential purchase I could make to teach this. I’m excited about the possibility of having the planning done for me. I’ll update this section if we do find this material.
Come Look With Me takes care of picture study this year, and Drawing with Children will hopefully teach me how to draw as well. I already think that Caleb shows more proficiency in drawing than I! Meet the Orchestra is a picture book that introduces the different musical instruments. After meeting each instrument, we’ll go listen to what it sounds like!
Living Memory helps me organize the memory segment of classical education. I’m using its suggestions for a memory system as well as certain lists to memorize.
And Colin is enjoying Letter of the Week, a fun, non-threatening hands-on pre-school curriculum.
Edited to add:
We have come back from America now and are more than halfway through our school year. We have made the following changes:
We also ditched Biblioplan’s schedule for history and are simply going straight through Story of the World.
Colin has finished Letter of the Week. We are now using some K4 workbooks from ABeka for writing and numbers and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for reading.