August 2013

My Curriculum Choices 2013: 8 year old 4th grader

In this first part of a two part series I'm sharing my curriculum choices for our eight year old who is doing 4th grade work.

Reading/Literature

NIV Boys Bible by Zondervan: I want my son to continue his daily habit of reading his own Bible. This bible has a few study notes presented in an interesting way to boys, that help my son understand what he is reading better. 

A Beka Book 4th grade readers: These readers progress throughout the year together with the Language Book we use. I like the Biblical characteristics and morals that are woven into the stories.

A Beka Book Read & Think 4: My son requested this book. He used Read & Think 3 last year and loved the stories in them so much that he requested that I get the 4th grade book this year. His reading improved greatly last year!

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt: This is a resource guide for me that helps me select extra reading material for my son.

Writing

A Beka Book Language A workbook: The A Beka Book Language series works well for my son. I like the convenience of having a workbook. I like how it explains the language rules and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

I will also be introducing my son to cursive handwriting this year. 

Music

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library All-in-One Course for Children: I will continue this book with my children from last year. I like how this book combines lesson and theory into one simple book.

Math

A Beka Book Arithmetic 4: We used the A Beka Book Arithmetic series in the past and they work well for my son. I like how it explains things simply and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book. Though this is a workbook, I plan to have my son use it like a textbook and write his answers on a separate piece of paper so we can reuse this book in the future with my other children. He usually needs more space than is provided to show his work anyway.

Science

Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Fulbright: We used Apologia’s Exploring Creation series in past years. This series is written from a creation perspective and I can use it with multi-level teaching. It is more in-depth than many other science books I have looked at which works well for my analytical son and it has lots of simple hands on experiments and activities for my more hands on son.

History & Geography

All Through the Ages by Christine Miller: This is a resource guide for me from which I plan to select books on the Dark and Middle Ages and obtain them from our library system. This guide makes it easier for me to select quality books from these historical time periods for my sons that are safe from anti-Christian biases. This is a multi-level teaching approach. I used this guide book in the past and it works well for us. History is one of my sons’ favorite subjects.

Geography From A to Z A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton: This cute book will complement our multi-level study of geography through history. It introduces new geography terms in an easy and fun way.

You may have noticed that I skipped a few subjects like Health & Art. It’s not that I’m not teaching my children those subjects, it’s that I don’t have specific text books for those subjects. Instead, I’m choosing to design my own plan for those subjects and other subjects I may be adding to the books that I’ve listed. Those areas not listed certainly aren’t forgotten.

Next week I'll tell you about my educational plan for my 5 year old who's doing second grade work.

Are you ready for this school year?

How I Manage Our Precious Time


One of my biggest time management strategies is to just say no. I try not to take on or get involved in things that aren’t a part of our family’s goals. Doing God’s will and helping others is part of our family’s goal, but saying yes to every play group or homeschool opportunity (no matter how wonderful they may be) can get us so overbooked and stressed, that we just don’t have time for things that are the most important in our lives (homeschool or other).

I set boundaries and priorities to better manage my time. For starters, after God, my husband is my first priority. That means that I do hold sacred my little time that I have with him in the evenings. As a result, I try to run errands that I can during the day instead of waiting until he gets home at night. It certainly is easier to go grocery shopping without the kids, but not at the cost of time with my husband. Furthermore, I believe children can learn a lot from the errands in life that we run. Each errand can be a learning opportunity if we use it wisely. There are many ways to make use of our driving and waiting time. I try to make the most of it, so I have more time when I’m at home to do the things that I can’t when I’m out and about.

My second priority is my children. This means that I often have to say no to moms’ groups, or homeschool co-ops, or playdates. Are these things really what’s best for my children? They can be fun and great opportunities, but at what cost? They just aren’t worth doing if we get so busy that we get stressed and crabby or don’t have time for schoolwork. I refuse to go out of the house every day of the week. My goal is to run errands one weekday a week, and an educational field trip once a month. I incorporate this into our school schedule at the beginning of the year. I try to stay home the rest of the time to allow me to maximize my time.

I manage my time according to these top two priorities. I’m big on schedules and plans. They help me manage my time so that I don’t over or under use my time for important and unimportant things. I set limits on things that can easily consume more time than I want them too. The following is a list of how I have applied some of my above time management principles:

Habits

  • I teach my children to obey me the first time I tell them something.
  • I teach my children to do for themselves the things of which they are capable.
  • All members of our household (two years old and older) have chores.
  • I do not turn on the TV during the day.
  • I try to keep my phone conversations short (sometimes I don’t answer the phone at all and just let the machine get it).
  • I try to keep my house organized and uncluttered, so that I can easily find things and put things away faster. 

Schedules

  • I use a meal plan.
  • I go grocery shopping once a week.
  • I use a daily school subject schedule. It contains what needs to be done in which subject for which kid and how often.
  • I have a chore schedule (for myself and my children).
  • I do laundry on Mondays and Thursdays.
  • I work on projects on Thursdays.
  • I clean the house on Fridays.

Limits

  • I limit myself to checking my email once a day.
  • I limit myself to checking my facebook once a week.
  • I limit my hobbies like scrapbooking and genealogy to Sundays.
  • I run errands and try to schedule appointments for first thing in the morning on the day that I go grocery shopping.

This is obviously not a complete list, but I hope that you will find some of my strategies helpful.

What tips do you use to manage your time?