24 Jan 2014

Mr Curious' Homeschooling Curriculum Part 4

Mr Curious' homeschooling curriculum by subject breakdown.


At the start of our journey, I purchased the whole series of Letts Primary Activity books for schools, keystage 1 , literacy, which I thought would help us make a start with our literacy, but alas, Mr Curious found the books too dreary and the stories too simple and after 2 pages declared them to be ''the most boring work in my whole life!'' I had also acquired the letts English workbook and letts ks1 success guide English  and while he found the Primary Activity books too simple, the writing tasks of these books were far more demanding than what Mr Curious could produce at the time, so instead I used them as a guide when setting his writing assignments (which he does once every 5-6 months). 100 Literary Framework lessons year 2 is intended for class use and although a lot of the activities are group-work based, I have found it useful as a guide, when devising book report questions and evaluating creative writing and teaching poetry (which we do once in a while).

Once literacy workbooks were out of the equation, I had to find an alternate way of implementing literacy in our homeschooling curriculum. Inspired by the Charlotte Mason homeschooling approach and The Robinson Homeschooling Curriculum, I came to the conclusion, that the best way for Mr Curious would definitely be, reading good old classics! The homeschooling curriculum I eventually devised for Reading, encompasses Writing, Grammar and Spelling to a great extent, so that we do not overburden Mr Curious with too much work at such a young age, and he is left with ample time in the day, to wander about, playing and tinkering.

As Mr Curious' was a fluent and ardent reader when he left school at the age of 6, we have liberated him from the need of following a reading scheme, which was still being enforced while he was at school. Keeping to the scheme at school, had made Mr Curious develop a dislike for fiction writing, which he understood to be uninteresting and boring. Until  he  started homeschooling, Mr Curious had favoured fact books, such as encyclopedias or car magazines over stories.

This meant that when we started homeschooling, Mr Curious
was hesitant to read any fiction. I therefore allowed him full reign of his reading choices and gently started introducing illustrated stories from Usborne books, that I thought might capture his imagination and to my relief , he did begin to enjoy reading and telling stories anew. A few books he really loved were Illustrated Classics for boys , Illustrated Classics for Children and Illustrated Adventure stories, Illustrated Stories from Dickens, and soon was comfortable reading, Tom Sawyer, Huckleburry Finn, Moby Dick and Jason and the Argonauts from the Usborne Classics retold series. We have used and are still using several Usborne books as part of our homeschooling curriculum, as they appeal to Mr Curious' visual learning style, with large print, vibrant pictures and appropriate vocabulary.

Now that he was loving story telling, we could proceed with our Charlotte Mason homeschooling approach, but as I previously pointed out, we have had to adapt this homeschooling method to suit both Mr Curious' learning style and our hackschooling life .
From Septeember 2013 we have been using Charlotte Mason Ambleside online year one book list (Mr Curious is 7 and technically speaking in year 3), whereby Mr Curious has been undertaking independent reading and narration writing. We also make use of an assortment of interesting books not found on the list, either picked by Mr Curious or myself. The books he has read as assigned reading since September 2013 has been Pagoo, Alice Through the Looking glass and Alice in Wonderland, Charlotte's web, Joy Hakim's story of Science and The Little House in the big woods and The Little House on the prairie.  We will soon start on Paddle to the Sea and Tales from Shakespeare.

After reading a chapter or two of the assigned book, Mr Curious proceeds to write a narration of the about ten lines, using his own words. He has to make sure that his punctuation and spelling is correct and he needs to use a varied vocabulary as far as possible. Hence we have a certain amount of spelling and grammar covered each day. Nevertheless he has showed a marked improvement in both his writing and comprehension skills when I tested him at the end of last year, using Letts Key Stage 1 test papers. I have to mention though, that he took twice the time recommended or at times longer, for all the tests, as he always falls into the trap of day dreams! Our reason for 'testing' him was for me to gauge his progress and ascertain the next step in our homeschooling journey and not to compare him against his peers, but we were nonetheless pleased to witness the benefits of a homeschooling curriculum.

As Mr Curious adores reading but detest 'workbook type' learning, I have tried my best to wean him off these for a while and thus we have not done much grammar, spelling or comprehension exercises at separate sittings. I have however been utilising  Jolly Phonics The Grammar Handbook 1, 2 and 3, not to prescribe written work, but to talk through grammar rules. Mr Curious who is ever the independent learner also likes to check his Usborne Guide to Better English whenever in doubt. We could easily have provided a rich and engaging literacy curriculum using free on line resources, which I had attempted to do, at the start of our homeschooling journey, but the task of trudging through the on line pages and trying to select what was appropriate, proved too taxing for me. I had also noticed that Mr Curious would take an interest in ANY books, or for that matter, ANYTHING IN PRINT AT ALL and thus would scan through my 'teaching' materials, followed by questions, which was providing a learning opportunity  by itself, hence in Mr Curiosity's homeschool, the availability of printed books and materials , I believe is greatly useful.

My previous posts on Mr Curious' Homeschooling Curriculum can be read here

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