It has taken me a significantly longer time to rally after finishing our school year. In years past I am almost bursting with ideas even before the school year ends. I make note of things I want to change, things I want to keep the same, and what ideas inspire me. However, at the end of this last year all I wanted to do was rest. I wanted to be with my children without a schedule dictating places to go or appointments to attend. I just needed a break- a little down time with no expectations. Over the last 6 weeks I have fully enjoyed our summer schedule. It wasn’t until this last weekend when I felt the familiar pangs of inspiration and anticipation of a new year.
It wasn’t until I finally recognized what was holding me back that I felt inspired for the new year- I was overwhelmed.
I was overwhelmed by the number of curriculum options I had. I also felt lost thinking I wasn’t sure what I would do for my son. This will be my first year teaching all 3 of my children full-time. We did a very, very gentle year of transitional kindergarten for my youngest but this coming year we will begin using a formal curriculum. Juggling multiple early elementary students is a balancing act, for sure. Everyone still needs a fair amount of help. There are three of them and just one of me. While I had a good idea what to do for my girls- I had no clue what we should do for my son. He has challenges they do not have and I want to make sure I choose a curriculum that would set him up for success.
When we began our homeschool adventures I was doing kindergarten with my oldest between naps and afternoon rest time for my younger two. The capacity I had at that time is VERY different from now. I loved those years together with her and all that we did. The curriculums we used were a perfect fit for learning style. My second daughter began kindergarten two years later and I maintained the capacity to do more involved curriculum with her. Although, admittedly the juggle did get to me at times. My youngest had neither of the diagnosis’ he has now but there were early signs that kept me on my toes.
During those years we used The Good and The Beautiful for both math and language arts. Last summer we made the switch from their math program to Masterbooks. (You can read about that switch here) It was a very easy transition. My children immediately felt more comfortable and confident in math. The extremely gentle pace of Masterbooks and mastery focus was what they needed. We continued to use The Good and The Beautiful for language arts this year (Level 1 and Level 3) but it was slow going. The lessons were beautiful and activities always so engaging, but each lesson seemed to take so long. All the while they still struggled with the fundamentals. The curriculum was so wonderful in the past I hardly considered making a change. I figured we’d press on and that it would “click” soon enough.
Enter Summer break and my break down from overwhelm…
As much as I have enjoyed The Good and The Beautiful, when I realized the majority of my overwhelm was coming from it, I knew I had to make a change. The program really is pretty amazing. It’s an open and go curriculum- it covers not just reading but phonics, geography, picture study, grammar, and writing! How awesome is that? For my typically developing little daughters it was just perfect. One curriculum to touch on all those subjects, seems like a no brainer.
However, this year looks a little different adding in my youngest. Choosing a curriculum for him felt heavy. I knew TGTB would not suit his learning style or attention span. He needs hands on activities, a solid phonics foundation, reading instruction, and at a gentle pace. I knew what we wouldn’t be using but I just didn’t know where to begin deciding on we would. I looked at Masterbooks Foundations but I wasn’t crazy about it. I thought about doing the 100 Easy Lessons book like I’ve done with the girls but imagined the immediate push back. Then I remembered All About Reading. I had been eyeing it for a few years now but because I was satisfied with TGTB I never felt the need to switch. This year I am all about simplifying I thought I’d look through it and see. Instead of an all encompassing LA program, maybe a focus on reading fundamentals was what we need.
There are a lot of components to All About Reading but the easy to follow lessons, hands on activities, letter/spelling pattern work, and phonics controlled readers all sounded like really great tools and things similar to what we had been using for enrichment. We’ve been doing hands on activities since the very beginning. Instead of trying to fit them in with the curriculum they will pair perfectly with the curriculum! (yay!) A style of learning I know all three will LOVE!
I was immediately drawn to how engaging the lessons are and how easily they are adaptable to meet the needs of the student. I like how the lessons are so clearly laid out and that in one sense it gives the gift of time. Except for the Pre-Reading level (which has 78 lessons) the other three levels only have around 53-57 lessons. That would give us freedom to linger on longer lessons without that “were getting behind” feeling. I also really like that this is a mastery program and how the children can visually track their growth with the progress chart too! What can I say, visual cues are a big deal in our house. 🙂
While I know we need more for a full language arts program, my heart is first and foremost to develop a love for reading in my children. I’m excited to continue to take strides toward that this year. I do plan supplement the program with gentle grammar/spelling review and daily journal writing for a full Language arts curriculum. Days where we spend more time on more challenging reading skills I will pair down the grammar/spelling review and vice versa. Daily journal writing is a staple in our homeschool so it won’t be anything new to my crew.
Deciding to simply focus on strong reading skills was the relief my overwhelmed mind needed. I’m excited to read through the manuals and just enjoy a year developing a love for reading!
Next week I’ll be sharing how we’ll use our journal time to build writing skills, creativity, and spelling skills! Be sure to keep an eye out for that post!