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-   -   Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels? (http://www.diaperswappers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1479878)

hac1224 01-10-2013 07:57 AM

Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
Really I have 2 questions, but I'll put both here.

First, what curriculum is the best for combining multiple grade levels in all but math & LA? For next year I will have 3rd grade, 1st grade, Kindergarten, and a 3Żyr old preschooler (who is already wanting to "do homeschool" like her older siblings). I'm looking for something with a strong Christian content, so something that is Bible based with the educational part added in rather than the other way around is preferred. We are semi-relaxed homeschoolers, but I tend to be unorganized and really need something already put together for me as far as planning goes.:blush: I like the idea of Charlotte Mason style learning, but I know Ambleside Online is not quite what I'm looking for. I've looked into Heart of Dakota, but I would need 2-3 different guides depending on which way I combined and if I did anything separate. Suggestions?

The second question I have is how do I help my 8yr old 2nd grade boy stay focused. EVERYTHING distracts him, especially when doing math. The other kids distract him if they're in the room, the fish tank in the hs room distracts him, the things in the room distract him, etc. He also pulls one of these dropping his pencil every 60 seconds stuff or needing a new pencil every little bit.:banghead: I don't know how to keep him focused. :hairpull: HELP!!!

weesej 01-10-2013 09:17 AM

Re: Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
Look into Sonlight. You could either combine the older 2 or #2 and 3. The lack of attention is at least part of the territory. I've had a boy who could take 3 hours to do 2 math problems...drove me nuts. He still needs a lot of supervision at age 12.

hac1224 01-10-2013 10:56 AM

Re: Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by weesej (Post 16139153)
Look into Sonlight. You could either combine the older 2 or #2 and 3. The lack of attention is at least part of the territory. I've had a boy who could take 3 hours to do 2 math problems...drove me nuts. He still needs a lot of supervision at age 12.

Question, though, doesn't Sonlight teach "old earth science" instead of traditional young earth creation science? I remember hearing that somewhere, but I'm not sure.

HeatherlovesCDs 01-10-2013 11:23 AM

Re: Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
Personally, I think My Father's World is exactly what you are looking for. It is very Biblically based. Bible is integrated into all subjects (as well as being a separate one). It teaches 6 day literal young earth creation. One of the reasons we decided against Sunlight was that Bible is a separate subject and not integrated throughout. The book selections are often more secular. It is VERY literature based, not Charlotte Mason. My Father's World is a combo of Charlotte Mason (even including an "exploration day" meant for going outside and exploring), classical, literature, hands on and a few traditional text books thrown in with the older grades. It combines all children 2nd through 8th grade and is designed for younger kids to "tag along" also.

For this year, you would probably need K, 1st and one of the cycle programs (see the website for what I mean by this, probably it would be Exploring Countries and Cultures), or Adventures (for 2nd and 3rd grade). What a lot of families do is just use the phonics and math portion of the lower grades and combine the littles in with the biggers for everything else. 1st grade is very integrated with Bible, phonics, history and reading ant not really able to be separate. But, it doesn't take that long to do and we are REALLY enjoying it this year. It is completely Bible focused. You could definitely skip the activities included and just do the ones with the older program. K is easy to just do the phonics and maybe throw in a few of the activities that look like a lot of fun to you. You could probably find the K and 1st used so that you don't get things you don't need. Though, with both, I think you would need everything included in the basic. I'd have to look for sure.

Then, as your children all hit 2nd grade, they would join in with the family cycle program, whichever you are doing. All kids would be combined but doing LA and math on their own level.

This is what we are using for our family. We really love it. I really love how integrated the Bible is. For our family, academics are important, but their soul is the most important. (ETA: not saying you have to use MFW to achieve this purpose. :)) My kids are currently in 1st, about to start K (twins), 2.5 years old (twins) and 3 months old. I am looking forward to when they are all combined. I couldn't do 6 different "grade" levels of every subject.

Their website is http://www.mfwbooks.com/ They have a great forum that is very helpful.

Good Luck finding something!

hac1224 01-10-2013 12:08 PM

Re: Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by HeatherlovesCDs (Post 16139739)
Personally, I think My Father's World is exactly what you are looking for. It is very Biblically based. Bible is integrated into all subjects (as well as being a separate one). It teaches 6 day literal young earth creation. One of the reasons we decided against Sunlight was that Bible is a separate subject and not integrated throughout. The book selections are often more secular. It is VERY literature based, not Charlotte Mason. My Father's World is a combo of Charlotte Mason (even including an "exploration day" meant for going outside and exploring), classical, literature, hands on and a few traditional text books thrown in with the older grades. It combines all children 2nd through 8th grade and is designed for younger kids to "tag along" also.

For this year, you would probably need K, 1st and one of the cycle programs (see the website for what I mean by this, probably it would be Exploring Countries and Cultures), or Adventures (for 2nd and 3rd grade). What a lot of families do is just use the phonics and math portion of the lower grades and combine the little in with the biggers for everything else. 1st grade is very integrated with Bible, phonics, history and reading not really being able to be separate. But, it doesn't take that long to do and we are REALLY enjoying it this year. It is completely Bible focused. You could definitely skip the activities included and just do the ones with the older program. K is easy to just do the phonics and maybe throw in a few of the activities that look like a lot of fun to you. You could probably find the K and 1st used so that you don't get things you don't need. Though, with both, I think you would need everything included in the basic. I'd have to look for sure.

Then, as your children all hit 2nd grade, they would join in with the family cycle program, whichever you are doing. All kids would be combined but doing LA and math on their own level.

This is what we are using for our family. We really love it. I really love how integrated the Bible is. For our family, academics are important, but their soul is the most important. My kids are currently 1st, about to start K (twins), 2.5 years old (twins) and 3 months old. I am looking forward to when they are all combined. I couldn't do 6 different "grade" levels of every subject.

Their website is http://www.mfwbooks.com/ They have a great forum that is very helpful.

Good Luck finding something!

Thanks for the suggestion! I need to take another look at MFW. I had been interested in the past but was thinking that it would cost too much to start with. I'm thinking by looking at it again now, that it might not be more than we can afford .

HeatherlovesCDs 01-10-2013 12:18 PM

Re: Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
From my looking around, it is definitely one of the cheapest boxed curricula. That isn't the biggest factor for us, but it did factor in. It is a lot cheaper than Sonlight. If you couldn't afford to buy all 3 programs, you could buy the main program (one of the cycle years or Adventures) and get something cheaper for just phonics and math for your youngers, like Rod and Staff or Explode the Code. One thing I keep in mind is that I'll be able to use the program over again, with more than one child even. So, while the initial investment might be somewhat high (though not when you compare it with other programs), the second time you use it you are spending significantly less just to get the few consumables. Plus, once all your children (or even several) are using one core, you only have to buy it once and add the consumables for the extra children. I think it seems expensive, but when you really think about it over time, it isn't as much as you think. Plus, like I said, I know it is definitely one of the cheaper boxed sets.

And, you can always look at getting it used. I see K and 1st used quite a bit both on here and on Ebay. Just make sure of which edition you are getting if that matters to you.

Good luck!

weesej 01-10-2013 12:30 PM

Re: Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
I hemmed and hawed about Sonlight for years because of hearing things like that. They are creation based, but do talk about evolution and allow you to talk with your children about it. We personally use Apologia for Science and have lots of creation resources in our home, so it hasn't been hard to talk about and reaffirm why we believe the way we do. Also, personally, it is something I want to discuss and not just have the take my word on it....my children as all children do, will come to the age where the question what I have told them....they should....I want to have trained them think and look for truth!

There are things I like about MFW in the early grades, but personally it is not academically rigorous enough in the higher grades.

Edited to Add: And now I am laughing at myself...given that I am probably living in one of the most conservative cultures on here...where eyebrows would not be raised if my children stopped school at grade 8 or 10 and went to work.

Jen's_4 01-10-2013 12:32 PM

Re: Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
I second everything Heather said. We use MFW as well and we love it. It sounds like just what you are looking for. Is there anyone close to you that has it so you could look it over in person? It's so much easier to tell when you can actually *see* curriculum IRL.

hac1224 01-11-2013 08:19 AM

Re: Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
Okay, so I'm thinking through how I could make MFW work without having to do 3 completely separate sets of lessons for everything. I think this is similar to what you were saying, Heather, but I'm wondering if I could just order Adventures and use it for all of them together only having the oldest do the extra work involved and letting the younger ones listen in and participate on their level while adding in separate phonics/LA, math, and handwriting on their own levels without ordering the K & 1st kits from MFW. Does that make sense??

Also, I know I would need an extra map set and paint & marker cards for the youngers, but is the student pack too advanced for K & 1st? Should I get extras of those, too, or just skip them?

I know that Singapore is recommended for MFW starting in 2nd, but it wasn't quite what we needed when we tried it before. Instead I'm looking at Math in Focus which is actually still using the Singapore approach in an easier to teach and easier to understand way. I would use that on grade level for all 3 older kids.

I would still probably use Primary Language Lessons for my 3rd grader but also add in Queen's LL on level for each child (keeping with the Charlotte Mason theme).

That would mean the only thing I'm still completely undecided on is handwriting. Not sure that I care for Queens on that, but I'm researching my options now.

HeatherlovesCDs 01-11-2013 09:37 AM

Re: Best Curriculum for Combining Multiple Grade Levels?
 
Yes, that would absolutely work and is what I was suggesting. :) It is probably what I would do if I was starting when you are and know what I know. (having used K and 1st) I do love both K and 1st, but I definitely don't think you need them. In fact, this is basically what we are going to be doing next year. The only difference being that I already own K and 1st of MFW. So, we will use them for our phonics and handwriting. If I didn't own it, I would probably get something that is specifically phonics and handwriting to save money. So, yes, makes perfect sense!

I have not done Adventures. So, what I am telling you comes from reading and researching for next year on their forum. What I have read on the forum about the student sheets in Adventures is that it is a good idea to buy them for all the kids you plan to have tagging along. Your "older" children will do them as written. Your youngers will do some as written and some they will just color on, but it makes them feel like they are definitely part of school. I've seen several threads on this, both people saying how glad they are they got a set for each and others saying they wish they had. I am planning to get them for my two 5 year olds and my 7 year old next fall. I'm not sure if I will get them for the 3.5 year old. It gets expensive.

For math, I do use Singapore starting in K. I just need a little more guided direction than MFW gives for the math in K and 1st. (though, they have a new edition of K and are working on 1st. I believe they have changed the math a little.) I like Singapore, but you definitely can use something else.

Hope this helps! I'm glad you are getting it figured out. Deciding on curriculum is so tough....and fun...and stressful too! :giggle:


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