Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Building a Personal Curriculum - SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review

One of the toughest parts of building our homeschool curriculum is deciding exactly what will work best for the girls. Every kid is different, every kid learns differently (which, incidentally, is a big part of our homeschool why), so the opportunity to review curriculum is a huge advantage. It seems so fitting that my first review opportunity as a Homeschool Review Crew member is reviewing the yearly membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com!

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}

When people ask what I use to homeschool, my answer is that we're very eclectic. I know that a one-size-fits-all boxed curriculum isn't right for my particular first grader and preschooler. I experiment, I adjust, and I piece together until I find a truly personal curriculum for each girl. Age and grade level are just factors, like everything else. My "first grader" is only really "first grade" in some things. In others, she's ahead, in things like writing and handwriting, she's not. SchoolhouseTeachers.com recognizes this, and helps you find resources that are specific to the skills you are building. In addition, I have one child who loves worksheets, and another who moans and groans when she's faced with anything resembling one. SchoolhouseTeachers.com allows for this. And best of all, it allows my girls to find things for their own interests, from space to presidential history to art.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}

Madison and I spent some time over our low key weeks around the holidays going through the site and looking at what we found interesting. The majority of her official curriculum right now is Language Arts and Math (and she's working well with what we're doing), so we browsed SchoolhouseTeachers.com looking for the other pieces - art, geography, science, and history. We browsed together and made a "shopping list" of things we wanted to look more closely into. It would be easy to try to take on too much at once, so we focused on a few subjects and looked at those lessons carefully.

Honestly, I could have kept browsing, listing and bookmarking for hours. Even things that I knew we wouldn't do this year started my wheels turning for the future. There are so many possibilities out there and so much to explore!

One of the things she chose was a maps unit, geared to K-2 students, from the geography section of the elementary site. She is familiar with the basics of maps, but these particular lessons focused on perspective (the idea of zooming in and out, from a very detailed and specific map of a room, to a map of the world) and symbols.

Neither the mouse or the location have changed, but zooming out has changed our view of the map.

You truly could build your entire curriculum off of this site, but it's also incredibly beneficial to someone like me, who has a core in place, but is looking for quality ways to broaden their lessons.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and I did find a few things I didn't love. Some of the first grade lessons, particularly in history and art, we found to be very dry. Madison is fascinated by presidential history and wanted to look into that first, but we were disappointed in the early elementary offerings. We found mostly one or two page write ups about a particular event or figure with vague suggestions about additional activities. As I looked into the upper elementary, middle and high school history sections of the site I found much more engaging lessons, but it seemed lacking in the primary grades. You could also find yourself with a good deal of printing to do. It would be beneficial to any parent to carefully look at each lesson and "print smartly" - color only when necessary, saving PDFs to refer to rather than printing each page, etc.

But overall, this is a great "one stop" for most homeschooling parents. Having everything in one place, from record keeping software, to a printable homeschool planner ($125 value!), to links for homeschool parent support, to nearly every possible topic you can think of, is well worth the subscription.

Right now, the price is $12.95 a month, or $139 for a year. But in mid-January, only a few days away, the price will go up, so it's worth locking in while it's at this lower rate. And until January 15, you can use the code CHRISTMAS to get a $9.95/month rate, and the code CHRISTMASYEAR to lock in a year for $90 - a huge savings, especially when the price increases!

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}

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