Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finding Curriculum to Meet the Needs of the Child

School days, school days, good ole' golden rules days! How I love teaching! I drink in curriculum like others drink sweet nectar! And then there are those times I actually get drunk on curriculum. Those are the times when I have hit just the right combination for each child I teach. It has taken me a week and a half to find that magical combo for a little ten year old boy I homeschool.

P is ten but he is actually working at the third grade level. There really isn't any reason that he is two years behind, other than that someone somewhere dropped the ball with him. He catches on to things quickly but, oh, how he hates to study! By afternoon he needs prompted to move to every single problem!

I just haven't been quite comfortable with his placement in the curriculum I thought he would need. I decided to try the same Reading from Christian Light that Peter is doing but that quickly had its disadvantages.

The first was that I wanted him to go faster than Peter. Peter is actually in 3rd grade but working about 4 months behind in reading because of his bout in the public school system! So, you see, Peter can do third grade reading but it challenges him. I like that. P can do third grade reading too but it soon became obvious that he knew far more words than Peter did. So now came the decision. Do I keep him in third grade reading or do I switch him to 4th and challenge him a bit more? There were words in the third grade reader he didn't know but there weren't enough of those words to really make it worth his time to stay there.

On the other hand, he positively cannot do the critical thinking needed in the CLE worktext for third grade reading. In CLE the student doesn't just fill in the blanks to the questions nor is there multiple choice questions. Instead you will find questions that need some abstract thinking to answer them properly. For example" "Matt said he would have seen the money if Lee hadn't seen it first. Would he have seen it? Probably or Probably Not. The child then circles the answer he thinks is right. Then it asks. "What did you read in the story that makes you think that?"

This kind of critical thinking is really tough for Peter but almost impossible for P. So now do I keep him in third grade and make up my own questions? Should I focus on reading the words and on comprehension and not bother right now with the critical thinking part of it since he is so behind? Should I put him all the way back in CLE Grade 2 just so he has a better chance of doing the workbook?

Well, here is where my years of teaching asserted itself. Diagnosing the problem was the hard part. The answer was easier. It was Bob Jones! They have critical thinking in their curriculum but they give the younger child four options to choose from to help him with the abstract thought!

So today I moved P. over to Bob Jones Reading 3B. That is the latter half of third grade. I'm hoping by the end of this year that he will be ready to read at the fifth grade level come next fall. That would put him only a year behind grade level.

A couple of other things have become apparent to me these first two weeks of school. Peter needs to back way up in Phonics because he was never taught the consonant blends or vowel digraphs or anything past the basic letter sounds. I schooled him last year at home from February through mid July and by the time I really became aware of this I didn't want to switch things up for him.

He was in the middle of second grade when I pulled him out to homeschool. I put him back in the BJU Reading for first grade last year, but I didn't do anything for phonics other than what cropped up in the first grade worktext that went along with the reading book. Now this year I have a firmer grip on where he's at and now its time to buy him a phonics book.

Unfortunately, my beloved Bob Jones curriculum didn't meet the need here as clearly as Horizons Phonics program. So now Peter is working in Horizons Phonics and Reading Book 1. He will be able to zoom through it but there will be lessons that will stop him in his tracks. Those will be the lessons on all the blends. Im feeling so good about this choice of curriculum in Phonics. It's exactly what he needs!

On the other hand, P has Phonics down better than any of my students but the child knows nothing about capitalization and sentence structure! Enter English 2: Writing and Grammar from Bob Jones! Perfect!

So now to see a complete list of how this all goes together for each student look on the sidebar and you will find links to all of the curriculum the kids are in. When you teach children that are coming in from the public school or who have learning disabilities you can almost never put them all in one tidy curriculum tied up in a pretty bow!

Tink, however, has been home schooled the longest and she is now in that
"pretty package" time of her life. After being all over the board the last three years she is now in the 5th grade on EVERYTHING! It just thrills me. Yes, I know she should be in 7th grade this year. I am well aware of that, but when you consider that three years ago she was working at the beginning first grade level then you will understand the thrill of having her in the 5th grade! She is doing CLE in most of her books. She hasn't started Teaching Textbooks for Math yet because the Academy that purchased the books still has not given us the code for them so she is finishing the remnants of Bob Jones 4th grade from last year. Hopefully I should get the code this week!

I have another student, Kay, who is doing wonder- fully in Hooked on Phonics combined with The

American Language Series
. I'll tell you more about the details of her studies in a later post. For now let it be said that I am one happy woman! The curriculum is all dove tailing beautifully!


  1. Hahaha...I love that picture of P:)

    It sounds like he's on the way to making some real progress this year. I'm glad you were able to find a good combination for him.

    And I have to say that Tink is a definite encouragement to me when it comes to the Princess. I know she'll be behind in the coming years (as well as now) but if she can make the steady progress that Tink has, I could definitely be happy with that.

    You're drunk are you? No comment on that;)

  2. Awesome Post! I wish I had kept the grandson home to home school but was overwhelmed with the various programs. I know of one family in our area which has chosen to HS. For now I will continue to teach alongside PS. I need to do more research. I've looked at so many programs & the methods vary greatly. It's nice to know they could be blended.

  3. Have you seen that "sound slider" from CLE? It's pretty neat. It's got all the early reading blends that you slide on and off like an interactive flash card system.

    My son(6th) struggles a little with that critical thinking. It's a toughy. I think he'll get better at this as he(his brain) matures.

    The beauty of homeschooling - options, options! I look forward to your comments on those Teaching Textbooks. I only know a little about them, but they sound interesting.

    Have you tried Apologia? I'm wondering whether to use this later on or not.

  4. "I drink in curriculum like others drink sweet nectar." I LOVE THAT! It sounds much better than how I diagnos myself.....Cirriculum Junkie. When you find that one that works for the child it is so rewarding.

    I like your blog.



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