Thursday, August 4, 2011

Curriculum Plans for 2011-2012

Final Game of the Diplomats 2011 Season

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  Before writing this post, I looked over my plans from 2010-2011 year.  Was I serious? I think in an ideal world I would have loved to do all of those things, but then reality or should I say life happens.  My mother and grandmother, the most beloved women in my life, became ill at the same time.  I've spent most of the year caring or coordinating care for them.  Add to that a myriad of homeschool classes, music, sports and my part-time job.  Can you spell B-U-R-N-O-U-T!!!!  As our elders often say, when you know better, you do better.  This fall, I hope to do better.  I am starting by making a bold move: no outside classes from September through March.  Yep, that's right.  As difficult as this will be for me and I'm sure for the children (my youngest wakes up every morning and asks where are we going), I think it will lay a very important foundation in our homeschooling.  I'll have the time and the consistency to actually experience some continuity in our lessons, which seem so disjointed when you start a project on Monday and can't get back to it until the following Thursday. 

In the fall, our mornings will be sacred and dedicated to enjoying our learning together.  Afternoons will be dedicated to music lessons, sports and my part-time job.  I do not consider the arts or sports extra-curricular activities, but an integral part of a well-rounded education.  In the springtime, when the snow melts, the weather begins to warm, and the flowers begin to bloom, we will come out of hibernation and re-enter the world of homeschool co-op classes.

Curriculum Plans for KingMan (my oldest son, a name given to him by his father):

Not Back to School Blog Hop

We will continue with Singapore Math.  This is one area where I feel confident and know we'll stick with this curriculum.  The Singapore Math review by Cathy Duffy explains why I feel so confident, not to mention that my son loves it! As time permits, we'll include Khan Academy for reinforcement and the Life of Fred Math Series for Living Math fun.

We will finish the Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Intensive A, following it up with the IEW theme-based writing guide All Things Fun and Fascinating. From a writer's perspective, this is the best writing program I've seen.  It teaches how to write as opposed to being a series of writing exercises.  There is a big difference.

We're sticking with Rod & Staff -- tried and true.  I honestly believe that my son likes grammar because of this program, simple, thorough and to the point.

We have been using Spelling Workout, a recommendation from the Well Trained Mind, for years and love it.  I tried Sequential Spelling and Spell Well, but KingMan prefers Spelling Workout.  I think the cross word puzzles and the sports and fitness themes of the lessons appeal to him.

I stumbled upon Vocabulary from Classical Roots at a homeschool curriculum two years ago and have been using it ever since.  This is another excellent program we'll continue using.  It's published by Educator's Publishing Service the same company who publishes Explode the Code.

Because Khan Academy was such a huge hit with my son, we'll add more video-based learning with Super Charged Science.  We will also complete our Noeo Science Chemistry Curriculum (especially since I paid good money for it!)

Now here's the fun part.  After struggling with whether or not to use Moving Beyond the Page or Sonlight, I decided that if I am going to do literature-based history, why not learn about Classical African and African American history? I'm so giddy about this I can hardly type.  We'll start with Classical Africa, a text written by Dr. Molefi Asante, Professor of African American Studies at Temple University renowned for his work on African-centered thought and education.  Once we finish this text, we'll alternate using A Journey of Liberation, also written by Professor Asante, and Grace Abounding: The Core Knowledge Anthology of African-American Literature, Music and Art.  I found this encyclopedia-sized book used for $10 bucks and the website has all kinds of free PDF teacher resources.  I'm beside myself with joy.  I may be more excited about this than my son!  

Hip Hop
This category is cross-disciplinary as it covers music, history, social studies and language arts.  We'll study the history of Hip Hop, compare/contrast Old School Hip Hop with today's Hip Hop and hopefully engage in some thought-provoking critical analysis along the way.  We homeschool mamas are working to establish a co-op using Edlyrics, a Hip Hop curriculum created by the husband of a homeschool mom in my local homeschool group.  How cool is that!?  We plan to also include a present-day African history class taught by my dear friend Obi Egbuna who has volunteered to share his experience with the homeschool community.  We will continue using Hip Hop and the Classics. Poetry has never been more fun. What better way to learn about alliteration than through an LL Cool J Song!

Foreign Language
I had KingMan do three test drives:  Tell Me More, Power Speak (formerly Power Glide) and Rosetta Stone.  He liked Rosetta Stone the best. We will all study French and a childhood friend and author, Khalil Parker, who attends French Immersion school, will be his tutor (yes, they are the same age).  Again I ask, how cool is that?!

KingMan will continue African Drumming with Tam Tam Mandingue under the loving direction of Baba Mahari and his piano studies at the Levine School of Music at THEARC.

KingMan made the travel soccer team so soccer with CapitalCF lives on.  He'll also continue with basketball.  We are in search of an AAU team because he wants more player development on par with the 5-Star Basketball summer programs he has attended.  Please send any recommendations my way.   We are also exploring competitive swimming with DC Wave in off-seasons.

Moving Beyond the Page
I almost went with full Moving Beyond the Page for ages 10-12.  It's a fantastic literature-based curriculum that includes language arts, history, social studies and science.  The co-writer is a homeschool mom just like me.  I respect that! This program actually inspired me to pull together my own literature-based, African-centered curriculum.  Though we will not use the entire curriculum, we will be incoporating it into our homeschool, especially since my son loved it so much.  I asked him to pick one literature unit and he chose Secret of the Andes, about a young boy's journey into his Inca roots.  We'll also explore the Aztecs, Incas and Mayas social studies unit.  KingMan specifically asked to do the Geography Unit, so we'll keep that too before hauling the big box back to UPS to return. I love that you can purchase the units al a carte if you desire.  I will offer more feedback on the program later in the year.

Exhale ... whew!  Now on to the next child.

Lion Heart (a name given to him by Mama)
Exploring Solids and Bases during Little Genius Science and Math Class

Plans for Lion Heart:

Homeschooling plans for Lion Heart will be infused with the concentration of Montessori using New Child Montessori, the handwork of Waldorf using Oak Meadow, and the living books approach using Five in a Row, all from an African-centered perspective.  During the writing of this post, I discovered an African-centered homeschool curriculum called the Siafu Village Curriculum.  I will be learning more about it during a the Afrikan-Centered Homeschooling 101 teleconference workshop on August 6.  Stay tuned for my feedback.  After watching the film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, I am more determined than ever to make sure that our learning reflects our history, culture and traditions. 

Unit Studies
Using Five In A Row we will explore language arts, social studies, science and math.  I will be using some of the books from their guide, but will add my own culturally affirming books and create accompanying lessons such as this unit study from the picture book Honey, Honey Lion set in Botswana.  I will also continue using Hooked on Phonics.  New this year will be Get Ready for the Code, a precursor to Explode the Code, a program that my older son loved and thrived using. 

I will use a combination of Singapore Math, Professor B Math and the Brilliant Minds Montessori Math Kit.  Using these three programs will give us just the right amount of pictorial/concrete (Singapore Math), visual/computer (Professor B), and hands-on Montessori.  I love that homeschooling allows you to pull from the best programs to give your child exactly what he or she needs.  I will review each of these programs later in the year once we have used them a while.

Science will be covered through our FIAR unit studies and Child's Play Science, but the highlight of our science studies will be our spring participation in the Little Genius Science and Math program.  Last spring Lion Heart participated in his first Little Genius Science Fair.

History/Social Studies
I was delighted to learn that Grace Abounding: The Core Knowledge Anthology of African-American Literature, Music and Art includes lessons for K-8 grade.  So I will be using this guide with both of my young kings. In addition, each child will create their very own timeline using A Book In Time

Lion Heart will begin his second year of African drumming with Tam Tam Mandingue under the direction of his beloved Baba Mahari.  This child was born to drum! He will also begin his second year of Suzuki Violin at Levine School of Music.

Theatre Arts
Lion Heart loves the stage.  I'm still searching for a program that combines dance, singing and theatre arts.  In the meantime, we will utilize afterschool programs that combine art and movement. 

Physical Education
I have been avoiding enrolling him in organized sports, but he's now asking for it.  We may venture into the world of soccer in the fall.  My oldest started with Soccer on the Hill when he was 4 years old.  He also is asking for boxing, gymnastics and martial arts.  What's a mama to do!

Whether you homeschool your children or they attend public or private school, the mother is always the first teacher.  Blessings to all!


  1. Sounds like it will be a great year :) You've got such good choices!
    Have a great rest of the week.

  2. Wow sounds like a full year. Blessings.

  3. Sounds like a great plan to me! One thing I love about homeschooling is flexibility--when family situations come up, you can shift the focus as needed. But burnout is a big danger! I've been there, too! Hopefully this year will be less hectic for you!

    We're going to read Life of Fred, this year, too. I really wanted to teach my kids French but they were more interested in German. Oh, well, I'm just glad they are learning a language! :)