Teaching and Learning, All at the Same Time.

Having attended multiple different schools, including home school, I am familiar with a wide variety of curriculum. When I was a student in grade school I didn’t care much about what curriculum my teachers were using or what I looked at in home school, because as a child I didn’t know there were differences to be concerned with. However, now that I am working at a private school and teaching my brother and sister, it is extremely important to look at the style of teaching and accuracy of information within the textbooks. If you are an educator working in the public school system and are reading this, I will be straightforward with you: I am anti common core standards. Even if you are in Texas and want to claim that Texas hasn’t implemented Common Core, you must admit that TEKES standards are cutting it pretty close. That being said, I am for Classical Education. Let’s go back to the roots of teaching, which isn’t teaching to a test, it’s teaching a child HOW to learn and be self sufficient beings. I want to highlight two things we are using in Focus Preparatory Classic School, and discuss why I like them better than anything I had growing up (save for the two years I was able to be home schooled).

Saxon Math

My siblings are in 4th grade, so they use Math 5/4. What’s a 5/4? Well, it is basically a 5th grade difficulty written for a 4th grader. The kids do not know this, I will not ever tell them. If my sister knew she was getting assignments that could suffice for an older child, she would have a cow. She struggles with some math skills, but she does great with this curriculum. If it had been to hard in the beginning we could have gone with a 4/3 which is still technically fourth grade math, just for a third grader. Cathy Duffy Reviews explains it better than I do:

“This textbook should be appropriate for most fourth graders and those fifth graders who lag slightly behind grade level. Among topics covered in Math 5/4 are addition (review), subtraction, multiplication (up to multiplying a 3-digit numbers by a 2-digit number), division (up through dividing by 2-digit numbers), time, measurement, money, area, perimeter, fractions, mixed numbers, arithmetic algorithms, geometry and measurement, negative numbers, powers and roots, two-step word problems, decimals, averaging, estimation, patterns and sequences, statistics and probability, and Roman numerals….”

Each Lesson is very step-by-step and easy to follow for teachers, and many students are able to read it themselves and do the problem sets completely independently. This is why many home school families choose Saxon. My brother tends to be very independent, but my sister needs the extra guidance. Perk of homeschooling: they both get what they need. The same story goes at Focus Prep.

I know it is only November, but I am already researching and getting price estimates for next. Looking on the Saxon website, I found that they even have summer school curriculum, which I am now highly considering.

Tapestry of Grace

My new favorite thing is Tapestry of Grace. History, Geography, Writing, Social Studies, Literature, and more all in one package. The year is already planned out, it is just up to the teacher to choose what lessons and resources they are going to implement in class. If you are considering homeschooling, or are looking into a new curriculum, there is a free three week sample at the TOG website.

We are on Year 1, which is Creation to the Fall of Rome. Currently on Week 12, studying Ancient America. The curriculum takes you from the beginning of time in year one, to more modern history in year four. Every four years, you being again at year one. So, my brother and sister began the curriculum in grade 4. We will study ancient history again when they are in 8th grade, and once more in 12th. Here is a table that may make that more clear:

Year Grade Grade Grade
1 Ancient to Fall of the Roman Empire 4 8 12
2 Middle Ages to New World 5 9  
3 19th Century 6 10  
4 20th Century and Today 7 11  

When you buy a year plan, you get the whole lesson plan for each grade level. This makes it easier to use if more than one grade level is being taught. The awesome thing is that, by revisiting the same subject twice, they can be gradually introduced to it one year, and then learn more in-depth things in later years. I wish I had known about TOG sooner. If we had started in first grade, the chart would look like this:

Year Grade Grade Grade
1 Ancient to Fall of the Roman Empire 1 5 9
2 Middle Ages to New World 2 6  10
3 19th Century 3 7  11
4 20th Century and Today 4 8  12

Literature and writing studies are included with the materials, making it easy to give appropriate assignments and to allow students learn more about the cultures. It is amazing. If you choose to get a sample or are already looking into this curriculum, don’t be overwhelmed: no one teaches all the lessons or uses all the suggested outside texts. It is up to you to choose how your weekly studies will go.

Last week we learned about ancient China. The kids were super excited about making an abacus and learning how to use it.

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