As we have now come to the conclusion of Term 1, I thought to share some curriculum highlights from our first Term.  Some I have mentioned in passing before, but I’ve compiled a more complete synopsis.
For clarity; Koala is in Grade 12, Carpenter in Grade 10, Einstein Grade 8, Michelangelo Grade 6, Princess Grade 4, Jelly Bean Grade 1 and Jack Jack Pre-School.  Jem of course tags along and I’m sure Bass will soon find his niche;)


Didache – This is the second year we have used this program for Faith and I highly recommend it.  Very solid, very thorough.  Our teens have learnt so much and the books have fostered some wonderful discussions and searchings.  

Windows to the World – The first Literature Analysis program we have used.  Thus far we have covered Annotation, Allusions and Plot & Suspense.  I read the lesson to my older teens, we then enjoy lots of discussion and analysis.  One child enjoys it more than the other, but then that is partly application;)  The standard is excellent and the material clear.

Our Writing Teacher, Sr J – Eighteen months ago we formed a Writing Club with a couple of other homeschool families, the synergy was incredible and the children all positive about writing.  Towards the end of last year we felt our older children needed further extension.  With great daring, backed by prayer I set out to find a teacher, God sent Sr J.  Sister has covered some amazing  work with the children, most recently they have been working on thesis statements and essays.  This has also meant the children have had to work within deadlines.  This opportunity has been a Godsend.

Science – This term our highschoolers designed their own unit, studying computer hard-drives.  Thus they begged friends for as many semi-functional computers as they could and set up their Computer Triage; gutting, salvaging and upgrading computers.  This hands on approach has been one of the most rewarding learning experiences.

Lingua Mater – This is the second time I have tried to use Lingua Mater with one of my teens, and I’m still getting a negative response.  I’m not convinced it is the program, in my opinion it looks great, nor am I sure it is a clash of learning style and program, it could, at least with this child be an attitude issue. I’m just not sure whether to persevere,  two negatives aren’t positive in this case.– We’ve been using this program with our highschoolers for several years now and are very happy with it.  The lesson is taught, children answer questions, answers are entered and marked for you.

Highschool & Primary

Spelling Wisdom – Thanks to Jen’s enthusiastic recommendation we purchased this program last year.  Finally, finally after all these years my children are making progress in their spelling ability!!!!!!  Spelling Wisdom has been a pivotal choice in our home-education. We have always undertaken dictation, but studied dictation was the key for us.  As a mother of a large family, the pre-selected and high standard of these exercises is greatly appreciated. 
Story of the World Vol 4 –   After years of my boys declaring they didn’t like history they have had a complete change of heart.  History is now one of their favourite topics, they are loving the ‘big picture approach’ of SOTW.  We are ready for Volumes 2 or 3 next term and plan on using Valerie’s plans to present the Catholic worldview. 

Faith and Life Series – Every now and then I attempt to implement these books, and then I remember why I don’t really care for them, frankly they are rather boring.  Surely someone has written a richer program.  Until I discover that program we’re returning to Saints and Bible stories. – ‘Little sibling’ to the teens program, I still haven’t made up my mind about this program, we’ve only been using it for 10 weeks, Jelly Bean for 2.  I have a suspicion that I’d far prefer using a book for these ages, easier for me to ‘keep my finger on the pulse’, but I’m staying open minded for longer before I make a definite opinion.
Stories with a View – My 4th & 6th Graders have enjoyed this approach to writing.  A gentle combination of picture study and writing prompts.  
Intermediate Language Lessons –  Formal grammar is being at best tolerated, it is not really difficult, more what produces the groans is my insistence on the written word.  I’m considering other ways of teaching grammar next term. 
Science – The children have been choosing a couple of experiments a week and then writing a ‘report’.  They enjoy the experiments but not the writing.  
Wonderland of Nature – I think a rather lovely book, however the children have been working through independently and I’m not convinced they are nurturing a love for nature.  Not the fault of the program, more the presentation.
Faith and Freedom Readers – There is really something special about these books; the repetition is very cleverly done, not too forced at all, thoroughly and quickly progressing on.  Of course the Catholic content is simply very sweet.  I used these books to teach my brother to read 22 years ago, and now I’m using them with my sixth child!