My First Homeschooling Conference…and Curriculum Plans Shaping Up!

I have just spent a decent portion of the last three days in the company of about 500-700 homeschooling parents, at the annual convention of the Illinois Christian Home Educators (ICHE). The organization was established in 1983, more than 25 years ago, which was evident in how well the convention was run. I was impressed by their attentiveness to many small details, and it was a treat to have the convention so close to home, just a ten minute drive away. My goal was to go for inspiration, encouragement, and to finalize my remaining curriculum questions; I’m happy to report that all three of my goals were met. I didn’t necessarily make many new friends, but I chit-chatted with numerous attendees and exhibitors, and once they learned I was just starting out on this journey, they poured out their support, their phone numbers if I ever needed them, their soundbites of advice, and their numerous exhortations to “stick it with, even when it gets tough…and it will get tough!”

Never having gone to any sort of parenting conference before, I found myself enjoying the talks that went beyond homeschooling issues to include general parenting topics, such as helping your children develop their talents and gifts, which is a worthwhile subject to mull over whether you’re homeschooling or not. I spent long hours in the exhibit hall, where a bevy of homeschooling products awaited my perusal. (OK, I confess, I brought home more books than were absolutely necessary…but I do think I managed to show some restraint, such as buying only 7 books from the used book vendor when I could have easily bought 20!)

I had specific goals–choosing a math curriculum at long last, finalizing some sort of plan for the holes in my curriculum plan (geography, science, history). I had read The Well Trained Mind and Latin-Centered Curriculum over and over, and I thought I had largely settled on some combination of one or both approaches. But, although the typical neoclassical educational approach favors a chronological approach to history, I was swayed by Cheryl Lowe’s article about teaching chronologically after K-2, and so I needed to find some other way to structure the content about history as a result.

To make a long story short, I have ended up with the following plan for J.’s 2nd grade curriculum:

Math: Math-U-See (Alpha), supplemented by Singapore MathRight Start games, and Calculadders

Language Arts: Classical Writing Primer, supplemented by First Language Lessons

History, Geography, Science, Bible: My Father’s World, Adventures series

Handwriting: New American Cursive

Foreign Language: Prima Latina; weekly Chinese school

Music: continue piano lessons and supplement with occasional composer studies

Art, Computer, Gym: weekly co-op classes in Naperville

As for why we are learning Latin…this is a key component in a classical education and the reasons why can be better explained by others. I was not enthused by this part of the classical approach at first, but now I’ve become a convert and am thrilled to delve into this language with Harry. The first time I browsed through the Prima Latina curriculum, I fell in love with it. We’ll see how I feel by year’s end!

Time will tell how well these plans hold up but if we need to tweak, we will tweak. If I had to identify my “spine”, I would say that language arts is our main focal point, but I’m putting together a somewhat eclectic mix of this and that and hoping it will all gel at some point. So, there is our plan! I think we’ll actually begin some aspects this summer–Math, definitely, and getting through as much of FLL as we can. Looking forward to starting the adventure!

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