We have already logged 125 out of our 180 required days of school for this year. With only 55 more days to go, I am already almost done gathering the supplies for next school year. A couple of changes are in order for the 2010-2011 school year.
This is not one of them! ha ha! A Beka continues to be my choice for Reading, Spelling, and Language Arts. We also will use their handwriting practice books again. Their consumable workbooks aren't super cheap, but at the end of the year I have the confidence that in completing them we have covered that year in depth for the grade level. And, their workbooks are in color with pretty pictures for the kids and have sufficient content that you don't run out of practice pages. I will look for the history books by them (used at McKay's) but we are going a different direction for Science:
Home Science Adventures is the choice for science next school year. Or whenever we are finished reading through our A Beka book, which will be soon. The kit I chose includes a bird unit (pictured above), an astronomy unit (below), and a magnet unit (bottom)
It includes ALL the supplies you need for the experiments. I figured we could do the magnet unit first, then the astronomy unit in the fall, then wait and do the bird unit in the spring. I am excited about using a science program that will be more in depth. I wanted to add to the Abeka books with experiments but the ones suggested by them are either super simple (quick) or overly involved...like watch a tadpole grow into a frog. Plus I am not the best at putting together things on my own. AND it was only $81 for the entire year which included all the supplies and an extra set of "notebooking worksheets" for a second student. (Have I mentioned that I LOVE that Katie and Noah can do the same stuff?!?!)
Another change will be with Math. I absolutely, positively DO NOT ENJOY A Beka Math! All that memorization and ridiculous (speed) timing of things. I want my kids to UNDERSTAND math and I actually saw a regression in Katie so far this year with switching from RightStart to A Beka. The reason I had switched was just fear of it being too different and not translating well to testing. I know that doesn't matter, but I just wanted a little more tradition. Well, A Beka (in my opinion) may produce strong test takers but I saw Katie go from adding tens in her head to drawing out objects on her paper to add and subtract single digit numbers! Noah was adding on his fingers! Yes manipulatives are good, but what to do later when they get past ten? ha ha! And memorization and speed drills do NOT work well with Katie's personality. I know that some things eventually become memorized in Math, but I don't think that's the way to lay the foundation. It was a struggle every day, whereas with RightStart we had both enjoyed Math time every day. I am hoping that switching to this program will be a good combination of the good things I liked about both... the mental math and understanding of RightStart, with the daily practice and review of A Beka.
I have heard awesome reviews of it, and a personal friend who just loves it. It has also been around a LONG time (their early editions can be found online for sale...VHS tapes! ha!) so I know they have end results to show for their program. If you click on the logo their website has demos you can watch. It looks like a great fit for what I want for Katie and Noah with learning Math. Learning the easier way, with memorization coming naturally after you learn the "why and how." The lessons start each day with a short (think 5 min) DVD lesson then I go over it with each one individually and they do their daily practice.
It is going to be a bit pricey for the first year (around $150, not each) because there is a set of manipulative blocks you need, but use for several years. I am finding some of the supplies used, so we'll see if I can get it all together for a reasonable cost.
UPDATE: I realize that re-reading I am sounding really harsh toward A Beka and traditional math. There is nothing wrong with traditional math, I just personally hate it because I never really learned math very well as in understanding it, so it just didn't synch with my brain for some reason. No reason why it might not work for you or your kids, I just don't think it's a good match for my kids based on what I have observed... not hatin' that kind of math for everyone...just us.
Anyway, it is an exciting time of year, and I am so thankful that we have the funds right now to go ahead and purchase what we need so we don't have it hanging over us till June. Our next school year will officially begin in July. But, Noah will be starting the first grade reading and language arts and soon as I get it in because he is finished with his Kindergarten stuff.
The second grade A Beka handwriting introduces cursive! Katie will be thrilled! (maybe she will prefer cursive or something....because she doesn't really love manuscript!)