A Homeschool Change

a Big Homeschool Change

This upcoming homeschool year for us will be a big one.  We have decided to make a big change and move away from box curriculum and our cyber school and onto a pick and choose method without the cyber school!

We had a great cyber school experience and have homeschooled in every sense of the word {other than the legal one meaning we were connected to the public school system via our charter school}. Our cyber school experience was vastly different than most and I did all of the teaching, using Calvert.  We didn’t do any virtual classes and had lots of freedom.  So why are we switching?  Calvert isn’t a great fit for Krash but I wanted to give it through 2nd grade to decide.  Towards the middle of this past year I had already decided, it just wasn’t working for Krash and knowing Calvert gets tougher in 3rd grade, I knew we needed a change.  It was just easier to switch PacMan {going into 7th grade} too.  We never even started Ladybug with Calvert or the cyber school, and had no plans to. So, here we are anticipating a wildly different school year for all of us! I am excited and nervous all at the same time!

I know many will want to know WHY Calvert wasn’t a good fit for Krash and why we decided to move Pac away from it to. Here are my basic reasons…

  • Calvert is a highly academic curriculum and although Krash could keep up, it wasn’t the best fit for him.
  • I strongly dislike the ATS service {not familiar, you can search on Calvert’s site to learn more}, which we were required to do due to our cyber school {this was the only part I disliked and was stuck to}.  I desperately wanted to rid our lives of “the green tests” as we call them.  Those of you familiar with ATS and Calvert will know my pain.  They assess every 20 lessons on every single subject. I do NOT want to spend so much time prepping for these and administering them.  With Pac it wasn’t as big of a deal but it got to be more of one these last few years. For K it is a big deal and we needed to be done with this. I must admit, the teacher in me loved ATS in the beginning, but now that I am more homeschool teacher minded than classroom teacher minded I dislike ATS! It took me awhile to realize I didn’t need these types of tests to know my kids were learning!
  • Calvert is not a Christian program and Pac specifically asked for a Christian based science, history and geography. We want our kids to have input and his request was something we took very seriously and wanted to do for him.
  • I really wanted to teach my kids a few subjects all together and Calvert isn’t set up like this at all.  It is child/grade level specific.
  • Calvert’s writing program is fine, but I didn’t love it.  I had a hard time maneuvering throughout their manual and wanted something that was a better fit for me and my kids.  Similar thoughts on their grammar program, the layout is what I didn’t like.  One year I liked it {can’t even remember the year} but the others, no thank you.
    I do think Calvert can be a good fit for some students and families, I am not saying it is bad.  It worked beautifully for PacMan and for me for many years.  Once I added in a second student things went down hill.  It was too hard to manage both and just didn’t work this past year.  The need to switch was very obvious and I am so thankful we made the change. So please know, I am NOT saying Calvert is bad, I am saying it no longer worked for us.  There are many fabulous aspects about it, but in the end I needed to make a choice and moving away was the choice we needed to make.
    HOWEVER, I am in the mess of struggling with weaving together our new choices as I plan this upcoming year.  Calvert and other box curriculums do a fantastic job of doing this FOR YOU.  Moving away from the simplicity of the lesson plans a box curriculum provides is a tad bit overwhelming. But, we are pushing through and I think I finally see the light!
    I do plan to share details on our blog soon about our specific curriculum choices.  In the meantime, here’s two iPhone pictures I have showing pieces of what we will be using {this isn’t everything}! I shared these on Instagram {we are 1plus1plus1}.

Do you use anything shown above?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Calvert 1st Grade Sight Word Printables

Krash is using Calvert 1st grade, and it is still the same as when PacMan used it!  I remember thinking during Pac’s year how much a few things would have helped me.  I am working now to create those things and will be sharing them here as I get them done for any of you who are using or will be using Calvert First Grade!  If you aren’t using Calvert, these posts won’t be of much interest to you, sorry!

Next up, Sight Word Printables!

Calvert 1st Grade Sight Word Printables

I wanted some simple printables to highlight the sight words of the week.  Many of these words are review for Krash since he completed You Can Read, but many of the words will be new this year! I created 3 different {and very simple} activities, which all join together to display the current words as another visual aid in learning them.

First ~ on the day the words are introduced, I am having Krash color the words {shown on top left}.

Second ~ the following day, I have him trace the words {shown far right}

Third ~ I have him write the words in the blank boxes, from memory if he can. {shown in middle}. 

You can think creatively with any of these, even using the first as a play dough mat, or using creative materials for tracing/creating words {markers, colored pencils, pipe cleaners, Wiki Stix}. If you use Calvert, you know they offer work with sight words also in the Reading Work Pages, and in the manual.  I just wanted an extra repetitive review each week to make sure he knows the current and past words.  I hope these help some of you who are using Calvert 1st grade!

>~> Download Calvert 1st Grade Sight Word Printables Below <~<

Word Coloring

Word Tracing

Word Writing

Other Calvert 1st Grade Posts and Printables…

Calvert 1st Grade Printables

Krash is using Calvert 1st grade, and it is still the same as when PacMan used it!  I remember thinking during Pac’s year how much a few things would have helped me.  I am working now to create those things and will be sharing them here as I get them done for any of you who are using or will be using Calvert First Grade!  If you aren’t using Calvert, these posts won’t be of much interest to you, sorry!

First up, Lesson Planning Printables!

1st Grade Lesson Planning Sheet

The manual is wonderful, but large!  I find it easier to have the basics on one page for each week.  I listed the main subject areas on the left, in no particular order.  I also included a blank page in case you’d like to list yours differently!

I use a pencil to write on these, then put them in a binder for the year.  We also use their ATS assessment service, so I file the assessments in groups also.  That way everything is in one notebook all year long. I do it the same way with PacMan too, he will be in 5th grade this year.

>~> Download Calvert 1st Grade Lesson Planning Printables Here <~<

I have these lesson plans available for 3rd Grade Calvert here.

More Calvert 1st Grade Printables coming soon!  See our curriculum post here.  I will be updating our curriculum post for the 012-2013 school year soon!

Kindergarten Plans for Krash

I have gotten a few emails recently asking about our Kindergarten plans, and it is about time I share our plans with you!  We are not fall grade starters, but move up when they are ready.  Krash is ready and we actually just began Calvert Kindergarten, while also finishing up his last few RRSP lessons.

Why both?  Well, we get Calvert through our state Cyber School for free {info here in this FAQ post, and here} and I used it with Pac Man and know what to expect.  I supplement a lot of my own stuff, but use Calvert as the base.  Pac Man began Calvert K right around this time {when he was almost 5-their birthdays are both in spring} and has done really well.  I want to finish our RRSP units, even though Krash has “grown out of” much of it.  I still want to do the Bible applications and finish it to completion! 

Transition Plans…

I plan to do simple posts for the last few RRSP letters, basically so new users can see each letter in action with a blog post.  Krash is no longer doing any additional preschool letter work based around the unit as he was.  His supplemental work is now coming from his K program and also a new sight word program I developed for him {MANY details coming in a couple of weeks}.

I plan to start sharing “Kindergarten with Krash” posts every couple of weeks to keep you posted on what he is doing. 

While we are in the transition phase of completing RRSP and beginning Kindergarten-I will try to do both blog posts.  We have 6 RRSP units left to complete and I may actually do 2 per week, because he has really advanced beyond the program for the most part.  We are only doing a few components currently.

If we wouldn’t have skipped so many weeks of RRSP {vacations, other focus themes, and some laziness on my part} we would be finished with RRSP by now and the timing would be perfect, but for a few weeks we will overlap and he won’t even know the difference-it’s all just school to him!

Out of the Zone ~ Lessons 11-20

out of the zone2 We have completed 20 lessons of Calvert’s 3rd grade and we continue to like it a lot. Things are going MUCH better now that we are this far into the groove.

3rd grade math continues to move fast and Pac continues to love it. He is confident in math and catches on quickly to everything being taught so far.

For spelling, he has continued to score perfect scores on his post-tests, which truly amazes me. He comes up with strategies on his own-I guess he is a better speller than I gave him credit for!! He continues to use “Calvert Mastery Spelling” and I think it really helps.

He continues to use and love the cool computer programs that are integrated into Calvert.

I am BLOWN AWAY with his writing. Seriously, this kid has went from a VERY reluctant writer to begging me to write MORE than required!!!! I think it is due to the fact that he is more confident in his handwriting now and doesn’t have to think as much about handwriting and spelling. His thoughts and ideas can flow faster and more freely now. He is really impressing me! His story called “City Kid” really touched me. I don’t have a photo of it, so here it is {copied exactly}…

“We live in the inner city because we are missionaries. God called us to the inner city so we can help people.Our neighborhood is noisy, crowded, and busy. There is a lot of people. We live in a row home at __________ Ave. Our home is made of brick. A good thing is that I have friends and a great church. But a bad thing is a lot of crime, drugs, and trash. Sometimes I wish I didn’t live in the city. But I know God called us here.”

For reading he read “The Waterfall” and we explored the story in many ways. He continues to do well with comprehension, although I did notice the questions and depth of what is required of him is shaking him up a bit! image

Science is a favorite this year, for both of us. We studied living things, focusing on plants. It was fun to get out his Flowers & Plants Lapbook and relearn things we already spent lots of time on a few years ago!

Geography is coming SO easy for him, our USA PowerPoints have really helped. He is an awesome map reader ;-).

We have decided to stop Mythology, his instructional supervisor with our cyber charter school said this is fine-as it is optional. He can learn about it later, it just doesn’t feel right to me now for him…way to graphic for what we are comfortable with.

We are both loving the Famous Americans book! During this school period we have studied these people: Nathan Hale, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.

He completed his assessments which I send into our cyber school. He is tested in each subject, which gives me a great picture of where he is at with everything we have covered. I am not allowed to look or talk to him while he takes the tests, but of course I peek when I prep them for sending. He did really well, scoring perfectly on several items{spelling, math, science, SS, geography, phonics}. He had to write complete sentence answers for some questions that were really thought provoking and struggled with those a bit. I think that section really caught him off guard as he is used to multiple choice or one word answers!

See more Out of the Zone posts all about teaching Pac Man here!