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Sunday, March 14, 2010

CHC, OLVS, MODG and SETON ~ Catholic Homeschooling Curriculum Choices, Part Two

Part Two on how our homeschool curriculum has evolved and for part one, click HERE.

Up to this point, we'd been homeschooling for 2 years and benefited from 2 different curriculum providers. We were approaching highschool for my oldest and had been intrigued with MODG, used by most of those in our homeschool group. The features of having a consultant to guide your family and the option of also signing up for a TA to grade papers and help me keep my student on track as well as the option of Teleconference classes all combined to frame a program that I did not see available elsewhere. I knew I'd need help guiding my eldest in certain courses in highschool and I knew I still wanted time to devote to my other 3 children/students...so the ability to have more "teachers" was appealing.


YEAR THREE -MODG, Mother of Divine Grace Classical Curriculum
For Year 3, we enrolled the gang in MODG when my oldest was in 8th grade and I also had a 6th grader and 2nd grader....and a preschooler.

My oldest had an incredible TA for History and Religion. On a monthly basis she would call him and discuss his work, what he was reading and learning, what work was due and tips for it. But she went even further, her calls were like mini-lectures, filled with fascinating recaps of the history and movie suggestions and more! Her paper comments were encouraging and the whole process from listening, taking notes, conversing, emailing, scheduling and editing all benefitted my son.

He followed the 8th grade syllabus and planner and, again, it worked out well. One of my favorite resources from that year was Easy Grammar. It was a wonderful way to reinforce Voyages in English and yet so concise and helpful on a more simplistic level. It cut to the chase and taught a way to look at a sentence, dissect it, that has helped me as well! Other favorites are Wordly Wise, the history literature and focus on "living books" and the 5 minute-ers. What are the 5 minute-ers? They are subjects that don't require a lot of time but reap such lovely results...the Poetry recitation and art and music appreciation. We like the Seton Art appreciation books.

For my 6th grader, it also went well. I wondered if he'd like all the reading and he did, because it was interesting. There were some areas where we did make substitutions. My 6th grader grew restless with the TOPS science and so we used Seton's 7th grade science , can't go wrong with Seton...and the Usborne book on Scientists that his older brother had used. We used a CHC Speller, too because we had no prior experience or investment in The Writing Road to Reading. Having used CHC before, the speller was a nostalgic return to a Catholic spelling book that we had previously enjoyed. Have you seen their spellers? They actually have apologetics built into them!

MODG's religion program has students reading and discussing the Gospels with their parent /teacher....wonderful time spent with my son and God the Son. What other program assists you in earning indulgences for reading God's Word as part of your curriculum? An argument can be made that the Bible is the ultimate school book! The recommendation to use the Navarre Bibles that are FILLED with notes has also been a blessing to us. The Catholic notes give us chills sometimes, especially the stunning revelations for St. Jose Maria Escriva who we have grown to love.

The Editing books are a ton of fun and so quick and yet the focus of having the student find mistakes in someone else's paper gives them the power. Great psychology and another 5 minute-er.
It was the first year we used Saxon for math. I think the spiral is a great way to remember and revisit what is learned and the way Saxon has a chapter/lesson referral number beside every problem makes it easy to go back and reread/relearn whatever problem you miss. The teacher's answer keys show the steps too. What a complete and gold standard for math. Now they even have matched their competition in providing teaching DVD tutorials. For this son, who has an easier time with math, I will stay with Saxon as my consultant said every young person that she sees tested that has used Saxon tests higher that those who use other programs. (Demo on tutorials)

For my 2nd grader, MODG was less work than he was used to. It was nice to encourage him to go build with K'nexs or use his imagination in another way. But he liked working at the table with the rest of us. Sound Beginnings was too elementary for him and so we used Seton's 2nd grade speller and Phonics.
Although he liked MODG science he wanted to do more and I had CHC's 2nd grade science to read with him and do note taking on. I really enjoyed reading these with him and seeing Catholicism woven in. (I'm luving that CHC now has videos to peruse their products!) Another terrific find that we used in tandem with our States and Capitals flashcards was Audio Memory's States and Capitals. We found it at the library but had to buy it. My 4 year old new her Capitals just watching alongside her brother!
We like to supplement with lots of library DVDs and educational Netflix. See this POST for more. In our Netflix queue, besides movies and biographies, we have science series, geography series, even math series along with manners, virtues and young reading/phonics DVDs. The youngest get something daily, the older boys usually on Fridays.

At the end of that school year, last year, I sent away to OLVS' link for testing. Scroll down this page for standardized testing. Mrs. Dunsford was VERY affordable, prompt and professional and the kids tested very well! Phew! It was a wonderful year and with all the flexibility we needed and a 32 week school year that allowed us plenty of time for field trips and time to divert from the planner should we want to follow a rabbit trail. Mother Of Divine Grace (combined with our additions from Seton and CHC) was a great fit for us.

As we approached this year, our table grew larger. We had a local carpenter build one to size. We ordered many new bookshelves, corner cabinets and tables from THIS affordable company to line the walls. We had more books than buckets could hold. It's not really a dining room at all anymore, except for Christmas. Although I did come up with a clever way to hang fabric from inside the open book shelves so that when it is a dining room the books aren't busying up our visual and causing distraction. I'll have to post about that sometime, with pictures.

And here we are, in YEAR FOUR - MODG, Mother of Divine Grace
My 9th grader is following all the MODG suggestions except that he works better, confidence-wise, with Teaching Textbooks for Algebra 1. There is a TON of writing, but he is a good writer (and thank God for his TA!) and I believe that the program has also built his confidence in that area. The literature continues to offer excellent suggestions to bring time periods alive and the Religion is meaty. His TA truly helps him (and me) stay on track with so much writing for Science (2 papers a week) and well as papers in Religion and History. While the Warriner's Grammar was recommended, Easy Grammar was too and I wonder if I should have stayed with that? It's not that we don't like Warriners, I'd just like to open the Easy Grammar up and see how it compares and engages the student. We also deviated to Wordly Wise again, for vocabulary, instead of using Warriner's for that area.

My 7th grader is loving this years Classical focus on Greece and Rome. He luvs reading about Rome and has enjoyed the Greeks as well. His writing has surprised me, he ramped up from dictating to me to typing out lengthy and interesting papers on his own! He enjoys the work of filling in maps for geography. We found an excellent book that covers both art and handwriting while being in this years time period...Draw and Write Through History - Greece and Rome .

Favorites for me from this year are the combined grammar and Latin in Basic Language Principles. Aha! Light bulbs going off. Understanding Latin IS all about understanding grammar. I also love working with him on Catholic Apologetics through the Friendly Defeder cards. Currently he says his favorite is Science and the recent focus on Physics. I hear from moms on the MODG yahoogroup that 7th grade C&C science would have been easier to understand if we had done 5th grade C&C science...I'll remember that for #3 son.


Speaking of #3 son, for my 3rd grader, he's got a bit of a mix going on. Being ahead as a reader he's not doing MODG spelling and phonics but rather using a CHC Speller and SETON phonics. We are liking the MODG Primary Language Lessons. Another favorite is the English From the Roots Up flashcards for learning his Greek and Latin derivatives. Floors the grandparents! His art and handwriting books come from Seton, his math Teaching Textbooks Math 4, but Saxon next year. For Science, we are using the Catholic CHC's Behold and See 3 again. All this deviation and yet we can still be enrolled with MODG. That's flexibility.

This year we have a Kindergartner! And another case of someone who likes to sometimes work around the table longer than she is required to by the MODG program so she has a lot of SETON in her day. She adores her Seton Math book, Mathematics K for Young Catholics and her Phonics K for Young Catholics.

For reading, we are using Teach Your Child to read in 100 Easy Lessons and the CHC's Little Stories for Little Folks. We're also fans of the BOB books for beginning readers.

She memorizes prayers and and recites poems. We read and narrate bible stories and The Catholic Children's Treasure Box as well as other picture books, like ones recommended by The Catholic Mosaic. She loves to draw following the Usborne how-to books and we like the drawing and writing component of Draw Write Now. Besides Fisher Price handwriting books she also uses one called Most Holy Trinity Academy Kindergarten Catholic Penmanship that I purchased from one of my favorite vendors at the IHM conference, Keller Books. Every year I find treasures with them.


ART

Art, in general, comes in many forms. The children all have how-to draw books, like Drawing Textbook recommended by MODG and others, like Usborne, history ones, military ones and Catholic ones. CHC has a Catholic how-to-draw and a great art study program. Steven Kellmeyer has a *wonderful* book called Artfully Teaching The Faith that gives incredible insights. See this post (towards the bottom) for more about that book and others we use for art. From my grandparents I have 2 huge volumes of Funk & Wagnalls Famous Paintings with intro by G. K. Chesterton. A large reproduction of a famous portrait is coupled by an art appreciation lesson for it. I direct the kids to pick one to spend time with every once in a while. You can see it online HERE.


MUSIC

My husband is very musical and plays guitar and piano. My oldest son is like him, also playing both. We follow MODG's encouragement and Andrew Pudewa's to surround ourselves with the beautiful and spend time listening to and comparing Classical music compositions from The Top 100 Masterpieces of Classical Music. Next year there will be Piano lessons.


MEDIA

We use YouTube, alot. It is a great homeschool resource. We listen to Classical music and watch different orchestrations of it. We watch shakespeare and poetry recitations to help us with our inflections. When we read about Mussolini we can look at him and hear him make a speech and history comes alive. We can watch science and history and biography clips there too. To get more in depth, we rent educational films from Netflix.com. On our Ipods and MP3s we can upload poetry and books.

P.E.
Ice Hockey
basement gym workouts
running around outside, biking, ripsticking
and as Spring comes, baseball and golf

Frankly, I'm exhausted. And if you've read this all you , no doubt, are too! Let's leave it here and let me know if I missed anything you wondered about?

8 comments:

Dessi said...

Hey, that was so informative!!! Were you ever enrolled wit Seton? I am trying to decide once again what to use:) I love Setons materials being soo Catholic and the little icons on each page. I grew up in communist country and we had all kinds of communists symbols and pictures of Lenin, Stalin etc. on our pages. I like the fact that kids can work on their own, very important thing in large family with lots of young one, yet I want to do something more and fun with them. I guess I could add stuff...I also like the record keeping, the staff and the price;). Keep writting you give me lots of things to think about.

+JMJ+ said...

Dear Dessi, while I have never been enrolled with Seton I have the highest regard for them and use many of their materials. I would certainly recommend them and think they offer something no other curriculum can. So much of their program is online and organized on line and I always hear that if you call them they are very helpful.

THere's a WONDERFUL and SUPPORTIVE and ACTIVE yahoogroup for Seton. It is more active than any other homeschool board I am on and you can find it by searching yahoogroups for HEARTOFSETON.

As to your question, I think Seton strives for the most independence from it's students and OLVS is like them. I have heard many a mom say that since so much science and history is re-covered and in greater depth as students approach high school, maybe you could give yourself a break and try to combine your students, perhaps doing lapbooks on those subjects. THere's a mom, Lori, on the Seton group that has done just that.

Jen said...

I have a daughter entering 7th grade soon and so thank you for such an informative post on the differences between CHC, Seton and MODG. I've added this to my favorites so I can come back to it when it's time to order curriculum. I'm new to your blog and am loving it.

Jamie Carin and Claudio Romano said...

Allison,

How do you mix and match subjects between curriculum? If you are enrolled with MODG for example but use different science and different spelling etc etc. Did you have to buy the books before you decided you preferred a different series??

I have been involved in the homeschooling world since before i even had kids and yet I am still overwhelmed at the thought of picking curriculums in a few years.

Also I am STILL at a loss of what to do with Benjamin NOW. I know...he is only 2. But what he has picked up on his own (with nothing from me) is astounding and I am not even sure what to do with him! One day I think...well he got this far with no help from me just let him pick up what he does and just focus on creative play. And other days I feel like I should really be focusing on reading skills since he just LOVES letters and numbers. But I am so uncreative and feel like i have no clue.

Ok and another question. You are using 100 east lessons for reading. Would this be something Ben could use in another year (when he is 3?) how does it work? And do you have any experience with Hooked on phonics?

Ok I think that is all the questions for today LOL

Jamie

Maria said...

It's been so neat reading about your journey. I came here looking for information about your trip to Rome and got side-tracked, lol...

+JMJ+ said...

Thank you, Maria. So glad you came to visit my blog and found other posts that you enjoyed.

Home School Mom: Denise said...

Call me late...but...this was a great article, thanks so much for your detail and insight. Really enjoyed reading it and how you are tailoring things so nicely for your children. Good to hear about the different providers and benefits of what the programs have to offer.

JMJ+ Denise in Ohio

Allison said...

Hi Denise!

Thanks for commenting! So glad you found the post useful. I think it's time for an update to this post. Hope to get around to it this summer.