Monday, July 16, 2012

Curriculum? Or No Curriculum?? That is the question...

So it seems that most of my free time (which I have a lot more of since we are on summer break) has been spent preparing for the next school year. I have been researching curriculum choices like crazy. I have a pretty good understanding of what needs to be worked on with Ben next year and a pretty good idea of what worked and didn't work this year. I also have a pretty good idea of how I want to teach, but that doesn't mean that I have found the curriculum to answer all of what is required.  So here it goes... if you have any suggestions for me to look at, please let me know.

For reading, I started with Abeka, 1st grade at the beginning of this school year. Benjamin quickly started HATING reading time. He had always loved reading before, so I knew that I needed to change. He felt that the books were too easy and I found the books to be boring. There was no substance to them because they were phonics readers. I had chosen this program because I wanted to make sure that Ben had a good grasp on phonics and that we hadn't missed anything. I quickly learned that his phonics skills were great and that he needed something else. After 2 months, I stopped Abeka altogether. 

The rest of the year consisted of thematic units based off of science topics and random first readers that I felt to be level-appropriate. We soon figured out that Benjamin loved non-fiction and loved science, so nonfiction readers were perfect for him. There was no pre-made curriculum to go with the randomness of our units, so a lot of it was either created by me or found on the internet. There was a lack of cross-curricular consistency with his other language arts and the books we were reading, and I hated that. I also hated that he was reading mostly non-fiction. I really feel that there is a lot of value in reading actual children's literature and have vowed to include more into our school time this year. However, I LOVE thematic units and find them more fun to prepare and also more engaging for the child than random, unconnected lessons. The biggest issue I had: I was doing all of the work and preparation... and it took a lot of time that I didn't really have. After talking to my husband, we both decided that I needed to try and find something that required less creation on my part.

The good news is that my lack of a true reading curriculum didn't seem to hurt Benjamin at all. His reading skills have improved dramatically. I had him tested by a reading specialist and his scores came out as on grade-level for decoding (2.0) and close to grade-level for comprehension (1.6). Since he reads slowly, the test took 3x longer than the anticipated 30 minutes, causing him to pretty much not care by the end. The tester felt that he can probably read and comprehend even higher than that, but because of his ADHD, he had enough and lost focus. Either way, I was ecstatic to hear his reading scores. It gave me the confidence that I needed to start planning next year's reading choices and curriculum picks.

I have searched and searched and searched the internet in hopes of finding a curriculum that has actual real children's literature, planned into thematic units, already done for me, and here's the kicker... cost friendly. Sure, I can order Sonlight. It has a fantastic list of readers and is all done for me. But, it is expensive, and I have a feeling that the seatwork won't be a good fit for Benjamin's learning style. 
I can buy individual units based off of literature picks, but at $10-$20 a unit, I can see that getting expensive really quickly. But, these seem to be the best bet for me if I am not going to be creating everything myself. I just don't see me only doing 1 or 2 thematic units all year.  Sigh... why can't there just be exactly what I want to use out there for the cheap price that I want to pay?

Does anyone else have the problem of not being able to find the exact fit when it comes to curriculum? 


  1. I'm using Sonlight list of books as a starting point, but I've dropped using their teacher guide. We're doing more lapbooks and notebooking with whatever we're reading. You should check out Amanda Bennet Unit Studies. She often runs freebies and specials. (
    I've been updating our curriculum for the year here:

  2. Thanks Amanda! I will take a look at her unit studies. I have thought about actually putting together and selling my unit studies. So many people out there are doing that... and if I am already putting the units together...