Homeschool – Why We Are Using My Father’s World

my fathers worldSo this Spring I have been preparing for our next year of homeschool. We typically homeschool all year round. Our schedule is always changing and my husbands work schedule is sometimes unpredictable so I found through trial and error that schooling year round is great for us. (I will add a separate post about how we form a schedule to school year round) We usually order our materials by March and then start fresh with the spring time on our next official homeschooling year. Japan starts their school year end of March beginning of April as well. So that helps us adjust while being in Tokyo.

This is our second year using My Fathers World. Previously we used My Fathers World: Adventures in American History and we have tried Sonlight. We are not exclusive with using only one curriculum but, for the second year in a row we will continue with My Father’s World as our main spine.  We will use it as a basis for Social studies/history, Language arts/Bible study, and some of our science. It will give us a list of read alouds and suggested readers, and scheduled activities with lists of the needed materials already planned out. It also will have a complete school year planned in a grid style planner with additional tips and information for the teacher ready to go. This saves so much time. There are open spaces in the weekly schedule for adding in extra subjects.

We are in the middle of an international move and being able to used a partially boxed curriculum with a schedule to follow is really going to help me. While I am busy preparing a major move I will have extra time for things like house hunting instead of spending hours making lessons plans and lists of materials we need.

The first year we used My Father’s World I thought maybe it was a bit too easy and I was not completely satisfied with the level for my 7 year old. But then I realized that both of my kids were enjoying school so much with the added activities that they were both probably getting more out of the curriculum than they would with a rigorous nothing but book work style unit. They would find it dull and tune out much of the information I was giving them. I also realized that we were previously spending so much time trying to increase our difficulty of course work we weren’t doing great at life tasks like learning to measure for cooking, saving time for learning about common sense things like how to prevent or put out fires, what to do in emergencies. So since I course work was not too long we spent a unit or two learning all these important life skills.

As we got comfortable with the program we began to bulk up the rigor which is really easy to do to match your Childs won needs. We just purchased a higher level of the math we were using, and added in some higher level English/ Language arts supplements and our own choice for science plus our usual foreign language, piano, typing and coding and we had a busy and entertained kid.

There are also extra spaces in the daily schedule that you can write in exactly what you would like to add and schedule it out for your week/ month. It is also easy to see the details as your teachers Manuel/schedule book is spiral. So no pages are constantly ripping and you can fold it over. The boxes are big enough that I can add dates, extra notes and extra subjects toward right on the page. this serves as double duty as I have a record right there of what we have done in school should I have to prove that to a district or state in the future. We are floating without homeschool laws due to where we live at this time but, that could change so I want to be ready to present anything needed , should things change.Overall the set up is really user friendly – Easy to get used to if you are new to homeschooling or if you are using the program for the first time. What homeschool mom doesn’t love a spiral bound book of any kind?!

My Father’s World does offer suggestions on individual course curriculums to try if you are feeling kind of lost about all the choices.. For example I believe that when we bought our Adventures unit, “Singapore Math” was suggested to purchase for the math subject. We were already using Singapore Math at the time, so we continued on with our next level and it worked out well. We also used some of the suggested Language arts materials and we enjoyed it. This was a plus as we were using Adventures with a “2nd grader” by public school definition, but we were using a higher level of math and English and this made no issues. We could also add in a higher reading level in the book basket for fun and some below his reader level just because he was interested in the particular book. We did not feel limited for restricted by My Fathers World. We just felt like we had a solid plan to lead us.

If you have no previous experience with My Fathers World one important thing to note is the aspect of the “book basket”. Everyday you child is to have time with the book basket. This is about 20 minutes of free reading. There are different ways to go about doing this and I think many families put their own twist on it. I think the main idea is just to use a designated place to store free reading books that are associated with the subjects you are covering that present week (or month depending on how many books you provide in the basket). The children are fee to browse through, read cover to cover, anything they like just so as long as they are actively engaging in free reading time for 20 mins. (depending on age and ability of course). We use a mix of appropriate reading level and lower reading level just so its a fun time.

The book basket is great. I have read many reviews where homeschoolers overlook My Fathers World simply because they have issues with going to the library so often for books on their weekly topics. I completely get this- but I do not think it is a reason that you should count it out! We live in Tokyo. Our family is completely limited with libraries that have a large selection of books in English. Trust me. There is a library I use regularly but it will never cover our needs. That is ok. There are ways around this.

Some weeks we do not have tons of supplemental books on our topic. I have to deal with it. I provide extra books that look interesting and educational. And sometimes after book basket I have to find some educational DVD or youtube thing to add in so that we are really understanding a concept. It happens. Reading still gets completed though. And we still complete book basket time – even if some of our books might be a little off topic. They are still getting use of independent reading time and my children still learns things….many things!  If we want another book on a subject we can order it used on Amazon.

This brings me to another point. Amazon is our best friend. If you do not have access to a close library or just do not have what you need try locating a reading list guide from your my fathers world teachers Manuel and order used books from amazon ahead of time. Our books ship all the way to Japan for only $4.00. and most of the books cost us less than $1. Then I will keep them for our younger child or swap them for more books. If your budget won’t allow this … resell some of your own used books or book swap online for this. There are many online sites that have the used books you would need for this program. It was not too difficult for me to find the titles. I spent less doing this than ordering other curriculums and ended up with much more material I could keep for later years.

I have bought ENTIRE reading lists on amazon in advance, and sometimes it takes me months to complete it. Is it annoying and time consuming? Yes. But does our book basket get accomplished. Yes. Do we also have all the books to use in the future and to share with others who want to learn about homeschool? yes. And this is why I do not mind doing it without access to a good library.

This year my two year old is really into being in the school mix. If you are homeschooling multi ages My Fathers World will help your sanity. Even though my children are far apart in age there is always something the toddler can help out with. While doing adventures she helped us make butter, light catchers in the window, color bible worksheets to put on our poster board, make bread, memorize verses, sing songs to learn the states and more.

We had previously done Sonlight and we loved it and loved all the read alouds….but my toddler would not be able to be part of very much of our school  time if we did that this year. Sonlight worked great when she was an infant taking naps during much of our school day,  but it is a completely different dynamic and she really wants to be part of our group. Even though she is too young for a formal program at this time, she is also getting a lot of coordination, life lessons, and together time with this multi age family program along with her 8 year old sibling. My older child also enjoys showing her what he is making/ doing and he actually LIKES to show her how to make projects too. She is learning so much related to pre-school skills just by mimicking what he is doing with projects and hands on work. We would not have this bonus if we did not switch to My Father’s World.

At this point, it is important to me to have a schedule made. I need the time saver for this year. We have many things coming up and I want the ease of a pre made schedule that I can simply alter if needed vs creating an entire years worth of lesson plans. I also like that I can pick which math, English and Science that we want to add. I can spend more time on household duties, playing with a toddler, and doing hands on activities rather than scheduling every part of our day.

We have added Singapore math but may switch to teaching textbooks. We also are using Wordly Wise 4, Grammar ACE, and Writing Strands for English. For a language we study Korean. He is also learning to play piano and read music. Hopefully I haven’t forgotten to list anything!

I gave my 8 year old the choice. I asked him if he wanted to go back to a different curriculum  or stick with My Fathers World. I asked him which he enjoyed more. He said he loved learning through literature and the living books books. He enjoyed them so much we still talk about them two years after we started… but he really loved the hands on experiences with My Fathers world. He is an artsy kid and he also loves to read. We can not say one is better than the other but his enjoyment of making projects allows him to explore what he is learning hands on and it helps him to engage in the curriculum further. So, we will be sticking with my fathers world. We get to keeps reading lots of good books and have the artsy stuff pre planned. That is the perfect combination of how he wants to learn. He could not do that in public school or with a different pre planned all in one curriculum.

We have ordered all the My Fahter’s World curriculum used this year separately and I will have a different post with those details. I just wanted to share how we make My Fathers World work for anyone who is on the fence about it. We will continue to post as we get into the new year and share how we use it week by week. I like to browse online and see what other families are doing that looks creative and fun also!

Homeschool Reading List – February 2nd Grade

This is our homeschool reading list for 2nd grade this month. Our second grader is reading:

Book List:

  1. Matilda
  2. Tangerine
  3. Alvin Ho
  4. Tales of Famous Americans
  5. The Cat who went to Heaven
  6. The Complete Tales of Winnie The Pooh
  7. Hardy Boys Adventures – Secret of the red Arrow
  8. Kaya – Meet Kaya
  9. Kaya- Kaya’s Escape
  10. Kaya- Kaya’s Hero
  11. Whats So Great About Texas

Alvin Ho- Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

The favorite book out of this list has to be Alvin Ho by Lenore Look. We have read most of the Alvin Ho series and we really enjoy them. We crack up over the humor and reread every Alvin Ho book. My 2nd grader has read some of the Alvin Ho books about 3 times. Yes, they are that funny. They are hilarious for adults as well. Even my husband sometimes reads through the Alvin Ho books just too see what we have been reading about during the day. He thinks they are rather comical as well. I wish these books were more popular. They are just so cute and funny I am surprised that more children are not reading them. We have a relative we wanted to purchase another Alvin Ho book for my son and when she went to Barns and Noble they informed her that they do not carry it but they could order it and then she could pick it up once it comes in. I am surprised about this because I think this series would be a really popular read for middle grade readers if it was more readily available. Until then I will continue to tell everyone about author  Lenore Look and her hilarious Alvin Ho series.

What’s So Great About Texas

We are skimming through “What’s so great about Texas” as our 2nd grader will be working on a report about Texas/ Texas history in the next couple of weeks. We have many other Texas books to help with the report research, but we have been concentrating on this book for the last week or so.

Kaya- American Girl Series

I have to admit, I was not sure how the books about “Kaya” were going to go over. They have a big American girl logo on the cover. I was not so sure that my 8 year old son was going to be too into reading these. I told him before we started that they were more so historical fiction short reads and really had nothing to do with the dolls! Yes, the stories go along with the doll and her time period and all of that but there was nothing “girly” about a Native American girl being captured by another tribe who has raided her home in an effort to steal horses! He agreed by the third book that they were not so bad. However I would say they were not the most interesting of historical fiction stories that we have ever read! We did not mind them- but I think that our household has such a love for long detailed historical fiction chapter books (thanks Sonlight curriculum homeschooling year 1!!) that we just couldn’t give them a fair chance at first!

If you have an elementary schooler who likes shorter stories and needs to feel the accomplishment in finishing a book sooner this may be a helpful series to keep them plugging along this school year. There are also many lap books and free study guides online for the Kaya series. We did not use these to supplement our Kaya reading but I did check into them. Since we weren’t especially into the stories we just decided to finish them but not add in any projects and the like. We decided that we would spend more time on digging into our other longer chapter books for this month.

The Cat Who Went to Heaven

We are enjoying The Cat Who Went To Heaven. This is another quick read. It is on the Sonlight Curriculum reading list for the Eastern Hemisphere (not sure of the corresponding letter for this level) and I happened to find this at our local library here in Tokyo. I have been ordering all of the readers and read-clouds that are mentioned in the Sonlight eastern hemisphere list. We really enjoy the Sonlight readers and we do incorporate them into our “My Fathers World” spine. (this probably sounds more complicated than it is!)

Matilda

My mom actually read Matilda to me in first grade. It was a gift from my favorite teacher of all time (Shout out Ms. Steamen in Carroll, OH!) and I really loved this book. My 2nd graders also has been really enjoying Rohald Dahl books and I knew he would also really get into Matilda. The first Rohald Dahl book we read was The B.F.G. in Kindy and he really enjoyed it.  We plan to read the rest by this author and will do so as we purchased them used off of amazon. I know that we will also be reading them with my youngest child in a few years so we would like to add these to our home library.

Tales of Famous Americans

Tales of Famous Americans has been a pretty good into to much of the *important* figures of American History that you would be reading about in any social studies book! We have been enjoying this and the artwork keeps the kids interested. The stories and information are short and to the point hitting the main points about each historical figure. I think this book is an interesting supplement for fun and we using it in a “book basket” type of method. My 2nd grader just reads about a person or two every couple of days and there is no pressure on this title. No memorizing or quizzing on anything in the book… just learning about important Americans for enjoyment and a knowledge base for more intense history timelines and information to build upon in the future. We also will be venturing to the Alamo in the near future so we are really diving into some of the people who were there and Daniel Boone happens to be featured in the book. I really want him to have a basis of history involving the Alamo so that our visit makes more of an impact. I am trying to avoid a “this is really boring mom” type of field trip on this one!

Tangerine

Tangerine seems to be holding his interest but I haven’t gotten the feedback on this one yet. He is not quite finished with it yet. I will post an update on this book later if it is a winner!

The complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh

And least but certainly not least, The Complete Tales Of Winnie The Pooh…. is a total hit! I thought my son would find this babyish but he totally gets the humor this year. I think 8 was a great age to read this with him. He gets the humor and is really laughing out loud at the silly antics and nonsense conversations between the animals. I would tell any homeschooling family to read together. It is cute and funny… it is just adorable but yet hilarious enough for even boys to enjoy it. I got my copy on Amazon used for only a penny! ($4 for shipping added in of course). totally worth it. If I can find some more I will buy other copies and gift them. Reading this can really brighten your day. Very Nostalgic!