I learned my hard lessons through my oldest, and then we switched course and everyone else followed. I put my kids in independent binders in 1-2nd grade. We do that 3 days a week. The 4th day is Classical Conversations day, (not in this order.) The 5th is family day–group activities. Putting the pieces together is the engineering puzzle for any homeschooler, and I go into my process on my posts about Educational Engineering, but here is my list.
My first child did My Father’s World and Classical Conversations from K-2nd, but then I changed our phonics program to Abeka, which was more rigorous and a layered 3 year approach which I loved. (Instead of going into Abeka’s 3rd grade book yet, I sent my 3rd grade my first child quickly through Abeka 1st and 2nd phonics because I saw a deficiency. This made huge difference.
I also used Rod and Staff Phonics pages as a gentle supplement to review all of the phonics again. I used it as a slow drip. In 2nd grade, I began Rod and Staff Phonics (starting with 1 ), slowly dripping them all the way through 4th grade until they were complete. It is a lot of material, but worth it to me.
Because we had not done Abeka from the beginning, when I tried to start my son on 3rd grade Abeka spelling, we DIED that year. We backtracked with Abeka, but it was too difficult. In Essentials we eventually switched to the embedded Spelling Program, Spelling Plus and her methodology using the Spelling Plus and Spelling Plus Dictation books.
Grammar: My oldest, my son, eventually did Abeka 3rd grade Language, but with my other children, I switched to “Our Mother Tongue” for this component as a part of Classical Conversations Essentials starting in 4th grade.By 4th grade, we did only The Essentials curriulum from Classical Conversations. And if you think, “Is my kid ready for that class? Here is a video I made on that topic.
I love Our Mother Tongue because of its gentle approach. There is a document connecting it with the Essentials of the English Language Guide here
Handwriting: I did handwriting books of print and D’Nelian style and taught all my kid cursive through Abeka K5 in 3rd grade. I also bought my kids the Classical Conversations history sentences copy work books on their last time through the cycle. (4th -6th grade.)
Math: After doing Saxon 1, I found it to be repetitive. We tried testing out of the lessons, but I just couldn’t keep it up with the math facts. I wanted to rely on the worksheets for the repetition needed, but that was not the case. I had to use flash cards, which were too much to deal with in my season of life with 2 preschoolers and this kindergartner. I didn’t like having to use a teacher book, and I didn’t want to have to drill math facts on my own. When I discovered Abeka, it was more colorful and simple with a teaching at the top and built in review. I found a gentle math resource for drilling the math facts with worksheets: Rod and Staff! SAVED MY LIFE!
We continued Saxon until 6th grade, when we switched back to Saxon 7/6 to prepare for being on the same page as the teacher in Challenge A for my “rule follower” oldest child.
Reading: From 2nd grade on, they had to read 15-20 minutes a day any book of their choice. By 3rd grade, I really worked at getting them to the library and into chapter books. Only one of my kids was ready for chapter books at 2nd grade, but even then, I believe they only did one.
Literature: For each Classical Conversations Cycle, I use My Father’s World selections as a go-to source for books to read up until 4th grade. At that point, I use the IEW recommended additional reading.
For a warm fuzzy family activity, I also chose Kind Kingdom for a book series to read as a family. We only pull out the literature component of that curriculum and do recipes and other crafts with a local group.
Bible: I create my own bible study materials called The Most Important Book in the House that I share on this blog and will probably work on for the rest of my life! hehe.
Writing Composition: Before the writing curriculum in Essentials, 4th grade, I made my kids write a paragraph about something in their little journal every day if there was no writing assignment imbedded in their other work. For my most reluctant writer, I bought the Nature Journal from Classical Conversations. She loved it, and it got her thinking about writing her own thoughts. I let her copy poems in there, etc.
Poetry. Poetry is not part of Classical Conversations until Challenge, but when I discovered that IEW had a free downloadable poetry unit with my purchase of the Teacher’s Guide of the TWSS (Teaching Writing with Structure and Style), we used it and loved it. Poem memorization. I added a few poems of my own in there for us. Hello, Emily Dickinson.