Just when I thought it was over… The great 2017 curriculum debate part 2!

A couple of months ago I was absolutely sure of what we were going to use for our 2017-2018 school year. I was excited about it. I began counting the days till I could order it. Moving Beyond the Page 4-5 plus RightStart math seemed almost perfect. The only flaw was that RightStart math was the 1st edition, I would have much preferred the 2nd edition or Saxon math K. But it was as close to perfect as I could get from one company!

Then came a notice in my email that Bookshark did two amazing things. They have redone their curriculum guides, now they are in color and are more user friendly. The second huge difference this year, they are now selling RightStart Math 2nd edition! Not only that, they also have Saxon Math too!

What’s a homeschooling mama to do?

I have 3 options floating around now.

1.  Stay with my original choice. Moving Beyond the Page is a fantastic curriculum. 30 books to read, 30 topics to explore. Peanut will be having lots of fun through all the fun read-aloud books, art, crafts, internet links to videos, etc.

RightStart math 1, 1st edition, is a bit harder than the 2nd edition to do properly. It also is less user friendly, the 2nd edition is better laid out. They don’t offer Saxon math, so I have to go with the 1st edition or opt for the Mathematical Reasoning Ebook like I did this year. Not to say Mathematical Reasoning isn’t a good, solid math curriculum, it is. It just doesn’t explain the concepts. This is why I want to switch to a more hands-on math curriculum.

Also, the cost would be approximately $885 including shipping for the curriculum and the math, or if I threw in ABeCeDarian reading program, it would be $975, about $80 over what I wanted to spend, but still very much in our price range!

Pros:

  • over 30 fantastic picture books! This will keep Peanut’s attention!
  • Every 5 days is a new book and new topic
  • There are allowances on ALL writing – they even provide ideas for non-writers so that they can still do the writing lesson – ie. instead of writing the letter A, they will trace it in a tray filled with shaving cream! (messy but fun too!)
  • almost ALL the needed materials for the program is included in a kit, and each unit’s items are separated for ease! So for example, if you’re doing unit one, you just grab the bag labelled unit one and you’re set for allmost all the hands on stuff for the week.
  • Some days are kind of ‘light’ academically, and although it may be a con sometimes, it may also turn out to be a pro since Peanut is still having issues with attention span.
  • It looks amazingly fun! I actually want to do this curriculum!!!

Cons:

  • I’m not getting the math I really want for Peanut
  • They offer an online or hard copy of the instructor’s guide, not both together. Once you activate an online unit, you have 3 months to use it. After it expires, you have a year to still view it online (without access to the student pages). This means you can’t print out the student pages all at once. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s annoying, since I would prefer the online guide over the hard copy.

2. Go with Bookshark Pre-Kindergarten package, but opt for the Kindergarten Language arts and readers. For math, I have a choice between RightStart 2nd edition, Saxon math, Singapore math, or two others!

Pros: (from their website)

  • Provide your child a small glimpse of our large world with the colorful Kids Beginner’s World Atlas. They will also be introduced to history and how cities and streets have changed over time. From professions to transportation, this year is an exciting time to explore the world!
  • Read-Alouds are a building block to reading and provides a memorable part of homeschooling that you will share with your child every year with BookShark! Snuggle up and read our collection of stories like Winnie the Pooh and Babe the Gallant Pig!
  • Learn about seasons, weather, plants, animals, the ocean and much more!
  • Starting in Week 11, you will work with hands-on manipulatives to build a math foundation that focuses on patterns, shapes and numbers (recognition, counting and addition/subtraction).
  • Daily Time Requirement: Less than an hour

Pros: (mine)

  • I’ll get the math curriculum I want!
  • Peanut will get 21 fantastic read-aloud stories ranging from Winnie the Pooh to Why do Tigers Have Stripes
  • The Kindergarten Language Arts teaches phonics, writing, reading, creative writing
  • The built in Pre-K math will reinforce what we’ve already learned
  • I’d be reading Peanut some of my favorite childhood books!
  • The cost! Approximately $956 including shipping. This is about $60 over what I planned to spend, but it includes RightStart math AND Handwriting Without Tears!

Cons: (mine)

  • No arts and crafts. No hands-on activities. I’ll have to turn to Pinterest to get some ideas…
  • Peanut may not want to sit still long enough to hear stories from books with minimal illustrations (Winnie the Pooh, Babe the Gallant Pig)
  • Some of the book discussions may be over his ability

3. Use Bookshark level K with Saxon math. RightStart math would bring the cost of the package to $745 plus approximately $400 for shipping to the island, so that’s about $240 over my budget! Ack!!! I know we could somehow manage it, but Saxon math would only bring it to  $640 plus approximately $350 for shipping, making it only $100 over budget.

Pros: (from Website):

  • Study Ancient Egypt, Rome, knights and castles, geography, climates and much more.  Engage your child with conversation as we equip you with questions to connect him or her to the various people and places you will discover.
  • Reading aloud to your children builds their vocabulary, listening skills and imagination. Read-Alouds also help build your children’s congnitive development and gives them a passion to learn. Cuddle-up and read 23 Read-Aloud classics like Dr. Dolittle and The Boxcar Children.
  • After your children learn just 8 letters of the alphabet they will read real stories in the Fun Tales series.
  • Science K introduces basic concepts in Biology, Earth Science, and Physics—topics you’ll return to again over the years. Includes nearly 100 science experiments in the Discover and Do DVD along with supplies you need so you and your child can recreate the experiments.
  • Daily Time Requirements: 1.5 – 2 hrs

Pros: (mine)

  • I love the selection of books for this level, they are childhood favorites of mine!
  • I love the way Peanut will be introduced to everything from dinosaurs to space flight!
  • The instructor’s guide is laid out for 36 weeks, and 4 days a week, this is exactly the schedule we currently use! It’s like it’s made for us!!!
  • There are science experiments, and it includes almost all the necessary items!
  • I can choose the math program I want!
  • The language arts incorporates phonics and reading, no need for an extra program.

Cons:

  • Not as hands-on as I’d like, but it still has 2 or 3 activities a week plus a science experiment a week too. I know I can add to it by getting ideas online from Pinterest, but it’s a con since I’d have to do all the leg work from finding the arts/crafts to gathering the needed items.
  • The read-aloud books aren’t as heavily illustrated, so they may not hold Peanut’s attention, and he may get bored.
  • This curriculum relies on discussing the books as we read them, and Peanut isn’t ready for a true discussion yet. He’s getting there, but it may be another year before he can get the full benefit of this curriculum.
  • The language arts program is wonderful, except the writing part may be too hard for Peanut. He will likely need Occupational Therapy for his fine motor skills for handwriting.

 

So what’s a confused, anxiety ridden mama to do? Go with a GREAT fully loaded curriculum full of picture books and great hands-on stuff every week (Moving Beyond the Page) but not have the math I want? Go with a literary based pre-K curriculum (Bookshark) with minimal hands on activities but a GREAT math program? Or go with a GREAT literary based 5-7 year old program that offers some hands-on fun, a science experiment a week, a GREAT phonics & reading program, a good math program (Saxon), but may not hold Peanut’s attention yet…

Actually, writing all this out has helped me. I think I found my path!

For 2017-2018 we’ll probably do Moving Beyond the Page 4-5, RightStart 1st edition (ugh!), and may do ABeCeDarian Reading, but I’m not sold on that one. I’m still unsure of getting the hard copy or online version. I also could just get the curriculum, and get Saxon Math (plus the manipulation kit) as well as handwriting without tears from Rainbow Resources, and still come in just slightly over budget.

For 2018-2019 we’ll do either Bookshark 5-7, or if we love Moving beyond the page, we’ll stay with that and do their 5-7, but math would be an issue again…

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