Part I of III
Our schooling is very child-oriented and geography-based, but we haven't thrown traditional curriculum to the wayside. I come from public school educators, and regularly take advantage of their 60+ years of service. (Right, Mom?)
The traditional schooling methods hold a lot of merit, and we have combined with them homeschooling / unschooling methods to create a curriculum that meets each of our children's individual needs.
Math is the bane of my children's existence. I find this simply maddening, as I speak the language of equations and sequences. Luckily, Fred is a patient, hilariously unpredictable teacher. That would be the Life of Fred series, by Stanley Schmidt. If your children don't love math, and you don't know Fred, then it's time you met.
While the author recommends the text as a stand-alone curriculum, I cannot, in good conscious, do the same. Fred is wonderful for introducing concepts and grabbing attention. I do not feel that there is enough repetition to reinforce the concepts learned. For this, we use the Saxon Math series. Combined with Fred, the children stay interested and get their math practice.
We have used the Sing, Spell, Read, Write program for both kids, with much success. The program includes music, games, and the traditional reading, writing, and spelling. I like it because you can move at your own pace. One child breezed through the steps, while the other often took two weeks to master a step. And that's okay...that's one of the reasons that we homeschool. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Though a bit pricey, the program is comprehensive and the kids responded well to it. The upper levels are United States-focused and fit right in with our travels.
Foreign language is best learned as a child...we all know that already. After much back and forth, my husband and I finally settled on Latin as the language that we would teach them because it has so many real-world applications in the science and history. I'll be honest and say that it wasn't my first pick, but it wasn't his either, and marriage is about compromise, right? And the kids enjoy watching "Monkey Latin," which is what they call the DVDs that came with the Song School Latin program.
Ask my kids and they'll say, "PE is when Mom says go outside and play." It's true. Children today don't have enough time to just run, and play, and get bored. The most interesting things happen when they get bored. Sometimes, it makes me cringe...and other times, I'll come outside to find that they've built an entire fort in an afternoon. Probably not the most aerobic activity, but still active.
Finally, character development is such an important part of a parent's job, and probably one of the hardest. If we don't teach them to be upstanding citizens, no one else is going to, and with the state of the world these days, I wonder just how many people are focusing on this anymore. We created our own character curriculum, finding the balance between substance and humor...feel free to use it!