Thursday, March 7, 2013

Switched-On Schoolhouse, Our Experience Pt 1

Every homeschool mom goes on a curriculum journey. For some of us, the journey seems to take forever and it never fails, as soon as we find something that works things will change.
My journey in homeschooling has went from a complete boxed curriculum (Abeka) to coming up with everything from scratch (perfect for the early years). Now that my kids are all in elementary grades (K-4th) I had came to the realization that I needed more. The boxed curriculum didn't work for us because it was too challenging teaching three-four different grades at the same time. Everyone had their English, their Math, their Science, their History, their handwriting. It got overwhelming quick! The opposite reproach wasn't much better. Sure we could combine a lot together, but the older the kids got the more I felt the pressure of making sure I didn't miss anything. It just wasn't us.
We discovered Switched-On Schoolhouse of Alpha Omega Publishing last year. My oldest was entering 4th grade and up until 3rd grade we had taken a real relaxed approach at learning. Boxed curriculum, no curriculum, a real hardcore approach was never there. I prefer 3rd grade and below to be that way.
Our biggest challenges were Math and the introduction of formal English. We had previously tried ABeka's English and while it's a GREAT curriculum, it just did not work for us. The lessons were all too long and tedius. We basically took a year off from formal English lessons while I searched the best approach for us. I looked at everything! Did I want to do a Charlotte Mason approach? We love incorporating CM into our lessons- especially with using real books for History, Science, and copy work. Did I want to try Bob Jones or any other textbook? There were tons of GREAT, AMAZING, SPECTACULR options that I thought about. In fact, I had previously came across SOS and put it in the reject pile.
Something sparked my interest again and I revisited the Switched-On Schoolhouse site. I don't know what made the difference, but that time I was hooked.
So, we purchased the 4th grade SOS English for my oldest and thus began our journey.
SOS is a computer-based (not internet-based) program that covers the 5 main subjects: Science, History & Geography, Language Arts, Math, and Bible. It is designed for grades 3-12 and even offers electives such as foreign language (French is on my oldest daughter's list to get!), GED prep, British Lit, and more! Electives are grade based, so some are available for elementary age while others are for high school.
Each subject runs about $100, but AOP offers many discounts throughout the year. Once we saw how much Mistic was enjoying SOS, we went ahead and bought 3rd and 4th grade Math. Now, I know what you are thinking- $100 a subject, 3 subject/grades bought- that's a big investment. I'm not sure I can afford that, right? SOS is perfect for large families (why do you think the Duggars use it?) and here's why: Each subject can be REUSED for extra students. You can have up to five names for it and all you need for future years is the current installation disc. That 3rd grade Math that we purchased? Both Faith and Aspen are using it. At the same time even!
Come back tomorrow to see how it works in our house!
Be sure to check out my current giveaway from Princess Modest Swimwear!

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