A recent conversation with a homeschooling friend led me to this conclusion: Although my initial reaction to describing our homeschool "style" is to go with child-led, interest-led, or some version of that, in reality when it comes to method what we are doing is a series of really long unit studies simultaneously.
Now, the "child-led" component is still a big part of it, as we (Agent E and I) always discuss options for what we want to study together and make mutual decisions as to what comes next, but . . . yeah. We are Unit Study People.
This is pretty much our strategy: We pick a few central topics, and organize our "school work" around them for a few months, then move on to new topics. In doing so, we incorporate our chosen subjects into reading, writing, science, math . . . even field trips. (Of course we add other things in from time to time as well, such as current holidays, random science experiments involving household items, or information specific to upcoming travels.)
One of our most used resources is the public library. Other than the Internet (a post of its own, coming soon) I cannot think of anything more valuable to a homeschooling family, especially one that is pretty much winging it and making up curriculum on the fly.
At any given time, we have anywhere from 15 to 40 books checked out. We (meaning I) find it easier to check out a ton of books and renew them once or twice rather than trying to get to the library more frequently. Especially when Agent A sees every visit as an opportunity to participate in a fun new game called Toddlers Run Wild at the Children's Room While Trying To Topple and Destroy As Many Things As Possible.
(Side note: Our library's limit is 50 per card. So, in theory, between our two cards—I have one and Agent E has her own—we could have 100 items at once. Not that I'd be able to even carry 100 books in/out of the library and still wrangle three Agents in the parking lot and to the car, but the option is there.)
Following is a list of our current stash, organized by subject. You may have noticed I write about books a lot on this blog and often make lists just like this one. The reason is two-fold: First, I enjoy seeing what other homeschooling families with similar-age children are reading, so I figure others might as well. I'm always looking for new ideas, especially when it comes to chapter books for E. Second, this gives me a record to share at our end-of-year homeschool evaluation (required by the state) of the kinds of books we're using.
Our current themes are dinosaurs, space, and the human body, so those are listed first. I've also included a list of chapter books Agent E is reading, as well as some early readers for Agent J. Finally, sometimes we end up with random, just-for-fun titles, either on purpose or because Agent A stuck them in the bag.
My Favorite Dinosaurs by John Sibbick and Ruth Ashby
Paleontology: The Study of Prehistoric Life by Susan H. Gray
Triceratops by Daniel Cohen
Stegosaurus by Daniel Cohen
Ankylosaurus by Daniel Cohen
Math Adventures: Digging for Dinosaurs by Wendy Clemson and David Clemson
Scholastic Discover More: Planets by Penelope Arlon and Tory Gordon-Harris
The Planets by Gail Gibbons
Venus by Adele Richardson
Space! Venus by Ruth Bjorklund
Galileo and the Telescope by Yoming S. Lin
Math Adventures: Rocket to the Moon by Wendy Clemson and David Clemson
Seeing Red: The Planet Mars by Nancy Loewen
Mars by Elaine Landau
The Sun by Allison Lassieur
Discover the Stars by Cynthia Pratt Nicolson
Human Body Books
The Human Body by Seymour Simon
The Respiratory System by Darlene R. Stille
Look at Your Body: Lungs by Steve Parker
My Brain (My Body) by Sally Hewitt
The Circulatory Story by Mary K. Corcoran
The Little Brainwaves Investigate . . . Human Body by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar
The Big Book of Bones: An Introduction to Skeletons by Claire Llewellyn
Chapter Books for E
Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Monster Movie by David A. Adler
Cam Jansen and the Mystery at Monkey House by David A. Adler
A to Z Mysteries: The White Wolf by Ron Roy
Mermaid Tales: Danger in the Deep Blue Sea by Debbie Dadey
Early Readers for J
BOB Books (Set 1, books 5-8; Set 4, books 3-4) by Bobby Lynn Maslen
Cinderella's Countdown to the Ball by Heidi Kilgras
Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street? by Eleanor Hudson
Just for Fun
A Second Is a Hiccup: A Child's Book of Time by Hazel Hutchins
How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Christmas Storybook Collection by Disney Press
A Magical Christmas by Disney Press
Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure by Lisa Marsoli
My Little Pony: The World's Biggest Tea Party by Jennifer Frantz
What are your kids reading?