Tuesday, May 31, 2011

School Planning, part 2

As I'm thinking about school this next year I have no idea what our daily routine is going to look like. I've always planned four days a week and left Friday open for fun school or field trips, what my friend Lori calls the charming side of homeschool. But I'm considering sticking to a shorter schedule for 6 days a week, with the freedom to take a day off whenever we need to. The benefit of that would be that I think we would have an easier time getting back in the swing on Monday mornings with only one day off. And we would be less rushed through the week if we expected to have some work left over for Saturday.

I do know, though, that we'll be doing some studies together and some individually. It just would be crazy for me to try to do history three times, science three times, etc. So this is a list of the basic materials we'll be using for those group subjects.

Like I mentioned the other day, we'll still be using Story of the World, volume 4 (Modern History) but in a very piecemeal way. I started with the table of contents and subtracted a lot of material and then added in a lot of other material... Now that I think of it, history may be a whole separate post:)

Again, I broke with the "original plan," which was to do elementary physics. Beautiful Feet Publishing puts out a wonderful book - the History of Science Study Guide. A literary approach to science (with some experiments thrown in for the kids) - just what I always wanted! I was already leaning towards it when I discovered one of the primary books it covers is The New Way Things Work by David MacCaulay. We checked this out from the library last year and Levi had put it on my must buy list with exclamation points. Even I am impressed, and I could usually care less about the way things work. It's a good book.

Boy, I looked at a lot of books. In the past we've used a lot of really good stuff, but I've been too hit or miss with it. For this year I wanted something...more intentional. I wanted to actually study the Bible instead of doing a devotional or reading stories. Those are great and I look forward to doing them again with Jack and Christian and Luke. But for this year I'm really excited about Foundations by Anne Elliot. We're going to do the first book, Preparation for Christ, which studies the Old Testament. I'm still checking it out, we may actually take two years to go through it. But it is jam packed with memory work and actual reading of the actual Bible. I'm excited.

Brenna and Jack still love Draw Write Now, which is great because I already have the first four books from a library sale when Levi was a toddler. Very nice for my $1 investment. And Levi requested book 3 from the Complete a Sketch series. It's more technical drawing, perfect for a 9 year old boy. We're also going to borrow lots of fun stuff from National Gallery of Art. I plan to mainly focus on American artists this year, especially Audubon, but really I'll probably go with whatever looks appealing to me.

Hymns for a Child's Heart and Christmas Carols for a Child's Heart. I love these. We can sing along around the computer and learn a little about the composer. And the big bonus is that the kids can sing a long in church. We're also going to be just listening a lot. This is a wonderful cd - 25 Classical Favorites - to have on in the background, in the car. And we're talking about music lessons, piano/guitar/harp/drums (NOT drums!), so we'll see where that leads.

Levi did pretty well with Rod and Staff last year and I liked it a lot. I feel like he got a very good foundation and my first instinct was to go straight into the next book. But it's really a lot of time and a lot of pencil pushing to cover stuff he already knows pretty well. I try to be conservative with the amount of pencil work he has to do because he loves to write, but hates to copy sentences from a book. But we have to do something for grammar...

And then there's precious Brenna who does very well with oral grammar, but is still reading very slowly. She and I have worked through the 1st grade section of First Language Lessons. But it would be really nice to make grammar a combined subject and have Jack follow along this year. Ruth Heller's World of Language books look perfect. A nice, easy living books approach that we can all work on together. And for Levi there's also grammar check on the computer. He loves to type what he's written into a word doc and then I can let grammar and spell check be the bad guy that points out any errors.

We're studying the Brother Offended Checklist from Doorposts right now...it couldn't wait till school starts back. I really love Doorposts. As school starts up I think we'll work through
The Original 21 Rules of This House and maybe Rules for Young Friends. I've had the Original Rules for quite awhile, but I guess I assumed that it was more of a manners type study. It is exactly what I want for this year, though. The rules cover honesty, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, hard work, good stewardship and much more.

I'm excited about doing a real study of logic as the kids get older, but for this year we're going with MindBenders. The kids actually think I give them these for fun.

When I type it all out, this seems like a lot. And I haven't even gotten to the individual subjects yet. The nice thing is that they each work on their own level and we won't be doing every thing every day, so I don't have to panic.

Even more school planning tomorrow...

School planning, part 1

I have been slowly working on our school plans for ages now, squeezing in a little here and there. It's quite a project because I felt like I needed to do a lot more customizing this year. Before I've stuck closely to the Well Trained Mind plans, adjusting just a little bit here and there. Well trained, but laid back, is what I would call it.
This year, though, several things are different. We have a "new" student. Jack is officially starting kindergarten. And Double Trouble (that's Christian and Luke) will be 4 and 2. If I learned anything this past year, it's that these two seriously affect our homeschool, whether they're official students or not:)
I also re-evaluated our goals. Along with a strong academic foundation, I'm planning to focus on character and some practical skills this year. Levi has thrown me for a loop with this whole 9 year old thing. I'm suddenly realizing how very fast he is growing up and how little time I really have with any of them.
One more difference for this year is that I was less happy with Story of the World. I have loved this series for history - it's been a perfect fit for us. But this year as I started reading through the book, I just felt like it was too focused on the negatives of modern history. Of course, to be fair, there are a lot of wars to cover in a short amount of time. But with a kindergartner, 3rd grader, and 4th grader all doing history together, I really wanted to focus on the good things and good people of the last two centuries. So we will read some of the stories from Story of the World, vol 4, but I've drawn up a scope and sequence of my own for this year. And we will be reading A LOT of good books. It also gives me a chance to focus more on the civil war and local history - something I'm excited about.
After all this background info, I think I'll share the actual curriculum (word used loosely, of course) we're using tomorrow.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It has been so long since I posted anything...

Life here has seemed very chaotic and twirly and not in a good way. Last year I was prepared for things to be a little nuts with a toddler and a preschooler and two "big" kids (who were only 8 and 5), but this year with two toddlers?!? Or maybe it's just these two toddlers? Whatever, it's been crazy. I'm totally off my A game. B game and C game are also shot. I am starting to see some progress though, I think. Or maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I'll take whatever I can get:)
We've finished up school for a bit so I'm making lists of all the projects around the house that I've neglected for the last nine months. And planning our next school year. It's hard to plan when you can't find your desk so deep cleaning my office came first. And then I really must clean out files, write end of the year reports, organize the bookshelves and help the kids straighten their notebooks. But now they are "staaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrvvvviiiiiiiing!" Hmmm, I wonder if I have a clean pot to cook lunch in?