This will be our third year homeschooling, unless you count those years before when we taught our babies at home, but didn’t call it homeschooling, we called that life. It is our first year having to claim our homeschooling status with the state. (Fortunately, Georgia makes that process incredibly easy these days. It is a great state to homeschool in, if you’re looking to move and need a pro in the “Georgia” column.) Our school year officially runs September 1, 2012 through August 31, 2013. I finally sat down and got our year planned out.
We’ve decided to take the entire Advent season off from official homeschool business and focus entirely on Advent this year. I’ll fill the month with Advent crafts and lessons, but no math, no writing notebook, no history lessons (other than the Biblical and Ecclesiastical ones). We’re going to focus as a family on the Incarnation. Yes, due to starting school later in the year, this month long break will put us doing history until July and Math through the summer, but I think it’ll be well worth it.
This year, we have 3 homeschoolers. I’m not one who like to place grade level on the kids, because they are all over the place with that. Officially, I have a preschooler, a kindergartener, and a first grader. And my paper plan and what actually happens are two totally different things. I make plans based on their pace when the plans are written. The speed up and slow down at times, so plans change. But, here is the general gist of this year.
I plan to pick back up with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. Imogene will be working at a quicker pace, since she can already read. She’ll be working toward doing 4 lessons per week. Aidan will be working at a slower pace. He looses interest quickly and is just beginning to blend sounds.So, he’ll be working toward doing 2 lessons per week. Imogene will finish the book this year if she stays on pace. Aidan will work toward finishing it next year, unless he decides to pick up his pace. Emery will be starting letter recognition. If he gets that down this year, he’ll move into TOPGTR, as well.
For writing, Imogene will be using The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease. We’ll be doing Year One, which is broken down into 36 weeks, working 4 days per week. (I recommend buying the hardback edition linked above and not the workbook edition. The hardback edition has all four years included in one book. You just write in a notebook instead of buying the workbooks for each year. You don’t need both the hardback and the workbooks, you just pick one or the other. The hardback is a much better bargain and I’d prefer for their writing to be in a notebook rather than a workbook, anyway.) I’ll be evaluating Aidan throughout the year and working with him on some copy work, but he isn’t ready for a writing program just yet. We’ll be using The Write Start once a week with all three of my schoolers. It has lots of writing activities that can be tailored to each child’s ability.
For grammar, Imogene will be using First Language Lessons; Level 1. We’ll be doing 3 lesson a week from this book, which puts us finishing at the beginning of May, which is the earliest we’ll finish anything. I’m going to give it a couple weeks to see if the 3 a week schedule is too much, if so, we may back of to 2 a week and still finish within the school year.
For Math, Imogene will be finishing Singapore Math IA. At her current pace, she’ll be finishing Singapore Math IB and Singapore Math 2A this school year. (I’ve linked a mix of the workbooks and textbooks, but for each level of Singapore Math, you’ll need one textbook and one workbook. You need to buy a new workbook for each kid, but if you don’t write in the text books, which is doable, then you can save them and only buy them once.) Aidan will be finishing up Essential Math KB (Singapore Math Kindergarten). (For the Essential Math Kindergarten A and B, you only need the workbooks- there are no text books. Also, the Kindergarten and 1 overlap quite a bit, but I find that helpful at that age.) He’s scheduled to finish Singapore Math 1A and 1B this school year. (Kid loves math.) Emery may start Essential Math KA, but he’s not exactly the workbook type, so we’ll see.
We’re starting history this year! The Pastor will be teaching history, combining it with Biblical and Ecclesiastical history as they go. This would take me years to put together. It takes him a few minutes per lesson. We’re scheduled to cover a chapter a week, skipping Advent, which puts us finishing in July. We’ll be using Story of The World: Volume One, The Story of The World Activity Book One, and The Pastor‘s Brain. (And Bibles, of course.) All the kids will be involved in this, though Emery might skip the activities he isn’t interested in.
For science this year, I’m doing something completely different. I read Playful Learning over the summer and it gave me some great ideas. We’ll be reorganizing our home for schooling, as well as implementing a new science “program.” You know I love real books, so instead of trying to push the kids through some science curriculum that I’m not all that into, I decided to unschool for science a bit more. Each week there will be a new topic. (Some topics will stretch over a few weeks.) I’ll present the kids with a box of items for that week’s science discovery. They can peruse it and use it as they wish. I’ll be including books, tools, projects, etc. that they can do as their interest is piqued. (And I know my kids, each new box will be met enthusiastically and they’ll do absolutely every activity and use every available resource. They’re curious little things.) I won’t be “teaching” on these things, simply putting together thoughtful baskets and presenting them. I’ll help the kids as they discover the topics. I’ll post the baskets on my blog as we do them. It’ll be fun. (And I bet they’ll learn PLENTY!) Our first month and a half, we’ll be covering the human body. New topics each week, but the body is the overall topic.
We also have a pass to the zoo again this year, so they’ll be learning about animals and habitats as they explore the zoo throughout the year. We also have passes to the art museum for the year, so I’m sure we’ll be heading there from time to time for some art inspiration! If you live anywhere near things like this, buy year passes for your family if you homeschool. If you mention you homeschool, they often give you a discount. Even if you can only go once every other month, you’ll find that you get your money’s worth and your kids learn so much for these outings. (Particularly if you take the time to encourage them to actively learn. Teach them to ask the zoo keeper’s their questions. Bring along an animal encyclopedia to look up information on the animals. Talk to them about what you’re seeing. More than just, “There’s a monkey.” But, “Look at this monkey! I wonder what kind he is? How old is he? What does he eat? Where is he from? Why is his butt that color?” You’ll find that often the answers to those questions are on a plaque next to the animal. If not, you’ll find zoo keepers love answering those questions and more. (They’ll even tell you the animals’ names! Our last trip to the zoo, we had a fun time decided what we’d name a komodo dragon if we had one. The one at the zoo was Slasher. I thought something more middle ages would have been more appropriate. Imogene thought Pondo would be a good name. Aidan said “Fire” was the best name he could think of. And Emery decided a dragon should simply be called a dragon, since that was cool enough.)
We’ll continue doing art, though we won’t be using a curriculum. We’ll be doing it in the unschooling manner, as well. The kids love perusing our art books and recreating art they see. I keep plenty of mediums on hand for them to use. At the advice of Playful Learning, I’m going to attempt to come up with a designated art space with the supplies more readily available.
This is going to be a fun year! Yes, we have plenty to accomplish, but I think my plan is doable and flexible. I think the kids are going to have a blast. And I think we’re all going to learn a lot.