Okay, last week I waxed eloquently about my wonderful homeschooling plans for the year.
Now it’s time for true confessions. It worked great… for a day or two… then we were feeling miserable. The kids complained about the books, and I complained about how much work it all was.
So we switched it. We went back to homeschooling in a way that fits our style much more, so if you feel up to reading all this again, you’re welcome to read about our “new and revised” plans… and why we revised them at all.
(And if it makes anyone feel any better, it’s okay and normal to change your mind and try something else. You have my permission!)
Our Homeschooling Plans (2010-2011)
By the way, for the 2010-2011 school year, we’ll be homeschooling a 9th-grade son, a 6th-grade daughter, a 5th-grade son, a 3rd-grade daughter, and a 1st-grade daughter. We also have a younger girl, age 3, and a baby son. (And a dog, and two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree…)
We start our school day with Dad, enjoying breakfast and family worship, which consists of the following:
- Keys for Kids
- Bible memory verses
- Prayer time
Next the older children do chores, while I work with Baby. Our oldest son (9th grade) heads off to church to study with Dad (as I explained last week). Then I sit on the couch with my 3- and 6-year-old daughters, reading Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, Right Choices, a little bit of fun from Ruth Beechick’s Language and Thinking for Young Children, and two picture-story books of their choice. (This week, they chose Corduroy and The Three Little Pigs… over and over and over again!)
What’s Changed: We’ve had time studying the Bible with Daddy, which gives our family a strong identity together around God’s Word, then I’ve had a chance to fill up the Little Ones’ “love tanks,” making for a happier morning all around.
Next we have “Together School.” I personally love this part of the morning. Little 3-year-old has “blanket time” about ten feet away from our school table, and we take about 30 minutes to do:
- Bible (Foundations 3)
- Catechism (Truth and Grace: Book 1)
- Poetry (Various selections, many from Favorite Poems Old and New)
- Music (still working on this; lesson plans in development — by next week? Hmmm…)
Next my 3- and 6-year-old daughters go play together (within eye-shot), while we continue with the following:
- History (Roman Empire through Middle Ages; our own curriculum)
- Language (grammar and writing; our own curriculum, with bits of Writing Strands and Complete Writing Lessons for the Middle Grades thrown in.
What’s Changed: It’s just so much more efficient to do these subjects all together. In a large family, it’s easier to combine as many grades as possible, rather than trying to teach FOUR different poems, FOUR different history courses, and FOUR different grammar books. Besides, I’m just a little biased and like my own stuff better! LOL! 🙂 (Note: These subjects are all firmly based on our primary textbook, God’s Word, the Bible. Read why here, listen to my audio here, or view a PDF handout here.)
Oh, we need some fresh air after all that thinking! Outside we go for some P.E. (and when the weather gets bad, we’ve made a spot for this in our basement). Then we lie back in the grass for a chapter from our read-aloud book (currently Beyond the Desert Gate).
What’s Changed: We originally scheduled P.E. for after lunch, and the read-aloud book during lunch. Well, guess what! I was just too tired! By lunch time, I’ve had it, I’m on the edge of VERY grumpy, and I just can’t do one more thing. But we’ve found that the fresh air feels GREAT mid-morning. Since we live in Minnesota, we’ll likely need to tweak this in another month, but for the moment, this is the best thing we’ve ever tried.
Now it’s time for some ‘readin and ‘rithmetic. Each child has his own “checklist” inside a 3-ring binder, and now is the time that he starts working on his independent schoolwork. While each is working quietly at our school table, I am also doing the following:
- Math Drills, with flash cards, manipulatives, A Beka posters, and our handy-dandy white board – about 10 minutes. These are loosely based on A Beka’s third-grade arithmetic curriculum, but I’ve changed them to include all my children, from 1st to 6th grade. This is fun, because we’re competitive and love games around our house.
- Handwriting and phonics instruction for my first grader. She knows the sounds of all her letters, from kindergarten, so now we’re tackling “how to read” in earnest. We’re using a homemade combination of lots of All About Spelling, with a little bit of A Beka’s Handbook for Reading and some of their charts thrown in. Oh, and I use Cursive First for the handwriting, with some worksheets from A Beka (because she loves them).
- Next I do some additional phonics instruction with my third grader. She’s reading well now, but she struggles with some “big” words, so we’re continuing through the levels of All About Spelling. Then we sit and read aloud a page or two from her A Beka reader, then she finishes reading today’s story on her own.
What’s Changed: Nothing but where we did it in our day. This is the same plan I originally had. Oh, nope, scratch that. I originally scheduled the math drills for my oldest daughter to do with my 3rd grader, but the rest of us felt left out from the games, so we’re all joining them now. LOL!
Now I pull out my laptop and start working online at the school table (or Baby is awake and needs me), while each of the kids either takes turns playing with the 3-year-old sister or works through their “checklist” of independent work. We won’t finish before lunch, but I’m done with my “official” teaching. The only thing left in my day will be a Spanish lesson with my 9th grader later in the afternoon.
Note: Sometimes the kids need help in spelling, but I’ve assigned them each a spelling “partner” to reduce the amount of time I need to spend with them on this subject. You can see our plan here.
What’s Changed: My 3rd, 5th and 6th graders just did not enjoy A Beka’s science curriculum as much as I thought they would. They staged a mutiny (just kidding), and asked if we could return to what we’ve used before. So we did. They don’t often speak their minds like this, so I thought I’d better listen! We’re returning to Jeannie Fulbright’s elementary curriculum, with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day scheduled for this fall and Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy & Physiology for next spring. Jeannie, my kids think you’re the best!
For their independent subjects, the children are using the following resources:
- Math – A Beka Arithmetic
- Handwriting – A Beka, with additional instruction from Cursive First
- Spelling – A Beka (we aren’t doing the poetry here)
- Bible reading – independent reading schedules from the Foundations 3 lesson plans
- Bible memory – two sections per week from AWANA handbooks
- Reading – A Beka readers, plus their choice of a chapter book from our own shelves
- Science – Apologia (our oldest son is doing A Beka Biology and likes it very much)
- Piano – Piano Adventures
- Typing – Typing Instructor for Kids CD-ROM (our oldest son is using A Beka’s Keyboarding textbook)
- Spanish – A Beka’s Spanish 1 text, Por Todo El Mundo
We supplement all of this with well-stocked bookshelves and bits of this and that. We’re truly eclectic!
So glad my family puts up with me! 🙂 Overall, I feel like we’re starting to settle into a routine again around here. Ahhh…