Jeff and I were talking this morning and he made the comment that the nuts and bolts of events/ministry don't excite him- not even remotely. I knew that, of course. He is a visionary and a leader in every great sense of the word. I had to smile when he said it because I thought, once again, how different we are. For me, if the territory is even just a little bit familiar, the nuts and bolts of the scape might as well be guacamole and chips to me! Just let me dig in. I have found these last two years of having school at home certainly gives me a platform to plan the dickens out of my days, weeks and months. I basically begin thinking about the next school year before the current school year ends- how I could do it better, what materials might be more interesting, what books might bear more light on a particular subject, and how I might could be a little sweeter while I exercise this responsibility of instruction. I listen to my friends hearing what they loved, what they found at the home school book fair, which I have yet to attend (2010 may be THE year), what books they read, and what activities were their favorites. Whether you home school or not, just being an intentional mother causes you to plan incessantly. For me, when the July page is right side up on the wall, I am more than ready to place all of the information floating around in my head in one place. So here is where my whopping two years of experience has gotten me. This year’s nuts and bolts. My guac and chips. Let the fun begin.
Bible- We use the Building on the Rock curriculum from Summit Ministries. I am choosing to do it at my own pace. I wasn't able to keep up with the schedule. We also use the Catherine Vos’ The Child’s Story Bible. (I am finding you aren’t a real-live home schooler if you don’t read this Bible—“copy work” would fall into this category as well.) This is "where it's at"- I have to remember that. If this isn't done well, I might as well just sleep in every morning. Teaching spiritual truths from God's Word should not be boring or about checking it off the list. God's Word will change their hearts-- shaping and driving what overflows from it. Naturally, I am not just a boatload of fun so this requires a different type of energy from me.
Phonics- We will continue to use Spell to Write and Read by Wanda Sanseri. I love the simplicity of this curriculum and all the levels it teaches. It covers spelling, writing (manuscript and cursive) and reading.
Copywork/Writing- My friends found some beautiful resources by Queens Homeschooling at the book fair this year. It combines beautiful artwork with thought provoking questions or lovely sayings that will benefit the reader/writer.
Grammar- I am taking my time on this one, so basically I am counting on the amount of good literature we read to give them a good start on grammar. However, this year, I will be introducing Julia to Emma Serl’s Primary Language Lessons for some of her independent work.
History- For the last two years I have used a little booklet called “Turning Back the Pages of Time: An American History Library List” by Kathy Keller. This woman is my hero. She has categorized wonderful picture and chapter books that cover the early explorers through World War II for ALL ages. We have discovered many favorite books by learning history through great literature.
Math- Saxon. It has worked fine so far. We will see if it works for Brighton.
Science- Allow me to introduce the phenomenal Mrs. Juanelle Winsor at Science Etc.
Literature/Reading- So far, my favorite book list has come from Heart of Dakota Press’ Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. The lists and reading plans in the back are well worth the used price on Amazon. I only use parts of the daily curriculum. We use the weekly poems in the back with accompanying questions in the daily lessons. I love this resource- not the cover so much but all the pages in between!
Music- We will be introduced to one great composer every four weeks by reading an Opal Wheeler children’s chapter book. We will continue our plan of listening to 3 or so classic pieces by this composer while reading about him/her. I also love the resource The Gift of Music by Smith and Carlson which will be put to better use as the kids get older.
Art- I will continue with Child-Sized Masterpieces by Aline D. Wolf. (I love this website.) I am basically using it to pick out art pieces from the time period we are studying in history. I try to find appropriate picture books about the artist, but many are not available. I usually just find out what I can on Wikipedia. (Hands-on art and Drawing- Mrs. Judy Mason at Science Etc. and Jessica Cheek)
Geography- This will be as simple as finding things on the map as we read about them- where things took place as we read about them in history, journeys different people took (explorers, ships, early settlers, frontiersmen, wagon trails, Underground Railroad), birthplaces of people we read about etc.
Habits/Manners/ Life Skills- a little booklet called Manners Please from Pumpkin Seed Press and a book called What Every Child Should Know Along the Way by Gail Martin.
My year is broken down into four week sections. We study one period of history (broken down in Kathy Keller's booklet) for four weeks and so goes everything else- art pieces, composers, music etc. One thing I have really enjoyed is making playlists on our Ipod of things we are learning in those four week periods like the hymns or classical pieces we are learning, a song that may help us memorize our Scripture, stories about American History (ordered from Jim Hodges), songs that go along with our Bible study, a part of the Westminster catechism, or anything that goes along with what we are learning. We listen to this in the car and I make CD’s for the kids to listen to during room time or at bedtime.
Obviously, there isn’t enough time in a day to do all of the subjects listed above. If we even attempted it, you would surely find me curled up in a little ball in the corner of my closet. This is what I would LIKE to do this year but if I have learned anything in two short years, it is not to push myself or the kids too hard. Pushing equals no fun for anyone. If it is too much, I need to choose to slate it for next year or for the summer or just scratch it altogether. Flexibility is not my strong suit so it is hard for me to give up on even just a small part of a plan, but last year I found out that it can be the wisest choice I make. I actually had a chance at practicing this week. I had set a FIRM start date of Monday, August 24th , that is until yesterday, I got an invitation to a kick-off pancake breakfast at my friend’s house! Who can say no to white flour and maple syrup? To click and drag that “All Day Event” of “School Starts” in Outlook from the 24th to the 25th wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be.
Thanks for being interested in my “nuts and bolts” but here is something else you should check out. http://www.aholyexperience.com/2009/08/homeschool-planning.html .There are several more links for you to check out at this favorite site of mine. In the comment section, please post any other links you find to other school plans that have been helpful to you!
And to the sweet people who asked for this-- or something like it- I can do nothing succinctly, not even a message on someone's answering machine. Now, let's hear YOUR plan!