WARNING: Super long homeschool post…
In years past I’ve posted what our schedule and plans are for the homeschool year. Those of you who have followed my blog over the long haul know that a lot has changed. My posts have changed and what was my normal post almost no longer exists.
But… I wanted to do a post about what we plan to do this year. I think it’s good to see it out on paper and maybe it will help one of you! I also like to keep it as a record of what we plan on doing and then look back at the end of the year and see how it worked for us! This year is the first year we are going to be a part of our church co-op. We are super excited! The three older kiddos will have 4 classes and Xanthie will have two hours of a preschool class. I’m also excited to have some of the load taken off, by not having to teach some of the core subjects. It will give us more time to do fun stuff!
This is our rough weekly schedule. Mondays we have an unschooling co-op with good friends which will be mostly focused around science, Tuesday and Wednesdays we have most of our book work. Thursdays is co-op and Friday morning is cleaning day and every other afternoon I have to go to work. We will have a few subjects on Mondays and Thursdays as well. We plan on school starting at 9am with the Pledge of Allegiance and Bible. Then we do our book work most of the morning. Lunch at noon and then rest time and reading in the afternoon. The girls both still nap. The boys have quiet time, but they will do some leftover school, some reading or just quiet play. I may nap!
At the end of this post I have an excel spreadsheet of our weekly schedule that you are welcome to download if you like!
Math ~ All of my kids have done really well with Math-U-See. They like the manipulatives and they quickly are able to understand the concepts that are presented. Because of the way they are taught, my kids are able to apply them to everyday life pretty seamlessly. We are doing Epsilon for 5th grade, Gamma for 3rd grade and Alpha for 1st grade.
Science ~ This will be mostly covered between our unschooling co-op and our church co-op. The Thursday co-op will have different classes for each of the kids. My 5th grader will be using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry. My 3rd grader will be doing Physics and Chemistry with a curriculum that the teachers have created and my 1st grader will be learning science through literature which will be a new book they read and discuss each week. We probably won’t do much more than what is offered in these classes and the homework that is included.
History ~ This also will be in our Thursday co-op and they have chosen Medieval history for all age groups. 1st and 3rd will be using Story of the World book 2 and the 5th grade will be using a newer curriculum called BiblioPlan. It was a bit more pricey than what I like to spend, but the text book looks really interesting and engaging! We will see how it works out!
Reading/Writing/Spelling ~ This was is a bit harder for me. These subjects are not my strength, but I don’t want my kids to be lacking in this area either. My rising 3rd grader really struggles to read and I’m pretty sure he has some dyslexia. I really want to help him love reading and not make it such a chore or battle. All About Reading was recommended to me and I think we are going to try Level 1 this year. I’m also going to try it with my 1st grader at the same time. She should be ready to read soon, but often doesn’t want to take the time to know her letters and their sounds. Hopefully they will be able to do it together.
Both of them will not have any spelling or writing since they don’t yet read. I would like for them to do some dictation though… by using voice activation in a Word Document or me typing as they dictate a story. I want them to enjoy getting information, thoughts and words on paper for other people to enjoy!
I’ve noticed we are falling behind in the area of grammar instruction. This year Tonchi (5th grade) will be doing Easy Grammar Grade 5. I’ve flipped through it and it might be hard, but I think he will be able to do it. We certainly won’t finish it. In fact I’d like to take it slow and steady so that he knows it well. It may take us 2 and a half years to complete. It’s quite a thick book!
For literature I have a book list he will work through as the year progresses. He is a REALLY strong reader, but terrible speller. I know that he has a lot of creative and elaborate stories that he comes up with, but doesn’t want to put them to paper because the spelling trips him up. I want him to be able to just write and worry about the spelling later. So I have a very simple Writing Grade 5 book for him to do a few pages in each day. I’ve also gotten All About Spelling Level 2 for him to try working through. He didn’t need much help to learn how to read and I think that has been a disservice to him since he didn’t learn a lot of phonics to help with the spelling. We are taking quite a few steps backward by starting with Level 2, but I would rather that he learn good foundational concepts to help with the years to come! We also really like using the Explode the Code books. We will be using book 1 and book 2 for 3rd grade and 1st grade respectively. Although since my 1st grader doesn’t read yet, I’m not sure she will be able to do book 1. She did the Get Ready for the Code, Get Set for the Code and Go for the Code last year, but she still needs more practice. It will probably be a wait and see how it goes!
Foreign Language ~ At co-op my boys (3rd and 5th grade) will be taking a sign language class. My daughter (1st grade) is SUPER disappointed she can’t be in the class. So we purchased a sign language book for her that is a picto-dictionary and she is going through that learning the signs. Also since Brian is hard of hearing we sit in the signing section at church and Aisling has made friends with the interpreters and has been learning from them as well! We have done some elementary Spanish in the past with Basic Structures (antiquated, but the kids didn’t mind), Rosetta Stone, and Mango (Free through the Fairfax County library system). I hope to continue some of that too. Since the kids don’t get much screen time, they are happy to work on their languages if it means they are allowed to use the computer! Mango also offers “Pirate”!! They LOVE playing around with that “Avast ye maties! The ship be foundering!” There are lots of “ARGs” around this house!
Music/Art ~ Tonchi (5th grade) will be taking piano this year. I will be teaching him and I really hope we can stay consistent. When I asked him if he could pick anything in the world he wanted to learn, he said piano! YAY!!! I can teach that!!! AND we have a piano!!! SO AWESOME! Aisling would also like to take lessons, but I want her to learn to read first. It’s so much easier to teach once they can. She also will be in a coral class in co-op and she is super excited about that. Koa (3rd grade) doesn’t want to take piano, but I think he would like guitar or drums…. I think we are going to look into one of those for him if he shows interest!
Bible/Literature ~ Aisling will be getting some of her 3rd grade literature at co-op and we do A LOT of books on tape in the car while driving around town! We’ve done lots of classics, kids books, historical fiction, etc. We will continue to do that and I also try to read a biography of a Christian missionary as we are finishing dinner. We will start the day with a simple bible lesson from a variety of books. We like the Hero Tales books, Long Story Short, The Young Peacemaker, and LOTS of others.
Every afternoon we try to have tea time. After rests kiddos always ask for a snack! So we have a little treat with tea and I will usually do a chaper book read-aloud. We all really enjoy it, especially as it gets cooler out!
Typing ~ The only other subject that Tonchi requested was learning to type. I purchased a simple typing program for him and we will begin working on that this year. I’m not worried about him learning… but it should be something a bit more fun for him as well!
Field trips ~ Since I work every other Friday we don’t have a ton of Friday’s free, but on the weeks I don’t work we do try to go somewhere; usually educational if possible. A museum, into DC, memorials, national parks, hikes, nature centers, historic landmarks, etc. We will continue to attempt the same this year. Sometimes the kids will see something or ask about a certain location and we will try and go if at all possible.
PE/Sports/Cub Scouts ~ I really dislike evening activities. I like having dinner together and time in the evening for a walk or just being together before bedtime. I’m really dragging my feet about being involved in evening sports and the kids haven’t pushed it, so I’m riding it as long as I can! It’s REALLY hard for me though. So many of their friends are doing it and I’m trying hard not to feel like I have to keep up with what everyone else is doing.
The N-Zone in Chantilly holds a PE class for homeschoolers on Mondays and Thursdays at 1pm (ages 6-8) and 2pm (ages 9-12). Last year we did the Monday class each week and they really loved it! Aisling got to join in halfway through the year. It’s a drop-in rate of $5 per student per class each week. So if we don’t go, we don’t pay! All three of them had so much fun and learned about so many different sports! I think in the long run it will help them decide if there is one sport in particular they would like to try more extensively. We hope to be a part of the Monday classes again this year!
Brian is the den leader for Cub Scouts at our church. So one night a week he and the two boys head over to church from 6:30 – 8:00. It’s nice that it’s only one night a week and then the girls and I get an evening together too. Other than that we don’t have any evening extracurriculars.
I know that sounds like a lot and it is, but it works for us! I often joke that I’m a recovering OCD/Type A! I often struggle with thinking we aren’t keeping up, they should know more than they do, they should be involved in more activities,etc. It is a constant battle for me to remember that it’s about OUR kids. Not about what everyone else does! This is our family and we are teaching them in the way we feel is right. So there you have it!