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Monday, September 30, 2013

Changing Our Learning Plans…to Make My Life Easier

I have NEVER had a year since we started homeschooling where I set our plans for the year and just stuck to them.  Never.  Some would say that this is the beauty of home education---when something doesn’t work, you chuck it or tweak it until it fits your groove.

currchange-001But, honestly, this is also a part of the challenge of home education.  Every single year that I teach my children is completely different. 

Unlike a teacher in a school who typically teaches the same course over and over again each year (perfecting it a little more each time), I find that I’m teaching something brand new every year.  Plus, I’m trying to work with kids in 4 different “grades” all at the same time. 

Anyway, I started out with great plans.  Really excellent plans.  I over-planned, knowing that I could drop some stuff that was extra.  I can’t do it all.  And honestly, it would be impossible to do all the things I wanted to do this year. 

I had envisioned my kids being self-motivated little bees going above and beyond whatever I assigned them…ha!  I should know my kids better by now I think.

There’s that, and then there’s the fact that sometimes no matter how good something looks in your hands, things look really different when you are actually using them.

It’s ok to change your plans. 

It’s ok to chuck the spelling program you paid for and replace it with a free one you found on the web.  Because just because you paid for it doesn’t mean that it’s better or the best thing for your kid.

Here was the original learning plan for 2013-2014.

Now that we are several weeks into the “school” year, here’s an update on what we are using:

All Together

History-Creek Edge Task Cards (Ancient World) and our awesome at home ancient world history library.  Each of the kids will actually be using these independently, but they will all be using them.  The independent thing isn’t happening.  We do use the our books.  Together.  We do do some of the tasks, together.  We’re really relying more on notebooking and good books rather than a set plan.

PE-Family Time Fitness hasn’t happened at all (but I’m still holding out hope).  Three of the kids are participating in homeschool soccer and oldest is working on his Personal Fitness merit badge.  Our special needs kid didn’t want to do soccer, so I’m still working on something for him.  I do plan to do something with FTF, but I don’t have enough get up and go to do it right now.

Art and Music-Harmony Fine Arts’ Ancient Art and the Orchestra is happening but there are elements I’m not totally in love with.  More on that some other time.

Grammar and Writing-We’re still pursuing the Brave Writer philosophy of writing with help from the Writer’s Jungle.  We will also be participating in National Novel Writing Month.  The two oldest kids are participating in a Story Writing Club that I am leading with our local homeschool group. 

David, 8th Grade

Religion- Faith & Life Series book 8.  My usual way of doing this hasn’t worked this year (we typically do all our religious studies aloud because I find that kids both younger and older benefit from hearing/participating in each other’s religion lessons).  Book 8 is just too technical and over the heads of the younger kids to benefit them.  We tried.  No way.  So I’m working out a way to get him doing it independently---it’s just a time factor.  In order for that to work well, I need the time to read it independently myself so that I can discuss it with him.  I may settle for getting the activity book for him and having him work through it. 

Math- Rod & Staff 8th grade is working well.  He’s not doing the whole curriculum as he’s also doing VideoText Algebra Online (review coming tomorrow).  In R&S he does the lessons that are not covered in VT and takes the test if it’s an area I feel he has probably already mastered.  I do think that the R&S may give him some needed reinforcement for the VT when he gets to the more advanced bit.

Language Arts- Bridgeway Grammar (review coming next month).  Lots of free reading and books related to our Ancient History study.

History and Geography-The Human Odyssey Vol. 1 and possibly Philosophy Adventure for fun.  Dorothy Mills’ histories as an extra.

Science and Health- Exploring Creation with General Science, although I am having to play with how to organize this so he gets the most out of it.  Module 1 was a chore---it’s just packed with so many different scientists…it was hard to get through and impossible to master in such a short time.  The other modules seem easy in comparison.  Overall, he has not been impressed with the “experiments” as many are things he has done in the past or he could easily guess how they would turn out from previous knowledge and experience.  The hope is that will improve as he gets into areas he hasn’t studies as much. 

Electives- Computer programming with TeenCoder C# (we haven’t gotten back to this yet, but we will) and scouts (lots of work and volunteering)

Mary and Peter together

Religion-Faith and Life series book 4 which has been a perfect fit for everyone, and has actually fit really well with our Ancient World study.

History-Story of the World Vol. 1.  We are sticking with this as a spine, but we are a bit “underwhelmed” by it.  It’s ok in areas the kids are unfamiliar, but redundant in other areas.

Science and Health-Mr. Q’s Classic Life Science has been pretty easy to implement.  I do find a lot of the activities to be underwhelming.  It seems like there’s a slight disconnect between the level of understanding needed for the text vs. the level of experience expected for the activities---many of these things are stuff we’ve already done or my kids figure out what will happen without having to actually do the experiment.  Not talking it down.  It’s hard to come up with easy experiments that can be done with household materials.  I guess I’m just finding out that we are more scientific than I thought.

Mary, 4th Grade

Math- Rod & Staff 4th Grade is going great.

Language Arts-copywork, free Scott Foresman 4th Grade Grammar, free Spell by Color level 1, Story Writing Club, and book club


Peter, 3rd Grade

Math-Rod & Staff 2nd Grade

Language Arts-copywork, free Scott Foresman 3rd Grade Grammar, free Spell by Color level 1, book club

Electives-scouts and extra drawing

Emma, preschool

Logic of English Foundations A (review coming) and sundry fun things

What has been dropped? 

Latin.  Spanish.  A few other extras.  We may add some of those things back in at some point, but for now our schedule is pretty full.  I don’t want to fill every hour of my kids’ day.  Our current load still leaves them with plenty of time to pursue personal interests, play, and read for enjoyment. 

And play Minecraft.

What changes have you made in your curriculum this year?

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  1. We haven't taken anything away, but I have purchased more curriculum and eventually plan to use it. LOL I am a recovering junkie who falls off the curriculum wagon from time to time. I have over planned too, but I do that almost every year. It's why I school year round. :)

    Oh, and your're right, there is nothing wrong with free!

  2. Thanks....I thought I was the only one that tried something new EVERY YEAR! :-) This is my 9th year of schooling, and I have four, what a challenge....I'm ditching the spelling books and finding free on web lol. And all my pre-k stuff is free I found on pinterest. ;-)

  3. Free is awesome, don't discount it. There's also nothing wrong with creating something for scratch if it will ultimately make your life easier---I'm creating all the kids' copywork so that it fits in with our history study and is the right size and style for each kid.

  4. We haven't dropped anything, but I have lowed my expectations of what I think will happen to a more reasonable ideal of what can happen.

  5. It ALL seems so reasonable when you are planning it out and aren't actually doing it yet, doesn't it? Yes, I've definitely adjusted my expectations. ;)


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