Thursday, July 24, 2008

Planning For A New School Year

They are all talking about it-- all my favorite homeschool bloggers, that is. The theme of many posts of late is planning and preparing for this new school year that is suddenly upon us. Reading their posts has inspired me! So, I decided to write this up and join in the fun!

In planning what I hope will be an abundant learning experience for my children this year, I have decided one thing: it is nearly impossible to choose just one thing to study out of the plethora of products that populate the curriculum landscape. It is all just so good. I suppose I could just decide that we are using a boxed curriculum set and stick to it no matter what. But where would the fun in that be? I love poring over catalogs and making my selections painstakingly. I love making sure each subject is addressed—and of course there are inevitably some that get addressed several times just because. While I want to do a study of Little House On The Prairie and complete at least volume one of Five In A Row, there just isn’t time to do it all and so some stuff—some very good stuff—has to be put away for another year. I deliberated just doing school all day, every day, seven days a week. But I didn't think my kids would go for that somehow.

So, after much deliberation, the list you see below is our course of study for the coming year. I am so excited about what we will be studying and the opportunities my children will be getting through a combination of outside classes and instruction at home.

This year we are relying on several classes outside of the house. This is after much soul searching last year as I determined how I came to the point of burnout that caused me to put all my kids in school. One thing I know I did is to feel like I had “arrived” as a homeschooler after a decade of experience and didn’t need to be in a support group any longer. I did not realize how much the fellowship and regular contact with other moms and kids helped both me and my children. When we homeschooled without much interaction, we all came to resent it. So, this year, I have sought out classes that are rich and good—subjects I know I wouldn’t do justice. My daughter specifically asked to take an art class, so I found a new fine arts program that offered art, music and public speaking (I hope to do an interview with the founder here on the blog very soon!) In offering these classes to my children, I am also offering all of us the guarantee of regular time with friends and contact with the outside world.

I have included first my own "course of study" because the best educator in the world is the one who recognizes that learning never stops-- and models that in her life. So, to begin, here's what I am studying to make me a better home educator:

Mom’s Reading For The Year:
A Picture Perfect Childhood (just finished) by Cay Gibson—this book is excellent and is highly recommended even if you aren’t homeschooling!
Laying Down The Rails (review and interview forthcoming)
Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education (review and interview forthcoming)
Hours In The Out-of-Doors (review and interview forthcoming)
Beginning With The End In Mind (review and interview forthcoming)
The Heart of Wisdom
A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion

Both (3rd and 1st grader, some w/3yo)
Morning: Mon-Tues-Fri. (and Wednesdays when we don’t have Monday’s Artist)
Leading Little Hearts To God (daily devotion)
Cay Gibson’s Author Fiesta (for read alouds, will keep notebook and do suggested activities for each author)
Manners Study: Everyday Graces, 365 Manners Kids Should Know, Manners Made Easy For The Family
After lunch: Mon-Tues-Fri.
A Child’s Geography (review and interview forthcoming)
My First Book of Biographies: Great Men And Women Every Child Should Know (cover one person each week, with picture book biographies and additional reading on each person)

1st Grader:
Mathematical Reasoning Book B, Abacus activities, manipulatives
Language Lessons For Little Ones Book 3
The Beginner’s Bible (daily reading practice)
Visual Perceptual Skill Building Book 1

3rd Grader:
Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Making Math Meaningful Gr. 3, Calculadder drill book

Fine Arts: Monday’s Artist: public speaking, music, art (Wednesday 9:45-12)
Bible: Community Bible Study: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (Thursday 9:30-11:30)
Science: NJoy Science: Days of Creation (Friday 11:00-12)
PE: Charlotte Eagles Homeschool Soccer Clinic (Tuesday 1-2:30)
My third grader might also be taking a theater class—time and day to be determined

Note: I realize this sounds like a lot of classes—and I might get into the year and decide we have committed to do too much and scale back. The good news is, the soccer is only for the fall, as is the theater class. We could easily drop one or both for the spring. The Science is only every other Friday and the Fine Arts co-op is only the first three Wednesdays of the month, giving us the fourth (and sometimes fifth) off. I am also considering picking up a homeschool swim team for the spring, just to get them conditioned in time for summer league. My eight year old is quite the swimmer and would benefit from ongoing instruction. However, I know better than to take that on right now!

My “still to be done” list for this coming year:
1. Make a list of supplies we will need for A Child’s Geography projects—coordinate and research other books we will need to use with this book.
2. Make copies and create notebooks for Author Fiesta.
3. Restock pencils, markers and crayons.
4. Map out some sort of plan for how we will study manners.
5. Buy a planner at the teacher store.
6. Research books available at the library on the people we will be learning about in the biography book.
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Grossman Family said...

Wow, you are amazing! Your plans sound amazing. I hope all is well as you are getting settled in your new home. I haven't heard back on the Bible Study that is on Thursdays. Maybe I should email again as that was a few months back?

New to Matthews

Valerie said...

Good for you on the planning! I haven't ordered my curriculum as I'm waiting to hear back on a focus group that would provide free curriculum. I'm giving them until Friday then I've got to get my stuff ordered.

Is the theater class going to make? I sent the education director an email asking, but never heard back. I'm still committed to doing it if at all possible.

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

I always chuckle with my Classical Conversations group that if I would school as much as I plan, my kids would all have graduated by now. I love pouring over the new things as well. Lets encourage each other in the day to day once the honeymoon is over.:) I have many of the same mom reading books on my shelf as well.
Thanks for some more recommendations that I haven't heard of.

Gina Conroy said...

Thinking about my "plan" for the school day. I too am "signing" them up for stuff and need to figure that out first before I make my homeschool plan, but you gave me some good ideas. My biggest problem is I have to remind myself I CAN'T do it all!

BTW, do you know I'm teaching a homeschool conference on Friday at Heart of the Matter how to "Follow you're dream and Homeschool." Should be interesting! Maybe I'll learn something, lol!

glacialmama said...

I found your blog while searching for reviews of "Laying down the rails". I think I'll just go ahead and purchase it, but I'll stop back to see what you say. I enjoyed your blog - I'm *almost* to the point you're at, still deciding what will have to wait until next year. I can't help feeling like I'm back in college again cramming for exams with everyone with all this planning.
God bless & have a great year!