Many of you have requested details on what we are doing this year for our homeschooling. So, here is my annual post with all the details! I am a “mish-mash” homeschooler, combining various methods and resources, and using what works best for us.
I rely on the free Charlotte Mason curriculum from Ambleside Online, which has the weekly schedules for each term by grade level. This is where I get our daily poems and reading lists, weekly Bible focus, Artists/Composers weekly topics, and Nature Study weekly topics.
I use much of the Ambleside reading list suggestions for our summer homeschooling, and usually just read one or two main books each month (a few chapters per day). This allows us to keep our homeschooling hours shorter (limited to the morning), since Mama & Daddy are also working from home or doing college courses.
With the dynamics of our intense family schedule this year, we have focused on finding efficient and enjoyable ways to meet our educational standards, while still fulfilling our other obligations, plus special family times. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling!
Plus, the free afternoons also allow for some “unschooling.” This is when I find my kids researching topics of their interest at the library, spreading encyclopedias across the living room, doing a geography puzzle, playing an educational computer game, or digging/catching something in the woods.
I am incorporating the Waldorf “Main Lesson Block” idea, where we focus intentionally on one main topic for about four weeks at a time, and create main lesson books with beeswax crayons to document the learning, often including Waldorf form drawing. Then, we cycle back to review/continue it another time or two through the year. (Our first one is part of “Gnomes & Gnumbers” to focus on some needed mastery for math skills, which also incorporates handwriting and art, at least.)
I spent some time this spring listening to Waldorf homeschooling webinars, learning how to prepare our lesson plans with a daily/weekly/term rhythm that gave us some breathing space in our schedule.
I also love the Classical/Well-Trained Mind schedule, and have continued using their suggestions for yearly topics/resources for science, history, and language.
For science this year, we will be using some fun “kitchen chemistry” type books from the library, along with our weekly nature studies.
For our 6.5-year-old, we have mostly first/second grade work.
She is proficiently reading chapter books (such as Little House or Anne of Green Gables books) for fun, so I am not doing an intensive phonics/reading curriculum with her this year. She does one or two book reports each month, to show reading comprehension.
She recently completed some Horizons phonics, and I will probably just use daily Evan-Moor phonics pages for review/filling gaps this year. (She enjoys those short daily pages, and retains the small bits of information well, which fits with the Charlotte Mason goal of short lesson time frames.) We already use the Evan-Moor daily Writing pages and Geography.
We also use First Language Lessons daily, which fits our Charlotte Mason goals of short lessons with narration and copywork, and also fits the Classical schedule. It includes memorization and picture studies. (We are almost done with book 1, and will continue on to book 2.) I use Spelling Plus for our weekly spelling words.
For daily math, she is almost done with her latest Horizons book, and a friend is letting us use her Math-U-See program to see if it fits our learning needs a bit better this fall/winter. I’m not entirely certain we will give up the Horizons completely, but we are going to take a little break, anyway.
For history (twice a week), we are continuing our Story of the World book series (on Volume 3 this year). We aren’t using the activity books, but just use a notebook for recording narration, along with history-themed Dover coloring books. This overlaps with Geography quite a bit. We supplement with lots of topical library books, history DVDs, and atlases.
For handicrafts, we are planning on projects such as bracelet-making, weaving, finger-knitting, braiding, beading, etc. She was thrilled to start a friendship bracelet this week!
Our 4-year-old is in his second year of preschool this year. He knows all his letters, and had fun with reading some of the BOB books last year. I felt like they were lacking some important phonics skills, though, so we have been using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading lately.
We introduced the concept of reading last year with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons because I love how it gives the process of “say it slow/say it fast” for sounding out words and the initial letter sounds (which match the first BOB books). But I feel this one also starts to get a bit confusing/lacking for a preschooler further into the book, and we’ve really enjoyed transitioning to The Ordinary Parent’s Guide.
His reading lesson usually only takes 10 or 15 minutes a day, for about 3-4 days a week.
He can do some skip counting and count to 100, and loves having his own Horizons kindergarten math book, usually doing a daily page 3-4 times per week. (Sometimes we keep him from zooming ahead with multiple pages per day!)
He usually sits with us for read-alouds of classic literature (such as Peter Pan), participates in art/music and science projects, and occasionally listens to history readings. I have the Mudpies to Magnets science book for him, which we usually connect with our weekly nature walk.
When he wants some extra “real schoolwork” (as he says), it is simple to print off a Donna Young handwriting or number practice worksheet. Occasionally, I will give him a fun math project from Family Math, such as creating/counting/sorting using dominos, pattern blocks, beans, etc.
During the rest of the time while I am working with his sister, he is usually listening to audio books (such as Little Bear or Arnold Lobel stories), lots of puzzles, playing with art supplies, or running around outside with his imaginative games. Sometimes he is also helping with the garden or the chickens.
I try to do as much homeschooling as I can while the one-year-old is napping. Sometimes, though, he is awake in the baby carrier, playing toy trucks or outside with his brother, playing with putty at the table, or splashing with water play at the kitchen sink (he calls it “cooking”.) Or, he may be tossing library books into the recycling bin and random objects into the toilet.
Let me know if you have more questions for me. I hope you have a great year!
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