It's Sunday night and I managed to have the week's school plans ironed out before midnight! I'm ignoring the 30 lbs of ripe tomatoes on the counter in favor of getting enough sleep, but everything else necessary got done today.
I started school 3 weeks ago, although we've only had 12 days between them (started on a Wednesday, then had Labor Day off), but I think we're settling in. I was worried for a bit that Leo had forgotten most of last year's math, but now I can see why most math books spend a long first chapter with review. He finished June one chapter shy of the end of Singapore 2B and my initial plans to review over the summer using Singapore Math Sprint workbooks didn't really happen. But the multiplication facts and subtraction regrouping seem to be coming back to him.
My curriculum plan for 2013-14:
Science: Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding volume 1 (second half) plus monthly classes with co-ops at two nature centers.
History: Connecting with History volume 2 (unit 7) and the first part of volume 3, plus Story of the World volume 2 with tons of library books (year 800AD to maybe 1400AD)
Art: Atelier level 4 plus monthly co-op classes (last year the co-op studied Romare Bearden one month and made illuminated manuscripts another month)
Religion: Faith and Life (year 4 for Peter, year 2 for Leo) plus extra Sacrament prep for Leo
Writing: Writing with Ease (level 3 for Peter, level 2 for Leo, but this get shelved if there is extra writing in other subjects). It's narration, dictation, and copywork.
Geography: Beautiful Feet's Geography program using Holling C Holling books.
Phy Ed: last year I figured I'd let them run around outside and I could call that enough. This year, I wanted to be more formal about it. Leo is signed up for archery once a week at the Y (after loving it at sleep-away camp). When I prepped for a 5k over the summer, Peter asked if he could too. I said why not, and now he goes running with me once or twice a week. I'm hoping for family bike rides at least once a week too. Essentially, any day without outside commitments, I declare it to be Phy Ed time after our other school work is done. Sometimes that's running through the sprinkler or playing with the neighbor kids. Once it's cold outside, I'm going to sign them up for Homeschool gym and swim at the Y (once a week, an hour of each). They'll probably do wrestling again this winter. I'm debating whether to put Leo into expensive swim lessons to help him finally start to float and propel himself. Peter passed his camp swim test - it's isn't pretty, but he can do it.
Math: Singapore 4A/4B Mon-Thurs and Beast Academy on Fridays. He didn't quite finish BA 3A when he did it last fall. I'm not going to rush him through it because the last 4th grade book won't be done until late 2014.
Spelling: Scripps Spelling Bee preparation using their Word Club and in bi-weekly meetings over the winter with our co-op.
Language Arts: Michael Clay Thompson's Island Level. Eventually there will be a fair amount of writing and I won't bother with WWE, but for now it's all grammar. We'll start incorporating the poetry book soon. He did First Language Lessons 3 last spring and enjoyed diagramming but got bored with the definition repetition and so far MCT has been fun for both of us.
Reading: There are a ton of great historical fiction books from the Middle Ages, most with plenty of swordplay, so those will be his primary reading. I'll throw in other books sometimes. He read "Holes" to start the school year.
Poetry: IEW's Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization
Math: He'll finish Singapore 2B this week, then start 3A. I expect he'll move slower through it than Peter did last year. Maybe he'll get through half of 3B by spring. I'll add Beast Academy on Fridays for him after he finishes Singapore 3A.
Spelling: He's finishing All About Spelling 3 during September. A lot of spelling rules were forgotten along with the multiplication table over the summer, so I've slowed down the lessons a lot to put more time into review. After AAS3, I plan to switch him to Phonetic Zoo level A.
Grammar/Poetry: First Language Lessons 2
Reading: He's now willing to read chapter books without pictures if I choose carefully. I'm trying to find ones with fairly large text. Since Peter read Holes in 3 days, I gave that to Leo next and he went through it almost as fast. Next I'm giving him Trumpet of the Swan. He started the year with Beverly Cleary's Socks.
My littlest "big boy" went through most of letteroftheweek.com's Preparatory level in the 2nd half of last year. These days, he knows his colors, most shapes, numbers to 10, all capital letters (except sometimes V), most lower case letters, and some sounds. He can finally put his own pants on, although he usually doesn't want to. He is bound and determined to do everything Peter and Leo do and since he's been holding markers and pencils for what seems like years already, I got him All About Reading's pre-reading level, Handwriting without Tears' Get Set for School book (along with roll-a-dough and homemade foam letters), and MEP's reception level math. AAR's pre-reading has 78 steps (capitals, lower case, and sounds) and we're doing the capitals in the HWT letter order. I'm taking a 3 day rotation. On day 1, he does the AAR letter craft and ideally, plays with the foam letter and roll-a-dough. On day 2, Peter does the language readiness portion of that letter with him. On day 3, I go over a math lesson with him. When he asks for it, he gets out the HWT book and colors it. I'm keeping him in the first section for now, which is mostly about coloring certain colors in given places and learning to follow lines. He's getting antsy to color the letter pages but I don't think he's ready yet to make straight lines quite up to recognizable letter level. He can write his name though, which I didn't formally teach him, so that's fun to see. For now, I want him to focus on knowing what the letters look like and not how to force a pencil or crayon to make that shape. We might take 2 years to go through these books and since he will be a young kindergartner in two years, this would be fine for preschool. Reading seems to come early to our house so I wanted to do AAR pre-reading while he could still use it. Mostly during school hours, he plays with math manipulatives, drives trains, and jumps on the couch. His Tim School time is officially maybe 15 minutes a day, more if he wants to keep coloring his HWT book.
Probably more than academics, my goals for the fall are to get the boys doing more chores around the house and to create more opportunities for them to be with friends. I'm feeling optimistic about both. I instituted chore time as another school subject and they've accepted that pretty easily. Peter can empty or fill the dishwasher now and both boys sort and put away their own laundry. I save cleaning the basement for screen days (Fri-Sun) because they do a decent job when they know there's no Minecraft until it's done. If we're home all day, I assign each of them two chores, one for morning and one for later. That's generally enough to keep the house in reasonable shape.
As for social time, we hit March last year before the boys fell apart and said they missed their school friends. I felt like 6 months of homeschooling (and 4 months stranded inside during a long winter) was a remarkably long time to go before having that meltdown. We found a couple boys they got along well with, but haven't done a great job finding times to get together. Tomorrow we're going to the local Cub Scout open house and a year of Boy's Life magazine has been enough for Peter to say he'd like to join. Leo will decide after tomorrow. I think knowing fellow scouts who all live nearby will be a great way to meet boys their age. We're involved in two co-ops, one secular and mostly set up to provide field trips for the kids, the other Catholic and primarily a moms' support network. Last year, my boys didn't see the Catholic group's kids more than a couple times but this year, Peter will see some of those kids at his spelling bee meetings and both boys will see the same kids at monthly nature center classes, so those kids will become more familiar. The secular group gets together almost every Thursday (nature center, art, outdoor recreation school) plus some Mondays and my boys finally seem like they consider those kids their friends. It's not to the point where we're asking them over to play, but after field trips, they all run around together and they're seeing a lot of each other. Last year, they didn't have a kids' birthday party because no one knew who to invite. The kids they hadn't seen for 9 months from school? It was awkward. By next March, there will be a clear group of boys to invite.
I thought keeping records on paper was fine last year until this summer when I gathered everything together and had to figure out what to purge. I signed up for Homeschool Tracker Online for a combination of lesson planning and record keeping software. The thing that sold me was its ability to print out a list of all the books they use over the course of the year (they've already used 52). It also makes it easy to make a schedule one year, then use it again (completely or adjusted) for future kids. I'm trying to stay ahead and not need to do everything on Sunday nights. I need to start working on my next history unit and Singapore 3A for Leo.
For now, I have this week ironed out and if I go to bed now, I won't start Monday exhaused. Good enough.