When I wrote last week that we were only three weeks away from starting school and I didn’t have a clue what we were going to do, that kind of lit a fire under me to make plans. Preliminary plans, at least. So here’s what I’ve got.
Despite the fact that the boys are in different grades (Seahawk is starting 6th and Munchkin is starting 4th), we still do pretty much everything together. There are a few exceptions, but as a rule they do similar work. This will be changing just a hair this year. The courses will be the same, but since Seahawk is officially entering the middle school grades, he’ll have a bit more work. My goal with him over the next 2-3 years is to get him used to working more independently, and not balking at doing more work than his brother.
So rather than doing separate posts for our plan, I’m going to stick with just this one. Like previous years, we’ll be doing the same topics, but the scope and sequence will vary for each of the two of them. My goal this year is for us to attempt a more “notebooking” approach to schooling. I think the things I have/have chosen will be best using that approach. I’ll be purchasing spiral notebooks for each child – one per subject. Another thing I’m going to do color code those notebooks. I read this idea on another blog recently and I just loved it. For her children’s school supplies, she assigned each child a color, and then bought all the supplies for a particular child (pencils, erasers, notebooks, pens, scissors, etc) all in that color. That way, there’s no fighting over whose supplies are whose when it’s time for school. I thought that was absolutely brilliant, and I’m going to do it this year as well. As much as possible, anyway. Things like rulers (wood, not plastic) only come in one color, so those will match. I’ll put each child’s name on his ruler though.
One thing that we do a little bit differently than some other families. We school four days a week instead of five. This allows us one weekday (Mondays) to get errands done that simply can’t be done on the weekend (doctor’s appointments, banking, etc). I also found that having that third day off each week lessens the overwhelm and fatigue for all of us. Additionally, we’ll likely take a few weeks off in November and December for the birth of Dragonfly – and the holidays, of course.
So, what will we be studying this year? Here’s the list. It might change, especially as I discover things we might be reviewing as the school year progresses, but this is at least where we’re going to start.
Reading: Each day (seven days a week), the boys will be reading from a novel or non-fiction book at their grade level. Thanks to my subscription at Super Teacher Worksheets (there’ll be a review on that in the coming weeks), each book will have comprehension questions to go through as they read as well as a report due at the end.
Science: This will be done twice a week, and we’re going to use our subscription to Visual Learning Systems, which I reviewed earlier this year. We all really enjoyed that program, and it lends itself well to a notebooking approach of learning. We did Earth science during the review period, so I think we’ll move on to Life science as we begin the school year.
History: This will take place on the days opposite science. We’ll be using the Famous Men of Rome set that I reviewed earlier this year.
Spelling: Munchkin doesn’t need a spelling program; he spells well on his own. Seahawk, though, definitely needs to study the topic. We’ve tried a variety of programs in the past with varying degrees of success. This year we’re trying something new: The Phonetic Zoo from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I’ve been so impressed with every single we’ve reviewed from them in the past that I have high hopes that this will be “the one” that finally helps him with his spelling. There will be a review of the program here on the blog in early- to mid-October, so make sure to look for that in a few weeks.
Grammar: I was so impressed with our use of IEW’s Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree that we’ll be using the second book in the set for our grammar studies this year: Robin Hood.
Writing: I have a few different ideas for writing, so this is one subject where there will be a lot of flexibility. If we use an official curriculum, it will be the Student Writing Intensive from IEW that we reviewed a few weeks ago. If we go with just “write something,” we will likely use some of Hewitt Homeschooling’s My First Reports. For creative writing, my boys love just writing stories – they’re each in the middle of one right now – so I’ll let them continue writing on those.
Bible: I’m not sure what we’ll do here yet. We will either continue to use our Firmly Planted study or we will just read through the Bible together without an official study to go with it. Ideally, we’ll read from the Bible seven days a week, even if we don’t do an official study all of those days.
Math: Because we started using Great Parents Academy partway through the school year last year, and it was so much more comprehensive than our previous math program, the kids will finish up their “old” grades and then move straight into the new grades using the same program. They really liked it, and I liked how much they were learning. It’s a keeper for sure.
Unless otherwise mentioned, each subject will take place four days a week (Tuesday through Friday).
So that’s my plan. Have you started planning your school year yet?