A new year!
The new school year is just around the corner. We school year-round, but this month I’m taking a few weeks off to get the house organized and our homeschool plans finalized.
I just love everything about Fall (Would you believe my sister hates Fall?). I even love the anticipation of Fall — yes, here it is July and my heart feels lighter just knowing September’s less than 2 months away! I love how the parks in the city will become empty again for us and our homeschool buddies. I love how museums and amusement parks clear out to make room for our enjoyment. I love the fact that even though I’ll see so many kids walking past my house to school, or watch so many parents franctically checking off lists of must-have-school-supplies at Staples and Walmart, I have ONE MORE year to be privileged to spend precious time with my boys! I know a lot of other mothers are not able to enjoy this time I’ve been given, so I cherish it all the more. Life is so short, and kids grow so quickly. I love homeschooling for the time it gives me to get to know my kids better.
Besides Math and Grammar, we’ve always been a “family studies” kind of family. What we’ve learned, we’ve learned together. Meaning, if you had a video camera on us during school time, you’d be more likely to see us cuddled up on the couch immersed in a good book rather than heads bent over kitchen-table work. We are adding on a few more “formal” subjects this year for the older boys (namely Christian, but Micah too) — more table-work time than they are used to. I’m excited to enter into a new realm, but admittedly a bit nervous. It’s almost like starting all over from scratch, what with the winds of change blowing over us and all.
We have been coasting along for 4-5 years now, experiencing what I would call Relaxed Classical Education. We have been practically swimming in delicious living books, learning to recognize God’s providential hand in history, together tasting bits and pieces of the natural world through studies in Botany, Zoology, and the world around us. The bigger boys have had reading/phonics instruction and everyone’s worked steadily along in math workbooks. We’ve tried to leave ample time for the boys to pursue their own interests and research topics that fascinate them. With this approach, Micah has read a ton of books about animals and become quitet talented in his art projects and Christian has taught himself (with some help from dad) several video and photo editing software programs. Both boys have become voracious readers.
Christian is 10 years old now, the age several homeschool gurus suggest for starting more formal schooling (The Moore Foundation, Teaching the Trivium). I’m ready to up the anty, but I don’t want to lose our togetherness nor do I want to forfeit the boys’ time to pursue their gifts as we add more to their plates.
So what do we need to juggle this year?
Bible. Man, we used to be so into Bible. I fear my “first love” for homeschooling Bible has waned. I am thinking of rejoining Community Bible Study this year (it will take up one morning a week, with 10 minutes of homework a day for my older boys). The boys have memory verses (which we have not done as consistently as I’d like — I plan to up our efforts here as well). We’ll continue to do our “Breakfast Club” which entails Bible reading, Scripture memory, and Bible Copy Work. Ron generally reads the Bible aloud at breakfast before going off to work. I think we’ll dabble in different parts of the Bible on different days, going chronologically (got this idea from an Ambleside Online Year 0 Yahoo Group):
Old Testament on Monday (read from a Bible story book one week, and from the related scripture reading the next week)
New Testament on Tuesday (ie- read from the story book one week,and from the related scripture reading the next week)
Psalms on Wednesdays (read entire chapters straight through for a season and then read only a little bit at a time and discuss for a season, then repeat)
Proverbs on Thursdays (read entire chapters straight through for a season and then read only a little bit at a time and discuss for a season, then repeat)
Timeline entries and Digital Scrapbooking on Fridays.
We will continue to make Truthquest History the backbone of our homeschool. History seems such a solid foundation, especially when it causes us to see His Story. Truthquest also encourages us to study the worldview of people and societies — what they believe about God and others affects everything they do/think. I want to go a bit faster through American History for Young Students II and III so that we can begin next year with a study of the ancients. It is difficult for me to rush through History as Michelle Miller provides too many delicious book choices and my library is too well-stocked! This year, Christian and Micah will have more independent reading to do from the awesome TQ selections, instead of us doing all the reading together.
The Exploring Creation with…. series has been great to do together as a family. We did Botany last year. I swear I learned as much as the kids. What a neat book! We started Zoology I this summer, the study of flying creatures. My boys are very interested in birds right now so the study has been timely. I want us to continue doing Zoo I together, and finish it over this next semester. Then we’ll have to decide what we’d like to learn about next. One of the difficult things of homeschooling these days is there is too much good stuff from which to choose!
One of the things I want to add to the bigger boys’ regime this year is Latin. I purchased Latin for Children but am trying to sell it because I’ve decided I’d rather do Prima Latina with Grande and Latina Christiana with Venti. No Latin for Tall just yet. We’re still workin’ on English with him. I suppose I’ll learn double as I’ll follow along with both big boys. Are you wondering why we would want to study Latin? Dorothy Sayers says, “I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this, not because Latin is traditional and mediaeval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least fifty percent. It is the key to the vocabulary and structure of all the Teutonic languages, as well as to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literature of the entire Mediterranean civilization, together with all its historical documents.” Cutting down labor and pains of learning in almost every other subject sounds good to me. Plus, I want to be cool enough to throw out Latin phrases ad libitum. (If that doesn’t make sense it’s because I haven’t studied Latin yet!)
We have also decide to incorporate Geography more rigorously into our schedule. I purchased Trail Guide to U.S. Geography a few years back but it wasn’t until this summer when the boys seemed old enough to utilize it (we also purchased the Student e-Book which makes it much simpler to use). The book includes a literature-based study surrounding Lewis and Clark — this will fit perfectly with where we are in History.
We’ve been pretty flakey at Art Appreciation and I realize I need to add it formally back into the schedule. I have two texts I’d like to use for the basis of learning about art history. one is God and the History of Art and the other is Adventures in Art. Both are great books, and unfortunately I can’t pick one or the other and will have to somehow mesh the two together. We have a great art idea book called —-with the Masters that often has fun, crafty projects to help with.
I have several handicrafts projects in store for this year. I’m not sure if I’ll schedule them or let them happen naturally. The boys also each have their own copy of How Great Thou Art, a wonderful art instruction book. Daniel has been too young to really use it, but Micah and CJ love theirs. They work in the drawing section of the book on their own when they feel like it, but we have to schedule the painting and work in other mediums.
We already use notebooks as a way to keep our schoolwork organized, but I recently came across the idea of Digital Notebooks. I’m thinking of having the boys keep a digital notebook for either Bible or History, as a fresh way to organize what we’re learning and as a way to become more adept at PhotoShop.
As far as literature goes, I usually scour the Ambleside Online list for books we haven’t yet read and add them to our list. This year I have several read-alouds from the list and several for Christian to read on his own. I haven’t given Micah an independent list, but plan to soon.
Guess what I just found? A Write Your Roots curriculum I had completely forgotten about. I’ll have to see if we have time to add this in. It would be another independent project for Christian to do (with help when he needs it). I think I have a coolio lapbook for interviewing Grandfathers that would be a similar project for Micah to complete. Hmmmm.
I forgot to mention we have Cub Scouts, Homeschool Baseball, and possibly a Speech Class in the works.
Wow. All these plates to spin! Now I need to work out schedules and check lists. I read Jeannie Fulbright’s blog today and enjoyed her sample schedules. I think I’ll follow suit and post our schedule when it’s completed.