On the Horizon, 2014 – 2015

I’m a little bit addicted to change. I love a fresh perspective. I love the chance to start over. I love looking out at all the possibilities.

This year will include many big changes for our homeschool, Soaring Arrow Academy. For the last 5 years, we have been involved in a Classical Conversations community. What a wonderful experience for our family! Due to finances, with the exception of my 14 year old son, Micah, we will be taking a year off of meeting formally for CC. Micah will be entering Challenge I. He has been with the same group of kids through Challenge A and B, and is thriving. He hopes to stay in CC all the way through Challenge IV.

My eldest son, Christian, began College Plus this week. We’re hoping he will graduate from high school and college in 3 years through this program. He’s a real get-er-done kind of guy and didn’t want to be bogged down with years of studies, so this may just be the perfect fit for him.

My one and only daughter, Gracie, just turned 3. Though we won’t be homeschooling her formally, I have put up 4 “tot school” boxes in our front room. I figure if each of the boys (4 of them, not counting the baby, of course) does one activity from the daily box and reads her one book from the shelf, she’ll be golden. (I sneaked some review activities into her boxes so the boys will think they are simply teaching her but really going over the list of presidents, art history cards, etc., for their own benefit.)

That leaves just the two boys in the middle to be micro-managed this year!

I am looking forward to spending lots of one-on-one time with Daniel, getting him ready for Challenge A should he decide to go in 2015 (I tutored Ch A for 2 years and am slightly biased that it is just about the most fun homeschoolers could have – and so educational too!). Dwayne, age 11, has only been with us 4.5 years ago (adopted in 2010). He has learned an immense amount in the time he has been with us, but shows signs of a learning disability. We joined a charter school this year so that we can pursue testing and possibly an IEP for him. In the past, he was diagnosed with severe ADHD and some type of behavior disorder.. I know that both of these aspects of his personality, whether the labels are worth stating or not, make it difficult for me to tutor him. However, thanks to many years of puttering away at phonics with him and the fact that my dad has been intensely tutoring him for us this summer, Dwayne is just starting to read. Perhaps the ability to read will turn homeschooling on its head for him, and we will see even more progress in other academic subjects.

After prayerfully considering the myriad of homeschooling choices and styles this year, we will be returning to our Charlotte Mason-esque roots. I am absolutely delighted to focus on short lessons, a full, diverse curriculum, narration, and living books this year. I always have claimed that Charlotte’s ways should be considered classical anyway, and true to that belief we will be meshing ideas we’ve picked up from classical education with Charlotte’s ideas. I plan to re-read For the Children’s Sake, A Charlotte Mason Companion, and Educating the WholeHearted Child this year, to keep me on the right track big-picture wise. Because we intend to get back to CC at some point, I planned our homeschooling year around Cycle 3’s memory work.

Here’s the lineup:

Bible:

Read through gospels as part of morning routine

Jesus Storybook Bible at breakfast

Memorize John 1:1-7

History:

Heritage History: We will read these living books together for a broad overview of Western Civilization. We also have many delicious American history books lying around the house, so we’ll throw those in this year as well (like these beauties!).

Science:

Have you had a chance to look at Apologia’s Exploring Creation series? These textbooks read like living books and include lots of fun hands-on activities. I just love these books! We haven’t touched one in years, so this year the hope is to get through not one but two of them. We’ll only do Science 2x a week, tho, so we’ll play the speed by ear. I don’t mind if we are doing Science next summer if need be.

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics

Writing/Grammar:

Brave Writer – I’m super excited about joining the charter this year because I can try out this expensive curriculum. It appears to be very Charlotte Mason-oriented, using living books, encouraging a delight in writing, and including dictation, copywork, and tea time! I plan to order several back issues of their monthly publication called Arrow. These publications will give us specific activities to do that reference the literature we will be reading as a family for bedtime stories.

We are hoping to read (and use as springboards for writing) the following books this year:

James and Giant Peach (stylish synonyms) (this one is free on their website so we’re trying it out)

Because of Winn-Dixie (collage)

Pippi Longstocking (onomatopoeia)

Henry Huggins (names)

Rascal (consonance)

The Penderwicks (dialogue)

Gingery Pye (personification)

 Bud, Not Buddy (onomatopoeia)

The Horse and His Boy (writing projects)

Reading:

Daniel and Dwayne will both need to read aloud to Gracie each day. Both will be required to read every day as well (I hate that I have to require this – my older 2 boys LOVED to read. These boys need more of a push!). 2 days a week they will read from our History choices, and 2 days a week for fun. I will go through Reading Pathways with Dwayne to help with fluency. This book really helped Daniel pick up speed in his reading a few years back.

Spelling:

I think we’ll do All About Spelling for Dwayne and Spelling Power for Daniel. Normally I like to have my children using the same curriculum, but the adoption part of our story (and resulting very close ages of these 2 boys) has created a scenario where the least amount of competition between the two boys, the better.

Foreign Language:

Visual Latin (lots of English grammar here as well) – this is a video series. We will watch together, but go very slowly. The boys will continue working on memory facts from Latin from the various CC cycles.

Math:

I’m hoping to use charter funds to put Dwayne and possibly Daniel too into Mathnasium for a bit.

Dwayne is currently using Dreambox for math over the summer. I really don’t know what else, if anything I want to add to his math plate. He will continue working on math facts from the CC memory work.

Daniel is not loving Saxon. I think he will give Teaching Textbooks 7 a try this year.

Geography:

U.S. States and Capitals memorization, landmarks as noted in CC Cycle 3, and practice drawing the U.S. map at least once a week. Review geographical places from Europe, Africa, South America once in a while.

Memory Work:

We will continue learning Cycle 3 memory work this year, reviewing the other cycles when we find the time or I remember. Memory work covers History, Science, Latin, English Grammar, Math, and a World History timeline. 

Fine Arts:

D and D will continue using Child-Size Masterpieces during preschool time with Gracie (see what I did there?)

We will also have up art prints of Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’Keefe, Grandma Moses, NC Wyeth, John Singleton Copely, and Mary Cassatt (American artists) to narrate, discuss, and sometimes copy.

Maestro Classics (Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, Peter and the Wolf, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)

P.E.

The boys will be playing flag football from August to November. We also have a trampoline and an above ground pool. With the charter resources, I may look into gymnastics or karate – but I don’t want to get too busy, so I may not.

That’s about it. Now to firm up the daily rhythm of our school days, organize the house some (please!), make a menu plan that I can deal with, and then we’re ready to hit the books!

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