I am not sure that I ever planned out a whole school year in advance before. I am still not sure if that is what I have done here. But something is coming together and it feels a lot like a plan.
My specialty is last minute, creative fun. Long term, advance planning is not at all how I am wired, mostly because I have decidaphobia ( which I recently learned to be a real thing). There are too many possible things to study and learn and way too many ways of doing it that I get overwhelmed and end up choosing nothing… and throw all my energy into a fun new project that can be done right now. Usually art or something related.
Planning each new week ahead on Sundays nights served me very well last year and I will resume that practice once I can plant my feet firmly in one place for more than two weeks at a time.
But there was one notable drawback, I still ended up with decision fatigue from constantly having to think about what we were going to study each week, trying to provide a balanced diet of necessary skills and inspiring ideas.
I tried to ease the load by choosing a history program that should have lasted all year as an open and go program, we enjoyed it for a few weeks but then I came across chapters that I disagreed with and lost faith in the program, so I dropped it. Leaving us with no history plan. Thankfully Ronald Dhal wrote a gripping biography that really brought some recent history to life. And we read a couple historical fiction books.
All this to say that putting all my trust in one publisher for any topic is a risky endeavour, so this year I am taking a different approach.
HISTORY AND SCIENCE
I ordered a couple book bundles from Beautiful Feet books. Each is box of book titles from different authors and publishers (many are award winners) along with a guide book with discussion questions and more book lists on the subject. The bundle is called The History of Science and it came with more than a dozen ‘living books’, each about a different figure who contributed to science in some big way. There is no particular order that the books need to be read in (the guid book goes chronologically), and if a book in there is just not meshing well with us, we can drop it and pick up a different one. These are not dry textbooks but exciting narratives that will make the accounts come to life, that’s what a ‘living book’ is. Something I learned by looking into Charlotte Masons writings last year. So that makes up both our science and History for this year. A time line was included but we may make our own and do some of the experiments outlined in a couple of the books. Roman is also interested in nuclear physics, so there will likely be a deep dive on that subject.
The other bundle I ordered is called Teaching Character Through Litterature. It is a collection of award winning and diverse fiction novels that will introduce the kids to challenges and situations they have likely not faced yet but may someday and give them food for thought to help them prepare in advance how they might act themselves. Or that’s the hope at least.
(There are a handful of companies offering similar programs. Book Shark and Sonlight are the other names that come to mind. If you know of others please mention them in the comments so that readers can look into them as well. Some are Christian but Book Shark is secular. )
Life of Fred Math
Math is actually my favourite subject. No, seriously, it is. Nothing scares me about teaching math. But I like to have a plan here too because even fun desicions can be exhausting. I love Life of Fred, as goofy and silly as it is, the stories makes practical application all along the way and the kids remember what they have learned. Very short reviews takes the drudgery out of practice. We also love Bedtime Math books. I adore the short interesting stories and the way there are 3 levels of math questions plus a bonus. So all my school age kids get their own question to answer. This is great at lunchtime. I plan to include more math games to help solidify the multiplication table and addition. King domino is a personal fave but also Yahtzee and our homemade version of Shut the Box. I also use the occasional the worksheet to hone in on specific math functions, I reserve these for 1:1 times and we will do a few problems a day until I feel they have grasped it or that it is over their head enough to drop it and come back another time. Also MathAntics on YouTube to intro or review concepts. He’s great.
Writing is my least favourite subject to teach because, even though I love grammar, I would not know where to start or what to cover and when. We had used pages from the Complete Canadian Curriculem in the past but they are tedious and not retained. Last year I discovered Brave Writer and my whole homeschooling univers blew open and ‘then there was light!’ I am still limping along, trying to master the art of teaching the lessons without reading it directly from the guide. But honestly, the entire ‘Brave Writer Lifestyle’ is what I had already been doing with my kid back when we started out and homeschooling was fresh and magical to us. Julie and her team have provided fabulous webinars that really instruct us how to use the products in any circumstances. So I trust this one particular program provider for our writing instruction.
So we will be using The Wand and Jot it Down and some arrow guides this year, with a focus on getting into a routine of daily writing practices.
The boys will continue to practice cursive writing and integrate it into copy work.
My husband and I are artsy so I don’t worry here either. I have purchase a membership with Masterpiece society and there is likely enough there to give us directed projects for when we lack our own inspiration. Specifically, we will take some water colour lessons and try the mixing with the masters and drawing lessons. I want to include a weekly picture study this year too, where we may learn a bit about certain artists.
Music and theatre are important to me but we are currently traveling too much for lessons with a teacher. I am encouraging the kids to keep finding YouTube tutorials and practice at will. I have added a weekly song to our morning worship. I draw out a different musical aspect from each song and give a brief lesson, then we practice singing it. I am drawing on my own experiences from choir and music lessons from my own schooling.
The big boys are still enjoying trampoline so we will continue taking classes once school starts up. Dars and juju get their lessons at the drop in classes.
I would like to start a morning workout routine using YouTube videos, I feel that Pilates or a form of yoga stretches may be beneficial and calming…which is desperately needed. I am normally a ‘do it alone with no one watching’ kind of person so we shall see how this goes. Also, now that the littles are bigger, regular hikes are high on my list. The forest near us is amazing and I want them to get to know it like I have. I am putting off swim lessons until Juju is old enough to join. Last term was too hard with two time slots for lessons and him not able to swim until open swim after the lessons, made for a 3 hour swim trip, on a meeting night. We might alternate open swim and trampoline on weds.
We are currently reading Paddle to the Sea. I have other books like it lined up in my amazon cart. Activities to go along with the book will be map work, learning more about tides and currents, field trip to Wye Marsh or Tiffin Centre or Bear Creak Eco park. The big boys are loving online games that involve a lot of maps so that counts as map work.
I like to pullarticles from Complete Canadian Curriculem book or news stories and have Discussions. Kids love being part of grown-up conversations
Aside from trying to be outside tons and tons, we will watch documentaries, YouTube videos like Jonathan’s Blue World and Smarter EveryDay. We started nature journals, gonna try to keep that going.
Am I missing anything?
what is your plan this year?