Image

I’ve always been an eclectic homeschooler, though I wasn’t always aware of the title. Over the years as I’ve learned from others, researched, and tried out new methods/curriculum we finally find ourselves at a place where I absolutely love everything we are doing, reading, using, etc. Obviously, my Little Guy is just as enthused, or I probably wouldn’t be. 

In previous years I allowed all the wrong things to guide me in our homeschool curriculum choices. Until very recently (half way through third grade, to be exact) the thought in our household was that B would attend public school at some point, with private school being a possibility if we could find a good school that we could afford. As a youth, homeschooling was foreign to me. The thought never crossed my mind that BB would be home educated, in fact, dreams of his first day of school would flood my thoughts from time to time, and it wasn’t wholly pleasant at all.

So now, without having to plan to educate Brooks around what the public schools are covering, I find myself using all sorts of things and covering all sorts of topics that perhaps I would not have before. It’s freeing in so many ways. It’s incredibly exciting. And three weeks into our new fifth grade schedule, it’s eye opening.

The amount of “stuff” B is learning is insane. We both find ourselves excited to open up certain text books, or to read certain books. More often than not LB will plead that we keep going, or cover something else. When the situation arises that he has a question about something we can forgo what’s “scheduled” to explore deeper, investigate, ponder his questions, his curiosity.

For example, this week, while learning more deeply about the Henry Ford and the Wright brothers we deviated to learning about President Teddy Roosevelt. We use a lot of narration in schooling this year and Brooks had eloquently shared information on this beloved president. The breadth of his knowledge surprised me since we’d only covered him in passing in years past. It was really an aside, as I shared that President Roosevelt had been the first president to both ride in an automobile and fly in an airplane. We perused websites, pulled up videos, looked at books. And then, because we’d learned that he’d been the first president to travel to a foreign country (Panama) we learned about that country, the ins and outs of the Panama Canal, why the project had previously floundered, etc etc.

This is why I love homeschooling so much!

Among so many other reasons.

The freedom to really learn about something, thoroughly, to enjoy the learning of it, to experience the excitement of how all these things are tied together.

When I look at Brooks and I see him truly enjoying all his subjects that excites me. When he gets excited over assignments, when he pores his heart into what he’s doing… it accentuates how blessed we are to have homeschooled thus far. Of course, homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but for this military family the time together has been a blessing, a true gift, and one we don’t take lightly.

So this year one of my biggest deviations comes from the fact that we don’t cover every single subject every day. Some we do. Some we only cover 3 times a week, or twice a week, and even once a week.

Before this would have caused me concern because somehow I equated the amount of days we covered a subject to how important it was, and shouldn’t they all be equally important?

Well yes. And… no.

Scheduling the “smaller” subjects less days actually, surprisingly, allows us to cover them more extensively. So my fear that some subjects would result from neglect, that somehow the richness of learning would escape us during those times has not happened.

Three weeks in and I’m breathing easy and loving the freedom and flexibility of the schedule. Our days don’t feel rushed, even on days that we find ourselves meeting others for activities or heading out for an appointment.

The three biggest things I am focusing on as we move through the year are the following (though of course, lots of other learning is occuring, I’m just keeping these in the forefront so they become a central part of our homeschool “skeleton,” if you will:

narration, reading (classics, current events, living books, etc etc etc), and community opportunities (such as field trips, learning opportunities, etc).

We have four full days of school with one half day throw in due to sports/activities that take up the majority of our day. Wednesdays have been dubbed our “Park Days” since those days entail roller hockey with friends, lunch with friends, and an activity with friends (typically a park/playground). Fellowship with friends is so vitally important that I can’t imagine our schedule without this beloved and special day. We both really look forward to it.
 

And, it’s a great break in our day.

Mondays:

Every homeschool day begins with “Independent Work.” On Mondays that entails typing, logic exercises (either analogies, a Perplexus Puzzle, or activities from another book called Logic Liftoff), and independent reading (either an article I give him or a selection from our McGraw Hill reading book for fifth grade).

The logic exercises are B’s favorite from these three. He LOVES pulling out the workbooks during the day just to work on them. He loves figuring out the puzzles or whatever it is the book has next for him.

Next we tackle Math (and I’ll say now that after Math the rest of the subjects though listed in order are not always tackled that way). We love our Saxon math, having always used it. B excels at math and enjoys the subject. I enjoy the repetitive nature of Saxon as B is really mastering the subject.

History has always been Bob Jones. We tend to use the text as a skeleton of sorts. I plan ahead, pulling books from the library to complement whatever it is we are learning. I peruse the internet for activities, videos, visuals, etc. We both love history and a lot of narration and discussion occurs during this class.

For our Bible study/ Christian study we have used Memoria Press’s Christian Studies but this year we are beginning with Apologia’s,  Who is God? I’m loving how Brooks’s faith shines through during this class.

Spelling. Brooks is not the best speller. I don’t see any Spelling Bee’s in our immediate future though I’d love him to compete one day just because I see how much he’s improved and I know it would tickle him pink to hold his own, at least for a while 🙂 We continue working our way through Wise Guide for Spelling. B’s spelling has improved by leaps and bounds while using this book which focuses on the phonemes and rules of our language. I keep it simple. We don’t over-drill, because then he’d hate it. We tackle one lesson a week, covering 10 words one day and 10 the next. I don’t make him write the words over and over. The other three days I pick three activities from the text, focusing on words he needs to master from the original list. On Friday we tackle the test, and sometimes I make it fun. I may not make him write out the words, instead opting for a spelling bee type quiz. We may throw a ball or do some silly something, anything to keep it light and focused on mastery, not drill and kill.

For writing we are loving IEW. Enough said!

Science this year consists of Apologia’s Astronomy for the elementary grades. I tackle this book much like history, planning ahead, researching, pulling more resources to cover the subject extensively. At the end of the chapter B uses his notebook to annotate what he’s learned, drawing and diagramming as he sees fit. Then, and he loves this part, he narrates and presents his presentation, showcasing all he’s learned over the course of that particular chapter.

Grammar consists of three things: Daily Grams, Easy Grammar, and vocabulary through the use of Wordly Wise. I’m incredibly impressed with B’s mastery of grammar with these texts. Not only is My Boy learning, he enjoys the subject. Sweet!

Literature… oh my heart be still! How we love, love, love reading in this house! We are almost done with our first literature study, The Animal Farm. B LOVES this book. We are concurrently learning about the Russian Revolution, thoroughly, so we are going through the book much slower than we’d want, but we are enjoying it and it’s almost like a treat, waiting to read the next chapter. We are using McGraw Hill’s literature studies for this, and pulled it right off the internet, for free, to boot.

Health. B loves health. We tend to use a public school book for this but this year we started with “sex ed.” Say what?! Yup! Sex ed. Keeping in line with our desire to teach Brooks to court, not date, we have always been open and honest, age appropriately of course, about God’s desires for him in this regard. I had to have The Talk all by myself with That Boy during one deployment. It sucked and it didn’t. He had so many questions and wasn’t even embarrassed, which is great, I know, but I didn’t have all the answers because, well, I’m a girl. We are using Facing the Facts, The Truth About Sex and You, which is biblical in nature to teach over some things we’ve already covered and then some. It’d be silly to pretend his body isn’t rapidly changing and addressing these things at home, and in a Biblical manner is huge for us.

Geography. I am loving The Old Schoolhouse’s take on Middle School geography. It’s very thorough and fun. We subscribe and are able to download the lessons we need for each week.

Spanish this year is focusing on grammar and trying to get this bilingual momma to remember to speak in Spanish. This is much harder than I care to admit because I instantly revert to English and have to remind myself to speak to B in spanish. Spanish studies are great though because it emphasizes how much B has learned and how proficient he is. I suppose those moments of clarity where I remember have stuck with him and I’m grateful. This is one of B’s favorite classes. He loves speaking in Spanish (finally). He used to moan and bemoan that he didn’t see the point because so few people he knew spoke it. I would insist that it’s a part of his culture, his identity, who he is, and we’d move on. This year he is treasuring the sounds and lessons and richness of the history etc, etc.

Art. We have a set curriculum for art but this month, being August, and more relaxed than the three that are about to follow, we have been doing art as we see fit. I’ll find stuff on the internet or just pull out supplies and let him explore. We LOVE art, and my walls are quickly filling with his pieces.

Nature Study. We are using the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. LOVE!!! Our nature studies are open ended, we use the book as a guide and also incorporate other stuff. This is one of the best ways to end the day, and usually does. As part of our first week’s focus (mosquitoes) we also read a book, Fever, 1796, about the yellow fever epidemic in Philly, as well as read a few books on epidemics in general, yellow fever, etc. I love reading books related to our subject at hand, and historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.

Lastly, current events are huge here. I order several magazines from Scholastic, from current events (the weekly reader) to other magazines they print. Sometimes we pick an article, simply, from one of these sources. But more often than not we also pull off article from dogonews.com, or izzit, which is quickly becoming my favorite as it includes questions for discussion (so I don’t have to think so hard of them on my own, major plus).

I would love to start up a month current events online video chat group for my boy and some of his peers so that they discussion can occur amongst themselves. It’s still on my heart and mind and hopefully I can make that a reality this year.

The suggestions and advice from other homeschooling momma’s has been invaluable as we’ve pulled new materials into our schedule that we had not previously been exposed to. As always, I’m loving this homeschooling journey and our Monday’s are such a great way to start off  our week.

 

 

Advertisements