This fall we start our fifth year of homeschooling. That’s unbelievable to me; it’s gone by so fast. We structure our curriculum around individual development rather than grade level, but for reference and documentation purposes, this year Rowan will be entering third grade, June first grade, and Miles, kindergarten.
For previous years’ curriculum see:
I’m so excited for this academic year; I’ve been planning it all summer. Some changes this year:
-More differentiation in core subjects to accommodate the older kids’ advancing skills.
-Realizing that Rowan is already entering 3rd grade, I created a long-term planning spreadsheet incorporating the running list of subjects and skills I want the kids to learn throughout their K-12 education. I filled in what we’ve covered in the past four years, and penciled in some annual plans to incorporate everything. This “big picture” view helped immensely to guide our curriculum planning for the fall.
Here we go- our daily, weekly and monthly materials organized by subject:
This is how we start each school day. First, we use laminated materials from Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Letter of the Week to review the day of the week, days of the week song, count up to the date, and chart the weather and temperature. (I do this on our class board and the older kids chart along in their binders.) Then we review the character trait for the week and associated Bible verse using this set from Sarah’s Sweeties. Next we listen to a peaceful song, either a classical music meditation such as those from Mindful Music Moments, or a hymn.
Classical Conversations and classical co-op
The Classical Conversations community we were in last year disbanded, but many of the families plan to meet weekly as a classical co-op instead for 2019-2020. (The difference being the co-op is completely independently run; the content is determined by the leaders and the group will not use CC materials.) The co-op will likely cover history, Latin, English, Christianity and an art and science project (materials TBA/not pictured). At home the kids and I will still review the CC Cycle 2 grammar songs, CC history, science and artist/composer cards, Classical Music/tin whistle, and the CC timeline because they are such rich resources. We don’t plan to do the weekly CC famous-artist-style project (Great Artists) and science experiments (Van Cleave book) at home since we’ll do those at co-op, unless the CC projects are particularly compelling.
English, Language Arts, and Reading
The kids have a lot of their own curriculum to fit their age and learning style, with Rowan’s materials on the left, June in the middle, Miles on the right, and a few group resources above. Here’s what we have:
- Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (New for him this year! Reading comprehension and writing)
- Explode the Code (Phonics/reading)
- Handwriting and Cursive Letters (He’ll learn cursive this year.)
- Martha Speaks Word Practice (Various enriching activities- the kids love Martha Speaks.)
- Explode the Code (Phonics/reading- June is flying through this series on a quest to catch up to Rowan)
- Usborne Wipe Clean handwriting practice and Handwriting workbook (June’s literacy skills are outpacing her fine motor skills for writing, which is understandable developmentally and given her history of mild hypotonia. She benefits from this occupational-therapist recommended pencil grip, and we add handwriting practice into her reading and math time each week.)
- Bob books (Racing through this, too- she’s almost done with the whole Bob book series.)
- LeapReader pen books and writing practice (Engaging way to foster independent interest in books, letter recognition and sounds)
- Kindergarten activity book (Letter, number and shape recognition, beginning handwriting, pattern recognition, etc)
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (This was a no-go for Rowan, but a win for June. I have a feeling it will appeal to Miles. Let’s see!)
- Bob books (If Miles is receptive to learning letter sounds this year, we’ll work on him sounding out the set 1 books.)
- Educational play: I’m collecting manipulatives for Miles in all subjects because he loves spatial reasoning activities. We have magnet letters, alphabet tangrams, alphabet blocks, an alphabet pocket chart, alphabet flashcards, and word pair puzzles.
- PRI (Personal Reading Inventory)- I am so excited to implement this special activity that my 6th grade teacher did with us. The kids will color the outside of a file folder and I’ll laminate them. Stapled inside is a blank reading inventory for listing books you read, with a space for the title, author, and a short synopsis or comments. I still have my PRI folder from 25 years ago.
- Library- We’ll continue our tradition for library trips, that the kids pick books from three or more of the categories listed in A Well-Trained Mind: Science, History, Art or music, Craft, hobby, how to, Biography, Classic novel, Imaginative story, and Poetry. For this year, I also have progress sheets to track the kids’ minutes spent reading, leading up to a prize modeled after our library’s summer reading program that the kids have loved.
- Read aloud- Each week I read to the kids from a YA chapter book.
- Spelling- We’ll have a weekly spelling list, starting with the Dolch sight words.
- Poetry- The kids enjoy poetry, and we’ve gathered books over the years with CDs. I hope to read or listen to some each week.
Rowan will continue the Singapore Math Primary Mathematics curriculum. He has some flashcards and tools to help learn multiplication and division facts. (This is also CC memory work.) And we use the unit blocks, math blocks, 100 chart, dice and playing cards often in the Singapore math lessons.
June will continue Singapore math, too, alternated with the Disney addition and subtraction and the handwriting practice mentioned earlier.
Miles will get math exposure in the Kindergarten curriculum book and manipulatives like magnet numbers and shapes, tangrams, math blocks, clock puzzle, and a base 10 train set (not pictured).
These are group activities. Like last year, we are doing video studies from Right Now Media (we love Phil Vischer!), the Old Testament stick figure Overviews from GrapeVine Studies, History Lives church history books from Mindy and Brandon Withrow, brief saint study each month following the Glory Be Saints calendar , and a monthly service project such as the family service opportunities offered through Seeds of Caring.
I hope to incorporate art and music more regularly this year. The kids will have a weekly art project at co-op. As part of CC we will be learning music theory, reading notes, and tin whistle; we may do the Carnegie Hall Link Up program again and/or rotate in piano, too. Each week we hope to write letters and art to mail to family members. And every month we will complete a holiday craft and small sewing project.
American Sign Language
Like last year, each week we will do SignIt! from the creators of Signing Time and the CC timeline song motions (we use these ones which are mostly ASL). Each month we will learn an ASL interpretation in a song- last year we joined a local sign language Christmas choir! We will strive to have a weekly “voices-off” hour or two called Wordless Wednesdays- maybe during dinner when Greg is home! And once a week the kids will watch an ASL video such as the Daily Moth ASL news broadcast or an ITV signed story.
Again, like last year, we will incorporate nature walks, hiking, sports skills, biking, skating, trampoline and swimming with a goal of at least 3 outings per week. (We are outside everyday in the summer, but 3x/week is aspirational for winter time.) The kids can each do one rec center class at a time if schedules allow- we’ve done ballet, tumbling, swimming and karate in the past. And once a month I hope to do a more formal lesson with the kids on hiking and nature/outdoor education topics, either through a metro parks program or on our own (plant identification, map skills, first aid, SkyWarn etc).
New this year for June: her tracheostomy necessitates that a medically trained individual is immediately available 24/7 for respiratory emergencies. Greg and I provide that supervision and currently we still monitor her visually or by sound at least every 60 seconds. But as June gets older, she is able to provide more of her own routine care and to alert us to emergencies. So we have identified several goals relating to increased independence for June, such as eliminating the need for us to see/hear her every 60 seconds. We’ve broken down the steps necessary to reach those goals while maintaining her safety, trach-wise.
A few other things in our weekly schedule this year:
- CNN 10- watch 1x/week
- Field trips and local activities including 2020 presidential campaign events
- “Gameschool”- board games with family and friends!
- Computer science- Lego Boost, educational apps, coding practice
- Movie night
- Cooking- the kids will help make one recipe each week
That’s it! It seems like *a lot.* But so did last year’s plan in the beginning, and we were pleasantly surprised at how well the schedule worked for us. I think we’ve found a good “groove” over the last few years in terms of homeschool routine/planning/organization that balances productivity and flexibility. So I hope we find this year’s plan to be doable, too. But if we hit a snag, we’re totally willing to make changes as needed.
We are all really excited for the new academic year!
The kids are asking when we can start. I plan to start in the last half of August so we can rest and enjoy the beautiful summer days outside in the meantime.