So reading and investigating further, I realized that I would change just about every aspect of what they sent which kind of kills the whole "you don't have to do any planning" part of the sales pitch. I sulked for a bit because I had my reasons for wanting an easier way out. Pregnant and about to have my fourth child pretty much topped the list. But eventually I got over it and in less than twenty minutes had laid an outline of things I'd like to do in homeschooling this year. Then I slowly worked on expanding that outline as time allowed. I'm pretty excited about the things I have planned to try with the kids.
Of course, it is just a plan, and not a set in stone structure. I told Dinoguy we were studying ancient native Americans soon and he replied that he wanted to study Norse mythology! So that's being added in as soon as we get back to the library. As a guide to help me figure out what was age appropriate and sequencing for topics other than mathematics, (because I've got that one covered), I used the book Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp. which I was able to get on Paperback Swap. (I LOVE Paperback swap by the way!)
It is an overwhelming book if tried to take all at once. If I was reorganizing it, I'd do it by topic instead of grade level, with suggested grade levels along the way. But anyway, it gave me ideas of what topics kids usually hear at each grade level. Overall it just reassured that we are doing great, but in some things it helped me out a lot. Besides outlining what usually comes in a grade and topic, it gives many suggestions for resources and curricula, varying from free websites, to books and curricula to buy and how to get them. Since it is ten years old, some of the links weren't working. But it was a good starting point.
Two excellent quotes from the book:
"Homeschoolers can design their own curricula, assembling resources and using approaches that best suit their own children's needs. You child is enthralled by marine biology? Invent a curriculum that builds upon this interest... When it comes to curricula, kids should always come first. It's not what teachers teach that's important; it's what children learn - and what children learn best is what interests them, what they want and need to know." (emphasis added)
So here is my monthly plan outline. I have broken it down further into weeks and resources, but I'll spare you that. Anyway, it might all change. The beauty of homeschooling is that we can (and will) immediately change anything that isn't working.
|History General Topics by Month|
|September||Ancient Native Americans, American Indians, (Scandinavia and Norse mythology!)|
|October||Mayas, Aztecs, Incas|
|December||Early American Settlers|
|February||American West Expansion|
|April||Asia - China, Japan, India|
|May||Medieval Times Survey|
Create a big time line on office wall! Read interesting books related to topics 3X a week as selected at library. Investigate in other media (movies, computers) as well.
|Science General topics by month|
|October||Human Body systems/ 5 senses|
|November||Life cycles of animals and plants, needs|
|December||Sounds - waves, light and shadow|
|January||Water cycle, basic composition of earth|
|February||Season changes for animals, living vs non living|
|April||Simple machines, basic physical characteristics of objects|
|May||Physics- motion, force, friction|
|Do simple experiments and investigations related to topics 2X a week. Discuss scientific method.|
Visit Art museum monthly or every other month. Use great works of art from historical period as inspiration for creating projects. Also use project idea books have on hand. Discuss color wheel and other topics as appropriate, checking out how to type guides at library.
Language Arts Plan
Handwriting with out tears
Penpal - write every two weeks to HS penpal, write grandparents as well.
Memorize a poem every month and present to audience
Phonics 3X a week - word study games from Words Their Way
Vocabulary 2X a week - discuss words from books we are reading, do word games (word search, crosswords, Scrabble, etc)
Reading - Read aloud 30 min. a day from list of related reading books to history topics. Have books related to history topics from list available for reading. (I created lists of 30-40 books each for reading related to topics and also for reading aloud.)
Grammar and other topics I have a weekly list of ideas that will be presented.
Short story writing sometimes, try out journaling as well.
Continue Violin lessons and daily practice. Continue piano investigations as desired. Listen to great classics in car for musical exposure. Add musicians into history studies.
We will continue ASL probably at the co-op and Dinoguy might add Spanish there. Any other language needs will be met thru our libary, which offers online language lesson access as well as CD's and DVD's.
So there is the plan for this year. I know that tons will be added to it by the boys interests. But having a plan helps me immensely feel more organized and ready for our new addition in two months.
How can I have a plan and still say I follow my kids interests? They have asked for more structure. They have asked for help learning to write and everything else. Learning is still the reward. There are no external motivations or bribes. History topics I view as presenting possibilities (or strewing as some call it.) Dinoguy says history is his favorite subject and he loves all the history books I bring home.We are using interesting texts and books by people passionate about the topics. Mathematics, science and music and art are things they ask to do and enjoy.
Again, I am just hoping the plan will help me be a better mom at providing options to them. I am not tied to the plan as what we have to do, but it gives me a starting point each week and each day. Last year I did weekly planning based on what interests I was seeing and it was tiring and overwhelming, and easily led to burnout. I will still be doing some planning each week to prepare and modify, but with the overarching yearly plan, I hope to save myself some of the burnout, tiredness and worry if I am providing enough.