Saturday, October 04, 2014

School Plans 2014-2015

We started our 2014-2015 school year the first Monday in August--earlier than our friends but in keeping with our tradition of starting early so we can take lots of breaks. This year, with the baby coming in December, we need some extra time off between the first and second semester, so an early start was perfect.

We celebrated our first day of school with donuts and school pictures!

(click for previous school pictures: 2013, 2012, 2011)

Then we got right to work. I had plans for a really great basement school room this year, but the plans were derailed when we had a big flood in the floor of the kitchen/ceiling of the basement. So we set up in the dining room. After a little thinking and tweaking, we ended up with a shelf devoted to school stuff (books, supplies, more books, and some books), and a white board. It's simple and it's worked perfectly.

Here's a run-down of our curriculum for this year, if you're into that kind of stuff:

Iain, third grade
Math: Singapore 2b (finishing up from last year), 3a and 3b
English/Grammar: First Language Lessons this semester, First Language Lessons 3 for next semester, Explode the Code 5, 6, probably 7
Spelling: Rod and Staff
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting, Classical Conversations Prescript (cursive)
History: Story of the World, USA History
Reading: He reads a ton. Mostly biographies and mysteries. At least one chapter book a week, usually more.
Other: Classical Conversations Foundations. More on this in a minute, but it covers history, geography, math, Latin, English grammar, science, and fine arts.

Cory, first grade
Math: Singapore 1a and 1b, probably 2a
English/Grammar: First Language Lessons 
Handwriting: Classical Conversations Prescript (starting late this semester, or next)
History: Story of the World, USA History
Reading: Hooked On Phonics First Grade
Other: Classical Conversations Foundations.

Laina, preschool
She participates with us in history, read-alouds, and whatever else she wants. I'd like her to know all her letters and letter sounds by the end of the year. She's also learning to write her name and very proudly writes the number four.

We do a TON of read-alouds. They're everyone's favorite (well, that and history). This year our read-alouds have focused on American History. We've done four Felicity books, Pedro's Journal, A Lion to Guard Us, Arrow Over the Door, "Paul Revere's Ride," and we're currently reading The Cabin Faced West.

the boys making Nazca drawings

Classical Conversations is new to us this year. The boys and I go on Mondays and they basically spend the morning learning "new grammar"in all the different subjects they cover. It's all about tons of memorization at this age, and then as they get older, they add some more information and context. I love that the boys get to be in a class--and they do too. Apparently I need to take more pictures of Iain's class though. 

I think it'll be good for us this year as we start the second semester with a newborn. It'll help fill in some of the inevitable gaps. And we're loving getting to know other homeschoolers around here. Don't know yet if we'll continue this next year or not.

The kids do a presentation every week, which is awesome to help them learn public speaking. Cory has made a name for himself as the history guy--thanks to the cds "Your Story Hour" he and Iain know a ton of history. Iain's favorite thing is the lego trading that goes on at lunch time.

CC uses a fifteen-minute-long song called the Timeline Song to learn an overview of history from Creation to present day. It's pretty cool how much context it gives for various important historical people/events. Laina and Mason (especially Mason) LOVE it. It's hilarious to hear a one-year-old walking around singing about Babylonians or the Mayflower Compact (although that's another history song). 

We've had a rough start this year, to be sure. I was so sick this summer that we were really in survival mode and the kids just played. Way too much. Coming back to reality, to school and chores, has been quite a jarring experience for them and it's not been fun for any of us. I'm hoping now, going on ten weeks in, we're starting to see the light.

We went on an awesome family field trip a few weeks ago, to Chattanooga to see a WWII ship that was docked there. It was a lot of fun and reminded me why we homeschool.

As far as the day-to-day goes, we've found a good pattern. We divide subjects up based on what they can do alone (ETC, handwriting, spelling, maps), what we do together (CC work, history, read-alouds, FLL), and what they need my individual help on (math and reading). I write the subjects on the whiteboard and we cross them off as we go. It works pretty well. Laina and Mason color, cut, play with the toy kitchen, participate some, make hair, and basically hang out while we do school. We're done around one each day.

And there you have it. Homeschooling with a new 8, a 6, a 4, an almost-2, and a baby on the way. Phew!