Each year as we enter a new year of school I still feel like I face something that I never have before. New books, new grade levels, new scheduling challenges. Just because my oldest "student" enters sixth grade this year does not mean I still don't feel like a rookie each September. Some things get easier, and I definitely know more things that don't work . . . And, I have my plans that I hope and pray will work for this year.
Of course, the best laid plans mean nothing apart from the right focus, which I have written much about recently. I love the promise of Hebrews 12:1 that we run with a great cloud of witnesses and we need to keep our line of sight upward as we face the challenges of the homeschool race. I also cling to the promise in Isaiah 58 that God will satisfy abundantly as I obediently follow Him. And just today, God gave me one more that I will have to save for blogging tomorrow, because otherwise the time runs out and the post runs long.
This year we have a sixth grade boy, fourth grade girl, second grade girl and two preschoolers (a four year old girl and three year old boy).
Rather than break it down by child I will break things down by subject since that's just how I often look at things. Last year before school started I finally solidified which curriculums I would use for each year and subject. History and Science still have some flex as I like to use what I have around and follow the kids interests to some extent in science.
When I first started homeschooling I bought into Abeka. Now, I think they have colorful books, solid teaching, and are easy to use, so I have continued with the initial stash that I bought, but then moved into Saxon which we have enjoyed as well. I guess this needs a little explanation as well. I don't bother with kindergarten curriculum. We either just play, pull stuff off the internet, or start first grade material at a slower pace. When they start asking to do math and are ready to do more than scribble, I give them their first grade book to work on at their own pace, generally a lesson or so a week). This has worked well for all of my kids and has given them a jump on their math skills. We use Abeka for pre-Kthrough 2 and Saxon on up through Algebra II and beyond (my oldest is in Algebra I, so I need to stock up beyond this pretty soon).
We start with lots of prereading activities and of course read constantly in our home. I like to use the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons whenever they are interested in learning (anywhere from 3-5 years old, but we don't finish in 100 days) and gradually phase into the Abeka reading program that I have for first grade. I have the Abeka reading books (all bought very inexpensively at book sales) through fifth grade and like to use them for at-level reading at various times, but I don't use them as my regular reading curriculum after second grade. Once they are strong independent readers they move into the reading assigned through Ambleside Online.
Last year we loved traveling through Hebrews 11 as we memorized the chapter verse by verse. We actually have a few verses left which we will hopefully finish up by October some time. My plan after that is to spend a month on each fruit of the spirit. Each week we will have a verse to memorize pertaining to that fruit and related daily chapter readings from throughout Scripture. We also sing a hymn and a chorus or two each day.
I went back and forth in this for a long time, and now I have settled on a combination of methods (the name of the game in my homeschool, I think you can see) that works well for us. I really like the early teaching methods of Handwriting without Tears, but don't like some of the later stuff. I really like the cursive in A Reason for Handwriting, but don't particularly like their early books. So, of course, we use Handwriting without Tears for the first couple years and then move into A Reason for Handwriting starting with their Transition book, once each child's printing is well established. This has worked well and not confused any of the kids yet . . .
We recently settled into Rod and Staff English books and enjoy their simplicity and thoroughness so much that I bought them all for 2-8 grade. So, while my older kids did not have them early on, my second grader is starting in it this year and will continue through to eighth. The fourth and sixth graders are in their second year of this book. My preschoolers are walking slowly through First Language Lessons with me. They are really having fun with these simple, engaging lessons. I'l have to show you our verb "dance" when we get there . . .
History, Literature, Science, Geography:
For these subjects I use a combination of Ambleside Online and other books and resources that I have around the house.
The kids each have sports (ballet, soccer, baseball, swim, etc.) involvements outside of the home at various times throughout the year. We also seek out field trips through our homeschool support group and lead a Keepers of the Home and Contenders of the Faith club in our home once each month.
I might be missing something, but I think that pretty well covers things. One item of note, although we do use many books that require a fair bit of independent writing, I try to balance this with completing lessons orally as appropriate and time allows. I also generally only assign the odd or even numbers in any given assignment. If they struggle with those, or work too hastily, they have a whole nother set ready to give them the extra practice, or patience building, that they need.
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