Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ready, set . . . still working on the set part.

As a new school year looms ahead I have lots of motivation simmering. Reading through Charlotte Mason's first book has encouraged and motivated me to start the year right academically and behaviorally. I feel strongly that one of the critical goals of homeschooling has to reach beyond academics into the personality and character of each child. Even as I sit down and write out my schedule and determine our weekly and yearly plans I want to refocus my energies to take advantage of each one of those teachable moments that crop up throughout the day and make sure I don't miss those times to nurture my children's souls.

In order to take full advantage of each day, I need to be prepared to meet the demands of the day head on. Right now I am laying out plans, determining schedules, setting goals, tracking down books, organizing our home, and preparing in any way possible. Here is some of the nitty gritty of what is taking place in our home right now.

Plans . . . For this coming year I have decided to follow the Ambleside online schedule. We have used this loosely in the past, and knowing my eclectic tendency to never buy into any method whole hog, it will remain somewhat loose this year. This year I want to follow the schedule a little more and take advantage of more narration, notebooking, and nature studies. We are all quite excited and while this does put some more demands on our schedule, I also think it will raise the bar even more as far as academics.

Goals . . . Each year I establish goals for each child, our schooling in general, and myself personally. Although these hover around academics I also incorporate spiritual, professional, extra-curricular, physical, financial, and familial goals as appropriate.

Organization . . . With our resignation from houseparenting we currently have a lot more room at our disposal and for the first time we have a designated homeschool room. We have already taken advantage of it and I love it! Before we had school paraphernalia in the kitchen and dining room and laundry room and great room and bedrooms and, you get the picture. Now we have everything in one place. Everything school related from records to books to school supplies to reference material to tables and chairs are all in one room. I love this! It allows us true focused time and space to do our school work.

Curriculum . . . while Ambleside provides the bulk of our framework, we do have other sources for math, English grammar, handwriting, and a smattering of other subjects. Last year I finally (I know, a little slow) sat down and really figured out which curriculum we would use for which subjects at each grade level. Now, different children at time need changes made to this plan, but just having this in writing gives me a great foundation to start with and we can flex from there as needed.

Schedule . . . New Year, new schedule. Sometimes it changes multiple times throughout the year. Especially when we had babies on the scene, I tweaked my schedule every couple months or so depending on nap schedules. My schedule for this coming year takes two significant changes into consideration over last year: I no longer work and no one needs a regular nap (except me, but I won't whine too much without one.)

So, here is our rough school day schedule:

8:00 breakfast (together as a family almost everyday, I'm so excited!)
8:45 Bible time
9:15 one-on-one school with Blake
This is when I review work, intro math and English and do some reading together
9:45 school with Paige
10:15 school with Faith
10:45 school with Brooke and Nathan
11:15 flex time (I need this, because invariably at least one school time runs long or some interruption crops up -- right now that's potty training)
11:45 Make lunch
12:15 Lunch and clean up
1:15 Active time/PE
1:30 Household chore time (for now we have a lot more rooms to clean, so we need more time in the schedule for this)
2:00 Reading together outside if weather cooperates (right now we read one chapter of Child's History of the World, a couple pages in Shhh, We are Writing the Constitution, and a chapter in Around the World in 80 Days) This will change a bit once we jump into Ambleside more fully.
2:30 silent reading time
3:00 Weekly projects (rotates through: nature, Plutarch, Shakespeare, Geography, Art, Music, etc.)
3:30 Finish individual school work and then choice time -- outside if weather allows

We've followed this roughly for the last couple weeks, with a little lighter academics since it is still summer and I think it work well for us at this place in our lives.

Underneath all the planning, I pray that my love for my children shines through each day and each activity. The greatest thing I can give my children is love, showing them the love of the Father and turning their attention to Him continually, I love this poem as a reminder of that. I pray that they will learn, and love to learn, and most of all that they will learn to love and live for Christ alone even more in the school year that lies ahead.


amada said...

Thanks for posting this. Your family sounds similar to ours. We use AO as well, and LOVE it. This year I'm adding in Mystery of History to have a more biblical base/influence for history and we use lots of other fun stuff too.

Trujillo, Peru

Anonymous said...

It sounds great! I hope you have a great year.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading about your schedule. Sounds great and thanks for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have a great plan for the coming year. It's always nice to "meet" another AO mama! Good luck this year!

Melissal89 said...

Sounds like you have a great schedule! Thanks for sharing. And thanks for the reminder that this is really all about teaching about HIM, and that's what we want our children to really see.

Blessings, Melissa

Cindy said...

It sounds like you have well surpassed the "set" part! :o) Have a great school year!!

Kris! said...

I see how you use a full day and have few outside the home lessons or activities. I always consider that this time of year--it seems much more relaxed and focused, especially with all AO has in its schedule, and that's all you really need.

5intow said...


I'm glad you brought up outside activities. We have not done much in that department for the most part and I really like it that way. This year my girls will have ballet once a week (off for December and done late April) and I will teach drama at the same time, but this will fall late in the afternoon when most of our school work for the day is done.

I like to keep as many days normal as possible because so much comes up just in ordinary life that we need to accommodate.

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting! I love this CM carnival

Jimmie said...

Your love for your children shines through this very practical post! Excellent!