An idea came to me while listening to a homeschool podcast the other day. Particularly, Pam Barnhill’s Homeschool Snapshots podcast. She interviews homeschool moms and asks them all the same or similar questions, so you get a really good view of their common and not-so-common worries, rewards, and inspirations. Most parents get very excited about the first year of home-schooling; all the new books, meeting new friends through online communities of other homeschool parents, planning out the year, and of course, who doesn’t love brand-new school supplies? I don’t want to forget that brand-new feeling. The novelty I am certain, wears off quickly. So, I should probably write about it. I believe that writing down our goals and expectations on paper can bring back some inspiration when the day to day gets overwhelming. It can also help by seeing how much our homeschool, and our family has grown. And lastly, I am fairly passionate about this endeavor, so writing about it is stress-free and enjoyable.
How I’ve schooled myself on how to school my children:
You can check out my ever-growing resource list here, but essentially, I’ve read a couple of books, researched and compared many curricula, watched some YouTube videos, and listened to a gazillion podcasts on the subject. I feel that my self-directed learning has led me to absorb more than enough principles and practical lessons to begin homeschooling. Narrowing it down to the most influential and inspirational sources, I’d say Brave Writer, The Well-Trained Mind, and The Savvy Homeschool Moms enlightened me the most. That being said, there is always room to learn more, so I’ll keep track of my favorite resources here.
The Plan for the 2016-2017 school year:
Because of our current living situation and continuing work on the house, I’ve decided to implement the seasonal schedule known as Tidal Schooling. In this routine, coined by author and homeschool mom, Melissa Wiley, the intensity of school ebbs and flows like the tides, and with the seasons. In our situation, low-tide occurs during the milder months of spring and fall, when we are busy outside with the garden and house projects. During this time, we only focus on 3 subjects for about 4 hours a day. High-tide, on the other hand, occurs when it is too hot or cold to be outside, so we’ll buckle down and commit to shorter durations of a larger plethora of subjects for around 5 hours a day. It’ll look something like this:
Fall (Oct, Nov, Dec) Low-Tide: Math, Language Arts, History, and some Science
Winter (Jan, Feb, Mar) High-Tide: Math, Language Arts, History, Science, Keyboarding, Foreign Language, and Fine Arts
Spring (Apr, May, Jun) Low-Tide: Math, Language Arts, History, and some Science
Summer (Jul, Aug, Sep) High-Tide: Math, Language Arts, History, Science, Keyboarding, Foreign Language, and Fine Arts
During the low-tide months, school will happen in the mornings, leaving the warmer afternoons for outside work and play. Perhaps winter’s school will be in the mornings as well, but summer school will definitely occur in the afternoons when it is too awfully hot to be outside.
This might change, but I believe we will do school Monday through Friday for the first 3 weeks of each month. The last week of each month will be a break (and planning period for me).
I realize that this plan will probably have flaws, and therefore, I am trying to keep an open-mind and be flexible.
Math: Saxon Homeschool 6/5 daily lessons except for Fridays, which will be a lesson in “real-life math,” (budgeting the grocery bill, finding the area of our house, creating and sustaining a child-led business).
Language Arts: Brave Writer lifestyle and The Arrow monthly book studies, as well as supplementary grammar lessons from a workbook I haven’t decided on yet.
History: Kingfisher’s History Encyclopedia as a base, and tons of library books on specific people, places, and events. I’ve also put together a 20’ timeline, which fits conveniently on our round walls.
Science: Pandia Press’ Real Science Odyssey, not only because it’s secular, which is difficult to find, but because the lessons look awesome! 5th grade science will focus on Biology, and I have found a few other books with experiments and worksheets.
The Layout: (For the organizing enthusiasts)
I am proud of our homeschool shelf organization. This was my late mother’s “baker’s rack,” that got a paint job and a new purpose. One I’m sure she’d be proud of as well. The top shelf holds the globe and printer. The second shelf holds the pencils and sharpener, the often used reference books, including “Mom’s Homeschool Planner Binder,” The Writer’s Jungle, The Well Trained Mind, atlases, dictionaries, and the math answer book.
The third shelf down pulls out and makes a nice computer desk. The 3 pull-out baskets hold all the materials for each subject; the top one has the history book and binder as well as continually rotating library books. The second basket holds the language arts notebook, the grammar workbook and the current copy of the Arrow and its accompanying monthly book choice. The last basket contains the science binder, the Real Science Odyssey chapter and the nature journal. These baskets allow all the subjects’ components to be stored together, out of the way of other projects and off the dinner table.
And lastly, that awesome basket is a fair-trade tote made by an African woman who escaped human trafficking. Everyone in the family knows that is the library basket exclusively. If you need a basket to pick morels, go find another one!
My expectations for the year:
I realize that having high expectations is usually a bad idea, so I’m keeping them within reality. They may seem to lean toward the negative, but that’s because I like the idea of under-promising and over-delivering.
I expect that we’ll have some difficult times where I will lose my patience and want to just leave my children and drive to Colorado, for a week, by myself. However, there will be some really eye-opening discoveries about myself, my son, and our relationship. We’ll make some positive lasting memories together.
I expect that science and math will be his favorite subjects, while history and language arts will be mine. We’ll teach each other.
The toddler will be disruptive and we’ll adjust accordingly. I’ll probably wish that Daddy could take the toddler away from us more often than he is able to.
The schedule will turn into a loose routine, and the routine will change.
I’ll start with my usual 1 cup of coffee and during the tougher times I’ll have 3.
Julius will learn his times tables, make lasting connections between history, science, and the humanities, and be able to recap a story or event to a stranger.
We’ll enjoy the freedom and lifestyle of homeschool so much that both of us will look forward to 6th grade at home.
Our goals for the year:
Read good literature! Discuss books, authors, abstract ideas and empathize with characters.
Practice the art of locating great quotes and words for dictation passages.
Memorize some poems, the multiplication tables, and some science concepts.
Master several new math concepts, and get a brief introduction into several more.
Practice patience, listening, and compassion.
Learn to recognize some artists and their works.
Get an elementary grasp on the timeline of history and several events, places, and people.
Be able to identify 20 countries on the globe.
Watch some documentaries and movies that relate to our topics.
Conduct some science experiments and read about some great scientific discoveries.
Write and refine multiple times, a writing project at least 2 pages in length.
Get a beginner’s level grasp on keyboarding.
Pursue a passion or two.
Make some entries in the nature journal.
Nurture our relationships and family culture.
I am so excited for this year to start! I plan on writing an updated homeschool journal entry at the end of each “tide,” or 3 month period. Feel free to subscribe to this blog if you’d like to read more about our homeschool adventures.