Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Homeschooling Agenda

This week’s assignment is to share what our plan is for the 2008-2009 school year, what curriculums are we using, what ages am I teaching, etc.

I have to start of by saying that I love planning!  My very favorite part of homeschooling (other than those wonderful moments when you see that light in the children’s eyes that they get it, they learned. they’re really enjoying what they are doing) is to sit down with my computer and a stack of books and plot out subjects and pages and days and weeks.   I started with a weekly assignment sheet that I found at and modified it to fit our needs.  I’ve been using it, or something very like it, for several years now.  This year I’ve moved away from putting days or dates on their assignment sheets (because it was discouraging to them and to myself when we would seemingly be a day or several days behind because no school was done as a result of something that came up – an unexpected visit, a needed appointment, some work that needed doing, etc.)  So now I’ve modified our assignment sheet once again and simply put 7-10 days worth of assignments onto their sheet and they check things off as they finish them.  This is less stressful for both them and me and if they are enjoying a subject, such as science, they are free to go ahead and do the next lesson or two and stick with the concept being taught / explored; or they’ll choose to do their entire math lesson in one day instead of spread out over 3 or 4 days.  It gives all of us a little more freedom to stop when we need to or to move ahead when the desire is there — and when they’ve finished their assignments, I make a new one!

Now as far as curriculum goes, we’ve always used a little of this and a little of that.  Before I tell you what we’re using I feel a need to to share something.  A word of caution, if you will.  For years I gathered catalogs and look them over 20  times or more and made lists of wants and Need To Get!, etc.  A few years ago I finally realized that all those catalogs were doing was making me discontented and covetous!  I thought of all the time I had wasted pouring over and over those pages when I could have been making cookies for my family, or reading to my children, or kissing my husband, or studying the Word of God.  I remembered all the covetous thoughts I had about wanting this or that since it was New! and sounded like it was just what we needed to spice up our homeschooling!   I was dissatisfied with the purchases I had made, discontent that we didn’t have to money to get MORE, and generally obsessed with something I couldn’t have.  I had looked at and wanted those things for so long that it was hard to remember sometimes what I already had and what I didn’t – - because some of those things had become so real to me, after staring at them in the catalog long enough it almost seemed like I had seen it on my shelf.  Thankfully, our LORD is full of grace and mercy and he allowed me to wake up to all of this.  Now, after homeschooling for 9+ years, I know what works for us and I know the companies that carry what we need.  If I receive any catalogs in the mail, they go immediately into the garbage can.  I have now taken full control and WHEN we are in need of something new or the next level then I go to the source and get WHAT we need, nothing more.   I cannot tell you the peace that has resulted from this change.  I can now relax and focus on teaching and spending time with my children.  I can enjoy and get the most out of the curriculum that I’ve chosen.  I can rest in the LORD knowing that he provides all of my needs and that he doeth all things well.
Now, finally!! — I’ll share with you what  each of my children does:  (I should also tell you really quick that we don’t do grade levels, as in "I’m in 4th grade".  The children have always done the work that they are capable of doing whether it is a grade level behind or two grades ahead.  The only exception to this is that, for practical reasons, The Science Guy is now entering high school.)

Mr. Science Guy, soon to be 15, is obviously very interested in science. 
  • He is finishing up Apologia’s Physical Science – Module 15 –  and will be starting a Homeschool class of Apologia Biology in September. 
  • He’s on Lesson 17 of Math-U-See Algebra 1. 
  • For History, he is coming to the end of a Civil War study by Beautiful Feet – he really enjoyed reading Rifles For Watie and is now reading The Red Badge of Courage to be followed by a few books on Robert E. Lee as well as several DVD’s about the Civil War that we checked out from the library which includes Ken Burns excellent series.  He’s also doing an ongoing study of the History of Classical Music, also by Beautiful Feet.  Right now he is reading a biography on J. S. Bach.  As a group we are using Sonlight 5 Eastern Hemisphere.  We are in curently in Japan. 
  • As part of Sonlight 5 Bible, both boys are using Remembering God’s Awesome Acts
  • For spelling, he’s on list T6 in Spell To Write And Read. 
  • For handwriting practice he does journal entries on topics of his own choosing, with occasional suggestions from me. 
  • English is Shurley English 4 which Science Guy and younger brother, The Badger, are doing together.  
  • He takes piano lessons and has recently started 60 min. lessons so each day he must practice a minimum of 60 minutes, which usually isn’t  a problem because he enjoys it so much.  
  • Science Guy is also loosely using the four year curriculum Listen My Son which we are mostly using as a framework, for Scripture memorization, and as a reading list.
The Badger, 13, is interested in anything animal – but NOT insects!!  ;-)
  • For History the Badger is doing Sonlight 5 Eastern Hemisphere and all of the reading that goes along with that.
  • As part of Sonlight 5 Bible, both boys are using Remembering God’s Awesome Acts
  • The Badger also chose Sonlight for his Science this year and is doing Science 4, Electricity, Magnetism and Astronomy.
  • For reading, he usually goes back and forth between the Christian Light Publication  readers and the Pathway Readers with their accompanying Light Units/workbooks.  He was shown some summer mercy this year, though, and allowed to do his current reader without the workbook.  He is grateful for this and is having a very nice time reading Building Our Lives which he will finish before we go on vacation in October.  His next book will be either CLP‘s  Bridges Beyond or Open Windows, with the Light Unit workbooks which I just love because it covers so many different areas of not only reading comprehension, a Bible memory verse which acocmpanies the story, but vocabulary and english/parts of speech and sentence structure that helps reinforce what he’s learning or learned in Shurley English.
  • English is Shurley English 4 which The Badger and older brother Science Guy are doing together.
  • Handwriting for right now are his choice of verses copied from the Bible until I can order one of the great Copywork Booklets from Queen Homeschool Supply that he’s used before and really liked.  He also is required to write in his journal at least once a week.
  • Math is Math-U-See’s Epsilon that he recently started.
  • Spelling is Spell To Write And Read, he’s on list N5.
  • Piano lessons for the Badger are 30 minutes, which requires at least 30 minutes a day of practicing.  Sometimes this was very hit and miss so we instituted the policy that since the money to pay for lessons comes from Daddy working, then if you don’t practice you need to pay.  So for every day they don’t practice, they must put $1.50 into our savings can.
Last is my little Tipua, age 10.  She’s 10 – do I need to say more? – and loves all things DOGS!!
  • Tipua loves to read and has been reading a good selection of books lately that include short and easy dog stories along with more involved books like Little Miriam of Galilee and The King’s Daughter.
  • For History, she participates with us as we do our read-alouds and activities for Sonlight 5 Eastern Hemisphere.
  • Her handwriting Tipua is finishing the memory verses that were included in Sonlight K Bible, Sing the Word From A to Z.   She writes the verse every day for a week and when she can recite the Scripture with book/chapter/verse, then she moves on to the next one.  The songs on the tape, which usually are not the entire verse, have made it easy for her to recall the verses, which she writes and memorizes in their entirety.  She’s also started copying the book of Genesis into a composition notebook and has finished 5 chapters so far.
  • For her Science, she gets the best of all worlds.  She does her own Sonlight Science K (her brothers both enjoy watching her DVD with her) and then she watches each of them do their science and hear their explanations of why this or that happened.  The blessing of teaching many together!
  • Tipua’s only recently started Spelling, but she enjoys it and asks for it a lot!  She also uses Spell To Write and Read and is on list H1.
  • She has been whizzing through math lately and only a few months ago started Math-U-See’s Beta which she is almost finished with.  Luckily – or thanks to good planning – I already have Gamma ready and waiting for her!
  • For reading, Tipua is in the CLP reader Helping Hands that she does with the Light Units.  Now that she’s been doing it for a while, she knows what to do and almost does it herself – even going so far as to scratch out the particulars of phonics which are included at this level that we don’t do because they teach the traditional way instead of how she is learning the phonograms and sounds through SWR.
  • On her own, she is also reading through the Pathway Reader Climbing Higher  just because she wants to!  :-)
  • My Tipua also takes lessons – she actually couldn’t wait to because she so wanted to be doing what both of her brothers were! – and so needs to practice 30 minutes a day. 
In addition to this, we have a time of reading the Bible together at least once a day, sometimes two.  (Morning or Morning and Afternoon).  During this time we read a chapter or two from our current book, Acts right now, work on any memorization, recite the books of the Bible, sing some favorite hymns and occasionally learn a new one.  When we are having a particularly hard day, we also take the time to sit down in a circle and everyone has to say one thing that they really enjoy or appreciate about the others.  It really works! 

That is the basic framework of our school year.  We school almost year’round with breaks as we need them for vacations, family needs, volunteering opportunities, or just because!

My scripture for this week’s assignment is:
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:   Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.   For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:  So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.   For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  Isaiah 55:6-12

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This post originally published @ for Homeschool Memoirs 2008-2009

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