Thursday, June 25, 2009

Homeschool Planning for 2009-2010 year

With a new baby due in September, our year-round school will need to start July! I'm trying to decide on curriculum and receive all my stuff before I leave for our yearly trip to visit my parents in Illinois. That is where I will do most of my yearly planning and we will start as soon as we get home.

So far our homeschooling has been very informal. Last year for Sid the Science Kid's 1st grade year the only formal teaching I did was Singapore math, which honestly was quite boring for him. And we did Horizons K with Princess Pea - half of it. So far she hasn't learned too much she didn't already know, but I know the second half will have her adding two-digit numbers by the end, so I'm sure it will take almost a whole year to get there. We also did a lot of character training using random resources. I started out the year doing a few units on Johnny Appleseed and Indians, but we didn't get past those. We also celebrated Advent and did a lot during Christmas. But, mostly we just learned through books and learning materials throughout our home randomly.

But, my children are not lacking when it comes to learning! Sid the Science Kid is reading at a 4th grade reading level and has enjoyed reading books on his own like Stuart Little, the Magic Tree House series 1-29, the Magic School Bus series, Henry Huggins, and more. He is a little book worm and retains everything! He actually has been begging for me to do more with him this year. In the last few weeks he has:

**begged to plant an apple tree (which we tried, but it died due to too many fingers exploring it)
**drawn a picture of the inside of our bodies from a Magic School Bus book he read and labeled every part
**written a book about his sister and her pig doll
**figured out that with 4 poptarts each of the three children would get 1 and 1/3 poptarts to eat
**drawn a map of the solar system complete with the astroid belt, dwarf planets and correct number of moons for each planet
**taught his 4.5 year old sister how to play chess and checkers correctly
**taught the chorus of a state and state capitol rap to his sisters
**acted out numerous Magic Tree House storylines with his sister traveling back into history

So, the child initiates learning more than I could ever have imagined! And, honestly, I feel like sometimes I am holding him back from what he is fully capable of.

Princess Pea is flying through her Horizons K curriculum with ease and is starting to read. She was very excited to receive her Bob Books in the mail today. She flew through the first two, and I suspect she will fly through the first 2 whole sets, too. We are putting a sticker on the outside of all the books she has mastered and putting her name and the date on the inside cover. It will be a great resource to look back on if I use these books with the rest of the Klan. She was reading CVC words last fall but having a harder time blending the sounds together to form a word. She probably could have been reading 6 months ago, but once I got back to normal life after Boo Boo, I was sick with my currently pregnancy. Now she can pick up these books and not even sound out most of the words! You can tell she is sounding them out in her head but only saying the end result. It's so neat to hear her little voice read! She is a little sponge when it comes to reading aloud and begs to be read to throughout the day. Currently we are enjoying the Milly-Molly-Mandy adventures together, the highlight of her day. She also loves the books on tape I've gotten from the library recently and probably listens to them a few times throughout the day. She can basically read the stories to you by just looking at the pictures now.

Angelica Pickles is a little different from my first two children. Sid the Science Kid and Princess Pea loved the Leap Frog toys, games and DVDs and knew their sounds and letters between 18 and 20 months old. Along with phonics they knew their colors, shapes and numbers. They both could read a digital clock perfectly when they were three. These things just came easily for them and interested them. Angelica Pickles doesn't naturally lean toward learning activities and toys. She does know her letters, but I can't be sure she would recognize her lower case letters. She can count to 30, but still doesn't recognize 1-10. She does know her colors and shapes, though. So, even though I have never done any formal teaching with my previous children, I do plan to do some phonics and number recognition with her this year. I think I'm going to do an alphabet lapbook to start with, and figure out what to do next later.

So for this year, I have decided that a little formal lessons would do my klan some good. I do follow the Charlotte Mason theory of teaching, so bible, character training and family living will be our main focus still. We will be using Leading Little Ones to God by Schoolland, Junior Bible Quiz flashcards, ABC memory verses I put together, daily chores, Aesop fables, and a ton of character building books and DVDs I own.

In addition, Sid the Science Kid will be doing:

**Horizons Math 2 (I didn't like Singapore)
**All About Spelling
**First Language Lessons
**Science and History to be determined
**Junior Bible Quiz competitions
**Piano lessons
**Jump Start Spanish CD w/mom reinforcing understanding
**Handwriting practice by printing memory verses
**Writing by creating books and stories based on experiences and books he's read
**Reading a wonderful collection of books suggested by Sonlight, Ambleside Online, My Father's World, etc. and narrating or drawing what he's read
**Nature walks hopefully, if I can find time and lesson plans
**Enjoying many read alouds with his siblings

Princess Pea will be doing:

**Horizons K, 2nd half
**All About Spelling, learning all the phonograms, and reading through Bob Books
**Science and History with Sid, to be determined
**Ballet classes
**Wants to get involved in JBQ, but will not compete if so
**Jump Start Spanish CD w/mom reinforcing understanding
**Handwriting practice integrated into All About Spelling curriculum
**Nature walks hopefully, if I can find time and lesson plans
**Enjoying many read alouds with her siblings

Angelica Pickles will be learning:

**Lowercase letter recognition
**Number recognition
**Basic bible stories
**Other concepts through "Activities in a Bag" that mom will create like patterns, cutting, etc.
**Anything else she picks up from being around Sid and Princess, which is a LOT!

Science and History has still not been decided on, and I have been researching these for months! For a stand-alone science curriculum I am leaning toward Sonlight K. I want all my children to be able to participate and learn, which means I can't advance Sid the Science Kid as much as I really could. But, I also haven't done anything formal with science, so I think he will enjoy learning more about plants, animals and weather just as much as the girls. I want to keep science and history together for as many children as I can, which will probably be just the first three for the next number of years.

For History I am looking into:

**My Father's World
**Tapestry of Grace
**Mystery of History
**Story of the World
**Beautiful Feet
**Winter Promise
**History Through the Ages

Researching these has been so overwhelming! I personally did not like history growing up and did not retain a thing. So, when these curriculums list the years and topics they cover, it means nothing to me! I've sat down with history-buff Mr. Prince and had him list chronologically much of what we want to teach our children about history. That has helped some, but I do wish I understood history myself. So, the research continues! I lean toward a history curriculum that weaves in bible history along side world history like Mystery of History or Tapestry of Grace, but I really like living books and want to retain my own collection for future years. These curriculums can cost over $700 a volume once you add in the extra books! Sonlight has everything included, but it is not chronological and can't span as many grade levels as I'd like for the future. Story of the World is basically secular. I have my positives and negatives of them all, and am still looking into them.

Right now I am leaning toward Adventures in My Father's World for 2nd and 3rd graders. I believe I can adapt this for my girls and science and history is all included. I was going to try to do my own US History unit studies this year, but I'm afraid it will flop with a new baby. MFW covers US History, the states, stars, weather, plants, animals, atoms, energy, gravity, friction, sound, computers, and drawing. Basically, everything I was going to include in my own made-up curriculum, but it's done for me! And, I don't have to purchase a separate science curriculum. I actually already own 4 of the titles given for this unit study, and will supplement with others from Sonlights books lists. No definite decisions yet, though.

But, after this year I need to decided which history curriculum I will stay with permanently, or at least until I hate it enough to change it....which I hope doesn't happen! Maybe I'll like MFW...maybe I won't.

I really do enjoy researching homeschool curriculums and such and wish I had more time to devote to reading and researching. I still haven't made it through my Charlotte Mason Companion or For the Children's Sake. I want to finish The Well-Trained Heart and Grace-Based Parenting first. Not to mention all the foster care books I'd like to work through on top of parenting and homeschooling! I'll find out in a week if that's necessary reading for me, I guess. Parenting and home-teaching is the hardest job I've ever had! Too bad I'm not getting paid....with money, that is....


J-momma said...

question. what do you mean by character training? and do you mean books other than all children's books that seem to have morals and values hidden in them?

Mommy K said...

Yes, it's specific training on things like honesty, cheerfulness, courtesy, kindness, etc. I have books like A Child's First Book of Virtues, A Child's First Book of Character Building, The Book of Virtues, The Children's Book of Virtues, Veggie Tales series with stories based on character virtues instead of bible stories, The Character Builders DVDs,The Family Book of Manners, A Hive of Busy Bees, and more. Many of these have short stories or poems about manners, character traits, fruits of the spirit and so on. I also used Aesop's Fables, but many of them are throughout all of these books. You can google or check Amazon for any of these titles and see what I mean. The children retain the stories well and you can refer to them when they have a decision to make in life.

Example: We read a story yesterday about a frog and snake who were told by their moms that they shouldn't play together after they had a whole day of fun together. It was an African tale. They were sad because they liked each other, but listened to what their moms said - the snake was to eat the frog if he came near and the frog was to stay far away from the snake. It was a story to start a discussion on how other people are different than us, but that doesn't mean that we can't be friends with them. People who look different than us, have different color skin, or have crutches or a wheel chair are not scary, just different. But, we all have hearts and we should love everybody. In some instance where my girls might be hesitant to play with another child because they are different, I can bring up this story and remind them that God made us all different and we are all special.

J-momma said...

another way to do this, using that specific example, is making sure your library is very diverse. having books with characters of all colors/ethnicities, and stocked with books about disabilities or character's with them too. (also, dolls and playthings of different colors is great too). the best way for kids to know what is good and right is to surround them with it so that it becomes normal. and of course providing lots of diverse experiences and environments. we go shopping and out to eat specifically in downtown or inner city areas (until we move to the city anyway) purposefully so our kids are always around lots of different people. mateo doesn't have any hesitation to play with kids different than him because it's just normal to him. we also bring him to a group home for children with disabilities to play so he is even used to being around wheelchairs and other devices. it's just no big deal to him. this is especially important if you're going to be fostering children of different races, you want to make sure they feel comfortable, accepted, and welcome in your home. sorry, it's just something i feel passionate about.

as far as other character training, almost every show on noggin has a character message. not biblical though. i have yet to integrate that into our parenting. i feel like we're just always in crisis mode, it takes all we have to remember to give him his medication everyday. i like the idea of character teaching but mateo doesn't like books much. he can't really even sit through one. i don't have many teachable moments throughout the day. but we're working on that.

Mommy K said...

We do have some multicultural dolls around...Angelica Pickle's favorite doll is her "Baby Tui" that is Asian and "Kola" her black doll. And the children have a few friends that are of a different race, too. I think where we lack is the reading material. We don't have a lot of non-fiction books about people period. Most of our books are classics like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Dr. Seuss. But, our homeschool curriculum will bring more of that into the mix. We'll be studying children from around the world this year and other cultures. We live in FW, so they see people of difference races all the time, but not many with disabilities. They are young and home most of the time. Experiences will come.

I, personally, do not like the television. I have a list of "approved" shows my children can watch like Word World and Sid the Science Kid, but they are for sitters and Grandparents...and occasionally Dad. I can count on one hand how many videos I have put on for my children in the past month or more. I just think there are more educational things the children can be doing. And, even though a show is "interactive" like Dora or Blue's Clues...most children do not "interact" as you'd think. I've read the research on young children watching television and have seen the abuse it is given by adults. I don't want that for my family. And, honestly, I wouldn't be opposed to getting rid of it completely! But, videos can be useful in some ways. I use them when I have to take a shower in the middle of the day, have to cook a longer dinner, or are packing for travel. I have educational videos I am more comfortable with too, like LeapFrog, Hermie and Wormie, Veggie Tales, Character Builders and Schoolhouse Rock.

You probably incorporate character training to some extent naturally. You don't hit your sister because... We don't throw things because... You can even tell stories without using a book to reinforce training once he gets older. Aesop's fables are great. You can look up a topic, read it quickly, and teach your kids right away. But, obedience and discipline comes first, I agree. You'll get there. Remember, I have a 6 year old. =)

Natalie said...

Hi Mommy K,
Thanks for visiting my blog. It sounds like you are in TX and your family in IL. I'm in IL and my family in TX. :( Maybe we should switch.

About MOH- I use it with kids who just finished 1st, 2nd, and my 13 year old. I think it was just challenging enough. I wouldn't use it for kids any younger or who have any delays. I like that it covers world history and Biblical history simultaneously. That's neat. The lessons are short- very C.M.ish. There are additional resources in the back if you want to go further in depth, but you don't have to spend say, a month of ancient Egypt if you don't want to. TOG looked like way too much work for me, although I know people love it, most of those I know who use it don't have other small children to contend with. I think it would probably be more appropriate for older kiddos. Story of the World Vol.1 I sometimes use along with MOH, but if your kids aren't fully grounded in the Word it could be confusing. There is quite a bit about pagan cultures. I definitely would not use it as a stand alone. I think you will be happy with MOH, and if not, it's not expensive so unlike Sonlight you don't have to feel committed to using it because you spent a fortune.

I'm going back and forth about science as well. We have been using Jeannie Fulbright/Apologia, but a year of botany has made me crave a little more, I don't know...diversity?? Variety?

For my little ones I started Little Hearts For His Glory. I really like it, and most of the workbooks are Rod and Staff which are cheap, so you won't have to continue buying expensive consumable which you are now with Horizons.

Also, have you done any lapbooking? It's so fun and an easy way to get more in depth whether it's science, history or anything else one of your kids gets interested in. I have a ton of links if you click on lapbooking on my sidebar.

I'm excited to read about your foster care journey~ that's where our heart is as well.