It's been a little over two months since I shared my plans for a new school year. Its always good to go back and review how things are going...and adjust/edit as needed. I have most of my original post below, but anything written in blue will be my commentary on how it's actually working.
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So I'm going to walk you through the schedule of my two younger kids, and show you our plans for this year.
Plans for a 3rd Grader
Ellen: My youngest is 9 and entering the 4th grade. She's full of curiosity, loves creating art (mostly sunsets), and a struggling reader. Here's what's on my list for her:
- Classical Conversations: She's enrolled in Foundations (6th year...not getting old yet!) and Essentials (1st year! Yay!). I love this program for my struggling reader. In Foundations, no reading is necessary. She loves to sing, so we enjoy all of the songs in the program, and make up our own for memory work that doesn't come with a song. As a first year Essentials student, I'll require much of her work to be done orally. Since the program repeats for three years, we'll build up to the full speed Essentials in coming years. She's been practicing at home with her big sister, so she'll be ready. She was so nervous for her first day of Essentials, but since then she's been excited to be a part of the program. I can see her gaining confidence as she works through these harder assignments.
- Math: Starting with
Life of Fred: DogsLife of Fred: Cats (I thought we were further than we actually were...oops), we'll aim for a lesson a day. I love this math for her because it incorporates reading as well, and it makes us laugh a lot. We take 30 minutes on each lesson because we read the chapter together. I try to sneak as much out loud reading in as possible. We'll also start working on flash cards for math facts. We've finished Cats, and are almost done with Dogs. We take turns reading when the math gets harder so that she'll have sufficient time to think out the problems. I haven't started on flash cards for math...I need to get on that!
- Latin: Our focus this year will be to memorize Latin Noun endings (declensions), and vocabulary from Henle I. We'll use a spiral notebook to decline a word a day from the vocabulary list. Short and sweet. It is working well - short and sweet!
- Maps: After going through Challenge A with my son, I've become compelled to work on map drawing with my girls as early as possible. We'll focus on drawing Africa using the step by step book: Draw Africa. Last year we mastered the USA, and next year I'll focus on Europe. These kinds of activities are hard to schedule, because I want her to master it before we add on more. We'll take it slow and steady! By the time she enters Challenge A, she might be familiar with 3 or 4 continents, and really thrive in drawing the whole world. She's loving this. She draws 5 or 6 countries over and over until she can draw them from memory, and then we add on a bit more. Here's what it looks like:
We're going to read through the My Book House series, taking a leisurely pace. My goal is reading daily with her...both her reading to me and me reading to her; saturating her environment with literature. So we decided to read this series together as a family during our combined read alouds. This happened because she stumbled across a book series that she was dying to read out loud to me! I ran with it. The Princess Tales have been a great series, and now she's chosen the Winnie the Pooh books to read to me.
- Music: She's taking piano lessons from her dad, and she's in the first volume of Suzuki Piano She's toyed around with guitar lessons too, but I think I'm going to make her commit to practicing the piano first, and if she wants to play guitar too, that practice will come in her free time. She's practicing away at her piano, and at night she's actually started pulling out the guitar during her free reading time. Since free reading isn't as fun as playing the guitar, she has decided practice is a good thing! The funny thing to me is that she is reading chords and lyrics to praise songs, and we get to hear her sweet little voice praising God as she practices. Winners all around!
- Grammar: This includes our Essentials of the English Language work with English grammar, as well as spelling with Spell to Write and Read. I allow for extra time in this area so that if something else takes longer, we don't run out of time. I'll also start some of her writing work in this segment if we have time. If not, it will happen in the afternoons. All is going well here. We need lots of practice!
That's the specific list for my youngest. Notice I have no extra history or science mentioned, but we do some of that all together. I'll explain more at the end.
Plans for a 6th Grader
Grace: My middle child is 11 and entering 6th grade. She's full of life, an avid reader, and ready to move on to Challenge. Not yet my dear! One more year of play won't kill you!
Grace's schedule looks a lot like her younger sister's, only she starts with music and not math. I do this so I can rotate them through having one-on-one time with me. She also has more work after lunch, but the work is self-driven and fun. It looks very regimented, but it's really flexible. Their schedules are in a page protector in the school room, and they just mark off what they've done as they go. Sometimes it gets done out of order, but that way we know what has been completed. This has worked really well. It helps that Grace likes keeping her schedule. Ellen is a little freer in how she uses her time, but since I sit with her first, I can help her keep on task.
- Classical Conversations: She is also enrolled in Foundations (6th year), and Essentials (3rd year). Not much will change for her. One way I'll put her to work is leading the conversations for Essentials with her little sister. If you can teach it (in a loving and patient way), then you truly have mastery over it. I will be present in the sessions to give her backup though! I love seeing her take ownership of this work.
- Math: She is also using Life of Fred books, but she'll be starting Life of Fred: Kidneys. She'll spend 30 minutes a day on this as well as reviewing her math facts. She's still loving Life of Fred. She's finished Kidneys and has moved on to Liver. She's pretty good on her own with these, and that makes life easier for me!
- Latin: Last year we started Henle 1 a slow pace (we made it through Lesson 2). Since I'm using this book in Challenge with my son, this is the easiest for me. There are so many other great Latin programs for younger kids, if you've never done Latin before, choose one of them and learn with your kids. We'll keep going in Henle 1 as far as we can get. She'll also focus on learning the Latin Noun endings and keep a declension notebook (declining one noun a day). She's been good at moving along through the Henle book, but we've gotten lazy about declining a noun a day. I need to remind her to do this!
- Maps: She'll also work on drawing Africa daily. We get to this most every day, but if she takes more time on Latin, the map might drop. I'm not concerned though, because she's really enjoying drawing her maps and has a good portion memorized so far.
- Reading: I have a bookshelf designated for books I want her to read aloud to me. We read one until she finishes, and then she picks another and keeps going. I like to give her control of this so she's motivated to read. She loves picking her books. So far she's read Crispin, and The Middle Moffat.
- Music: She's taking piano and guitar lessons from her dad as well. She's about to finish Suzuki Piano Book 1 and is looking forward to starting Suzuki Piano Book 2. She'll alternate days spent on piano and guitar. Her biggest motivation for practicing is so that she can play for her Great Grandma. When she went to visit her this summer, she had been out of practice and could only remember one song. She doesn't want that again! Sweet heart.
- Grammar: This is her time to teach her little sister what she knows from the Essentials of the English Language. We'll also continue with her spelling using Spell to Write and Read. All good here.
By this time, both girls have made it through their morning studies, and covered the core of what I desire to cover in their schooling. My son works on his work independently in the mornings, and that gives us time in the afternoons to work together.
After Lunch Activities:
- Read Alouds:
I've found our family really enjoys reading aloud after lunch. It's a restful time, and everyone's ready for a little break. I used to plan out a list for the year of books to read together.Life has changed a bit this year as my husband has started offering music lessons in our house. Our afternoons are not quite the same day to day, so our read aloud time ends up being in the evening or in the car. We've been listening through the Narnia series in the car again, and alternating those books with missionary biographies. At home we're reading through the My Book House books. These are great because you can fit a little reading in, or extend it for longer reading times. I've also assigned Grace to read to Ellen the first Story of the World when they've finished their morning work and have a bit of extra time.
- Scholé: Last February I was introduced to the concept of Scholé. It is an element of Classical Education that focuses on leisurely and contemplative learning. In our family, this will involve nature walks, sketching nature, looking at objects found in nature under the microscope, and letting our curiosity lead us. Our additional science studies fit under this category. I don't necessarily elaborate on the foundations memory work. Grace will start to practice more formal research by reading and writing up her findings, while Ellen will be free to have a little more time for hands on discovery outside up a tree, or in the dirt. We'll also have an afternoon of art which could consist of admiring a great painting, learning about a great artist, or practicing the great skills required to make great art. This is totally unplanned education, and we won't even do it just to check the box off on the schedule. We will do it because we love learning. One of the main adjustments to our schedule has been on Wednesdays. We have moved our writing to right after lunch, and then we take off early to church so that we can go to some wonderful places in Downtown Fort Worth which is on the way. This has been a great breath of fresh air. We've visited the Amon Carter Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Conservatory, the Forth Worth Water Gardens and the Japanese Gardens. There is so much to enjoy. We've also been enjoying painting with the Art of Fall Mixed Media Workshop.
- Writing: This happens for us in the afternoons. We generally split it up over the course of the week: Wednesdays - key word outline, Thursdays - rough draft, Friday - type and finalize. If we can get more done on Wednesday, we do, but if anyone starts to feel overwhelmed, we back off and save it for another day. Since our papers are read in community on Tuesday, we like to start the process on Wednesday allowing for as much time as possible to ensure we'll have it done by community day. We use IEW's History Based Writing Lessons, so this is where I add in my extra "planned" history. We have been successful in writing our papers on Wednesday, so we haven't had to split it up over the week. It's been really nice to have our papers done, because we now have time to practice reading them before community day!
Where is your CC review?
I add CC review into the car time. Sometimes if they finish their other work early, they spend some time on the CC App to review their memory work. English memory work filters in to Essentials time. Latin memory work shows up when we do our Latin. Math in Math. I don't recreate the Foundations day at home though. We ramp up our study time as Memory Masters approaches, but we stay pretty flexible in the early weeks of the memory work. I need to adjust this a bit. We are doing good with our memory work, however when it is up to me to remind them to review, it just might not happen! My girls decided that they could add a quick review before lunch, or as they are making their lunch. Fifteen minutes a day can go a long way to strengthening muscles for memory.
How do you schedule your time? Do you have a planner that works for you, or are you constantly feeling like you're not getting enough of the plan completed?
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.