Back-to-School 2016-2017

Things Pondered

I haven’t written in quite some time.  During my “silence,” I have read so many books & listened to an abundance of podcasts.  My thoughts on education are ever-changing, and I am so thankful for the many resources now available to homeschooling families as we navigate this sometimes bumpy terrain!

As a former public school teacher, it is difficult for me to not just recreate school at home.  As I have studied more about education in general and specifically how children learn at different stages in their lives, I have happily settled on the idea that a blend of Classical and Charlotte Mason  philosophies are best suited for my children and myself, neither of which is very well represented in public schools.  In fact, in all my years of preparation to be a teacher (a bachelor’s plus a Master’s degree), I never once heard of either of these frameworks.  It was all modern education, with an enormous emphasis on learning styles.

We are continuing with our Classical Conversations community this year, and have already completed Week 1.  Neither of my sons are in my class this year, but had so much fun last week!  I am happy for them that they are making friends and getting to enjoy a “school” experience.  I am happy for me that I am not totally missing out on that!  My favorite moments with my children are when I see their eyes light up with the realization of a new concept; I can’t imagine handing over that enormous privilege to anyone else full time just yet.

Our boys are 4 and 2 years old (turning 5 and 3 in November).  Our older son is starting pre-k this year, and I am so relieved that I am not sending him off all day, every day.

 

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Here is the routine that we followed our first week, and amazingly it worked very well!  I don’t know that I will have to do any tweaking, at least for now!  I do not do well when I have a schedule, as in a specific time for certain activities, but thrive on a routine.  So, the times listed are general guidelines; we sometimes vary by as much as an hour on our start time, may take a longer break, etc.  The blocks of school time remain the same.

9:00 – Morning Basket
9:30 – Morning Break (boys play outside or in the playroom while I do chores)
10:00 – Table Time (Math, Religion, Pre-Reading/Reading, Handwriting)
11:30 – Finished for the day!

I’m going to list our resources/curriculum here, but this is more for my own reference to look back at later.  There are so many wonderful resources available, both online and in print.  Do your research and choose one that fits your educational philosophy and your & your children’s personalities.  🙂

Morning Basket:
At this time, we include the following in our Morning Basket: calendar time, prayer book, Bible stories, CC Memory Work (Geography, Presidents, Science), The Children’s Treasury of Virtues, and readers that align with our memory work.

Math:
We are using Kindergarten Saxon Math.  So far, we love it!  It starts out really easy though, and my little one is ready for more of a challenge.

Pre-Reading/Reading:
We are finishing up the All About Reading Pre-Reading curriculum.  This has been a huge hit with my son!  As much as we loved it though, I just felt like it made learning to read drag on and on, so we are going to switch to The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading after we finish up AAR.
For sight words, we are going to use Carisa’s (from the 1+1+1=1 blog) You Can Read! sight words program.  I am not a big fan of sight words in general.  I plan on focusing more on phonics, but realize there are some words that do not follow phonics rules well and/or are such high frequency words that being able to automatically read those words would be beneficial to young readers.  We will start this program some time during the Fall semester.

Handwriting:
Handwriting Without Tears kind of fell into my lap, and I am so glad it did.  I had looked at the student book at Mardel, and was honestly not that impressed with it.  Certain it was not the fit for us, I had scoured the web trying to find another program.  When the teachers manual came my way, I was blown away by the attention to detail the creators of the program include.  The activities are so hands-on and fun!  My boys are BOTH loving it so far!

Friends & Favorites

Okay, so I alluded to the fact that Handwriting Without Tears kind of fell into my lap.  You guys, I have the best friends ever.  They are always looking out for each other.  One friend found my Math manipulatives kit on a Facebook homeschool swap group and grabbed it for me.  Another friend found the Saxon Math teachers manuals for me at a book swap, and still another found the Handwriting Without Tears manual for me at the same book swap.  If you are trying to homeschool alone, stop!  Right now!  Go find some friends!  Even if you don’t formally join a group or co-op, having like-minded friends to visit with & pray for is a blessing!

Here are some favorite resources of mine that I devoured over the summer as I tried to become more educated about education.  😉

Homeschool books:
Teaching in Your Tiara (wonderful overview of homeschool and the different philosophies)
The Well-Trained Mind (fabulous Classical education resource)
For the Children’s Sake (life-changing read on Charlotte Mason education)
Teaching from Rest (words to live by!)

Podcasts:
Your Morning Basket (great podcast on the practice of Morning Basket)
Read Aloud Revival (all things reading aloud)
Scholé Sisters (fun, charming conversation between homeschooling mamas)

 

Well, I think that catches us up!  Until next time, Happy Schooling!

 

2016 Curriculum

I am so excited about the new year!  The super cool thing about homeschooling is that you can decide when your “year” begins and ends.  You can follow your child’s lead instead of sticking to a calendar.  Love that!

The Observer is ready to begin letters and their sounds in earnest.  He has been able to identify 95% of his letters for some time now, and is starting to ask “What letter does {insert object of interest} start with?” about anything and everything.  I hadn’t planned on starting a reading program until next year, but ordered All About Reading’s Pre-Reading program this month and plan to start it after Christmas & the New Year.

I am very closely following Lacy’s (from the blog Catholic Icing) plan using AAR (All About Reading).  We will do one letter per week, doing the capital letter one day, the lowercase another, and the sound the letter makes another day.  Since The Observer loves animals, we are also using the same animal encyclopedia to learn more about each animal featured with each letter.  We are also going to tie in Geography here since my son loves maps so much.  We will identify what kind of habitat the animal prefers and locate it on our maps.

The Observer has started adding numbers on his own, so in addition to the AAR/science/geography lesson, we are going to begin a gentle approach to math using the MathStart series by Stuart J. Murphy.  We happened to check out one of these books from the library purely based on the cover.  I had no idea what a treasure I was finding!  These are a leveled series of books covering a variety of mathematical concepts.  The books are well-written that simply reinforce math through a story format.  The website even has a resource page of activities to do along with the books!  We will start reading our way through the Level 1 series when we resume school in January.

Looking forward to implementing our new plan and will keep you posted on how it goes!