As our children grow, their rhythms change. Sometimes I feel like the moment I pin everything down, we have a three month respite before the boys and their needs change and I must plan again. Lately I have felt the need to come up with something with more longevity. In the middle of this last school year, I realized that the boys weren’t the only ones growing— I am too! My confidence in my calling as a homeschool teacher has slowly crept upwards over time. I am finding it easier to pray for direction and then step out boldly in faith. The truth is, after years of reading books and observing our children’s learning styles, we have found our own way of doing things.
When we first started homeschooling, I asked someone, “What curriculum should I use?” They told me to get My Fathers World. I went out and bought it. You can read about our years with MFW in great detail here. MFW introduced me to Charlotte Mason, Classical Education, nature study, living books and gentle education. We enjoyed our K-3rd grade years with them to the fullest. This year I watched my children closely and as the months went by I knew in my heart that our learning styles and needs had grown away from MFW. It was a hard realization, but I knew that stepping more fully into a full blown CM/Classical homeschool study was the right thing for us. I reminded myself that these curriculums are tools, not masters. MFW will always have a special place in our hearts. We are so grateful for our years with them! (And you better believe my little one will be having his MFWK year two years from now!) For those that have been shoulder to shoulder with us for the last few years and are now continuing on to MFW CtG, have a beautiful year. We are so excited for you guys.
What else is changing around here?
Well, we kissed Saxon math goodbye (for now). I wish I had dropped it sooner, but I was too afraid of my own math weakness to do so. I needed that scripted crutch. But this year I noticed that my older children did not understand the math questions they were answering correctly. Yes, you read that right. They were answering questions correctly without UNDERSTANDING the math they were doing. No bueno. I did a lot of research and finally settled on Right Start Math. The change doesn’t start next year, its already started! We dropped Saxon mid-year and made the switch. The boys are ecstatic. Not only are they gaining a better grasp on math but they are begging to do math! They love all of the games that come with the program and are flying through their lessons while demonstrating deeper understanding of what they are learning. Hallelujah.
Even more changes?
Our school year has always run from June-March with a one month break for Advent. The summers are too unbearably hot here and we really want to enjoy our beautiful springs fully, so we take our “summer break” earlier in the year. When school ends in a couple of weeks we will be taking a one week break before jumping into our new schedule.
Six weeks on, one week off. We will be doing a special “Adventure term” in the spring, which will essentially serve as a summer break. The course load will be lighter but we will still be learning every day. We will also try something new for advent but this is still TBD.
We have had so many people ask to see our upcoming schedule. For those who have no interest in that click away now. For those that want the nitty gritty, I have two grids to share. One grid for my two fourth graders and one for my first grader. I have not completely solidified the schedule for my youngest yet. I feel a bit like an orchestra conductor right now, I have all these movements and entrances I am weaving together but in the back of my mind I know I have a renegade piccolo just dying to jump in. My older boys have demonstrated such maturity and responsibility this year, I am handing the reigns over a bit more. I am planning out details by the six week quarter. I drew heavily from 3 sources: Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins, Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie and Consider This by Karen Glass. Here we go…
For the older boys:
Now this schedule reflects our Classical Conversations community day on Mondays. We have a hiatus from CC between April and August. So between cycles, we will have an exact copy of Wednesday each Monday. All of our “Essentials work” will be a continuation of our IEW Student Intensive A program, which we are currently using to prepare us for Essentials next year. Once August arrives, one child will be in Essentials and one will not. The child not attending Essentials will continue with the IEW writing program at home.
On a typical day the boys will wake up, make their beds, brush their teeth, feed the animals, go for their run, wash up, set the table and begin Morning Time.
What will Morning Time be comprised of?
Morning Time Schedule
Opening Recitation/Gloria Patri
Loop: Bible Study , Geography
Close: Prayer, Doxology
Loop List Example***
Artist: Whistler, Homer, Sargent
Poetry: Emerson, Whitman
Shakespeare: As You Like It, Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest
Church History: Trial and Triumph
Nature Study: Botany–trees, shrubs, vines, flowers, gardens
Biography: Mathematicians are People Too, Vol 2.
Did that overwhelm you? Take a deep breath. Remember that most of these things only take a couple of minutes. We usually accomplish everything before Ancient History in about 40 minutes. This leaves us an hour and twenty minutes for the last two items.
You’ll notice that our schedule is divided into blocks. I have scheduled margin for each of these. Morning Time is the only one we will use the entire designated time for, with many of the subjects on a loop (Taken from Sarah Mackenzie!), that way we are never “behind” in Shakespeare or Art Study, we simply cycle through them over and over again until they are finished. The rest of the subjects have buffers around them because some days the toilet backs up or the dog vomits on the carpet or people’s stinky humanity gets in the way of our to do lists. On days when things progress well then the children have nice buffers of time between blocks to go play together.
As I mentioned before, we are using Right Start for math. We will also be using Memoria Press for Latin and I have yet to choose between Memoria Press and Apologia for Astronomy.
The older boys have two other loops: Language Arts and Independent Work. Each day they do one or two things off the loop and then the next day they go to the next thing on the loop.
Independent Work Loop
Pin it Maps Geography
Independent Math Games
Stop Motion Explosion
Language Arts Loop
Our Read Aloud list for next year has not been completed yet. I’ll share a list soon of all the books we plan to read aloud for 2017. We love Lit lunches!
Friday is a day unlike any of the others. We are starting our day off with an in depth study of music. I’ll be sharing all about that in a later post as well.
The boys will have a bit of free time while I prepare everything for either our Friday Exam or a Nature Adventure of some sort. We’ll be alternating Friday Exams every other week. On days when we have nature hikes, we will be eating our lunches and reading our book outdoors.
In the afternoons we will have Symposium. This is Sarah Mackenzie’s term for Morning Time when its done in afternoons. I have borrowed the name but this time will be quite different from Morning Time. Symposium will be our time to gather up and have round table discussions and debates about to dive deeper into our weekly studies. We’ll be making connections between our Classical Conversations work and our study at home. We’ll be pulling out a different timeline card each week to study and discuss. We’ll discuss our science experiments from community day and come up with new questions to test. I am so excited to start Symposium. I’ll be sharing more in depth about this in the future and I hope it will be helpful for those who always ask how we can blend CC and CM.
You will notice that Blessing Hour is still on our schedule. That is one thing (along with Morning Time) that I will never kiss goodbye!
The last component of our school day is our mixed martial arts training, which the boys adore. Its not scribbled in the grid but while the boys are on the mat, I’m enjoying a bit of scholé. I have read so many books while the boys grapple behind the glass. Its been wonderful to study topics that interest me in a quiet room while my boys release pent up energy.
For the 1st grader:
Now, knowing my little guy he will want to do independent work during the “free play” slot. But he is still young enough that I want to make it his decision. His Right Start math and language arts lessons (Alternating Delightful Reading & Copy work) have been averaging about twenty minutes lately. Ive noticed that at 3pm every day he wants to be with me. He wants all of my attention. So now he has it. While the other children do their independent work, I will be enjoying Five in A Row with my boy.
My youngest and I are still trying to figure out our next step. We’ve used The Homegrown Preschooler for two years now. Many of the activities are second nature to us now since we have done them for so long. Truth be told, I think we’ll be using elements of HGP for years to come. But I may be slowly adding in a few more things if he demonstrates an interest in them. For now, its looking like YEAR THREE of The Homegrown Preschooler for us.
Did you read all the way till the end? Crazy pants. Take a deep breath and remember that all the above is what happens to work for my family with our combination of personalities, learning styles, farm life, etc. Please don’t feel like you need to copy all the above. Take little bits that make sense and make them your own. Pray. Make a plan. Pray again. Scrap the plan. Pray again. Talk to your husband. Eat Chocolate. Pray. Make a plan. You’ll get there!
I’ll be updating as time marches on.