Friday, November 14, 2014

Week in My Life - Changing School Plans...Again!

This post took a long time to get up, because I had to go back and add all the links!

Today I want to focus on our school time and report on how that’s going this particular week. It is actually going really well this year overall, and I feel that we have a good, manageable plan again. After we were sick for two weeks, I decided that I needed to rework our checklists, and the inspiration was to focus on the basics and give the big kids more independence. To make that happen, I changed from daily checklists to weekly checklists. I think that is probably a natural progression as the children get older and gain independence.

I am a firm believer that we have to change up our plans periodically to adapt to the changing seasons of homeschooling. Sometimes that means we can change things once or twice a year; often that means we need to evaluate monthly. That’s why we generally school for 6-8 weeks and then take a week off. It gives me an opportunity to assess where we are and freshen our plans for the next term. Taking two weeks off for sickness was certainly unplanned, and I have yet to figure out how it will affect our entire year. But it gave me  impetus to examine our lessons and tweak my expectations.

Here is what things looks like this week.

My 12 year old, 6th grade daughter does the following independently four days a week (except I do teach the new math lesson when she starts a new concept):

ü  Math U See page

ü  Xtra Math session

ü  Read a Book to a Little Brother (alternating which one)

ü  Play Outside for 30 minutes – yes, I finally put this on their school charts about a month ago, because it’s the bare minimum for me, and I got tired of forcing them outside

ü  Literature Reading – she has a list of novels she’s reading this year, some with study questions

ü  Catechism lesson – usually reading from a book, as we prepare for Confirmation this year!

My 9 year old, 4th grade son does almost the same exact stuff, except he does not do the Writing & Rhetoric on his own. For Literature Reading, he is currently working through The Father Brown Reader and CHC study guide and then will move to his list of literature titles.

Then, they each have to work through the following each week, and I am giving them a lot of freedom as to what they do on which days, as long as they do the prescribed number of lessons/pages/chapters/et al:

ü  Science lesson (3x a week) – currently Exploring Creation Through Land Animals with the Notebooking Journal

ü  World History (on own, 3x a week) – whatever independent reading they are doing for our current Connecting with History unit

ü  Life of Fred chapter (3x a week) – I discovered these only last year, so we are going through the elementary series as a review

ü  Elective lesson (2x a week)– different for each

ü  Spelling dictation (2x a week) – we love Spelling Wisdom

ü  Book of Centuries (1x a week) – they are required to put 5 things in their book each week

ü  Catechism (with Mom, 2x a week) – Confirmation preparation

ü  World History (with Mom, 3x a week) – our Connecting with History read alouds, maps, projects, etc…

ü  Memory Work (with Mom, 3x a week) – we do this in the context of our Morning Basket

My daughter adds to this list a session of the current Online Class she is taking through Homeschool Connections Recorded Courses Unlimited Access (2x a week) and All Things Girl reading (with Mom, 2x a week). My son adds to the above Writing & Rhetoric (with Mom, 3x a week). Her electives are Texas History, Art Appreciation, American History Living Books, and History of Science. His electives are Texas History, Virtue Study (PACE), and History of Science. They choose the order in which they do their electives and follow a checklist of reading and assignments for each.

Our Morning Basket still happens in the morning, but it might be before or after they start their independent work, depending on the little boys. We pray, read the saint of the day, write in our gratitude journals, study our current Scripture verse from Ann Voskamp’s series, practice our Shakespeare passage from How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare (I knew I would love this, but I am thrilled the kids do, too!), and review our Classically Catholic Memory work. Sometimes I will move right into the work we do together, but sometimes I need to tend to the little boys, relegating it to later in the day. Oh, and it is our intention to do a Poetry Teatime each Tuesday and an Art/Craft Project each Thursday, but that, quite honestly, is hit or miss.

The four-year-old has taken a keen interest in school. I fill our 10-drawer cart with ten things he can work on each week, and he picks what we do each day. Some days he does nothing. Most days he is working right beside me as I supervise the big kids’ work and is still asking to “do school” long after we are done for the day. I am loosely following a letter of the week plan with some ideas from Twenty Six Letters to Heaven, and he uses a variety of materials. Those include My First School Book (Handwriting Without Tears), Who Am I? (Image of God series), CHC’s I Can Find Numbers and Shapes, CHC’s I Can Find Letter Sounds, Making Music Praying Twice, and Child-Sized Masterpieces.

With this new plan, we have accomplished more learning with more positive attitudes this week than we did for much of October, so I am pleased with the changes. Of course, I am fully aware that I will need to change the plans again, probably for our January start, because that’s how I find we are the most successful. We learn when we are happy, and we are happy when we do what works!

How often do you modify your school plans? What is working right now?


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