We started our new academic year a couple of weeks ago with a gradual start. We start out with just one or two subjects and just gradually add another course or two each week. Only Sparkles and Middle Boy are beginning new grades now. Oldest and Littlest will likely begin their new grades in January. This is Middle Boy’s last year of elementary education and Sparkles first year of middle school. Oldest is entering his last year of middle school though he will begin Algebra 1 in January; his first high school course. Littlest is half way through first grade. These are loose definitions of grade level since I pay very little attention to institutional standards in education. I’m pretty sure my standards are higher anyway and we put in seventy more days of formal education than government and private schools.
Our biggest change this year is due to the kids maturity and that I am a working homeschool mom. I made weekly assignment sheets for the older three (I do everything with youngest). We have two meeting a week. At the beginning of the week I give them their assignment sheet and we go over everything that must be done by Friday. On Friday I go over all of their assignments and issue new work for the next week. They are, of course, free to come to me anytime for questions and help. Oldest wanted all of his assignments unassigned and he works through them in his chosen order. Sparkles and Middle Boy wanted me to assign what needs done each day. I designed assignment sheets to print out each week based on their individual choices and needs.
The Gospels: I designed this course based on Drive Thru History’s “The Gospels” DVD’s. All of our copywork and dictation for the year is based on this study. I’ve designed mapwork, grammar lessons, handwriting practice, freewrites, read-alouds, reading, devotions and some art around this study. The kids were so excited about this study they asked to begin it first this year. At the end of the study our group project will be to design and make our own chotkis after reading “The Way of the Pilgrim”.
History: We’ll be using Beautiful Feet Book’s Westward Expansion study. This will not cover the
entire school year and we’ll begin American history from the Civil War to modern times early next year. We just wrapped up early American and world history up to the Civil War. We ended up dropping one of the Abraham Lincoln books since the Genevieve Foster book on him is the spine book for the Western Expansion guide. Oldest is in the process of writing his final paper for the course and really did not want to do a research paper on Abe Lincoln. He wanted to know more about General Robert E. Lee. So, he is currently reading three biographies about General Lee (including one by Winston Churchill) for his research paper. He is using Writing with Skill level One to write his paper.
We love Beautiful Feet Books for history. However, the worldview of these books is decidedly Northern and Protestant. I want my kids to have a broader view of history. I’ve added a few books to the western expansion guide to widen the worldview of the study. We’ll also be reading from the LDS (Mormon) and the Native American viewpoint on the settling of the west and watching Ken Burn’s “The West” documentary. I’ve also added a few documentaries on the “First and Second Great Awakening” religious movements that influenced this country’s people and policies. We’ll also look at Kentucky history during this time period and begin reading Kentucky authors and hopefully work in a visit or two to Fort Boonesborough, Shaker Village and Harrodsburg this year.
Enrichment Studies: We plan to continue our art, poetry and music appreciation studies on
Friday. Our poetry study is focused on Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. We will study Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and watch a film adaptation. For art we will continue with Barry Stebbing’s nature art and journaling course. By the end of the year we should be finished with the course and working in our own nature journals outside (broadening the study into natural science). Our art appreciation this year includes Monet, Velazques, Whistler and Turner. Our poetry and breakfast time together will also include cooking and hospitality skills, reading poetry together and continuing our study of history through art objects. The music we listen to during poetry and breakfast time will be chosen spontaneously and is generally based on our history studies. We’ll also begin learning the North American continent and countries with weekly geography and map studies. Our enrichment days will also include playing various educational games together and will most likely be our day to watch documentaries.
Language Arts: Everyone is using The Good and the Beautiful for language arts. This curriculum covers literature, grammar, spelling, geography, writing and art!!! It is amazing and everything I have been looking for (and more) in a language arts curriculum. I only wish I had found it sooner. We all love this curriculum. Littlest is thriving and reading well above his age level. I do not plan to purchase art appreciation supplies in the future since this curriculum includes beautiful full color copies of art to study. The study also includes memory work that I put on Quizlet for the crew to work through.
The older three are also working through Blackbird and Company’s essay set. They are each working through it at their own pace. The curriculum takes you step by step in the writing of various essays.
Our reading focus this year is on biographies. The crew will read several biographies this year and write a variety of reports and narrations on their readings. Some of this year’s writing assignments will also be pulled from their science studies.
Sparkles also chose to study Spanish this year and will be working through Christian Light Education’s Speedy Spanish on her own. Oldest will use Visual Latin from Compass Classroom for his foreign language studies beginning in January.
Math: Sparkles, Middle Boy and Littlest are all using Christian Light Education’s math curriculum. Oldest is finishing up Math Mammoth‘s pre-algebra and will begin Algebra 1 through Math without Boarders sometime next year. The rest of my crew will continue with Christian Light math until they are ready for Algebra 1. Math Mammoth is a good and solid math program but my main struggle with it is the
teacher’s manual does not include solutions. I need worked out solutions and not just answers when it come to high math. This year I also put math facts and formulas on Quizlet for the kids to work through instead of using flashcards.
Science: Oldest is using Physical Science from Dr. Jay Wile. I wanted to move my crew over to Elemental Science but they wanted to continue with their current curriculums. Middle Boy will study mammals using resources from Memoria Press. I designed a part year study for Sparkles to help her understand her ulcerative colitis diagnosis and develop coping skills. She will also study reproduction since she is turning twelve this year. Her final projects for the course will be to write and illustrate a children’s book about ulcerative colitis and put together a set of fifty recipes she can turn to during flares. Once she completes these studies she will work through her natural history course from Memoria Press. Littlest will not begin science studies until he is in second grade. For now he is reading from Nature Readers and just learning about the natural world around him.
Sometime in September I will purchase Beautiful Feet Books’ soon to be released around the world study for primary grades. I plan to use recipes and art ideas from this study during our enrichment day. But until the guide is in my hands I cannot make definite plans. Littlest is looking forward to this study and I have already collected a few books on global recipes and religions to prepare for the study.
Our first official day of the new year is next Monday. We are all excited to dig into our new books and see what this year brings.