I love summer, time for relaxation and rest and lots of time for organizing and planning. This summer I've been researching and planning our school year for 2011-2012 - its so much fun to take what worked last year and add some new fresh ideas to our schedule. I also love it when the new books arrive in the mail - it is taking all of my willpower to leave them in my closet.
I can't believe Drew is going to be a 1st grader! How did that happen. I really thought we'd repeat Kindergarten again this year, but he has learned despite me! Gabe will be in Preschool this next year ,2 days a week, but will start Kindergarten phonics and math at home. Gabe just loves learning and it comes naturally to him - he is such a joy - often asking to do school! Drew is a smarty too, he just takes a non-traditional approach to learning! Gotta love variety!
Here is what is on the agenda for the Fall (Note: plans subject to change without notice and at the whim of mother).
- Math U See Alpha for Drew, (30 lessons) 4x a week (15 minutes) plus Xtra Math for Drill work (5 min). Gabe has the Primer book and enjoys working along with Drew and me, I don't push Gabe's math much, since I only want him to do what is fun. So far Gabe is already on chapter 3 and knows all the counting and material - he is just struggling with fine motor skills like holding a pencil correctly and tracing numbers! We aren't in a huge rush with this math curriculum, since we will be working on math through the summers each year. Math is one thing that is very easily lost, so going slow and steady seems to work for the boys. They really don't mind spending 15-20 minutes a few days each week working on Math. So far they both surprisingly love it!
- Venture School (Drew) 8:45-2:45 on Thursdays which will be more of a small classroom setting teaching: Bible, Social Studies, Science, Writing, Drama, PE and Spanish. The school uses unit study approaches to foster creativity and get kids out of the desk and onto the floor! Drew will be studying the following units: Pilgrims (my favorite, I've got supplemental work at home since I love anything Fall!), Native Americans, 13 colonies, Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere, George Washington, American Revolution, Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution. Science will also include units on: Insects (Drew's favorites), weather, simple machines (another Drew favorite), inventors, inventions, electricity and mammals. I love the enthusiasm in this school and the great homeschool mom's who will be teaching these precious kids!
- Handwriting Without Tears (3x per week 15 minutes) Orange Book, we're heading back to basics and learning to write neatly! Drew loves manipulatives since he is a very tactile learner; he also loves to sing! This was a great pick for him! Drew's not too fond of writing so I'm hoping the various manipulatives will help make writing fun this year. The book should only take about 1 semester to get through so we could move on to the lower case letters if we don't doddle! Here is a cute video from HWT - I just love the songs! Gabe will be working along with us too in the Lime Green book, learning upper case letters and fine motor skills.
- Phonics, Language Arts, and Science with Time 4 Learning (3x a week for 30 minutes) - I was desperate to find a phonics program that Drew would resonate with. He tolerated the Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, mastering Kindergarten and part of 1st grade reading with that book. One thing Drew didn't like about TYC was the repetition - each lesson was exactly the same style - perfect for momma's learning style, but not Drew's! Drew is a random learner and loves to do different things each day, so I struggled with finding a phonics curriculum that he would get excited about. Plus I never learned phonics and the phonics kit looked so overwhelming and time consuming! Then, after a lot of prayer I was directed to Time 4 Learning, the first month was only 4.95 so I thought I'd just give it a 30 day trial and see if Drew liked it. Wow, Drew is so excited to read now. He loves the changes for each 5 minute lesson and that he can interact with the pages - there are games, songs, clicking on the right answers, books to read aloud, questions to answer, & more. I appreciate that I can log into my portal and see his grades, how long he spent on each assignment and print out reports for his binder. The 1st grade account came with language art topics like flowers, planets, sun, photosynthesis, etc and it also came with a life science section, so Drew can add those in when his phonics is done. I've only reviewed this through 1st grade so I can't vouch for the material for older grades. I'm not sure if we'll continue with this once his reading is mastered, but for now this program was a huge answer to prayer! Gabe has also been using this on the Kindergarten setting and LOVES it! We'll probably allow Gabe to spend about 10 minutes a few days a week reviewing some phonics too - since he wants to be like his big brother.
- The Random Rest: The rest of our days will be spent working through some fun art with Draw Write Now (units match the topics above!), Bible from Kay Arthur's How to Study Your Bible and Catechism/Bible memory from Susan Hunts books, A Child's Geography (review last years chapters and add 4 more), Violin time, Poetry from favorite Poems From Childhood & The Llama Who Had No Pajamas, Health from the Story of Me/Before I Was Born Series, Signing Time Dvd's, Nature Journal, Artists, S.S.R., Lapbooks (download The Big Snow Free on the Lapbook link), Hymns and lots of Momma reading aloud. We're hoping to work on school Mondays-Thursday's and leave our Friday's for special outings and fun field trips.
It sure seems like a lot when I write it down on paper, but we don't do everything each day, the core above we do 3-4 days a week and the random rest fill in the schedules and happen once a week or so. We do have a weekly bible verse and I need to come up with some reward on Friday's for all their hard work - not sure what? The boys love cooking and eating so maybe we'll have a baking party or something fun and new like that each week?
Anyone have any curriculum or schedules that work well?