Saturday, October 13, 2012

In Which My Life Disappears Into a Vortex

Hi, everyone!

No pictures or fun life-updates for today - my head is too discombobulated at the moment for that. Instead, I thought I'd take just a second to update you all about how our homeschooling year is going so far.

We've been "in school" for about two months, and I think that things are going well. I am very glad that I chose to re-do kindergarten instead of pressing ahead into first grade - things like phonics and writing are coming much easier with an older boy. I am beginning to understand first-hand why all the homeschool veteran moms are telling me to go slowly with young boys! It is definitely easier to wait for readiness than to force through the tears/frustration/despair of a non-ready-to-learn boy.

For this year, as I wrote before, we are keeping it very basic. A little academic time, and a lot of time with interest-led reading, play dates, park days, and play time.

For phonics, we are doing well in our continuing work with Rocket Phonics (look to the last link for curriculum site links). We are almost halfway through the book (which covers K-2nd), and I am beginning to wonder nervously what I will pick next. (Making curriculum choices drives me nuts, if you haven't guessed that yet.)

For handwriting, we are both loving Handwriting Without Tears. It is awesome! Simple, straightforward, uncomplicated, easy to use. Love it. It's a definite keeper, and I plan on using it for the whole tribe!

For math, we are using Singapore Math, and it is going very well. Of course, it's all super-simple right now, so we'll see how our son does when it gets to something that is challenging. But for now, it's going well.

For science, history, and culture, we are doing lots and lots and lots of reading from real books. I use the Sonlight lists, the Ambleside online lists (just found these!!), and other book lists, and I order those from the library. I also order books on interest-led science topics in which our son shows an interest. Over the past year and a half, we have covered topics including volcanoes and earthquakes, lasers, snakes, etc. Right now his passion is in black widow spiders. (*shudder*) He is learning a massive amount of information through this type of education, and it's all very enjoyable.

One of my recent ideas has been to use books on tape during our one-hour quiet time, and he has listened to "Charlotte's Web" and "A Bear Called Paddington" - even more "reading"! Wonderful!

We do notebooking once a week. Our son narrates three to five sentences, on a science subject or book narration, which I write down, and he then illustrates it. I use the free notebooking pages over at for this, and it's been working well.

Our current schedule looks something like this:

- Bible and phonics every day.
- Math and handwriting on alternate days.
- A notebooking page once a week.
- Art/craft project once a week.
- Nature walk once a week.
- Play dates and park days - one to three per week.
- Cooking projects, science experiments, etc., as they happen!
- Plus other activities like family trips, church, and Scouts.

My pet project at the moment is developing a master book list for our homeschool. I have divided it up into preschool, kindergarten, early elementary, late elementary, junior high, and high school, and I am adding to it every day. It is currently at thirty-nine pages in length, and I am only just beginning! I am currently working on dividing up the upper grade literature by historic time periods, which has been a challenge. Despite the frustrations, though, I'm having a lot of fun with it.

Plans for the future:

I plan to add formal language arts in second grade, and am looking at Rod and Staff right now. I may or may not add spelling at that time too.

Singapore and Handwriting Without Tears, thankfully, go all through elementary, so if those continue to work for us, we're set for math and handwriting.

I am considering starting Galloping the Globe and Cantering the Country next year or the year after - these are studies that link culture, history, and science for elementary students, and they look like a lot of fun.

I have wondered if I ought to add formal character lessons, as a lot of homeschoolers do - one that I am considering is Wisdom Booklets by the Advanced Training Institute (the curriculum used by the Duggars).

Things that I have so far neglected (or put off) - foreign languages, music, and art. Those will be for the future, as will be special-needs homeschooling issues.

Something that is absolutely driving me nuts right now is trying to figure out how teach history/geography and perhaps science in a way that will fit our family's future needs. I want to find or put together a program that will:

- Rely primarily on real books
- Not take an unreasonable amount of time on a daily basis
- Enable us to work on the same subjects as a family (multi-level learning)

It's easy to find real-books curricula, but many of them are time-intensive and simply don't work when one has more than two students because of the time required. In other words, I'd love to have all of us working on, say, the Civil War together, as opposed to having one person on the Civil War, one on ancient history, one on the Cold War, etc. etc. etc. How to do this, though - that is the question. One could say that it's ridiculous for me to worry about this when our eldest is six - and that is somewhat correct. However, I know that the foundation for what we will do later (high school) will be laid soon, and I like to have a plan for the future. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions!!

All of this is why my life has virtually disappeared into the black hole known as HOMESCHOOLING. Pretty much everything else is being neglected - hobbies (huh?), free time, blogging, outside activities, etc. - it's all disappeared as I spend every free second (physically and mentally) reading, researching, praying, talking to mentors, and doing more than my fair share of worrying and nail-biting. Sometime I may come to the surface for air, but right now I can hardly remember what the outside normal-life world used to look like. My brain is in overload with learning this new career and trying to put it into action.

Oh, and on top of all the that, add discipline, character training, scheduling, baby care, and trying to fit in housework, laundry, cooking, and miscellaneous!! (*Head explodes. Again.*)

And that's about all! How are you all doing out there? Feel free to leave this floundering newbie any of your thoughts or ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm well i'm pretty awful at geography, so my advice might not be the best. however, i had lots of fun making huge maps with my family - we painted and labeled them while dad read aloud to us. good times!


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