Planning for our next Homeschooling Year

It’s planning time.  I’m looking forward to the coming school year and have started planning what we will be doing.  I would love to say this is an easy process for me, but it just isn’t, especially thinking of what schedule would work best with having two children with such a wide age gap. However, it’s usually an enjoyable task for me. To some degree I do this to myself.  I insist on making my own curriculum for Science, History, Art, and Math, pulling from different philosophies (my two favorite are Charlotte Mason and Waldorf,) books, and other resources.  Curriculum is available and makes a homeschooling parent’s life much easier.  I am often not happy as a scientist though with the math and science curriculums, so I make my own. We will be using curriculum for Latin, Spanish, Music, and for the most part Shakespeare.  Thinking it may be useful to someone else, I’m going to share both my process and our *tentative* schedule and plan.  Things have a way of changin’ and I’ve learned it’s best to roll with the change. More than once have I had to take a look at our homeschooling and change things up to better suit us.  Plans should be a tool that works for you, not a tool that uses you.   I want to preempt this by saying I think this will work best for MY family.  It does not mean that it will necessarily work for you, so take from it whatever is useful and let the rest go. Our schedule is at the end of the post.

The first thing that I start thinking about is what is to be taught. We just finished four years of world history for the oldest, so we are looking at US History next year.  I’ve known for some time that when we get there, I plan on using, at least in part, Joy Hakim’s A History of US.  If you have been following me for any length of time, you also know that “living history” books, a term borrowed from Charlotte Mason, have worked really well for us in history.  I’ve obtained a list of living history books that I think will work well that we will also be reading from. In addition I like to pair Music, Art, and Literature with our History as I think it gives a better reference for both the Arts and History. It’s much easier to think why someone wrote, painted, composed a given body of art and understand those influences if you know what life was like when they were living.  The youngest will go ahead and start with US History instead of World History. I’ve struggled with this one, but it’s much easier for me in planning if we overlap subjects, so we will start her World History later.  I know that I wanted my oldest to start Latin this year, and I want my youngest to continue with her exposure to Spanish.  I looked at continuing with Michael Clay Thompson for language arts, but decided because of the repetition and that this might be a heavy year with doing physics too, that we will go with a lighter English subject-Shakespeare.  I’ve been waiting for a while to do a full Shakespeare Unit, and after talking to my son, that’s what we are going to do.  He and I are both really excited about it. I would love if it works out for my youngest to join us in the study and memorization of Shakespeare, but we will just wait and see how all that falls into place.

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So that gives me the subjects for the coming year for the oldest: US History, US Literature, Music, Art, Latin, Spanish, Physics, Writing, and Shakepeare. The youngest will have many of the same on a different level.  Her time investment will be much shorter (maybe an hour at the most) and her level of study will be more shallow. I also will be continuing to teach her to read, math at her level, and I want to add in some form drawing with her.  She will be doing Spanish for her age instead of Latin.

Next I start thinking of how I am going to make this work.  I look through the curriculum that I’ve chosen for each subject and think about scheduling.  How much do we have to read to get through this in a year? I soon came to realize, one year was too short for US History with the Hakim series. It was going to take two years.  At first I had trouble with this.  We’ve got stuff to cover, you know! The oldest is in MIDDLE SCHOOL.  But this really is the best path for several reasons. First I don’t want us to rush through this just to get it done. Life is not a series of checklists; I want us to enjoy the journey. Enjoying learning is most important.  Second I am excited about the opportunity to do Native American Studies the justice it’s due.  I feel like I do a good job showing the struggles, accomplishments, and contributions of women and African Americans, but I feel I have fallen behind with American Indians.  We will be taking a slow start and delving into American’s First Peoples.  This will take some time.  Lastly there were so many wonderful musicians, authors, and artist that I could not cover all of them in just one year and spend the time on each one that I wanted.  Deciding to give US History a full two years really put me at peace.

The last think that I start thinking about is scheduling. I have two that I have to kind of go back and forth between and do a few, but not much together.  My son last year got up ready to work in the morning. My daughter on the other hand usually just plays by herself.  This is a good opportunity for me use this time for one-on-one with the oldest, which will probably be reading our living history book together.  I do need to spend some one-on-one later in the morning with the youngest, so I’ll need to put some things that my oldest can do independently during that time.  In the afternoon, I usually do reading with my youngest, so I look for more work that can be done independently for the oldest after lunch.  Then we come together to do labs or enrichment, after which the littlest goes off to play again, while I finish with math and any other activity I need to with the oldest.  We also have to have some major play time or adventure in the morning, so I keep that in mind as well.  This is how I go about putting that all together.  First I break down the various subject with the oldest and what I plan to be involved in that subject, but you will notice that I separate the project activities from the reading/listening/watching activities.  This breakdown helps me decide what goes where. It’s similar to what others call “loop scheduling” and we do a little of that, but it’s a little different.  Then I keep in mind the aspects of my children’s natural rhythm and use that to our advantage.  Here is how things worked out so far.

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