Sunday, July 10, 2011

Puttin' my teacher hat on.

School starts for us on August 29, 2011 and will run through mid-June 2012.  It will end no later than June 22nd, but we may finish up a little sooner than that.  This year, aside from a scheduled break around Christmas -- because, really, it's busy enough as it is -- we aren't doing formal school vacations.  I've found them pretty difficult to recover from this past school year.  Instead, a school week will have 3 - 5 days in it.  The 3 day weeks are around holidays that I know the hubby and I will more than likely be off work.  The rest of the weeks are either 4 or 5 days -- if we did it as I have roughly mapped out in my little planner calendar, 180-ish days hits the week of June 22nd.  If The Peanut decides to work ahead on a short week and do 5 days instead of 4, then I can shave time off the end.  I figure this system will give us tons of flexibility for impromptu field trips, sick days, and don't-wanna days.  This is an experiment -- we shall see how it works.  If after a month or two it is making me crazy, then we'll go back to school vacation weeks.

Stuff we'll be working on...

Language Arts:

We may end up finding another Grammar solution.  I'm already on the fence about whether I like FLL, but what's more important is how she responds to it.  The lessons are very short and to the point which is a big plus, but there is a ton of repetition -- when I reviewed the book to make plans for the year, I found several areas where I think we may end up skipping or combining lessons.  If she likes it, we'll stick with it this school year.  If not, I've got a couple of ideas which may work for us.  Regardless, I don't see us using this two years in a row - there is a program that I think she will really like, but I'm not sure she's quite ready for it this year.

Since The Peanut likes writing her stories and has recently taken a huge interest in poetry, the Spectrum book will be heavily supplemented with other materials.  I have a couple sourcebooks around making books with children.  I also have a list of resources (books and websites) for grade school poetry writing.  Each week, I'll sprinkle something in from one of these sources to keep her on her toes.  Also, since some of the Spectrum Grade 1 book is material we've covered this year in other sources, we'll be skipping some of it.  I anticipate getting into the Grade 2 book before the end of the school year.

As for what we'll read, some of it will be stuff I'll have her select either from her own personal library or from the public library.  I'll also find things that I think will interest her that she may not pick for herself.  Last school, I picked all the reading.  This year, I'm going to give her at least some of the responsibility.  There will also be plenty of reading to do for History and Science.  Honestly, it doesn't matter what I put in front of her (within reason) -- she absolutely loves to read and does so every chance she gets.

We're starting the school year with Saxon 3.  We started this a couple of months before the end of this school year.  With skips for repetition, we're about halfway through it.  I am not sure what we'll be doing when we finish up.  I am leaning towards moving over to Singapore Math and supplementing with Life of Fred "Before High School Mathematics" series.  This is something that I will explore further in the Fall once I get everything else squared away.  We may go to Saxon 4, but it kills me to pay for all the material and really only use half of it -- even used, Saxon isn't cheap.

We'll be learning about ancient cultures using Story of the World, Volume 1.  Using their teacher guide, I'm taking each chapter at least a little deeper than the high level overview each chapter provides.  I highly doubt we'll get through the entire book this year.  Instead, we'll finish it up at the beginning of the following school year.  We've got time and I think it will be fun exploring this time period.  Most everything for the school year has required only basic planning.  Since I want to go deep with this, I have been spending most of school prep time on this - a process that I've actually enjoyed doing.

I am taking the advice of a couple of moms who have science/math kids -- which The Peanut is -- and am starting with the basics.  This year will be all about Chemistry using two sources: Elemental Science and Real Science 4 Kids.  I like Real Science 4 Kids quite a bit, but with only 10 chapters, it isn't enough to use it by itself for an entire school year.  I toyed with supplementing each chapter and basically writing my own material -- at this level, it's fairly easy to do so, but I only have so much time.  Elemental Science is close to a full year's worth of material by itself, but doesn't do as good of a job (in my opinion) explaining the basics.  It does however do a good job of taking the basics to the next step.  The two programs combined make for a nice elementary school chemistry program.

We may pick this up again.  We had to stop working on Spanish this past year because it was turning into an exercise in frustration for The Peanut.  I think she likes the idea of learning a foreign language, but doesn't like that it's a lot of drill work and practice to actually do anything with it.  We were using a program put out by Hooked on Phonics on her computer and I was supplementing with activities, songs, and worksheets from a couple of different sources.  The last level on the HOP program was challenging and required concentration.  The Peanut gets frustrated if she doesn't get something on the first or second try -- and this level required several more than a couple tries in many instances.  I may wait and start Spanish a month or two into school (or even after the holidays).  Learning Spanish was The Peanut's idea so I'm happy to support her efforts to learn it and provide resources, but I do not consider this a priority at the moment.  Since many of the materials for other subjects will be new and the routine is new, I'd rather get her settled into these before figuring out how to fit Spanish in.

We will probably continue taking classes at the Worcester Art Museum.  If we cannot fit one of their classes in our schedule, I may ask the teacher to come work with us one-on-one (or organize something for area homeschoolers with her).  Since I am friends with the teacher, I don't see this as being a big deal to do.  History also gives us a chance to do some art appreciation as well, though I think she prefers to make masterpieces over viewing them. 

Time permitting, I'll give her piano lessons to teach her the basics.  I have a fantastic teacher lined up for her when she gets a little older.  He has asked that I get her going with the basics and he will take over when she reaches a certain point.

Physical Education:
Although I am questioning how interested she really is in it, she has asked to take gymnastics again this year.  I personally believe that she enjoys just getting out of the house and doing something.  We will probably explore other options through a neighboring town's recreation department as well as a local health club that has a great kids fitness and swimming program.  Since one of her grandparents has generously offered to pay for gymnastics next year, we'll sign up for a half year and see how it's going around the holidays.

Other stuff:
A local homeschool group loosely organizes a girl scout group.  It's not a troop, but instead, a bunch of Juliettes (independently registered girl scouts who aren't affiliated with a troop) who get together once or twice a month for field trips, craft projects, etc.  The Peanut has expressed an interest in participating as a Daisy.  Since it's low-cost and fairly low-commitment and a great social opportunity, we will do that.

The Peanut will also continue to participate  in our church's Cherub Choir -- our choir for 4 - 7 year olds. 

It looks like it will be another busy year for The Peanut -- lots for us to look forward to! 

No comments:

Post a Comment