Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I am a hopeless planner.  I envy some of our homeschooling friends who seem to take it one-day-at-a-time.  Maybe it's because of my own personal schedule and needing to make sure we fit school in during its designated time, but I need to have a game plan.  And that game plan needs to be long term since I don't have tons of time during the academic year to research new options and implement something.

I got lucky this year -- or maybe I'm getting better at understanding what makes The Peanut tick -- because what I picked for school this past year worked for the most part.  There were a few things that we did that I felt could have been better, but that was more from my perspective -- The Peanut was happy doing what I picked.  So with that said, here's the rundown for this upcoming year.

Language Arts
Here's one area where I thought what we did worked, but probably could have been better.  We're changing over to the Michael Clay Thompson Series which encompasses grammar, writing, poetry, and word origins. I think this series will be a hit as the grammar and writing portions are handled more in a story book format with lots of free form writing exercises plus a book that starts teaching sentence diagramming.

Along with that, we'll continue our Poem of the Week tradition that we started last year.  She really enjoys doing it and ends up with a fun keepsake at the end of the school year.  We'll also continue using Spectrum Spelling and Zaner Bloser Handwriting.  Oh. And reading.  Lots of reading. (This is something that requires no planning on my part if I want it that way.  The Peanut is a little bookworm.  This year, I do have a few books that I'd like to make sure end up on her reading list, but if they don't happen, I don't care.)

We will continue with CSMP Math.  While she doesn't love every second of it, I think overall, it's a program that clicks with her.   It's well-paced and challenging, uses story books, and utilizes some really cool manipulatives to visually represent what's going on.  Unless something dramatic changes, I suspect we'll use this program to its conclusion.

I do supplement this with other activities weekly.  CSMP is a very intense program, so we have a weekly "math fun day".  Some weeks, we just play a board game.  Other weeks, I have a fun activity or a math story book to read and discuss.  During this time, my goal is to show her the fun side of math and/or the relevance of it.

I completely scored the jackpot when I selected Story of the World as our curriculum.  It allows you to go as deep or shallow as your child needs to go -- so you can just cover the basics or you can spend time on a chapter, reading related books, doing hands-on activities, looking at art, etc, etc.  The Activity Book that comes with the text is a fantastic resource and The Peanut likes to go deep on whatever she's studying.  I could not do this program without the excellent library and interlibrary loan system our state has, though -- or I'd be broke buying stuff from Amazon!

This is the one subject that I felt lacked last year.  Originally, I had wanted to follow the Classical Education model for sciences -- starting in grade school, rotate through Chemistry, Physics, Life Sciences, and Earth/Space Science doing one a year.  In theory, starting with Chem or Physics is better because the other two sciences build on them.  We did Chemistry using a blend of two different publishers.  She loved what we did, but I was always tweaking it to fit her interest level and I was never completely satisfied with how it came together.  For the long term, it doesn't matter.  She knows what an atom is (and that what it's made up of), she's been exposed to the Periodic Chart of Elements and knows where to find some of the elements, and she understands what a chemical reaction is.  We did some nifty experiments along the way.

So I'm back to writing my own lessons again.  I purchased the first two books in the Building Foundations for Scientific Learning series.  (I got them used - I love a good bargain!)  It doesn't follow one branch exclusively instead offering four tracks with lessons that build on each other across those tracks.  There is no set order, instead there are a few different ways to approach the progression.  It gives me a framework with objectives plus a list of additional resources -- so I can spend a few days on a concept or a few weeks depending on The Peanut's level of interest.  So, like with The Story of the World, I have a ton of flexibility.  I've been doing lots of pre-reading and lesson planning based on this series.  I think she's going to dig science next year.

Other Stuff:
This past year was our final year for gymnastics.  While The Peanut didn't hate it, I don't really think it was her "thing" either.  We started swim lessons this past spring and will continue those in the Fall.  Our health club and a local recreation department both have a bunch of other classes and activities for kids so I'm sure we'll try some of those out as well.  The Peanut is a pretty active kid, so I'm not worried about her being a slug on the couch.  I do want to make it easy for her to get some exercise when the weather turns cold and nasty, though.

The Peanut will also continue her piano lessons and spending time with Miss Susan, my friend who just happens to be an amazing art teacher.  She'll also be starting with our church's chimer choir in the Fall.  She has friends doing it so not only will she be learning something new, she'll be hanging with her friends while doing it.  She enjoys both art and music and if I had to pick something as her "thing", I'd say it would be somewhere in this realm.

The Peanut has a better social life than I ever did.  Granted, I make an effort to make sure that she does have kids to play with on a regular basis, but it really isn't all that hard.  We've fallen in with a great group of home school kids -- we've both made several amazing friends here.  I really think this is her  tribe -- several of the kids are also only-children so they get each other on a level that kids with siblings don't.   We will continue to meet with them at least once a week for play time, science (human body in the Fall), book group, nature walks, and whatever else strikes our fancy along the way.

In addition to that, Wombat and I restarted our game and potluck Saturdays which brings in a variety of kids from all her social circles.  This only happens once every month or so, but it's a great day for her as well as all the adults who come over.  She also has her church friends, plus several of our friends from college have kids her age...  In other words, she has no lack of social opportunities.  Some weeks, I have to schedule a day to just chill out at home because she's so busy!

We have an exciting year planned next year.  I'm thankful for the summer to give us a breather before diving into it -- I also need the time to finish my planning!

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