Saturday, February 9, 2008

Looking Ahead to Next Year

I have been doing some planning for the coming school year (and the remainder of this year). I am trying to think of everything I may possibly need so I can add it to my list for mine and Collin's discussion about the budget. To my benefit, there has been a thread on the WTM boards asking homeschoolers how much they spend a year on schooling. Here is the link... homeschooling budget.

I've also been thinking a lot about the direction I want the boys' education to take and what I want our school days to look like. I was having trouble at first, listing things like: fun, relaxed, challenging, but then it hit me and started to flow. These are a few of the things I want for my boys...(this list is by no means exhausted. It's just a sampling.)
1. To learn how to think & observe critically. To be able to think for themselves and not be "spoon fed" their opinions.
2. To understand history chronologically and how events effect each other.
3. To have an analytical understanding of great literature.
4. To have a clear understanding and grasp of the English language ie., speak correctly, write correctly, write creatively.
5. To be fluent in several languages ie., Latin, Greek, and French.

Keeping those goals in mind, our school days are going to be more relaxed, yet still challenging. I want them to enjoy the process of learning and I of teaching. We are going to cuddle on the couch and read lots of well written books and not "twaddle". We are going to concentrate on getting a strong foundation in Language Arts, the Charlotte Mason way. Latin is going to become a priority as it will aid in and reinforce our Language Arts studies. We will continue to play our math games as that is Magnus's favorite subject. We will get our "seat" work done in the morning to allow time for play, activities, and free time in the afternoons.

With all that being said...

This is what I will be using for both boys:

History...I like using SOTW. I feel it is a gentle approach to introducing history to the boys. The stories are fact filled, yet short. The Activity Guide has fantastic suggestions for extra reading as well as great projects, maps, and coloring pages. I have a feeling we will be spending more time and money on history this year as we will be studying the Middle Ages. Our family is very much interested in Medieval history and talk about it constantly. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Collin is going to school to teach Medieval Literature at a University. Maybe *he* should be teaching the boys! I hope to do several activities as well as lots of read alouds. I am also going to follow Ambleside Online's book list for our reading.

Science...I'm struggling with this. We are not a "scientific" family (well, at least Collin and I) but I see the need for knowing it. Maybe the boys are of the "scientific mind" and I would hate to rob them of finding out. I know they are interested in it. So, I'm trying to figure out a place for it in our house. I have been re-inspired to visit Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education. I think the idea of nature study will foot the bill for me and the boys. We are going to take nature hikes, start a nature journal, and read fantastic "living" stories about nature. Along with that, I hope to do activities like creating a bird sanctuary, planting a garden, and if space allows (we don't know where we will be living), I want to raise chickens (and maybe a sheep or two)!

Magnus will be in 2nd grade. This is what I am planning for him: going to be a high priority. It will aid in spelling and grammar as well as logic. I read Andrew Campbell's book Latin Centered Curriculum and most of it made sense to me. However, I plan on continuing to use a grammar program and to follow the 4 year history cycle laid out in The Well Trained Mind. I have already purchased Minimus and plan to use it. In fact, the boys request to listen to the audio as they read along in the book! I'm just not sure if I am going to start it this year as we study Rome or wait until next year. But then again, I just found out about another program called Song School Latin from Classical Academic Press (the creators of Latin for Children) This would be the first step before doing Latin For Children. I checked out the samples and it looks fantastic. Lots of work with vocabulary and easy grammar. I still don't know which program to do between Lively Latin or Latin for Children after our initial introduction to Latin. They are both incredible programs and it is just a matter of me figuring out what I want our Latin study to look like. I am also hoping to get my hands on the "I am Reading Latin" readers.

Math...we will continue working through Right Start but do level C next year. This seems to be a good fit for him. It is teacher intensive but I really don't mind. Especially since he is learning to master the concepts. I am thinking about adding Singapore Challenging Word Problems.

Grammar...this had me scratching my head. I don't want to continue with FLL. It's not working for Magnus. He gets the concepts easily, but the presentation is rather dull. After reading Charlotte Mason's take on Language Arts and talking to Collin, we are switching to the Language Lessons series by Sandi Queen. It Incorporates a lot of picture study (with beautiful artwork), narrations, dictation, and grammar. Magnus is a very creative boy who has a good grasp on words and does not like to be "spoon fed". I think the gentler approach will allow him to take ownership of his learning.

Spelling...we will definitely continue with All About Spelling. We may be starting level 2 in a few months so we'll have to do level 3 next year. It is moving a little slow for Magnus, but I am sure he is learning the concepts well.

Thane will be in Kindergarten. This is what I am planning for him:

Math...he has been watching big brother work the abacus and has been playing games with us, it only seems natural to begin his formal math program with Right Start level A. In fact, I just bought it on the WTM for sale board and am eagerly anticipating it's arrival. I have a feeling Thane is going to work through this fast. Luckily I already have level B waiting in the shadows.

Phonics...not sure what to do here. I really don't think OPGTR is going to do it for him. He needs something more than a "repeat after me" type program. He is a visual/kinesthetic learner. I love the looks of Sing, Spell, Write & Read but it is pricey. Maybe, just maybe, I can talk dh into this! If not, I'm not sure what I will do. I am also going to look at Veritas Press Phonics Museum. I had considered this when Magnus was in kindergarten, but decided against it because of cost. I will definitely look for it used. I love the way it incorporates artwork and activities into the learning. I might also look into Phonics Pathways. It has more of the visual aspect I am looking for, but not a lot of hands-on stuff. I would supplement with Explode the Code books and Happy Phonics.

Along with this curriculum I am hoping to get a hold of some audio...King Arthur and His Knights, Wulf the Saxon, The Dragon & the Raven, Winning His Spurs, and In Freedom's Cause. Magnus and Thane both love listening to stories on cd, which is good for me since I don't like reading aloud.

That pretty much covers it. None of this is set in stone as I know I will probably change my mind some more as far as curriculum goes. On thing that I know for sure is the direction I want our learning to go in and that is a relief.


Tina said...

Wow, that is a lot to think about... I think I need to think about those things as well with my children. I can't believe my 2nd oldest will be in 8th next year.

Thanks for sharing.

LisaWA said...

Brittney! Some planning? lol I giggle... *Ü* You did a lot!

Ya know, I have been reading some wonderful posts lately from many moms... and I sure wish I knew a fraction of you woman know and do and plan!

I sometimes feel a tad envious that I am at the other end of home schooling than most people I know. Seriously... most folk’s kids are way younger... my friends who have kids the same age either moved or don’t home school anymore because they graduated...

I am so blessed that many of you have the WTM forum and yahoo groups to encourage and inspire and these blogs!! ( I have them too, my kids are just a little older and it seems different). I am not at the planning stage for direction... we are on it and in some aspects almost done with our parts as parents and teachers. I guess I find myself a bit insecure sometimes and I’m praying its been enough... "our" plan of direction... I have good kids…. I guess just like many… I wonder and I’m hopeful for them….

Well that was probably more than you bargained for hu? Lol Sorry… its not a pity party… really its not…. I find myself blessed from all of you… so often…. Just sharing my feelings…

Glad you are all safe!


Brittney said...

It's because of prayerful, loving, diligent moms like you that we, who are just beginning, are able to find a direction at all. I look to women like you for inspiration and guidance. Your participation on the boards and now The Heart of the Matter is very valuable to us Newbies. Thank you for humbly sharing your experiences with us!

In the words of my dear friends, Wayne and Garth..."I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"

Sheer appreciation,

Lori Carr said...

I love your plan. I am still in the planning process for next year, also. I have Colin's Kindergarten all planned out and scheduled. He was easy. I think I have everything for my other son's 2nd grade picked out but not sure what we are going to do with dd10. I am thinking K12 is not going to work for us next year. So, now I have to figure out what to do for her. She is my tricky one.


Michelle said...

Wow, it is so wonderful to read about other mom's planning like this. It makes me spend more time thinking about the direction I want us to head.

Thank you for sharing! This really is inspiring to me to get myself in gear...I have next year planned out, but want to have a list of goals about where I want to be over the years.

TheTutor said...

Totally off topic, but I just saw the "ACCEPTED" next to WVU! Congrats! You all must be so excited... and struggling while you await the other letters.