As we’ve gotten into mid-August, it’s kind of hard to deny that planning mode has begun. Even though I could live the summer life forever, school resumes and fall shows up whether I like it or not. It’s hard to embrace September knowing that the easy, breezy days are done, but I haven’t found a way around that yet. So, we plan. As I continue to document our journey, I’ll share a glimpse into what we have in store. In no particular order:
My little one wants desperately to sew and create, and my older one is going into 7th, which is a time for learning such skills. After sifting through lots of opportunities, I found that Sew N Vac in Poughkeepsie offers classes for kids. I found a lot of interest in the homeschool community—kids who are excited to start making projects, and we can’t wait.
We all need it! We’ll be doing Math Mammoth Algebra for my older daughter, and my little one will use Khan Academy. It’ll be the first time we’ll use a fully online curriculum, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. If it ends up not being a great fit, we have Beast Academy in our back pocket as plan B.
Our booklist is my longer than arm, and it’s been fun to put together. I’m a big fan of perusing the internet for ideas. For pleasure, my kids read voraciously, and I let them chose whatever they desire. So that we don’t miss anything, I also assemble a list books from various sources—Newbury medal winners, Library Association, Amazon recommendations, and what school districts put on their reading lists. They read some independently, others are read aloud, and we always have a book on CD to make car time enjoyable.
Try Googling, “spelling word lists,” and you’ll find more than you could ever use. I compile a weekly stash of grade-appropriate words from various sources. In addition, I have a section in my planning notebook for jotting down a word anytime my kids ask me to spell it, or I notice they’ve misspelled it in their writing. I keep a similar list on my phone, in case I’m away from my notebook. We review the words throughout the week, using them in our writing and practicing them on a whiteboard, and I find they’ve become great spellers.
We’ve used the Word a Day books every year, and I really love these. I was sad that they end at 6th grade. For my 7th grader, we’re using Vocabulary Power. We also keep a Word a Day calendar in our school area, which is a fun way to acquire new words. Vocab words go on a white board, and my kids laugh and sometimes roll their eyes as I find a way to weave their weekly words into daily conversation. We might be chatting along and suddenly one of them will catch on and say, “Hey, that’s my vocab word, I know what you’re doing!” Ha.
Wanting to follow the 7th/8th grade science curriculum in the event that my kids return to public school for high school, I chose Life Science for the year. CPO has some amazing online materials, and I’ve assembled more than we’ll ever get through—investigation worksheets, a colorful text, spotlight on influential scientists, and lots of experiments. Science in particular is a subject that can be exponentially enhanced via the internet- there are videos, lessons plans, and activities for any subject, and I tap into these resources frequently. We also get together with other homeschool families and work on science experiments together, which is lots of fun.
US History II, baby! Last year we immersed ourselves in learning about the exploration and establishment of the United States. This year, we’ll pick up just before the Revolutionary War and travel to present time. Joy Hakim has a great textbook series we’ve enjoyed. History is another subject that can be bolstered with books and videos found online and at the library, as well as amazing local field trips to visit everywhere from Washington’s Headquarters to historical mansions that feature hands-on Colonial activities. We are also completing the second half of Road Trip, which covers US geography, to accompany our history studies.
My older and younger girls wanted to learn Italian and French, respectively. Our library system offers Mango, and online learning program, and we’ll also be using another, Rocket. We’ll round that out with many library and online resources to work on pronunciation and exposure.
So much can be acquired online. Typing practice, coding, proficiency in internet research, word processing, working with data, and more. We do a medley of activities to promote their technological fluency.
Our favorite program, Write Shop, is a hands-on program that takes students through genres of writing, grammar, skill building, and creativity. We love, love, loved it, and are going into our second year with this program. I also teach a monthly creative writing class to our homeschool co-op, in which the kids study a variety of topics, work in groups and independently on projects, and present them to the class.
Each of my girls take four hours of dance classes a week, but we also ride bikes, roller blade, walk/hike, play tennis, swim, and play outside with friends. Over the winter, we’ll try snow-shoeing, and like to spend time outside exploring.
Cooking is a mainstay in our house, and both girls have developed confidence and skills. We cover food safety, kitchen tool safety, meal planning, nutrition, and healthy eating. It’s a lot of fun, and when I get to eat a warm chocolate chip muffin made entirely by my eight-year-old, it’s both impressive and delicious!
It’s important to me that art not get forgotten in the busy life of academia. We keep lots of supplies on hand- paint and brushes, charcoals, markers, crayons, all kinds of paper, stamps and ink, ribbons, glue, colored duct tape, and craft kits. In addition, we read about influential artists, view their work online and in books, visit museums to see works in person, and complete projects inspired by the artists or periods of time. We also work on art together in our co-op class, and the girls take art camps and classes over the summer.
Weekly piano lessons and daily practice make up the bulk of our music lessons, so that the girls learn to read and play music. We also study influential composers, listen to their work, learn about music theory, history, different types of instruments, and surround ourselves with music even while we study.
Learning about our bodies, keeping healthy, safety (fire/bicycle/environmental), drugs/alcohol, puberty/sex ed, and so many other topics come up every day. These lessons are continuous, inspired by what is going on in the world around us, and always enhanced with books/videos/field trips.
Sometimes I feel like live at the library. At our local branch, the staff grab our books off the hold shelf as soon as they see us walk in the door. We learn about how to use the library system, reference books, the Dewey Decimal system, and so much more. My older daughter has reached the age where she can begin to help with their Teen planning and do volunteer work for the library.
I’m not sure what it’s called in schools anymore, but around our house, working on home improvement projects is part of our lifestyle. With supervision, my kids have learned how to use various tools and have helped complete many projects. They can change batteries, paint, put things together, and are developing some basic skills upon which I hope they’ll build in the future. No pun intended.
The school year is always filled with field trips, fun times with other kids, and all kinds of unexpected surprises. Both good and bad. We learn to adapt and adjust, and build resiliency. Life lessons– hard to quantify on paper, but no less worthwhile than anything I could ever plan. Share your schooling experiences, ask questions, or comment below. Happy (almost) school year!