So this is my second year homeschooling and the first year was quite the learning experience. I had assumed that I could buy the curriculum I needed to start the year and I’d be set. I had purchased a set-up that broke everything down for me and I had daily lesson plans. Sounds pretty good, right?
It just didn’t work for us.
My son soared ahead in reading and quickly grew bored with what I had purchased. I skipped ahead and this helped somewhat, but he grew to hate math, handwriting, spelling, and phonics because they were workbooks.
At the end of the school year I went to the local university and borrowed one of the educational learning tests that I had practiced using when I went to school there. I gave my son this 3 hour test to see if I could figure out where to go next. In short, the test gave me good information on how my oldest son learns. He is a thinker. He learns by thinking about things rather than through rote practice.
After a disastrous first half of Kindergarten, we unschooled the rest of the school year. I was working full-time, pregnant, and I had unschooled preschool. It just made sense to continue unschooling.
It didn’t work either. My son needed some direct instruction to fill his tank.
So I knew that when we started the new school year, we would start with some direct instruction again. But, I would need to change some things.
Instead of going with someone else’s plan (Knowing myself, I don’t know why I thought this might work), I decided to design our own program. So that is exactly what I have done. It was definitely time consuming, but I think it will work. It gives us the ability to adapt and at the same time it gives us the structure needed.
So how does it all work? I planned out how many hours of each subject we would need to do before we finished the school year and wrote out a general plan or goals for each subject. When we do activities in the subject area, I keep track of how much time we do them. This gives us the flexibility to do 2 hours of science 1 day and an hour of math the next or a whole day dedicated to a field trip. I had originally planned for my youngest son (aged 4) to join in on everything, but his interest level is not there yet. So he joins us for the Bible portion of our day and anything else that interests him. My daughter is only 4 months old and is in the room with us the whole time.
This year my 6 year old 1st grader is working on these subject areas: Bible, History, Geography, Reading, Spelling, Writing, Phonics, Science, Handwriting, Music, PE, Art, Typing, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, French, and Biblical Greek. Whew, sound like a lot? It does sound like quite a bit, but we combine several topics in a unit-study approach. Plus, variety keeps things interesting.
We are approaching these subject areas in as fun a way as possible. Our approach now would best be described as eclectic. We utilize a unit-study approach for reading, history, geography, writing, and art. We are visiting different countries around the world and different time periods in American history with many hands-on activities. Since I am planning it, I don’t know for sure how much we will make it through this year. We shall see. The only workbooks are for Handwriting, Math, and Biblical Greek. My son adores the computer so I do have computer based instruction for languages, music theory, and typing. I chose a totally different math program this year and it approaches math through thinking rather than rote practice.
So far things are going well and it is exciting to see my children learn.