Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Planning for the Upcoming School Year

We homeschool year-round so the division between one school year and the next is an arbitrary one. I usually pick the Monday after return from our annual trek back East to visit relatives.

As Rusty will be turning 4, I've decided it's time to start some gentle preschool work with him. I'm not planning to do kindergarten until 2011 because his birthday is November and I think he could probably benefit from the "redshirting". Also that way both kids would be on the same part of the cycle for history & science.

With Rusty, I've decided to try the first activity book of the Core Knowledge preschool sequence. I feel that given his speech & language delay it would probably be a good idea to follow a formal preschool curriculum even though I did not use one with Miss Scarlet. As his speech therapist puts it, some kids just need explicit instruction for stuff that most kids pick up on their own. I liked the look of the CK preschool book and the price was certainly reasonable. Miss Scarlet decided to play teacher when the book arrived and did a few of the activities with Rusty. Some were too easy for him but others were on the challenging side. So overall, I think it's the right level.

Miss Scarlet will be "officially" in second grade but she's all over the map in terms of what she's doing. It's tricky trying to figure out what will be challenging but not too frustrating.

For religion, she's going to be finishing up the 2nd grade Faith and Life book (we had to shelve it around Christmastime in order to ensure we completed the parish CCD book We Believe by Sadlier prior to her 1st Communion). Once we're done with that, we'll continue on with the 3rd grade F&L volume.

For math, we're currently in the middle of the Level C book in Right Start. I'm trying to decide whether to continue on in that program when we finish or switch to Singapore. I really liked Level B of RS but am less happy with C. I had her take the Singapore placement tests to see where she would be in that program. She got everything right on the 1B test except for the two subtraction word problems. She could solve subtraction equations but got stumped by the word problem aspect. Right Start is a bit weak on word problems so even if I don't switch programs entirely I'm going to have her work through the Singapore Challenging Word Problems books. On the Singapore 2A test, she had trouble with the word problems again and also the multiplication & division equations. So my other math goal for the year is to have her memorize the multiplication table.

For science, we're going to be studying chemistry, and I think we're going to try The Elements by Ellen McHenry. I did not use a formal curriculum with science in the past but I'm less confident about my ability to properly teach chemistry. I did take chemistry in both high school and college; however, I don't feel like it's a subject that lends itself as easily to "winging it" with library resources as biology, geology, and astronomy did.

In history, we're going to be continuing doing unit studies in a roughly chronological order. We're finishing up our study of ancient India right now. Future units include ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Islam, the Vikings, Mesoamerican civilizations, medieval times, feudal Japan, and so on.

For English, I'm going to continue working through the Writing With Ease workbook for copywork, dictation, and narration exercises. I'm also going to try Story Grammar for Elementary School by Don & Jenny Killgallon. Thanks to Catherine Johnson at the "Kitchen Table Math" blog for the recommendation! Finally, I'm going to have Miss Scarlet do the Seton Reading-Thinking Skills 5 for Young Catholics workbook. It's great for vocabulary building and she really seemed to enjoy the grade 4 book when we did that one.

For spelling, I'm going to continue using the lists from the Words Their Way book. I discovered this one at my local library and really like how the lists are organized. The lists aren't groups of random words to be memorized but rather grouped by some feature. For example, the most recent list Miss Scarlet did had words with an unaccented final syllable ending in -r (e.g. motor, farmer, similar and so on).

For music appreciation, we're going to be using How to Introduce Your Child to Classical Music in Fifty-Two Easy Lessons from Emmanuel Books. I already had most of the pieces either in my CD collection or on my "I should really get a copy of this" list (and here's my excuse to get off my duff and acquire them!) The rest I should hopefully be able to borrow from my library.

For art, I'm leaning towards enrolling her in the local parks & recreation drawing class. Plus we'll continue to take field trips to local art museums.

For home economics, we're going to finish up Level 1 of Pearables Home Economics for Homeschoolers and then start on the Future Christian Homemakers Handbook. I'm not wildly thrilled with the tone in both books that the traditional homemaker role is the only proper one to which Christian girls ought to aspire. Yes, it's a very valuable one- in most cases the ideal one when a woman's children are young. But I certainly consider it a season in my life. I was employed full-time in the past and plan to resume my career at least on a part-time basis when my children are older and more independent. I want my girls to know there's nothing wrong with wanting both a career and a family, it'll probably just take some sequencing of the former in order to give the latter its proper priority. Okay, I'll get down off my soapbox now :-p

Anyways, I do like the actual lessons contained in the home ec titles mentioned so we're using them. Miss Scarlet will also continue participating in 4-H. She wants to do the baking project again and also the sewing project. That one will take special permission since she'll be younger than 8. If I can get her skilled enough on the sewing machine by the fall I think they may let her.

I think I've covered everything I'm planning to do in our homeschool next year.


christinemm said...

Hi Crimson Wife,
I enjoyed reading your plans.

I love Artistic Pursuits curriculum. It covers the basics of art and has do-able lessons. Check out their website, they have sample lessons. Doing one lesson a week is great.

It is all laid out so the parent doesn't need prior knowledge to teach from it. Or the child can read it to themselves, or you could read it aloud.

Barbara Frank said...

Thanks for sharing your intentions...I miss those days of planning!

BTW Emmanuel Books is one of my best customers....great people!