Independent Work

I don’t really plan more than a day in advance. I used to plan out each week for the year, but there are so many different variables (an unexpected field trip, an illness, a little extra review needed on a concept) that my schedule would inevitably get thrown off. Then, I would drive myself crazy trying to get back on schedule. That, in turn, would stress out the kids and make learning more difficult. So, I’ve learned to relax over the years. The important thing is that they’re all advancing, not that they’re following some unchangeable schedule.

Every week, I print up a chart with all the classes they have that week. When they finish a lesson in a certain subject, they cross off the corresponding box in the chart. They can choose to work ahead, they can see where they’re behind, and they have some sort of structure to their days. Below is N’s weekly schedule:


As the kids get older, they’re assigned more and more independent work. A fellow homeschooling mom gave me an idea for keeping track of daily independent work. Each morning, I look over their weekly charts, I find the subject that requires independent work for that day. I print up a list of independent work (maps, worksheets, reading assignments, assessments, etc.), along with any corresponding paperwork. I give each child her independent work packet in the morning. One can work independently while I have instructional time with one or more of the others. The kids can also choose to put off their independent work until later in the day, but I always caution them against that. I tell them they’re not going to feel like doing it later. It’s a way for me to help them develop some self-discipline and see real consequences to procrastination. Some are learning self-discipline better than others!

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Schedule and Curriculum (H)

H played at school here and there throughout last year, but this is the first year that she will actually be doing school daily. As per the trivium, we’re starting out with a foundation in the basics before expanding her educational repertoire.

Her weekly schedule follows:

Monday – Math, Handwriting, Reading, and Bible.

Tuesday – Math, Handwriting, Reading, and Bible.

Wednesday – Math, Handwriting, Reading, and Bible.

Thursday – Library and Art (with S).

Friday – Math, Handwriting, Reading, and Bible.

H picked up a few things last year and so she’s not starting at square one, but her curricula is pretty basic. Here is the curricula we are using:

Math – H will begin to use Saxon Math Homeschool. She will start with level K.

Handwriting – H will begin by learning to write the upper and lower case alphabets, and then move on to copywork on handwriting sheets I custom design at the Writing Wizard website.

Reading – H will use the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. I used it successfully with N and C.

Bible – I will work through a children’s Bible with H, and will give her appropriate memory verses weekly.

Art: H will join S to work on basic drawing skills using the Usborne Step-by-Step Drawing Book.

Schedule and Curriculum (S)

S recently turned 8 years old. I strongly suspect dyslexia, but I haven’t had her officially tested. I don’t want her to be labeled as such. So, I did a lot of research and have been working hard to get her reading and number recognition well-established.

Her weekly schedule follows:

Monday – Math, Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Bible (with N and C), Biology and Botany, History (with C), and Ukulele.

Tuesday – Math, Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Bible (with N and C), Biology and Botany, History (with C), and Ukulele.

Wednesday – Math, Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Bible (with N and C), Biology and Botany, History (with C), and Ukulele.

Thursday – Library, Art (with H), and Ukulele.

Friday – Math, Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Bible (with N and C), History (with C), and Ukulele.

S is starting to venture into a longer school day with more subjects. At her current reading level, independent work is still a little tricky, so I’ll be spending more instructional time with her than with N or C. Here is the curricula we are using:

Math – S will continue to use Saxon Math Homeschool. She will finish up level 1 and start on level 2.

Spelling – S will start spelling this year with Spelling Workout A. I may need to rethink spelling curriculum later in light of her suspected dyslexia, but I’m going to play it by ear for now.

Grammar – S will continue using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. She will also continue her poetry memorization. She’s anxious to begin learning Latin, but I told her she has to get through the current textbook before we move on to Visual Latin.

Handwriting – S will continue copywork on handwriting sheets I custom design at the Writing Wizard website.

Reading – This year, S will continue with All About Reading Level 1. She will also continue working through the Dick and Jane Reading Collection, which she enjoys very much.

Bible – S will begin Bible class with N and C using Foundations 2 homeschool curriculum by Anne Elliott. Memory verses are included in the curriculum.

Science: N will study biology and botany this year. I don’t currently have any set curriculum. The plan is to learn about a new animal of interest to her every week during the fall, and then spend the spring learning about people and plants. I’ll list my resources weekly.

History: S will join C in going through Story of the World Volume 3: Early Modern. She’ll do the mapwork that goes along with her study, and will do some activities as well. I will try to work in some videos on the topics that are covered.

Art: S will work on basic drawing skills using the Usborne Step-by-Step Drawing Book. I tried working through Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad with her (I love that book!!!!), but it was a bit too advanced and she got frustrated easily with it.

Music: S has decided to pursue the ukulele, so she will start working in Alfred’s Kids Ukulele Course Complete.

Schedule and Curriculum (C)

C is currently 11 years old. She’s just beginning the transition to more independent schooling and will still require a bit more instructional time with me than N will.

Her weekly schedule follows:

Monday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with N and S), Chemistry (with N), History (with S), Geography (with N), Spanish, and Ukulele.

Tuesday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with N and S), Chemistry (with N), History (with S), Social Studies (with N), Spanish, and Ukulele.

Wednesday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with N and S), Chemistry (with N), History (with S), Geography (with N), Spanish, and Ukulele.

Thursday – Library, Art (with N), and Ukulele.

Friday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with N and S), History (with S), Geography Review (with N), Spanish, and Ukulele.

I wasn’t going to give C a list of assigned Great Books for her reading class, but she saw N’s list and asked for one of her own (proud homeschooling mama moment there). Here is the curricula we are using:

Math – C will continue to use Saxon Math Homeschool. She will be working on level 6/5 this year.

Spelling – C will finish up Spelling Workout C and move on to Spelling Workout D this year.

Composition – C will continue to do assignments from Unjournaling, correcting errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Reading – This year, C will read Robinson Crusoe (abridged), Gulliver’s Travels (abridged), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (abridged), Les Miserables (abridged), The Three Musketeers (abridged), Great Expectations (abridged), Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (abridged), 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (abridged), A Christmas Carol, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and Oliver Twist (abridged).

Bible – C will continue using Foundations 2 homeschool curriculum by Anne Elliott. Memory verses are included in the curriculum.

Science: C will finish up Chemistry II by Noeo Science this fall and will begin Physics II by Noeo Science in the spring.

History: C will spend the year going through Story of the World Volume 3: Early Modern. She’ll do the mapwork that goes along with her study, and will do some activities as well. I will try to work in some videos on the topics that are covered. Amazon Prime is wonderful for educational videos.

Geography: C will continue studying the countries of Africa while learning their location on a map. I’ll continue to use the websites Time for Kids, National Geographic Kids, and CIA World Factbook to get information. After Africa, the kids will learn about Canada and then do more in-depth studies on each of the fifty states.

Social Studies: C will focus on current events in America and around the world this year.

Art: C will use a variety of media to create her own art, taking direction from the Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. She will also study some of the great artists of the Early Modern time period.

Spanish: C will work independently on her Spanish using Rosetta Stone Homeschool Spanish (Latin America) this year. Once she completes the five levels of Spanish, she wants to study Japanese. If Rosetta Stone works out, I’ll have her use the homeschool Japanese course in high school.

Music: C will finish up Alfred’s Kids Ukulele Course Complete and will move onto Ukulele Songbook: In Notation and Tablature and The Ukulele Songbook: 50 All Time Classics. For reference, she will have Alfred’s Ukulele Chord Dictionary on hand.

Daily Schedule and Curriculum (N)

N is currently 12 years old. She’s starting to transition to more reading and independent work than last year.

Her weekly schedule follows:

Monday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with C and S), Chemistry (with C), History, Geography (with C), Spanish, and Piano.

Tuesday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with C and S), Chemistry (with C), History, Social Studies (with C), Spanish, and Piano.

Wednesday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with C and S), Chemistry (with C), History, Geography (with C), Spanish, and Piano.

Thursday – Library, History, Art (with C), and Piano.

Friday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with C and S), History, Geography Review (with C), Spanish, and Piano.

Her curriculum has changed a bit for history and reading. She’s going to move away from a history text and start reading biographies, historical non-fiction, and original sources from the time period we’re studying this year (Early Modern). I’ll list the required topics she needs to study below. She’s also going to move into reading more Great Books (for the Early Modern time period) for reading class. Here is the curricula we are using:

Math – N will continue to use Saxon Math Homeschool. The goal is to finish pre-algebra in the fall and start on Algebra I in the spring.

Spelling – N will finish up Spelling Workout E and move on to Spelling Workout F.

Composition – N will continue to do assignments from Unjournaling (I really love Unjournaling!), correcting errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Reading – This year, N will read Don Quixote (abridged), Perrault’s Fairy Tales, Gulliver’s Travels (the chapters on Lilliput and Brobdingnag only), The Pilgrim’s Progress (abridged), Robinson Crusoe, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (abridged), A Christmas Carol, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. She will also be going through a list of authors from the Early Modern time period, either reading their works (mostly poetry) or their biographies. The authors are Alexander Pope, John Milton, William Blake, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Wordsworth, Robert Browning, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edward Lear, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Christina Rossetti, and Herman Melville.

Bible – N will continue using Foundations 2 homeschool curriculum by my old college buddy, Anne Elliott. Memory verses are included in the curriculum.

Science: N will finish up Chemistry II by Noeo Science this fall and will begin Physics II by Noeo Science in the spring.

History: N will go through the first half of A Patriot’s History of the United States with me (covering Columbus through the end of the Civil War). She will also read all original documents referenced in A Patriot’s History of the United States, which can all be found in the companion book A Patriot’s History Reader: Essential Documents for Every American. I absolutely love these books! They are so full of information. They are, in my humble opinion, completely non-partisan, showing the good and the bad. They are factual and not full of commentary. There are sections of the book that address common historical misconceptions, all fully sourced. If you want a completely exhaustive history of the United States, I highly recommend these books. In addition to delving deep into American history, N will also research world history during the Early Modern time period, including: Russia under the czars, 18th century Prussia, the Enlightenment, the agricultural revolution, Native American cultures, the British in India, the French Revolution, British-French conflict in Canada, the Napoleonic Wars, the industrial revolution, Simon Bolivar, and Australia’s beginnings as a penal colony.

Geography: N will continue studying the countries of Africa while learning their location on a map. I’ll continue to use the websites Time for Kids, National Geographic Kids, and CIA World Factbook to get information. After Africa, they will learn about Canada and then do more in-depth studies on each of the fifty states.

Social Studies: N will focus on current events in America and around the world this year.

Art: N will use a variety of media to create her own art, taking direction from the Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. She will also study some of the great artists of the Early Modern time period.

Spanish: I decided to switch from Excelerate Spanish to Rosetta Stone Homeschool Spanish (Latin America) this year. I think N and C will both do better with independent computer work, and I like the idea of a parent/educator tool that enables me to set goals and record their progress. We’ll see how it goes.

Music: N will continue to work on piano with John Thompson’s Teaching Little Fingers to Play More. She’ll move up to the next book as she progresses.

Schedules for 2017/2018

So, I really slacked off on the blog at the end of school this past spring. The last nine days were filled with video school (finishing up the “Families of the World” series on Amazon Prime, watching videos on the history of the Roman and Greek Empires, and a great video on the War of the Worlds Radio Scandal – which led to a lively discussion on the power of the media to shape popular opinion and to spread propaganda). We went on several field trips (historical programs, library programs, state park programs).

Over the summer, S (now age 8) continued to practice her reading, and spent a lot of time playing school with H (age 5). I love when they play school, because it reinforces concepts for S while introducing concepts to H in a way that’s fun for them.

And now, we’re two weeks away from the start of school. Curriculum is trickling in. N (age 12) and C (age 11) are already working on their reading lists for the year. I spent the weekend cleaning and organizing the classroom (which, I must admit, got pretty trashed over the summer being used as a playroom, video game room, and catch-all for quick clean-up of the rest of the house). I’m so excited to get started and get back to a daily routine. Which leads me to the purpose of this post, which is our schedule this year.

The “Sabbath Schooling” schedule worked well for us last year, so we’re going to be using that again. “Sabbath Schooling” involves six weeks of school followed by one week of vacation, plus vacation for the month of December. Last year, we didn’t take all of our scheduled breaks and finished a couple weeks early, but I liked having the option of taking time off in the event of “education fatigue.”

Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays will be regular education days (with occasional field trips on Saturdays or for special educational events. Thursdays will be dedicated to library time, reading, art, and music. Two Fridays a month will include homeschool gym class at the local rec center. Homeschool soccer dates aren’t available yet, but it will probably be two mornings per week for about six weeks during the fall and spring.

 

Prep Work for 2016/17

Well, trying to do school over the summer lasted two days – ha ha! Live and learn, right? S continued to practice her reading, but that’s about it. We kept busy with camp and swimming and friends and chilling out. School starts on Monday; I finalized schedules for four kids (11yo N, 9yo C, 7yo S, and 4yo H) and curriculum, I purchased supplies on this tax-free weekend, and I got the classroom ready. Here are the schedules and curriculum I’m using for the kids this year (subject to tweaking throughout the year, of course):

N (age 11):

Math: N will have math Monday through Thursday. She will be starting Saxon Math Homeschool 8/7.

Spelling: N will have spelling Monday through Thursday. She will continue using Spelling Workout E.

Writing: N will have writing Monday through Thursday. She will continue using Writing Strands Level 4.

Reading: N will read a chapter of an approved book every weekday. She is currently reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Bible: N, C, S, and H will all have Bible class together every weekday. They will continue using Foundations 1: Preparation for Christ, which was written by an old college buddy, Anne Elliott.

Science: N, C, S, and H will all listen to the science lesson on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, N and C will copy definitions and work on memorizing relevant information. On Thursday, N and C will research the scientist(s) of the week. And on Friday, N, C, S, and H will participate in the experiment/activity. They will be using ClassiQuest Science Logic Stage:  Astronomy and Geoscience, along with supplemental materials.

History: N, C, S, and H will all listen to the history lesson on Monday and Wednesday, and will participate in the activity on Friday. They will be using Story of the World Volume 2 and its accompanying workbook. N will also do supplemental reading from either The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia or The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History, and she will take notes.

Geography: N and C will continue to study Southeast Asia using internet sites like Time for Kids, National Geographic Kids, and the CIA World Factbook. They will learn about a new country on Tuesday and Thursday, and will have a review of all the countries they’ve learned on Friday. I will continue printing outline maps from Printable Maps and Owl & Mouse.

Social Studies: N and C will continue to learn about a state every Tuesday. They will work together to complete a worksheet for each state. I made the worksheets last year.

Logic: N will continue learning about propaganda every Monday. She will continue using The Fallacy Detective. This election year should prove fertile ground for seeing logical fallacies and propaganda in action.

Spanish: Since Spanish kind of fell by the wayside last year, N will start at the beginning again, this time with C, of Excelerate Spanish. They will watch a video on Tuesday, review vocabulary and practice translating on Wednesday, complete a workbook lesson on Thursday, and re-watch the video on Friday.

Music: N will continue her weekly piano lessons on Monday, and will practice her scales and lesson until mastery is achieved. She will continue using Teaching Little Fingers to Play.

Art: N and C will continue their drawing lessons on Friday using Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad. If they show an interest in another medium at some point, we will probably deviate from the plan a bit, but Mark Kistler’s curriculum is going to provide the backbone of our art instruction for now.

C (age 9):

Math: C will have math Monday through Thursday. She will pick up where she left off in Saxon Math Homeschool 5/4.

Spelling: C will have spelling Monday through Thursday. She will continue using Spelling Workout C.

Writing: C will have writing Monday through Thursday. She will continue using Writing Strands Level 3.

Reading: C will read a chapter of an approved book every weekday. She is currently reading Little House in the Big Woods.

Bible: Combined class with N, S, and H.

Science: Combined class with N, S, and H.

History: Combined class with N, S, and H. She will not be doing the supplemental reading or notes until next year.

Geography: Combined class with N.

Social Studies: Combined class with N.

Spanish: Combined class with N.

Music: C will continue her weekly ukulele lessons, practicing daily until she achieves mastery of each lesson. She will continue using Alfred’s Kid’s Ukulele Course.

Art: Combined class with N.

S (age 7):

Math: S will have math every weekday. She will finish up Saxon Math Homeschool K  (using the manipulatives kit) and then move on to the first grade curriculum.

Grammar: S will begin grammar this year.  She will have grammar every weekday using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind.

Reading: S will continue learning to read every weekday. She will continue using All About Reading, and supplementing with the Dick and Jane books.

Bible: Combined class with N, C, and H.

Science: Combined class with N, C, and H on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. On Wednesday and Thursday, S and H will do age-appropriate worksheets while N and C do their research and copywork.

History: Combined class with N, C, and H.

Art: S and H will have art on Friday using What Shall I Draw? It is much simpler than Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad, and I’m hoping they won’t get as discouraged with drawing as they did when they tried to emulate N and C.

H (age 4):

Math: H will have math every weekday. She will start at the beginning of Saxon Math Homeschool K  (using the manipulatives kit).

Reading: H will have reading class every weekday. She will use The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading.

Bible: Combined class with N, C, and S.

Science: Combined class with N, C, and S on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. On Wednesday and Thursday, S and H will do age-appropriate worksheets while N and C do their research and copywork.

History: Combined class with N, C, and S.

Art: Combined class with S.

The goal is to get all the combined classes for all four girls done first thing in the morning. Then, S and H will get a break while I finish up combined classes for N and C. Next, I will alternate individual instruction time between N and C while they do their independent work. After lunch, N and C will finish up independent work while I give first S and then H their individual instruction time (which only takes 10-30 minutes each).