Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gearing up for our 2nd year!

We made it through our first year! As I tried to convince my skeptical hubby to let me HS over a year ago, one of my arguments was that it didn't have to be a forever deal. We could try it and if it didn't work, no biggie. Put them back in public school. Thankfully it did work. Even hubby is convinced of the pros of HS and has no objection with continuing.
I will say that the first year was hard and a bit chaotic. I heard that it would be. So much of the first year is trying to figure out how to do it and what works best for the family. I started out with a strict traditional approach that just about killed it all for us. Once I realized that we do not have to recreate PS at home, it went much better. We are, after all, schooling at HOME.
Then I had to figure out the whole curriculum thing. Honestly, I think I'm still figuring it out. Could curriculum be one of those things that are never fully perfected? Time will tell what we settle into. Our first year was a whirlwind of curriculum swapping. I hope there will be much less of that this year. Thankfully the only thing we are behind on is Math (as I changed math programs more than any other).
I am looking forward to starting back in August. The plans were to school through the summer but that didn't work out. I don't think we have spent any time on schoolwork in the month of July.We have several new things to try as I narrow down the curriculum choices that seem to work best for us. We still haven't found the perfect math program though......
The biggest changes I'll be making for the upcoming school year is having an official "schedule" for the year. I read a great book that has given me lots of tips. The main tip I'll be implementing is a yearly schedule. Last year we sort of flew by the seat of our pants. This year I'll be trying the 3/1 schedule. As in, we'll do 3 weeks of school and take one week off. I think this will be a great schedule for us. Especially for the way hubby's work schedule is. The week off will give us time to breath, rethink anything that needs to be done different, and clean my HOUSE! Our schedule will allow a week off every month and still have the whole month of July off. We shall see how this works out.
Another thing I'll be trying is "subject bracelets." I got these slap bracelets ordered from Oriental Trading. My plan is to use a Sharpie marker and write one subject per bracelet. So we'll have a math bracelet, handwriting bracelet, spelling bracelet, etc. She has to put all the bracelets on when she gets up in the morning. As she completes a subject she can take the bracelet off. Hopefully this will help her to take some responsibility for her learning instead of depending on me to tell her what's next. She loves it when I get distracted so she can "forget" to get her schoolwork done. Then at 9pm we realize spelling (or whatever) was overlooked and it's now too late. That's got to stop!
I won't be using the subject bracelets for #2's Kindergarten work. I don't think she's quite old enough yet. But her day is coming ;-)

So far our 4th grade curriculum choices are looking like this:
Mcruffy Math (will be trying BJU math or Teaching Textbooks when we finish)
BJU English and continue with Winston Grammar
A Reason for Spelling (will probably switch to BJU when we finish)
BJU Handwriting
Mystery of History for the first 1/2 of the year (along with correlating History pockets, Draw and Write through History, and Drive Through History videos). I'm really excited about history this year!
Undecided on Science since we won't be starting it until mid year.

For Kindergarten:
BJU Phonics and Worktext
BJU handwriting
continue with Horizons math

I really hope this all works well for us so I don't have to make any more changes. I'm ready to settle into a program and keep it there.

The one thing I'm most concerned about for the upcoming year is teaching #2 reading. I've never done it before. It's so foundational to everything else so I've got to get it right! Number 2 is showing signs of reading readiness so hopefully this goes well.

I'll be back with updates as our 2nd year progresses! :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer "plans" update

I had high expectations for summer. That didn't go so well! My 16 year old sis in law decided to stay the summer with us. It's been great and the kids have loved having her here. It has, however, messed up the summer plans and our normal school routine. We have managed to fit in some math, handwriting, and grammar here and there but that's about it. So much for my grand plans! But that's ok. Relationship with family is more important in the long run.