Sunday, August 1, 2010

Let the Learning Begin!

The lazy days of summer have been wonderful! Our batteries have been recharged and tomorrow we are set to begin our at-home online school. This will be our 4th year?! and as each year does there will be a few changes. First of all Adrie (kindergarten) will be joining Brynn (2nd grade) for our online schooling. After many months of weighing the options, we have all felt good about sending Kate to public school for 4th grade. I will miss her ;( and I think she will miss all of her free time but it is what it is. She will start with the rest of the district in 3 1/2 more weeks. Last of all there's Cannon-- (2 1/2yrs old). What will we do with him???

As a homeschooler with 4 years behind me I should have a "groove" but I think each year you take something and you give something and try to come up with a plan that will work for your family for that year. Over these past few years I have made many wonderful friendships with other teacher/mom's. Their influence combined with many good books, (see side bar) articles and the support of our wonderful Washington Online teachers have helped me to form what I call this year's Family CONSTITUTION:

Our family will develop a love of learning through reading, discussions, projects, and activities. We will help each other in pursuing passions and developing talents. Great literature, especially the scriptures, will be the backbone to learning and helping us to emulate Godly characteristics and virtues. In addition we will study Art, Music, Math, Science, History, and Foreign Language. We will learn life skills of cooking and homemaking. We will seek out opportunites to help and serve those around us.

Okay, so I KNOW, that everyday is not going to go chocolatey smooth but we are the nuts and bolts of it and where possible I've put in parenthesis or italicized credits where they are due.

things happening MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY:
morning scripture reading.
Each week starting Monday we will work on memorizing one scripture (L. Tom Perry May 2010 Conference Address, Majesty of Books by Sterling Sill) from our reading. Throughout the week this is what we'll use to copy and practice handwriting. Fridays we will pass it off and maybe there should be a reward after so many "stars" are earned.

Math (k12 online program) will also be done each day in the mornings.

Literature from a host of good resources (k12 selections, biographies, myths, fables, folk-tales, poetry) Honey for a Child's Heart has wonderful suggestions for different age groups.
After each selection the girls will be able to give a narration. (A Charlotte Mason Companion)
and each week will choose a project from a selection of their choice such as drawing a picture, writing a poem, making up a dance, sculpture, etc. (Thomas Jefferson Education)

The afternoons will be available for chores and music practice. Brynn has been taking violin for the last year. (Shinichi Suzuki's Nurtured by Love)

Afternoons will also be for leisure reading, finishing projects if needed, and most importantly DOWN-TIME and FREE PLAY.
Something I would like to try that I learned from reading an article this summer about Utah's Dual Immersion Schools-- They speak English the first half of the day and Spanish the 2nd half. I'm assuming that it is 100% Spanish with no cheating by the teachers?? hard. so I will try my best to do that. Even if we start out with just 10 min. of Spanish a day and work our way up??? Anyway awesome to hear about the success of those schools and I personally feel that knowing a 2nd language is helpful for so many reasons and the younger you are the easier it is.

WEDNESDAYS will be Nature Days or "Wild Days" like the book implies. (Wild Days, A Charlotte Mason Companion) Rain, shine, or snow will be OUTSIDE, either in the backyard weedlot or up in the canyons. With our field guides and sketchbooks in hand we will explore the beauties and enjoy the freeing spirit of being in nature. Beforehand we will read a science selection (k12) about habitats, animals, etc.

Also in the past we've tried to do some service like babysit, take a treat to someone or have them over for dinner. That can make for a busy Wednesday so we might have to see how it goes and switch to Thursdays. I think it would be great to focus on a virtue (Children'sBook of Virtues), read stories about it and challenge the kids to help someone that week. Each week, maybe for family night or at dinner they would come prepared to report on their experience. (Elder Bednar May 2010 General Conference Talk)

FRIDAYS, like last few years, will be Art Days using our k12 curriculum. We will incorporate music into this by introducing a different composer (Mozart, Bach, etc.) and listening to his works for a month. It works out great to let them be inspired by putting the music as background while they work on their art projects. (A Charlotte Mason Companion)

This is also our cleaning day--scrubbing the toilets and sweeping the floors are all part of a good education too right?

Every other TUESDAY afternoon we will participate in clubs with other homeschool families. Brynn and Adrie will be in the younger girls group which I will be in charge of. This will be our 2nd year and what a blessing these friends have been for all of us! We always have fun learning in groups! Each semester the girls study one of the historical American Girls. We use her story along with crafts, songs, food, and fun activities to learn about that era of American History. This year we'll be studying the Colonial Era of Felicity.

With this same group we have planned some holiday parties throughout the year for some extra fun and socializing.

Sometimes I like to break it up a little throughout the year by ditching the routine and focusing just on one subject, like History, for example. Last year we did a week in "Rome" etc. or one week we did a complete housecleaning. Not as fun but it is good to recharge the batteries once in a while. In Sept. we'll be going to the beach for a week. Yay!!!!

I would also like to teach the girls some basic cooking skills so they can be a little more self-reliant and take turns preparing lunches and snacks. We'll take of that, well--during lunch-time!

A Thomas Jefferson Education teaches that children learn best when they pursue their passions and interests and base their learning around that. I think that is a wonderful philosphy and so I asked Brynn and Adrie what they wanted to learn about. Here are their responses:

Brynn (age 7)
different kinds of:
  • birds
  • plants
Adrie (5)
  • nature (specifically dolphins, penguins and elephants)
  • mushrooms
So funny to find out what interests them?! I'm sure those subjects will work out wonderfully for our Wednesday curriculum.

That's a lot. Should I be overwhelmed? Not yet. I'm excited and the girls seem ready to dig in as well. I've heard any education system is like Swiss Cheese. There will be some holes. But, we'll do our best to fill them along the way.

I'm so glad our girls have each other and a great neighborhood of friends to play with. And I'm so grateful for the support of a good husband and family as well as like-minded friends in the local and online community! Here's my toast to a good school year!


Tom said...

It's great you are having fun with your kids, I'm sure you have a balanced curriculum, and with a customized textbooks you will improve your homeschooling.

Megz said...

Sounds like a great plan. Wish I could send my kids to your house....