Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I give up.

No, not on homeschooling.  We're in for the long haul.  I give up on scheduling.  Really.  I'm done.

I was looking at our planned schedule for starting kindergarten and the more I stared at it, the more I wondered... why?

Why wait until September? We've had newborns before.  During the day, the newborn stage is probably the easiest.  All they want to do is sleep and eat.  Having a toddler running around is much more difficult.

Why try to schedule set breaks?  This is our school.  We might want to take a random week off.  We might want to work on something the day after Christmas.  We might want to work for four months straight.

Why pace the lessons?  Isn't mastery a big part of homeschooling?  I can say we need to complete 3 lessons per week in math, but we're not moving ahead if understanding isn't there.  Conversely, if we breeze through those three lessons with no issues, should we just twiddle our thumbs until the next week?

So.  Once again.  New plan.

Our start date will be whenever we feel up to it after the baby arrives.

Our focus for kindergarten is going to be the basics and we'll work daily with a time limit instead of trying to get a planned amount done regardless of time.

Reading skills: 30 minutes per day, using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and  Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read First Grade

Writing skills: 10 minutes per day, using Zaner-Bloser Kindergarten

Mathematics: 30 minutes per day, using Saxon Math 1

70 minutes per day.  That leaves plenty of time for free reading, playing, and family time.  We'll do art as we like.  We'll keep listening to classical music throughout the day.  We'll explore science at will.

We may start "first grade" a lot sooner this way, and that's fine.  The Well Trained Mind recommends beginning spelling and grammar once you reach lesson 140 in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  When we get there, we'll add in Spelling Workout A for 10 minutes per day and First Language Lessons Level 1 for 20 minutes per day.

The other first grade subjects are science and history.  I finally figured out what we're going to do there, although the timing will be up to Henry's maturity and ability.

First, we're going to use Elemental Science.  It's a complete science curriculum created by a pair of homeschooling parents with a heavy science background.  It corresponds to the science cycle recommended in The Well-Trained Mind and looks great.  Here's the grammar stage biology description:
Biology for the Grammar Stage is a complete 36 week set of plans for biology. It is designed to be used with 1st and 2nd graders, but the plans include ideas to adjust the plans for use with your older students. The program lays out a 20 week study of animals using the Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals, a 10 week study of the human body using the DK First Human Body Encyclopedia and a 6 week study of plants using Plant Parts from the Life of Plants Series. The teacher’s guide includes a 2 day and 5 day schedule for reading assignments, vocabulary, experiments, narrations and ongoing projects. We have also created a student workbook to go along with the teacher’s guide. The workbook includes all the pages you need for the ongoing projects, narrations and experiments, plus over 100 pictures for you to use with those pages. With all these tools at your fingertips, you’re sure to have an enjoyable year learning about animals, the human body and plants.

Second, history.  Now, Story of the World sounds like a great program, but I had some serious reservations about how the Church would be presented during the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods.  Based on reviews, it didn't sound too great and I don't trust myself enough with Church history to pick up on and address any issues.  After a lot of researching, I found RC History's Connecting with History.  Yes, the "RC" stands for Roman Catholic.  Weight off my shoulders there!

It is "world History that is Catholic, classical, chronological, family-focused, and based on living books."  Once again, perfect.  It follows a four year cycle, just like Story of the World.  It's also non-consumable.  There are four volumes, one for each year, but they include everything for grammar, logic, and rhetoric.  Because all of the age levels are coordinated, I'll be able to easily incorporate the other kids into our history studies as they come of age.

The only question remaining is when to begin those subjects.  I'm just accepting that this is a question I cannot answer.  It's going to be up to Henry.  When he's ready, we'll start.  That's that.

We're homeschoolers, aren't we?

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