I have been in the throes of planning for our upcoming school year.  A lot of planning goes into each year trying to decide what did and didn’t work during the year, what opportunities there are for us, and what opportunities we need to create for ourselves because they are not being continued next year.  I have to look at curriculum choices and consider if we want or need to change.  I have to listen to the kids and what they are interested in right now and make some presumptions about what they will be interested in over the course of the upcoming year.  And I have to consider the budget we want to put into homeschooling.

There are quite a few changes I hope to make for our 2016/2017 school year.

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For one, I really want to make sure that we do schoolwork more days than we drift by.  I think this is going to mean creating a schedule that we can reasonably stick to and adding curriculum choices that fit within that schedule.  Second, my goal is to do more with The Littles, especially My Little Man.  Not only do I want to be reading to him more, but I am looking at doing actual programs for Reading and Math.  Lastly, I really want to get more involved locally so we are not travelling so much.  We have a local homeschool group that I can certainly work with.  I may have to be much more proactive though.

So here it is.  My curriculum and plan round up.  I do not anticipate making many changes, if any to the overall plan.

First up is a Morning Basket.  If you have not heard of the Morning Basket, this is a basket that contains a variety of items to start our day, much like “circle time” at schools.  I like the idea of the Morning Basket because it gives us a set something to do each morning.  We have something else to do besides wake up and get on our devices.  If done right, it should only take an hour of our day.  Plus, it’s something we can do together as a family.  We can do it as we are fixing and eating breakfast or we can do it in the car on the mornings we have to travel and are rushing out the door first thing.  The big bonus is that if it’s all we do for the day we will actually have accomplished a lot of schoolwork.

Our Morning Basket will contain:

A Child’s Introduction to Art.  Taking from the Charlotte Mason style of education, I’m turning towards a bit more of a classical education.  This book will allow us the opportunity to study some great art and the artists behind that art.  I have a passion for art and I want the kids to have exposure and hopefully gain a passion as well.


The Mike Venezia ” Getting to Know” books, like the one pictured here on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, are amazing.  He has a whole series on composers everything from Bach and Beethoven to the Beatles.  I mean, come on!  How cool is that?!  I think music is probably one of the most important things in our lives.  I can’t wait for the kids to experience music greater than Taylor Swift.

 

eBoo French Flashcards.  The Princess has wanted to learn French for so long and it’s about time we got serious about it.  The Flash cards will just be a quick review each day to keep us talking… in French of course.  I picked the Eboo flashcards because they are cute.  I suppose any would do, really.  And probably we will need to fit in some Duolingo time here too.  Maybe alternate flashcards and Duolingo.


Sonlight World History G.  We have done Sonlight reading lists for a couple of years now, and I was able to pick up the teacher’s manual for World History G from a used curriculum sale.  The list I have varies slightly from the current list on the Sonlight site, but it’s close enough.  I don’t do the Bible aspect of Sonlight, but the readers and read-aloud books are excellent reading suggestions.

  
It’s about time we dipped our toes into some Shakespeare so we are going to dive right in.  I hope to pick up two books for this:  The Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare by Usborne and Shakespeare Stories for Kids by E. Nesbitt.  I like each of these books for their appeal to the younger audience and they each have different plays (some overlapping) so they will each be beneficial.

I think daily poetry is a pretty cool concept.  I have this book my sister gave me that is one poem every day for 365 days.  I love to read it and meditate on what it means.  I like the idea of the kids hearing poetry and also doing some memory work to remember some poems.  I originally had planned to do some Shel Silverstein and Jack Petrelutsky but in keeping with my “classical education” theme I decided to try a collection of classic poems, like Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline Kennedy.

One thing I think the kids are missing is knowing a lot of the traditional folk songs I remember from when I was a little kid.  I have decided to pick up this CD A Child’s Celebration of Folk Music to get us started in our folk music journey.  I will also add in the several Kindermusik CD’s I have.

I am also considering picking up La Voix en Rose which is a French folk song CD for fun reinforcing our French lessons.

Since we will be doing quite a bit of history and quite frankly, mapping skills are important I would like to do some mapping in our morning basket.  I plan to give the kids a map to study on Monday, then each day we will add cities, geographical elements like rivers, mountains, etc.  By Friday I hope they can have a completed map.

I know this sounds like a lot.  Believe me, I know.  But it’s really not as much as it looks.  And several things will be alternated day-to-day like the artist and composer study.  Plus, like I said, if we can get through the Morning Basket, but do nothing else for the day, I think I will feel like we had a successful homeschool day.

Beyond the Morning Basket, we will have our regularly scheduled curriculum.  I intend for all of the kids to do Language Arts/Reading and Math every day.  These are the core subjects and I want to make sure, if nothing else, that they have a strong foundation in reading, writing, and math.

  

We will continue with Abeka Language Arts Grade 5 for The Princess.  I will do all but the penmanship component as I feel her penmanship is fine as is.  I am currently considering Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for The Littles reading program since I have heard some great reviews and I have a friend who may loan me her copy.  Sometimes, when it comes to curriculum, the best kind is the free kind.  I will probably also incorporate some sight words and phonics apps for fun.

  

The Princess will also continue Abeka Math Grade 4.  I believe that this curriculum has worked for us so far and unless her annual testing results show otherwise, we will continue.  The Princess has a math flashcards app on her Kindle just for reinforcing her basic math.  I am still deciding on The Littles Math program, but am leaning toward Right Start Math.  I have had a few recommendations for it, however I am concerned about the expense.

For History, I am excited about doing Story of the World with all of the kids this year.  I have been told that this program is more than suitable for children of all ages as a read aloud and has activities we can all do with each lesson.  If I get really organized I may try to make our Sonlight readings in the Morning Basket reinforce our SOW history.  The positive reviews of this program have been overwhelming so I am really looking forward to using it.

I picked up a free copy of K12 Art 3 and I really like the way it is laid out and the lessons.  When I asked The Princess what she was missing in school the only answer was a resounding ART!  Why I don’t do more of it, I don’t know.  I love doing it.  So, this year we are going to work harder to make it a part of our weekly schedule.  I like the idea of doing Art on Mondays because it’s a fun and easy activity to do to start our week off.

I am assuming we will finish our life science curriculum this year and be able to move on next year, so if my assumption is correct we will do R.E.A.L Science Odyssey Chemistry.  After this we will have done all of the R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey curriculum and I will have to start considering other options.  I like that The Littles can do the program too so it’s another thing we can all do together.  I hope to get another membership to the Museum of Life and Science so we can continue our frequent trips there as well.  I like to do science on Wednesdays because, oddly enough, the museum is less likely to have school groups on Wednesdays AND it’s a good middle of the week subject.

I am still in the works on a French program.  I worry about doing an online program working through Skype, but the teacher we had this school year is out of our budget unless I can get some families interested in splitting the cost.  So far, no takers.  I can probably get the kids through the basics of French on my own, but I really want them to become fluent if it’s at all possible and that’s not going to happen with me being what they hear.  I am always reminded of Tina from my French class in high school saying “Vouloir c’est pouvoir” with the most heavy of southern accents.  I hope the kids can have a more authentic experience.

Beyond curriculum, our social lives will be as busy as ever I am sure.  I am reminded of that Eddie Murphy song, Party All the Time:

(Please excuse me… my age is showing…)

We will continue to participate in various activities and classes as the mood and availability strikes within the 3 homeschool groups we belong.  The classes and field trips that we have done this year have all been so incredible and I hope to do that just as much next year.

This year we have been doing Kinder Co-op with a wonderful group of families, but the organizing moms are moving up next year.  The Littles need this group activity, and I like the idea of not driving an hour to participate like we have been doing this year, so I have reached out to the homeschool group closest to us and received some pretty positive feedback.  I think I will try to organize a Kinder Co-op and while I’m at it,  a co-op for 4th-5th grades for The Princess.

Those wonderful organizing moms from our current Kinder Co-op are considering a Magic School Bus science group.  If they get that going we will definitely participate in it even though it will be an hour away.  If I plan our schedule right, this will be our only real travel day and we will get all of our travelling condensed.  I like that because it means less time wasted in the car.

We were spoiled by the library near the farmhouse because they had some awesome programs, but since it’s an hour away and my goal is to do things closer to home, I suppose I will be trying to find  similar activities.  I have suggested a monthly book club for The Princess. which I think will take off.    I would like to find a good weekly storytime experience, but so far I haven’t found anything close by that I like.

The Princess and my Little Man both want to do some kind of sport activity and I will try to do that.  Of course, they both want to do different things so I will have to work it out with The Husband so we can get them all over town.  I suppose first we need to narrow down what they will be doing.  I’d like to see The Princess in some kind of dance but thus far she hasn’t been real keen on it.  Little Man would do well at soccer so hopefully that can happen now that he is of the right age.  Or we can just continue him in T-Ball.

I’m still hoping to get The Princess involved in the Duke TIP program, but that may be the next year.  I’m not sure how the testing and involvement work with that program; like if we test in late fall if that means we don’t start until August 2017.

The homeschool group closest to home has a fall and spring co-op that is a 3 hour class opportunity.  We are participating this spring and will continue next year in both seasons.  One of the classes this spring that the Little Man has been doing and absolutely loves is “Fun with Legos.”  The Mom that teaches this class has mentioned doing a regular get-together at her house so we will definitely try to make that work in our schedule so he can build and explore.

I really think this is all.  It sounds like a lot and I guess it is.  I’m not sure who decided that what we were doing is homeschooling, but clearly whoever it was does not know what we do.  I love that homeschooling allows us so many opportunities to learn and explore in so many different ways with so many different people.  Our 2016/2017 year will be a busy one, but full of fun.  So… let’s get started!