Monday, September 7, 2015

School Has Started: Resources and Changes in our Homeschool

I can relate to the top strip, Lukka can relate to the bottom

Our home has just finished week two of the 2015-2016 school year, and we're a bit early this year because of a big trip we'll take to Nebraska at the end of the month. Easing into school after a three-month full stop summer wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be, ease being the key word. Things will be very different for our schooling this year, because the kids will both participate in what's called Community Connections, a 'school once a week' with other homeschool kids, where they will fulfill PE, art, science, and history/geography requirements in a 6 hour day, over the course of 30 weeks. 
That means I only have to school my kids in the following subjects this year: Language Arts, Math, Health/Career, Bible, and French (optional). I have felt a huge amount of relief in this change.

CC will enable my kids to meet other homeschoolers their age (they are divided into grade levels, 2 grades in each class) and will work on projects and have consistent friendships throughout the school year, and my hope is that some of Lukka and Ani's favorite subjects (Science and Art, respectively) will be taken to another level by a teacher who is passionate and prepared to do the knitty-gritty science projects, labs, etc. that I can do, but I'd like a break from doing. When we lived in Washington, Home Connections was an alternative education experience similar that we all loved, though they were supplemental classes, not covering their entire subject outcomes through the year. My hope is that CC will look the same to the kids, with my knowledge knowing that I do not have to plan for those 4 classes this year round for either of them. 

Without much time away from my kids over the last three years, my personal time is limited. Without  our daily quiet time, I'd be a shriveled and dried up excuse of a mom. Quiet time enables me to give my head a shake, get those 'BBs in the boxcar' to stop rattling for a bit, catch my breath, give my kids  a chance to entertain themselves, and pursue things I enjoy, but somehow it just hasn't felt like enough, lately. If I have some high introvert readers, they might understand my predicament. I have quite a bit of free time (because I schedule it into my days) but for the last 6-12 months, it really hasn't felt like enough. I also have some responsibilities that I just really need a whole day of the week to focus on, and that has been a luxury of the past. CC will enable me to drop off my kids for 6 hours once a week, so I can focus intensely on some of those things, and I am so grateful for it. 

I don't intend to do it every year (I guess we'll see how it goes this year, first!), because I really enjoy seeing Lukka explode with a "WOW, Mom!" after an experiment and love seeing Ani 'in flow' with her art supplies, for hours at a time. I love seeing my kids learn firsthand, and that's what homeschooling is about. This option is, for this year, necessary and a chance for me to breathe. Thankfully, Lukka is coming around to the idea (he so misses Home Connections and the friends he made there), and Ani is estatic to have something similar. 

As for those other school subjects that I'm in charge of? Well, I already have a broad-level scope of what resources I want to use, and what the kids will learn, aside from Health/Career, which I just have to follow the school's learning outcomes and supplement with books and such. Here are some of the resources we're using, and what the kids will be learning this year:

*Singapore Math - still a favorite resource and Ani will be starting grade level 2 (she's in 1st grade) near Halloween. Both of my kids went really fast the first year of this math program, and slow down around grade 2. I'm seeing the same pattern with her. Lukka is working on level 2 (he's in 3rd grade), which is the expectation for the advanced math program. 

*Language Arts- The goal for Ani is to be reading leveled readers by the end of May, and she's well on her way. Starfall(.com) and the online program Reading Eggs has helped her tremendously with phonics and reading practice, along with daily Explode the Code (1 1/2 for Ani, 4 for Lukka) pages. 
I'll be spending more time writing with Lukka this year, and working through Ruth Heller's fantastic "World of Language" picture book series (they help with understanding concepts like verbs, nouns, etc.). Both kids will also be practicing their print writing this year with mama-made paragraphs (Calvin and Hobbes jokes for Lukka, storylines for Ani) with the handwriting worksheets you can make yourself online and print off for free. Oh yeah, and reading excellent books together!

*Bible - The goal for this year is to go through the Egermeier's children's bible (don't let the full name confuse you, this bible has pictures, but it is a BIG and in-depth children's bible with the next step up being an actual bible), include the kids' participation in our church's Sunday School classes, and read/talk about the daily Adventures in Odyssey devotional I have, also. I also got a great resource, the Grace and Truth Memory Book (1)  last year from a friend and I love how I now have a use for it. The kids will be memorizing some scripture verses this year. Everything else is so intregrated into our family life it's just modeling, talking, answering questions, and participating in things like church, community group, and the like. 

*Health/Career - This subject we really just do as we go. I don't have an overarching plan for this subject aside from getting the requirements done, which I can do with books from the library. For example, talking about health, safety, emergency drills, body changes, etc. I've got a handout from the school on what each child needs to learn or complete in the year and I'll just be glancing at it once in awhile and planning accordingly. So much of this subject falls into "family home life" for me it's hard to think about it as a school subject!

*French (optional) - French is not required until 5th grade here (I think), but because I was a couple credits away from having a French minor in college (long story), I've always read books in French to the kids, had them listen to French music, and the like to be familiar with the language in ways that are easy to absorb. It's easier for kids to learn another language, and so even though it has never been a requirement, I've always tacked it onto the work we do at home. This year we'll still be using quite a few of the same resources, but because we're in Canada now, where French is the second official language, there are French children's books, music, and dvds at every library, so it's easy to find new resources to use and keep up with. I find workbook work tedious, but I had good luck with Duolingo for both kids, and will also have them play a few French language games to help with practice...and of course lots of Youtube French videos and cartoons! They will pipe up on their own often enough French words, and so I know it's getting stored in there somehow!

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