I thought hard about our homeschool plan for this year, and explored many options. I ended up not far from where I had begun though.
I felt in some ways that I was starting over this year, although it's my sixth year homeschooling. I think I felt that way because with the third entering first grade it feels like my first year juggling three students, and with my oldest in fifth grade I feel like I need to be sure that I'm giving him the education I want him to have. Also, as I outlined in my last post, I our family's values to be well represented in our homeschool.
My middle son, who is eight, is perhaps the one I think about most, and the one I looked at the most options for. He enjoys language and books, but his own language arts skills (reading and writing) are at nearly the same level as his six-year old brother's. He is also the one who hates school work the most, and who most drives me to consider quitting homeschooling. However, he would likely hate school even more, and that's not what I want for him. For him I looked at mainly two curricula: Moving Beyond the Page and Global Village. My goal was to find meaningful books that he would enjoy. I did purchase the Global Village curriculum guide for 3rd grade, and I'll review that in a separate post.
I spent a lot of time wondering how I could combine kids so that I don't go crazy trying to direct the three of them in their different work. As of last year the oldest still liked me to read to him, and I thought I would still be doing that this year. As it turns out, he is happy enough reading selections like George Washington's World, Treasure Island, and a biography of Isaac Newton by himself this year. In the end they will all have their own work, and we will try to do many subjects together.
I did come up with a long term plan for history so that in two years all three boys will be studying the ancients and proceeding through a six year history cycle together.
Some of what I had to do was (clearly) relax a bit. In order to do that I've changed my record keeping a bit. In previous years I've used spreadsheet versions of the Ambleside Online schedules. However, when I'm always behind, I'm always stressed! This year I'm trying to be a little looser without doing less. I'm open to two or three kids listening to what I'm reading, and I'll record it that way so I have plenty to report at the end of the year. I have a monthly grid for each kid (a row is a week) with all the main subjects across the top so that I make sure we cover a variety of subjects each week. I'll use it for both planning and recording. In short, I'm trying to keep track of what we accomplish, not what we fail to get to. I think that's very CM, since CM tests ask you to explain what you know rather than trying to trip you up and discover what you don't know.
Each boy does have his own rough plan, but we'll do more together than we have before. I'll use the Global Village book choices, and ones like them to expand our world view and try to get a glimpse of cultures and lives around the world. Otherwise, I continue to use AO book choices as our spines, and as a guide to topics and numbers of books when I decide to substitute. I want to be more open to following rabbit trails and doing rough units. For instance, right now we have an ocean theme going, middle ages (for the youngest), and monarch butterflies (from one of the Global Village selections).
So a little run down of our plan:
History: Constitution through the 19th Century, using Foster "World" books and historical fiction
Language Arts: Typing Tutor, Dictation Day by Day, written narration, Easy Grammar 5. We're saving Write with the Best for next year -- getting him ready to take advantage of that is a priority this year.
Math: MEP 5 (actually, first we're finishing up the data and probability sections in 4B)
Science: Biographies of scientists, library books and videos on various topics
Literature: some AO5 selections, and others we both agree on. He reads a lot and I want to use this year to work on writing and let literature take a back seat. (Currently reading Treasure Island)
Ideally he will also learn recorder
Social Studies:Global Village around the world book choices
History: Age of Explorers -- Marco Polo and ocean explorers
Science: library books and DVDs, at least one nature story
Literature: good books we select together (currently A Door in the Wall, planning on Wind in the Willows)
Reading: easy readers on level, Phonics Pathways
Writing: Getty-Dubay workbook and some simple dictation
Ambleside 1 secular selections, fable-like books (such as those by Janell Cannon) and whatever he listens to when I read to his brothers. He is a great unschooler and has a great attitude, and I don't want to mess to much with that.
Art appreciation (currently Monet)
Music appreciation (currently Beethoven)
Nature Study (with help from Katie's Homeschool Cottage)
Bible (using Penny Gardner's suggested readings)
Shakespeare (using Leon Garfield)
Family Read Alouds (we recently finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)
Geography (I purchased Map Trek and hope to make good use of it)
I looked at a great many science curricula, because I'm afraid I may be weak on science. But in the end I didn't find anything I liked enough to spend money on (other than the Nature Study ebook). I rely heavily on David Atenborough videos, and I'll try to be better about finding science books at the library. I think the ToC of Nebel's Elementary Education (which I own) may be useful. In fact, I should add a list of science topics to my homeschool notebook right now!