Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Books - School 2014-15

Every year by mid-February, I hit a wall.  We're down to the last 12-14 weeks of school, the weather has been cold and usually miserable for several weeks (we Southerners have weak constitutions when it comes to cold), and here at my house, we are just done.

Skip forward about six weeks and I'm in full blown homeschool-nerd-mom mode.  I'm researching and flipping through pretty books, rolling my eyes at anything that didn't work for us, and plotting out the next school year in my head.

It's a sickness that any homeschool mama can identify with.

I love me a homeschool convention with a good set of vendors.  To finally get my hands on all those books and flip through them makes my nerdy little heart flutter.

Thankfully, my kids are just as excited about the books when we get home and heft them out onto the table for them to look at.

We always have some that don't change, but we often have some that do.  This year was not exception.

This year, there are lots of new faces in our line up.  The 'biggest' one is Apologia.  We are participating in our very first co-op this year, and I am beside myself to have somebody who LOVES teaching science working with my kids!  

We also introduce a new language arts curriculum to our brood this year.  I was so very excited about it,but by the time we'd finished the first 50 pages or so, I was done.  The kids were done.  I collected their workbooks, my teacher's guides, and the little readers that came with them, stacked it all nicely in a box, and ousted it.

I realize my children need to learn the mechanics of the English language, but we don't have to be so stifling bored while we do it!  We called it 'English' when I was in school and I loved English class above all others... except music.  I am on the hunt for something that my kids and I look forward to, not dread!  I'm open for suggestions?

We stuck with Houghton Mifflin for spelling.  The kids really love the varied activities and the colorful pages, and I love that it took next to no prep time.  We test on Monday and start the new lesson on Wednesday.  It's not a conventional rhythm, but it works well for our weekly schedule.

Because my kids are avid readers, I allow them the option of  taking a verbal test on any new lesson the day they first look at it.  We have found that some lessons are just so much easier than others that it's really not the best use of our time to do all the work that goes with those lessons.  If they miss one or two words, we just add those words to the next lesson, skip the one we just verbally tested on, and start the next lesson that week.  This causes us to finish our spelling books earlier in the year than we would if we did every lesson, but it allows us to spend our time learning new stuff rather than repeat things unnecessarily.

Other tried and true curricula we love are A Reason for Handwriting, Explode the Code, Teaching Textbooks (Thomas and Sarah Grace), Math-U-See (Elizabeth and Anna), and The Mystery of History.

Now for my favorite part: Convocation.  In the past, we called this time of day 'Morning Meeting', but in keeping with their growing vocabularies, we've changed.  We change things up regularly, but we address calendar skills (old hat for the big kids, good for the younger two), memory work, a devotional time, prayer, singing, learning to play recorders together, and me reading them a book (Little House on the Prairie, Rascal, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Sarah Plain and Tall are just a few of the titles on our list for the year).  Some of these things we do daily, others we do on a rotational schedule, but the kids and I all have a lot of fun during this time.

On Tuesdays, we have co-op.  Talk about something we are all loving!  Besides science, the kids get to take a US Geography class, a writing class that I get to teach, and they get exposure to several different interests from folks who love sharing their skills with the kids.  On tap for this year are karate, art, music, sign language, outdoor skills (identifying plants, etc), and flags (think color guard in a marching band).  

So that about wraps up our school endeavors for this year.  Thomas, Sarah Grace, Elizabeth, and Anna are all taking ballet this year, too.  It's a fun change of pace each week and they are already excited for recital (in May!). 

How's your year looking?

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