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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to School



In my youth we would say Back to the grind. Hmm. Doesn't seem fitting for such an eventful, fun year of exploration and learning. Well I am almost prepared for school this term.
I am trying a few things differently. Of course with each year it's good to shake up your methods. Let go of things that didn't work, tweak some others that could have worked better and so on. So this year I have created a four day school week schedule. The fifth day is either a free day if the kids perform well in school the rest of the week. If they did not we will use the day to have fun school by playing learning games. I debated a lot should we 'reward' for not performing well on the fifth day with funschool or more of the same book work. I came to the conclusion that funschool was better because I don't want my kids to feel the disappointment that we always felt in PS when activities were yanked due to some kids acting up. No gym today kids, no art, no music etc.. I used to laugh when I got A's in those subjects because we rarely ever had them. I am glad I got A's for never doing much of anything but I don't want my kids to miss out on those subjects. In any event the four day schedule was then divided into subjects and only math and english will be repeated daily throughout the week. The other areas of study will alternate ever other day. And they include, history, geography, science, art, gym, and computers. Sometimes I know this schedule will fail me and sometimes I know it will be too ambitious but I hope by using it as a guideline it will help me to stay more focused on the end goals.
I am for the first time using some curriculums. So this is new and kind of fun and yet scary. What if they don't like the curriculums. What if I don't like them. Having read other homeschool moms postings I know I should cast the what ifs out the window and the curriculum should it really not fit. That's the beauty of homeschool. We can change the flow when needed. We don't have to stick it out to the end.
So what curriculums you are likely wondering. Well for DS Teaching Textbooks level 5 math. It looks awesome. I finally loaded it and love that it grades itself and he can check his own work. One family member asked 'do you trust your eight year old to check his own work? Really???? I wouldn't trust my kid'  Well I do. I trust him to check his work because he is smart. He has a brain and understands that if he cheats he learns nothing. I also know my son inside and out. I know he doesn't like work being done for him, it's boring. I know he has the integrity to do the course properly.
That being said I have also added to the curriculum lineup Learning A-Z's levelled reading and comprehension. I have already conducted the fluency tests on DS to know where he is at level wise and am ready to roll for next week. DD is also prepared to begin there. I love that curriculum because it uses informational text and current events a lot to remain informative as well.
Math for DD will be a continued ecclectic method of learning.
Both kids will be doing Donna Wards, Courage and Conquests for Canadian History. As well I am adding in some other crafts, art, learning to accompany it. And we will be studying Canadian geography this year as well province by province.
I am going to start them both with the BBC's dance mat typing and powertyping online to learn keyboarding skills. After they have sufficient knowledge of basic keyboarding we will learn a wordprocessing program called Abiword. It is essentially a freeware version of microsoft works. I hope that they will learn to use that for short story writing purposes.
Science, science, science, is going to be my main challenge this year. I am beginning the kids with robotics and have no idea where we are going from there. But as with all learning I am flexible. I will find something I am sure. DD isn't interested in robotics like DS so I am thinking I will come up with a second unit to do afterwards that is interesting to her. Before you know time passes and the year is done.
Art will consist to begin with of base color theory and crafts that revolve around the other lessons.
Gym will be varied activities pulled from a base list depending on weather and moods. No point in making a snuffly kid run around the block.
We are also going to be using the French Essentials computer based curriculum for french.
So it looks like it will be a long, wonderful year in our homeschool. I am super excited and hope that will transfer to the kids.



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