Friday, May 18, 2012

Homeschool Plans 2012-13

I cannot believe that we are finishing up our 5th year of homeschooling. The look of our school has fluctuated over the past 5 years. But, the more things change, the more they stay the same, right?

As a result of realizing that our academics were more than enough for them to get by in the public school system (Xavier was skipped a grade when he went back to school, and the academics were still way too easy for him, so when I withdrew him, I dropped him back down to his age grade, and continued teaching him at his level), I have decided to continue with the easy flow of a mix of mama led and child led homeschooling. So, our plans for the coming year are fluid. We will be following a basic plan, with room for rabbit trails, especially for the younger two. And, with the idea in mind that when you're interested in something, you learn it better, when my younger two expressed an interest in spending a year learning about American government, I scrapped all plans to study ancient history next year.

Dominic will be in 4th grade. Xavier will be in 6th grade. Gabriel will be a Sophomore in high school!!!!!

History- Usually the basis for almost everything else we do in this homeschooling venture, but not this year:
American Government- since this is a recent change, I'm not sure yet what materials we'll be using, but I know what the basic plan is.

Everyone:
  • read through some of the founding documents
  • follow the source of those documents and ideas- learn about the governments those documents are based on
  • research elections
  • compare governments from around the world
  • read 2 biographies 
  • write about what he's learning
  • do 1 research project
  • read at least 4 historical fiction books concerning this subject
Xavier:
  • 1 essay
  • 1 report
Gabriel:- at least one of the following Teaching Company courses- we have been extremely pleased with all the Teaching Company courses we've used
  • Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution
  • Civil Liberties and the Bill of Rights
  • Tocqueville and the American Experiment
Also, the following will be added to Gabriel's coursework:
  • 2 essays
  • 6 reports on topic/person of his choice
Language Arts:
I just in this moment changed my mind about what I am going to do for literature. I had planned something special, based on the fact that we were going to be studying Ancient history, and changed the literature plan to coincide with our history plan of American Government, but I've decided to change it back. 

Literature

Yes, I know this is probably a bit much for a 4th grader. He loves Lord of the Rings, though. Obviously, we'll make accommodations for him. Most of what he'll be involved in is re-reading Lord of the Rings.

Xavier and Gabriel will be taking this as part of a co-op class I will be teaching.

Grammar and Spelling


Dominic:
Xavier:


  • Michael Clay Thompson finishing level 2, moving into level 3
  • Spelling Power- this will be his second year using Spelling Power, and it is a good fit for him
Gabriel: At this point, the main thing Gabriel needs to focus on where grammar and spelling is concerned is vocabulary. He's currently working his way through Caesar's English by Michael Clay Thompson, and working through all the Wordly Wise books. We'll continue on this progression.


Science:

Engineering- I haven't really decided what I'm going to do for this. Engineering was Gabriel's request, and I think the younger boys would enjoy it, too, so we're going to be exploring it in some way. 

One option I'm exploring is Try Engineering. If you have any ideas regarding Engineering for little people, please let me know.

Gabriel specifically wants to study architectural engineering. We'll probably use the Teaching Company's Understanding the World's Greatest Structures: Science and Innovation from Antiquity to Modernity.

I think some hands on bridge building is in order, too, so we'll probably study bridge design and enter the University of Louisville's bridge building contest in the spring. They have one every year at the Speed School.

Gabriel will also be required to submit the following things:

  • 2 essays
  • 2 reports
  • Read 2 biographies and write reports for both

Math:
Dominic will be continuing with Singapore Math, while simultaneously continuing with Art of Problem Solving's new Beast Academy. 

It is for 3rd graders, but I'm not concerned. It's mostly stuff he has learned before presented in a different way, and he absolutely loves it. I'm just hoping their publishing rate keeps up with his consumption rate. I doubt it, though.

Xavier will be continuing his trek through the Art of Problem Solving curriculum. We have been beyond pleased with this curriculum. We're so happy with it, in fact, that we're switching Gabriel to it. It means some repetition of Algebra for him, but we'll just skim the parts he already knows. Their Algebra is very advanced, so I don't have a problem with him working through their Introduction to Algebra, and continuing on with Counting and Probability, and Number Theory.

One of the things Gabriel has commented on as he has started working through their Pre-Algebra book is that he has never found so many explanations in a book. This works very well for a verbal kid.

Music:
Dominic:
We're looking for a voice teacher, and we want him to be in a choir this year. There's a local school that has a homeschool choir, but the class is at the same time as one of his tae kwon do classes. I think we may have to drop the tkd class to accommodate choir.

Xavier will continue studying percussion.
Gabriel will take up guitar.

Art:
The arts will be Dominic's main focus this year. Sure, he'll learn everything else, but Dominic's one true love is all things related to the arts. He loves drama, music, painting, crafting, and everything else involved in the arts. I want him to be able to follow that love. After all, we do best at what we love. 

Throughout the year, we'll study American History through art. We'll study various artists. We'll go to plays, ballets, and concerts. We'll go to museums and art galleries. We'll listen to music and make music. I'll let him totally immerse himself in the arts whenever possible.

Xavier and Gabriel will join us on some of our projects, but the arts are not their main focus. They much prefer other subjects, so we'll allow that preference to hold sway.



We're not necessarily your school-at-home type. We're also not really unschoolers. We change and flow as needed. For the most part, that works for us. When I enrolled the two younger children in school last fall, I was a little concerned that their academics would be lagging. After all, there are a lot of things we just haven't covered. The main area of concern that I have for my children as far as academics is concerned is writing. I don't require a lot of writing from my children when they are young. When Xavier and Dominic started school, I was concerned that they would fail miserably at writing. They did not. When we withdrew Xavier from school, he had an 86% in Language Arts. That was without any accommodations for his learning disabilities. Dominic had some struggles with the sort of writing they were asking him to do. I firmly believe that was because he had three teachers within the first month of school. They all wanted different things from him. The first teacher was a veteran teacher who was getting ready to retire, and was subbing until a teacher could be hired. She was enthusiastic and encouraging about his writing. The third teacher, who was to become his permanent teacher, was a brand new teacher, and did not explain well what she wanted him to do. After much communication between myself and Dominic's teacher, I finally figured out what she wanted. Of course, by that time, Dominic had so much anxiety tied up in the writing process that writing was a chore that he hated and sometimes has panic attacks over. I'm hoping that will change with time.

Since I'm reassured by their abilities in a school setting, we'll continue on the path we've chosen. Gabriel has proven to me that writing skills can improve exponentially with little instruction over a short period of time, just by virtue of writing a lot. Just this week, he's written 4 reports. They've gone from decent to excellent in that short time. I'm very excited about next year. I do enjoy teaching these munchkins.

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