Friday, August 3, 2007

Homeschool Open House 2007

Welcome to my "display table" at the Homeschool Open House 2007!   Thank you, Tiany, for this marvellous idea.  To participate in the Open House, or to read the other participant's entries, visit Tiany to see how!


We are getting ready to start our tenth year of homeschooling this fall.  My four children are: Harrison (10th grade); Spencer (7th/8th grade); Landon (3rd grade); and Kennady (1st grade).  I usually describe us as being "eclectic" homeschoolers, which in my case is a nice way of saying that I am not very well-organized!  But I do use resources from a number of different publishers and have made up my own curriculum in some cases, so I guess maybe we would fit into the definition of eclectic. 


I haven't worked out our daily schedule for the next school year, but in general, this is what we did over the past year:

  • 8:00am - Bible reading

  • 8:30am - Classes start - work independently

  • 9:30am - younger three meet with me to study Science or History

  • 10:30am - Younger two work on Math and Reading, with my help, and the older two work independently 

  • Lunch Break

  • 1:00pm till 3:00pm - more independent work time or class time with me. 

That's VERY general... I am personally not good at keeping to a schedule, but I did find that I needed one to keep Landon focused.  We just amended that schedule to suit the day - for instance on Fridays we attend a gym class in the afternoon, so there are no afternoon classes.  During part of the year, the younger kids attend a co-op class on Thursday afternoons, so that's different.  And at least once a week, I have other commitments during the day that we have to work around.  But since the oldest two can do almost all their schoolwork on their own, it generally works out okay.  The biggest change to the schedule for the new school year will be that Harrison will be joining the rest of us for History/Social Studies at least some of the time.  I am still toying with the schedule to make that work.


I make up weekly assignment lists/log sheets for Harrison and Spencer, detailing when assignments are due, and we try to allow them to manage their own schoolwork time.  I require things like one math lesson each day, and one hour of language arts each day, and a minimum of three hours total spent on schoolwork each day.  I knew that if I didn't specify that the Math and Language should be done each day, that Harrison would try to spend all day Thursday doing all the math for the week or something like that.  Which I don't think would be wise.  So far, this has worked well for us, but I know that I will have to jack up the minimums for Harrison in tenth grade so that he will not be tempted to laziness and the attitude of "I've got plenty of time". 


Here's the resources we will be using this year:

  • Math - Saxon Algebra 1 for Harrison, Saxon 8/7 or Algebra 1/2 for Spencer (I'm kind of hoping for 1/2 but I will be giving him the placement test to make sure he's ready), Modern Curriculum Press for Landon and Kennady.  I've used MCP Math for k-6 and like it - it's simple to use and not expensive.  In Grade 6 or 7, we switch to Saxon.  This is the one subject where I'm really not open to change.  LOL

  • Language Arts - Bob Jones Writing & Grammar 10 for Harrison (also a book called Essay Architect), Alpha Omega Lifepacs for Spencer and Landon, Teach Your Children to Read Well for Kennady.  This will be our first year using Bob Jones... Harrison wants to go into journalism, and a homeschool acquaintance of mine that has her degree in that field recommended BJU.  We used the Lifepacs for Harrison and Spencer the last couple years, and I like them because they are all-inclusive and because the kids can work on their own with so much of it.  I used Teach Your Children to teach Landon to read with great success, and I absolutely love that program.  Kennady started the program last year in Kinder.

  • Science - Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology for Harrison, God's Design for for Heaven and Earth: Our Universe and Our Weather and Water for the other kids.  Harrison is taking a year and a half to complete Apologia Biology - he doesn't like it!  But I've already got some other Science resources that he thinks he will really enjoy for when he finishes Biology, so hopefully that will motivate him to slog through the more boring parts (which he thinks is the majority of it).  I used God's Design for Life with the younger kids last year and I do like that.  It's flexible enough for me to teach them together even with that big age/grade gap.  I haven't done any lesson planning for it yet, but I will use those two books as sort of a base and will skip some things and add things from other books to round out the whole year.  Some of the additional resources we plan to use are: Considering God's Creation (can't beat it for cut-and-paste projects that younger kids love); Exploring the World Around You and Exploring Planet Earth (both MasterBooks titles) - we've used some of these before, in particular the Chemistry and History of Medicine titles and the older boys really like them, in fact ASKED to use them.  I also have some books of weather experiments and the little Science & the Bible series books by Donald B. DeYoung which are very good.

  • History/Social Studies - I am doing something different (for me) this year and using a "real" curriculum for History instead of making up my own.  This is because the structure of a book makes my life easier for figuring out how much credit Harrison earns, and because the book that I've chosen is already laid out for teaching that big age/grade gap that I'm dealing with again.  All four kids will be using Around the World in 180 Days.  Again, lots of extras thrown in too.

  • Phys.Ed. - two sixteen-week semesters of gym class!

  • Electives:  Music & The Masters as a basis for Music History/Appreciation for all four kids (haven't lesson planned this yet); Basic Photography for Harrison (Fine Arts 1/2 credit); various art resources for the younger kids;  Bible 1/2 credit for Harrison; and whatever else we find.   Harrison and I are also working on a plan for him to write a sports analysis and opinion blog that would earn him credit, since it's practical experience in sports journalism.  We are also keeping our eyes open for a public speaking class that would be suitable for Harrison.


Since the boys are able (and encouraged!) to work on their own on many school assignments, I'm very flexible about where and under what conditions they do the work.  Harrison prefers to lie on the sofa in the family room with low light and music on to do his work.  Spencer prefers to work at a desk in his bedroom with a bright desk lamp - with or without music, depending on his mood.  Landon and Kennady do their work either at the dining room table, or sprawled on the living room floor.  Whenever we do class time together - such as Science and History - that is done at the dining room table.  I've read quite a bit of Cynthia Tobias Ulrich's books discussing learning styles and generally my philosophy is that as long as the kids are learning and completing their work, they should be able to work whenever and wherever they are most comfortable - quiet or with music, low light or bright, desk or table or floor etc.  I will be placing a little more restriction on Harrison this year because I do think that he is being distracted by the music and background noise more than he realizes.


We are blessed to live in a state that requires very little of us - standardized testing is not required at any grade level, and since we are part of an accredited association, that group does our oversight and record-keeping so we don't have any dealings with the school board.  I keep records on the Homeschool Tracker Plus, which I LOVE and have been using for several years.  I keep grades, attendance, time spent, assignments, resource archives, and more on the Tracker.  If you don't already have it, visit TGHomesoft to download the Tracker - there is a free version and the more advanced Plus version (which is still a bargain IMO, I think I paid $30 for it)  If I am making recommendations to homeschoolers, that is a resource that I mention almost every time.  I also like to encourage homeschool moms that worry about getting it all done by reminding them: You have 12 years to get it all done!!!  (if you're starting at Gr 1) and You can tailor your homeschool to suit your family.  Find the resources that work best for you and your child; set the schedule that works best for you; take family vacations whenever it suits you; and each child can work at each subject at the pace that's best for them. 





westward said...

Thanks for sharing your homeschool with us!

jenn4him said...

I like that about being eclectic! I am easily distracted. I wonder if there is a nice term for me?


Kristi said...

Thanks for the reminder that I have lots of time to get it all in. I tend to see great curriculums and think that we just HAVE to do this NOW!! I'm forcing myself to hold off on MOH for one more year for just that reason!!! Thanks for welcoming us into your open house!



writmm said...

Congrats on starting your 10th year of homeschool! That's great and it seems like all is well in your neck of the woods! Have a great year!


Post a Comment

I love comments! It's like visiting over a virtual cup of coffee.