July 30, 2016

AO Year 5 Plans

Before I get into year 5 (warning: its unconventional), I should briefly tell you how year 4 went.

Pretty well, considering how I stretched it out to fit the therapies in.  I think it got a little too thin for a while, and the term 2 exam reflected that, but we got back on track and the term 3 exam restored my faith in his abilities (and mine, as the teacher!).  As always, thank you to AmblesideOnline for an amazing free curriculum and support!  I'm still a huge fan of the Charlotte Mason education method - more so every year as I see the fruits of our labors.
Sixth Grade using AO year 5
Year 4 was scheduled over 42 weeks plus exams instead of the usual 36 plus exams.  So 45 weeks plus holiday breaks.  But quite a few of those "weeks" took 2 actual weeks, so we did about half of year 4 at less than half speed.  I don't recommend going that slowly, but we did get through it!  We started AO year 4 in March of 2015 and finished in May of 2016, and did school lightly through the summer.  This year, we took June completely off except for having him do reading practice and a little math.  Because *I* needed the break.
Summer visit to replica of Lincoln's childhood home
The method I used for planning year 4 worked well for us, so I just copied the file and filled in the year 5 information, and copied the new artist, composer, etc. over from AmblesideOnline.  I've shared the spreadsheet via Dropbox on the forum, if you would like to take a closer look at it.
1st day of school - everything done, handicraft completed!

I was hoping he would start filling in the bubbles (checkboxes) himself in year 4, but that only happened a couple of times.  Handing over responsibility is difficult when he is the only student and its just easier to do it myself, and hard to get him to remember new routines.  This year, I told him that was one of our goals.  As long as I stay out of the way (sit on my hands, if that's what it takes), he will do it himself.
2 weeks in, 9 days of AO completed
We are now 2 weeks into our AO year 5, and its going very well.  I did something unconventional in my planning - instead of adding extra weeks like I did in year 4, I've added an extra day per week.  Now since I'm no Doctor Who, that means if the week starts Monday, if finishes the following Monday and the next AO week begins on a Tuesday.  Therefore, every 12 AO weeks has 12 extra weekdays, or nearly 3 weeks, so that's 8 extra weeks over the year for a total of (38 + 8 + 3 exam weeks =)  49 weeks.  Now, in reality, I think once we are in the swing of things, the extra day may not be necessary, but we are also trying to move houses this fall, so the cushion is nice, and so far, he HAS needed that extra day so that the individual reading sections aren't too long.
Drawing tools, math game, and artists prints from office supply store
We started full time school 2 weeks ago, and with that 6 day per "week" schedule, we will go through June 22 next year.  Which is fine!  We've basically taken breaks at different times each summer, and its all worked out great.  The nice thing is, if he gets motivated for an earlier summer break, he can read more each day and make that happen while still having enough state-mandated days of school attendance.
Working hard on that paracord bracelet
So, the way I scheduled AO5 was to read all about Scheduling for Peace and Loop scheduling, listened to how others on the AO forum scheduled, asked questions about specific books I was concerned about (mainly difficulty level), and what I might use instead.  I ended up switching out the Lillias Trotter biography for Helen Keller's Story of My Life, and Kim for The Hobbit.  (The Hobbit is scheduled in year 6, so I will try to do Kim then, but over a longer period of time.)  I also am postponing the Book of Marvels and using Child's Geography of the World, which is a little easier and listed as an option.
Details about reading assignments, 1st 3 weeks

We did a good job fitting in Shakespeare and Plutarch's Lives in year 4, so we will continue that in year 5.  Instead of doing both each week, I do 6 AO weeks per play or life, which is more like 7-8 weeks, so its plenty of time to spread it out and take it slow, but not spread out TOO far.

We are also continuing Grammar this term (web activities and MadLibs), and will add Latin to that time slot in term 2 or 3, depending on how he progresses.  I found used DVD's for Latin for Children, so will get the books to go with that and see how it goes!  I did let Spanish drop in year 4, so we have picked that up where we left of in Rosetta Stone, and added the videos from KnowItAll.

For copywork and dictation, we now use Simply Spelling.  We started that in January after Vision Therapy was completed.  He did really well with it, copying in print in a 3rd grade copy book (the kind that has space between the lines and a center guide line).  I've gone back for some cursive practice in his old Penmanship book, and will use that now and then so he doesn't loose that hard-won skill. (Remember, he has dysgraphia and reversal issues, so spelling and handwriting don't come easy.)
Memory work remains the same as what I've described before, as does poetry.  We still do Bible nearly every day, followed memory work and maths.  For math, we are using Right Start.  I switched last fall after too many tears made the previous program just not work.  I chose to start 3/4's of the way through Level B, and we are now 3/4 through Level C.  (I hope to get him through that by mid-October and through Level D by the end of next summer so that he stays on track for Algebra in 9th grade.)
1st poem in year 5 to memorize
Other subjects on the checklist are Ancients (Bible, Plutarch and Shakespeare in that slot), Music Appreciation (folk song, hymns, composers), Literature, Biography (Lewis and Clark, scientists), PE, Geography/map work, Music (Solfa singing using SightSingingSchool, piano lessons at Hoffman Academy, and piano practice), Timeline/BOC (I hope to get in the habit of timeline entries again, then move to the Book of Centuries in a few months), Science and nature study, typing and art (handicrafts, drawing practice and artist study).
As you can see, I tried to have him using hands, body, mind and soul each day, but not too much of any during school time.  If he is drawing for nature study, he isn't drawing for art or doing a handicraft (unless he chooses to in his free time, which hasn't happened yet).  If he is doing timeline, map isn't scheduled.  I put a lot of thought into this framework, and, so far, it feels balanced.

July 9, 2016

Getting Started Homeschooling Guide

What did I want to know when I started homeschooling?  Everything.
However, that's a tall order, so I started with the basic information I could find in library books, then looked at internet resources.  I dug deeper and deeper and deeper, collecting and sorting information, until I stumbled across philosophies and methods that were right for my family.

I get a lot of questions from parents who want to start homeschooling but don’t know where to start. "What are the state policies? What are the different types of homeschooling? What home school programs should I use?" Download this free, Getting Started Homeschooling Guide to get the answers.
home school guide
The free homeschool guide includes:

  • Getting started checklist (Tip: Print this page!)
  • Legal policies by state
  • Explanations for 8 types of homeschooling
  • Curriculum suggestions for each type of homeschooling
  • A list of resources that new homeschoolers should bookmark
  • Total of 15 downloadable pages that you can print or save onto any device

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