This is the fourth post helping describe how I go about planning for the new school year. Here are the previous posts in this series:
- Here are the questions I consider.
- This post looks a back at our school year. I talk about what went well and what could use some improvement.
- Yesterday’s post talked about how I assess our homeschooling philosophy: Am I happy with *how* we are homeschooling? I talked a lot about the books I’ve read that helped us find the homeschool style that works for us.
In today’s post I’m going to talk about some of our long-term homeschooling goals. By this I only mean only in our school subject areas, not in other equally as important areas of development.
History: When I read the Well Trained Mind, the four-year cycle of covering history made a lot of sense to me.
- Ancients 5000 B.C.-400 A.D.
- Medieval/Early Renaissance, 400-1600
- Late Renaissance/Early Modern (1600-1850)
- Modern (1850-Present)
We’ve been on a slow-but-steady progression through time. When LD was in kindergarten we covered the first chapters of the Story of the World. We covered Ancient Egypt then moved on to Ancient Greece and the next year Ancient Rome. The following year we covered the Middle Ages. We listened to the Story of the World vol 2 & 3 which covered up to about 1850. We also moved over and covered some of American history. We’ve covered the settlement of America up to about 1850. We’ve been learning a lot about the Elizabethan age and may do more of that later this summer.
The next logical step for us would be to head into the modern age, but I don’t feel comfortable with that for our family. I have a 4 year old who participates in our activities and I’m not ready to start teaching about the World Wars… or even going over the Progressive Era and all that. Instead I’ve decided that we’ll do a year of World Cultures — covering Africa (and hopefully Asia). Our studies will cover early and modern history (as much as we can). So, we’ll be doing a unit on Ancient/modern Egypt sometime soon — late summer or this next fall. Then we’ll be moving to other parts of Africa. To prepare for that I’ve been reading an African history text (for adults) myself. I tie a lot of history and literature together at this point. We read a lot of books (everything from non-fiction, to children’s books and Newbery winners) when we do our history units.
*I keep a close eye on the Sonlight book lists as I determine our reading for the year. For example, I checked over the American History books they used as I went through our American West unit last year.
*I also look extensively at the Newbery winners and see what fits into our upcoming studies. I find that the kids and I remember a lot more about our units when we sprinkle in a lot of historical fiction.
*We’ve also been going through the Five in a Row books as well and DD has been reading them on her own this year (luckily we have a wonderful library!) I have a lot of them listed at my old blog site here; I stopped putting in our input, but continued making our way through the lists!
*Right now I’ve been busy collecting books and creating books lists on Africa and Asia that we’ll read together next year. I also plan to read some fiction together with the kids (The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit)
Science: There are four major areas of science and the Well Trained Mind also suggests doing these in cycles:
- biology and the human body
- earth space science
- science experiments (added by me!)
I would also include science experiments in general because I find this a really important part of our homeschooling and they don’t necessarily fit neatly into those topics above. (Remember my kids are young; if you have older kids you would probably not have science experiments randomly thrown into your homeschool day, but I find this important for my 4 and 6 year old just to get them inspired, intrigued, and excited about science.)
My approach has been quite different than the year-long approach suggested in the Well Trained Mind. We cover science in units. Since my kids are so young, we really can’t spend more than 3-6 weeks on any one topic before we get itchy to switch to a new topic. I generally cover about three big science topics a year. Last year we covered the human body, physics (we used Real Science 4 Kids pre-level 1), biology. The year before we did a big unit on earth-space science. I keep mental tabs on what we’ve covered and what we need to cover.
This next year, for example, we’ll cover chemistry for the first time (again using Real Science 4 Kids; I may use the free Middle School Chemistry curriculum because it has a lot of terrific lessons laid out with easy to follow directions. Note to self–look at that again!).
Geography: To understand history everyone needs a really good grasp of geography. I’ve been covering geography since preschool. We covered the seven continents (and still go over these regularly to make sure ED has them down). From there we started covering the countries of the world. I keep a mental list of the regions we’ve covered and plan to repeat these as the kids progress through their schooling. As the kids get older we’ll start including more in the way of rivers, mountains, deserts etc. The only river we went over in South America, for example, is the Amazon up to this point. Topics we plan to cover over the years:
- Seven continents; Oceans; Seas
- Countries of North America
- USA states and capitals
- Countries of South America
- Countries of Europe
- Countries of Africa
- Countries of the Middle East
- Countries of Asia
- States and Territories of Australia
- Countries that border the Arctic region
We do lots (and lots!) of pin maps. Sometimes we use flags; sometimes we just use labels. Sometimes we’re covering country names; sometimes we use pin-maps to find rivers, lakes, oceans and mountains. We use various Montessori cards that help reinforce areas of geography (landmark cards, animal cards, plant cards, etc.). As I said on Tuesday this past year we spent a lot of time learning about the geography of the United States (with this song— the states as well as the rivers and mountains). The year before we did a lot with the geography of South America. We still come back to the Rock the Capitals-South America regularly and in fact have been singing that song together this week! In past years, we’ve covered the countries of Europe as well as the countries of Asia, but we’ll need to continue go over those through the years. Here’s an example of a pin map of Europe. You can see how I made it this pin map of Europe here:
Language Arts/Writing/Spelling: We found two curriculums that work well for us. All about Spelling and Write Source (for straight-forward grammar like the use of commas and other punctuation, capitalizing and so forth). I plan to stick with those for the foreseeable future. I’ve ordered lots (and lots!) of e-books from Scholastic with writing prompts and things like that. DD loves to write.
Math: We found a curriculum that works for us at the moment and supplement it with lots of games and activities.
Music and Art: We’ve been doing a music class with friends and hope to continue that next year. The kids are learning their own instrument. We have a lot of lessons from Art Projects for Kids out and our kids are constantly drawing. This next year I may do a bit more with Art History… tied into collection and our read aloud time. More about that as I get things sorted out.
Sports: I just want the kids to keep fit, to be healthy and active. We ask the kids each semester what they want to do and have enrolled them in outside activities for this component. I was able to review a great fitness board game called Flip2BFit and will incorporate that into our day when the weather gets bad (I really like the stretching components for myself!) I’d really like to take the kids hiking more; we really haven’t done enough of that lately. LD really wants to go backpacking. I don’t know that we can do that this summer, but maybe next year?
Preschool: ED is starting to learn to read. We spend about 15 minutes a day reading her Bob Books together. I haven’t yet worked out plans for her preschool next year. I’ll be going through our Montessori curriculum materials to plan that out. (I use Karen Tyler’s albums and the free Moteaco Montessori albums (these no longer work, but you’ll find a lot of information in our free printable here: Science in Early Elementary)
I’m sharing all of the subjects we cover, but remember we don’t cover every subject every day! This is just a broad view of our long-term goals and we have years to get to where we’re going.
Well, I’m going to bring this post to a close for now. Most of the time I just juggle all this in my head. It’s been fun to write this down for you all!
Hope you stop back by soon or come visit me over at Facebook to see what we’ve been up to.
Have a great day! ~Liesl