This time of year seems a lot like Christmas around here. Huge boxes stuffed with books and other goodies arrive almost daily on our doorstep. We eagerly anticipate their arrival and dive into the boxes as soon as possible. We're all aglow with the love of new school supplies: fresh notebooks and sketchbooks, new opportunities to learn. It's new curriculum time in the Hillman household!
One of the big challenges we face is homeschooling kids who are spaced so far apart. My two who are school age are 4 years apart and are on very different levels academically. Our way around that is to do some subjects together (Science and History) and some separately (Language Arts and Math.) I try to keep the shared subjects simple enough that we can tailor the experience to our different kids' learning styles and still have a meaningful experience.
As the years have gone by we've found a rhythm that fits us well and curriculum that works well for our family. When we first being homeschooling, I thought I'd spend a couple of hours per week planning individual lessons and preparing personalized materials. Over time I learned that is just not my style. So instead I spend a lot of time each summer researching and choosing living books (we don't use text books)
and curriculum that I am confident will fit our style. We do homeschool year round, but summertime is much more relaxed for us.
I'd call our family education style a Classical/Charlotte Mason/TJed mixture.
This is our plan for the coming year:
Physics: NOEO Science
Noeo Science was a huge hit for us last year. This year we're moving on to Physics. We use these sketchbooks and the kids draw a picture of something they learned from that day's reading as well as write tidbits of information and definitions of the terms we covered. We'll be using Physics 1 for Ethan and Physics 2 for Ellie.
History: All Through the Ages
We've used Story of the World for the past several years, but wanted to try something new this time around. I purchased All Through the Ages and we'll be using it as a jumping-off point for our history studies. We'll be doing literature-based units on various time periods in history. Ellie (10) requested to learn more about Shakespeare, so that's first up on our list. We'll continue in this unit until the end of September or so, and Ethan will get to pick the next time period.
We will be using the Timeline Binders from Homeschool In The Woods as we go through our history study and we will also keep notebooks where the kids can record information they've learned about each time period. Generally, I just have them color a picture and/or write a few facts about the read aloud from that day. Sweet and simple.
In the 6 years we've been homeschooling, we've tried a different math curriculum every year and have not found one we really like. We've been using a free trial of Dreambox for the past couple of weeks and already we love it (L-O-V-E). Ethan begs to do his math every morning, and while Ellie is not tripping over herself to do it, she has fun with it and has had no tears so far (which is saying something!) I'll be sure to share an update after we've used it longer, but so far Dreambox is looking like a winner.
Books, books, books. We read a lot. I read aloud during Morning Time, and during meals, and I read aloud before bed. Plus lots of reading during school hours.
Ellie:Ellie is a strong writer and while we've focused on grammar and more structured language arts studies in the past, this year my goal is to encourage her to write. She will be using the following books as guides to writing her own stories.
Spilling Ink comes highly recommended by friends who have used it in the past. This book is more of an encouragement for young writers, packed with many ideas and advice and is written in an upbeat, positive style. So far Ellie loves it.
How to Write a Story by the Institute for Excellence in Writing. We've used products from IEW before and were smitten with them.
Ellie has also been invited to participate in our local homeschool newspaper. She'll be writing non-fiction stories and hopefully stretching herself a little bit outside her comfort zone.
She'll also be taking this Become a Digital Artist class. We're not quite sure what to expect yet, but she's thrilled to get started.
Ethan:I have heard such amazing things about All about Reading and after starting this program with Ethan (who is a somewhat reluctant reader) last week I can see why. So far it seems to be simple and effective and just what Ethan needs. We do jazz up the word reviews sometimes, but that's the beauty of homeschooling. Roller skates and reading practice can work hand in hand.
Other ActivitiesEthan thrives when he's got plenty of organized reasons to run around. He'll be participating in soccer and our local jump rope classes this fall. He also takes piano lessons.
Ellie will have swim team practice daily, piano lessons and she has the fantastic opportunity to be in the Cache Children's Choir this year.
Parent/ Child Book club
Ellie and I participate in an parent/child book club. We'll read one book per month together and discuss them with the group, Deconstructing Penguins style (that book changed the way I discuss books with my kids. Read it!).
We participate in an outstanding once per week co-op with about 30 other families. The group has grown and changed over time, but we still look forward to this day of "school" every week. I appreciate it even more now that Ellie is into more of the academically challenging classes.