It's that time again... BACK TO SCHOOL!
But, of course, we're a homeschooling family and we homeschool year round, so "Back to school" is not nearly as earth shaking for us. ;) However, I have been a pondering on getting just a tad (itsy bitsy) more formal this year. I have a girl who is very soon to be 5 years old and a boy that will turn 7 in a few short months. The official paperwork says I have a kindergartener and a first grader. I most often teach them together using the same materials with a few tweaks based on their ability. I'm a huge fan of multi aged learning and not a fan of grade levels or dividing kids up solely based on age. (in the classes I teach we have K through 8th grade, 5 through 15 years. I'm totally for bringing back the one room school house model ;) ) I have a STRONG conviction "school"/ learning should be FUN, engaging, woven into all of life. I do not want to fight and fuss with my kiddos trying to convince them to complete any "boring school work" I want them begging to learn more!
I guess I'm what most would call a "Eclectic" type homeschooler. I'm a mixed up, mashed up, hodge podge of styles. Or maybe I just can't make up my mind ;) I LOVE bits and pieces of Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and TJed, with a strong bent toward delight directed, and unschooling. Throw a little bit of everything at the kiddos and see which one fans the flames of their curiosity and passion for learning. I am also really great at planning but I too often lose a bit (or a lot) in the follow through. SoOoo part of my planning has to be figuring out how can I keep this easy and simple to set myself up for success or we just fall off the wagon and become more like Unschoolers than anything else. ;)
Which leads us to my plan for this year's fun learning at home. ;D Incorporating all of the above along with this year's main goal of focusing on learning to read. I had originally planned on the Hooked on Phonics, Learn to Read curriculum to be our primary focus. However, after a few short weeks I noticed the younger one needed a little extra support. (Whoop! Whoop! for homeschooling getting to adjust and readjust to fit the kiddos needs. NOT trying to make them squash into THE BOX) I was searching the web for free printable games, worksheets, supports that I could line up with the word families approach of H.O.P but I struggled. There were only bits and pieces in too many different places. Yes, I did say I'm the queen of throwing together bits and pieces but in this case pulling it together from many different places and still not covering all I needed it too... was more work and too complicated to really help me with my follow through issues. Though I had resigned to try... until......
The Crafty Classroom sent me (YES MEEEEEE! Just meeee. She knew of my 3 days of frantic internet searching to find the perfect printables and swooped in to save the day ;) ) an email about her new R.E.A.D Curriculum Notebook. Now to tell you the truth I was both ecstatic and bummed to open this email. The day prior I had purchased a bundle from Teachers Pay Teachers, that didn't exactly fit but I needed something so I settled. I spent 22.00 bucks on that and now I was about to drop 25.00 more. Bummed. ;( That's a BIG chunk of our homeschooling budget!! and I still have to purchase paper and ink... lots ol ink *sigh*
Now I'm not saying the R.E.A.D Curriculum in not worth the 25.00.. IT TOTALLY IS!!! I've purchased, I've downloaded and started printing. It LOOKS great! Just the whole buying something one day, then finding exactly what you had been looking for the very next day kinda sucked in the budgeting department. But well... time to move on....
The R.E.A.D Curriculum Notebook. will be our primary curriculum for learning to read this year and we'll use the Hooked on Phonics videos as a fun supplement. Along with learning to read I still want us to greatly enjoy reading / literature so we'll also be "rowing" great books along with the Five in a Row Curriculum. Each month I'm planning to "row " through two books. One from the Before Five in a Row manual and one from the Volume One manual. I set up a Facebook group trying to connect with other families close to my area using F.I.A.R in hopes to plan some fun group activities. Everything's more fun with friends! I'm very excited about how that seems to be coming together! It's still early yet but we have our first event on the schedule! ;D! Toward the end of September we'll be throwing a "Pre-Row Party" for the books we plan to row in October. It's gonna be a BLAST and hopefully get the kids super excited about the books chosen for the following month. I have hopes to continue blogging about that fun adventure. Stay tuned!
Well since we have to cover more than just reading and literature in homeschool (really? why?) There is more to the plan.
For math we're leisurely reading through Life of Fred: Apples. As well as, I ordered a Financial Peace JR. kit from Dave Ramsey for each of the kiddos. We have a list of "jobs" up on the fridge they can do to earn some cash and we're learning about those save, spend, give envelopes. We also naturally do lots of playful math. We're always counting cars, princesses, dinosaurs, how many dinosaurs did the T-Rex eat and so on. A really fabulous playful math resource we read over and over and often play in our treasure chests is the Arithmetic Village books. I even taught a class based on these books and created fun dolls of the main characters (I should really blog about that! It was huge hit! I received rave reviews from all of the kids and parents)
Speaking of teaching classes.... I currently teach two classes that my children are also involved in. We meet weekly with 14 ish other local homeschoolers to learn about:
World Geography (I purchased the co-op license for Expedition Earth created by Confessions of a Homeschooler. It's been kinda by 'backbone' of sorts. I've been greatly tweaking it. Adding in bits and pieces here and there to better accommodate our time frame and students.)
The other class is Human Body Projects (we're covering anatomy and physiology with fun crafty hands on projects.)
There's also field trips, and creek visits, reading reading reading, documentaries, and Wild Kratts, princesses, dinosaurs snakes and sharks.... playing, running jumping and more! Seems like a pretty full plate!?! but it's all FUN!! or we fall off the wagon and poof we're unschoolers again until I make another plan ;) Which is fine and well too! Life is learning. Learning is life.
So, my friends, what is your back to school plan? Feel free to share in the comments below!
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