It's a new school year - time for a curriculum post!
You know, for someone who says their homeschool is cruising along pretty comfortably, I chop and change our resources quite a lot! That's probably the best part about homeschool though - that I can adjust what we use, how long we spend on subjects, and how much independence each child gets based on how they are going. I'm at the point now where I can tell if someone needs a curriculum change because it doesn't suit their learning style, or if they need a bit of a loving shovel load of discipline and perseverance to cancel out the laziness!
We've journeyed from a very relaxed, play-based style of learning when we first began and everyone was younger (we're into our 5th year of homeschool now, so we had a few years at school first), to a more disciplined (but still flexible) approach incorporating more challenges, a few tests (oohh!), as well as lifeskills and consequences.
It's a horrible thought that I've only got four more years with my eldest boy. He may hang around, he may end up gallivanting around the world, he may end up at uni somewhere (or the seminary!!), but my role as a lead influence in his life will change. It's daunting knowing that God has blessed me with the responsibility of raising this child to know Him and love Him and never forsake Him, and that in four short years this increasingly secular and God-less world will embrace my boy... and he needs to be able to resist the oncoming onslaught... me being the one primarily responsible for forming his faith.
And then there's two more of God's children after that!
It takes up a lot of my prayer time, that's for sure. But these three amigos are most definitely worth it. I know I'll be able to say to God, when my time comes, I have put my absolute all into these children of yours - regardless of their individual choices, or my failings and shortcomings, my God I have tried!
So there's prayer time, then there's planning time - which is just as much about coordinating, colour-coding, formatting, and laminating a beautiful planner/chart/project/list/or poster, as the actual curriculum choices themselves! Nothing beats a perfectly formatted planner!
Planners, Schedules, and Chore Charts
Being organised as a homemaker and a homeschool mum is so fricken important. And this has also been my absolute number 1 fricken struggle. So much so, that in my desire to be organised I am going to be writing about my journey to create a Rule of Life, and establish a prayer routine inspired by the Hours of the Divine Office (or Liturgy of the Hours). But that's a whole other series, so I will just stick to homeschool today!
Each child has a term planner - with all subjects and tasks required to be completed for the term. It's broken up into weeks and, to be honest, is quite the design masterpiece...! We have schedules that cover different types of days - to help facilitate chores, homework, free time (which is maximised if you just stick to the schedule!!!), and lessons. They each have their own version of the main schedules, which I keep. We've also got family groundrules, and our chore charts are interchangeable (so everyone gets a go at everything!).
|Mean Mum, don't care!! I don't like to fluff around when it comes to respect and discipline. |
We have a lot of fun around here, but that doesn't constitute to anyone becoming a lazy jackass!
|The term planners - weeks 6 to 10 are on the back, and there are separate pages with science, HASS, health, the arts, |
tech, and lifeskills too!
|A small snippet of our Catholic arsenal!|
We do three formal scripture lessons per week - two of which are courses on Homeschool Connections (an awesome Catholic Homeschooling Courses resource!). There are over 400 recorded full courses covering all school subjects, which in itself is awesome, but I'm particularly loving the Christian courses. This term for religion, we are doing two courses - Middle School Latin (our names are now Raymundus, Margarita, Jacobus, Marcus, and Cornelia!) and Lives of the Saints. So we stream these lessons onto the TV and watch and take notes together. We do bible study using The Great Adventure Storybook , working on the journey of salvation history from Adam through to Jesus. And each week we have a bible verse from the coming Sunday mass to use as copy work and write into a bible verse journal (I'm putting these into a pretty downloadable pdf form each week on the facebook page if anyone was interested in an art journal for bible verses! But I'll write more about that later!).
We've changed English a little bit this year, as everyone is a bit older, and after exploring the courses that Homeschool Connections offers we are using their Aquinas Writing Advantage course (for Pip and Jack) to cover grammar and writing skills, and keeping Brave Writer as a continual novel study which gives exposure to beautiful high-quality literature (I have always loved the books that Julie has chosen, and this will be the main program for Dom for the year).
|The Brave Writer manual (thoroughly well written, highly intelligent!), |
and I still can't quite believe we are going to tackle Latin...!
|The Hobbit, Pooh Corner, and The Bad Beginning are all Brave Writer books, |
and The Morville Hours is my little gem that I'm reading.
(Of course, I'm reading the other 3 books with the kids so we can chat about it!)
Ok, big shake up on the maths front - I'm officially NOT a digital maths curriculum girl. Straight up and down, the less time that our children spend on technology, the better. So-called "smart" phones, tablets, gaming devices, and binge-watching streaming apps are not only minimising social abilities but also creating the need for instant gratification. Instant reward. A heightened sense of stimulation. Children quite literally lose their ability to find joy in the little things because they are wired to the adrenaline rush that comes with the fireworks and stimulus of the screen. It's not real life. It's not real maths. And it wasn't working for us at all.
Enter Saxon Math:
|This year, we are using Saxon 5/4, Saxon 6/5, and Saxon 8/7 (then into Algebra!)|
Saxon uses the concept of spiral learning - so learn a piece of a new concept then review previous things, bit more new stuff, review previous, etc, etc... maths needs a lot of repetition, and I've found that with saturation learning (sticking with one topic until it's mastered then moving on) it gets forgotten later in the year! Check out this review on Cathy Duffy Homeschool Reviews - it is very thorough and what convinced me to go with this program (it's different to the junior Saxon Math series which has hands on manipulatives!). And, it's been working marvellously!
Remember before I said that I was getting to the point where I knew when I could dish out a shovel load of discipline to combat laziness?! Yeah, some days we have that with maths. But it's maths. 9 times out of 10, it just gets done, and everyone is proud of their achievements. Some days, though... out comes the shovel!
|There are 5 books in the Berean Builders primary series, |
and 2 books in the Apologia middle school series.
The books to the right are the tests and help books!
We're using a combination of Berean Builders (BB) and Apologia for Science - and hey they're written by the same guy so happy days! BB is just the new company he's started.
BB (primary series) moves through history to teach Science, which is a concept I absolutely love and has served the family really well. It makes for some great table discussions, and gives the kids a more rounded understanding of Science because they can place the scientific discovery with an event in time. It also teaches creation Science as well as evolution Science, and from an historical perspective - which helps us to understand how some people could have come to the conclusions they did. The experiments are easy and fun, and the lessons are short and scaffolded (adaptable to different year levels).
Apologia (middle and high school series) is a lot more involved and challenging, but follows on perfectly from either the Apologia primary series or the BB primary series. After General Science and Physical Science, it moves into the real fun stuff in upper high school - Bio, Chem, and Physics...!!
They all come with optional tests, solutions manuals, and helps and hints books. Thank goodness!
There are Science classes on Homeschool Connections, but I haven't explored them quite yet, and I still really enjoy this book series so we'll probably stick to it! (For now!)
We also have a beautiful telescope to regularly explore the stars - so astronomy is a big ticket item in this household!
HASS - humanities and social science
This year, we're doing a bit of multitasking for this subject, with a focus on History.
|A small cross-section of what we are using for History this term!|
I have a thing about History, and think it is absolutely vital for us to learn not only to appreciate our current life, but to make sure that we learn from the mistakes of the past. History is our story. It could be your family's story, the story of your town, the story of your country, the story of your people, or the story of God Himself - and if we forget our history, we forget what it is we need to preserve, to fight for, to be proud of. People stop being wise, and start doing whatever they want without care of the sacrifices given before their time to get civilisation to where it currently is. When we look at historical events, we also look at the people of that time. All of history has a story, and we need to make sure that not only are we passing on these stories, but that they are being passed on accurately without prejudice or bias.
Jack has begun a fantastic course on Homeschool Connections called Foundations of Christian Historiography. It "educate[s] students in the various ways people have viewed history throughout the ages, discuss the importance of retaining a Christian framework in our pursuit of historical studies, and train[s] students to see subtle (or not so subtle) anti-Christian presuppositions in popular portrayals of historic events." (Quote is from the site) This course will then pave the way into future History courses, as he will be able to discern historical works in a deeper, more truthful way.
We are also covering Australian History this year, following on from our Aboriginal (First Australians) studies in 4th term last year. I've put together a bit of a scaffolded curriculum so everyone can work together, and over the course of this year we are hoping to build a settlement village (of sorts) on our block that will develop and change as we study the advancement of the Australian culture. We are starting with the first fleet and explorers at the moment, and will work through pioneering and gold rush times, world wars, and modern development.
We will use resources from the ABC series My Place (check out the resources here) - based on the book by Nadia Wheatley, ideas from a fellow Aussie homeschooler over on Eureka Homeschool, two books by Peter Macinnis (they are in the photo above) - The Big Book of Australian History, and Australian Backyard Explorer, and plenty of books in the Steve Parish series:
|Discussions about History are one of my favourite types of discussions to have (other than religious ones!).|
These books give so much info - and we wonder and debate about survival in those early settlement times!
Arts, Tech, & Lifeskills
In building our home on a paddock, we've started from scratch, so I thought it only fitting to add Permaculture to our curriculum and we can all learn together (myself included!). We are learning from Geoff Lawton online - he's one of the pioneers of permaculture in Australia and has so many great resources and courses to study. We are also watching the series River Cottage Australia because it's all about establishing self-sufficiency, living seasonally, and overcoming struggles! And i'm kind of addicted so just... yeah... we'll curriculum that one!
We cruise through Visual Art - either using the Australian Nature Study Guide (which covers science too, and which I THOROUGHLY recommend!) to journal our observations, or a fun YouTube lesson that teaches technique and produces something fun! My boys are not into art at all, so we need to cover it in creative ways sometimes (like building a cornhole game then having to design and paint it!).
Each week for Cooking we have a different theme (coming up soon is fermenting, for example) and I have a few recipes that they choose from. We then source the ingredients, and cook up different versions and compare it all. It's actually a heck of a lot of fun, so stay tuned for a series on that too!
We are also starting a business this year, God help us, to cover economics and business studies. But you'll just have to wait to hear more about that one...!
Lifeskills will happen in the in-between times - typing and computer skills, online safety, sewing, first aid (and will do a proper course later on in the year), knot tying, knitting (ha!), basic mechanics, woodwork, social work, volunteering... all the incidentals that just happen as we ride the wave of child raising.
It seems like a lot.
But it's just a plan.
In reality, if we need to change it up - we do.
If we need a break - we do.
If the little seed needs extra nurturing to sprout - then we do.
God Bless, til next time!
ps - I'd love to hear what your up to, what you love, or any questions you have!