Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our 2011-2012 School Year Plan!

We start educating our children young! Ha! Who needs preschool? :)
(Totally kidding)

Somehow the thought hit me while I was laying in bed with morning sickness (as sick as could be), that I must start planning out next school year! My plan all along has been to start our 2011 school year on July 1 as this is the first year I have to keep track of hours homeschooling in Missouri. We are required 1000 hours, 600 core and 400 non-core. It sounds like a lot for a 7 year old boy who loves to play outside in the dirt : / So I want enough time to get in all the hours, and also be able to take time off after the baby comes in January.

I was the youngest child in our family, so by the time I reached high school my Mom had been through the whole curriculum switch several times. She started out in A-Beka, and quickly figured out she didn't like that after one year. This was back in the '80's when there was not much curriculum written for home schoolers yet. We did a lot of unit studies when my sister, brother and I were all in school together. By the time they graduated, my Mom had learned a lot about Charlotte Mason and fell in love with her teachings. So I did a lot of copywork, nature studies (but my nature study book is hidden from the world. I'm a TERRIBLE artist!), narration time, etc my last few years of school. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and have incredible memories of the time I spent alone with just my Mom.

My Mom and I at my Home School Graduation. We both shed tears on that day. Departing that time in our life was bitter sweet. :)

Fast forward to today, and you have a young home school mama who is quite experienced with the whole home school movement, but still testing the waters when it comes to how I am going to teach my own children. I always assumed I would use the Charlotte Mason approach as well since I loved it so much. What I didn't factor into that decision is:

1. My mom is no longer here to assist me in this (she passed away last July) and all the plans we had of her doing nature studies and art appreciation, etc. etc. to help me are now gone. Also, the knowledge she had of how it was supposed to look greatly helped me. I could keep going on if this was my only obstacle but on to #2. :)

2. I didn't stop to think that my home school might be forced to look a little different based on the fact that I have lots of little ones to teach, something my Mom did not have.

Now for those of you who do Charlotte Mason with lots of children and love it, I am NOT saying it can't be done! I'm just realizing here that I can't do 100% authentic Charlotte Mason with soon to be five children under 8. I need my children to learn a few subjects through *gasp* workbooks. :)

This was a hard decision to make. One day I would feel like throwing up my hands and buying Bob Jones for every subject, and the next day I was pouring over the Simply Charlotte Mason website! But I think I've found a middle ground for our family, one that still resembles some of the way I was taught, and a new way that should prove to be a better fit for our family.

So, after all that rambling explanation, here is my plan!

Mosiah- Going Into Second Grade

Math- Math U See Beta (he has about 30 pages to finish up of Alpha that we are trying to get done this month, but if not we will finish up Alpha and then move to Beta. We had to totally stop Alpha for a while when it came to subtraction. I *think* it finally is all making sense to him!).

Handwriting - Italics book C, and copy work of scripture passages.

Science- Apologia Astronomy (we need to finish up the book before we move on) and Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. Can I make a confession here? I own the elementary Botany book, but I DESPISE botany, always have! I just couldn't bring myself to teach it this coming year! So we are going to wait until the boys are a little bit older, and then tackle it! :) On another note, I just LOVE Apologia Science!

History- A Child's History of the World by Hillyer. I'm going to be skipping the first three chapters of the book. This was my hardest subject to decide what to do. I honestly have no clue what I'm going to do next year, and I desperately need to sit down and map out a 12 year history plan so I have a better idea of where I'm going in history. Ambleside online suggests this book for second grade and I've had a friend recommend it so I'm going to try it. I will read it out loud and have Mosiah narrate it back to me.

Reading-Christian Light Education. This is our biggest change, we are switching to CLE for reading and language arts. My son has grown by leaps and bounds in his reading skills, but still has a lot to learn. I'm actually going to have him go through the "Learning To Read" program to make sure he understands all the phonics concepts, and then hopefully cover the first grade and possibly second grade this school year. I'll be happy if we make it through the first grade, and elated if we make through the second grade reading book! I know he will "catch up" and I'm not terribly concerned, I just need to stay on top of him practicing. Lack of interest and not wanting to apply himself to something that comes a little harder for him is the main problem here. :) I did hear him in the living room reading out loud a "Dan Frontier" reader book yesterday, and let me tell you, my Mama heart did leaps for joy! He was so excited to be reading to himself!

Language Arts-Christian Light first grade language arts. The beginning books will be really easy for him, but he will learn a lot of new things towards the end. Dare I admit as a blogger that grammar was not my strong point?

Art- (when we get to it) will be the art lifepacs that Rod and Staff sells. They do lots and lots of coloring, drawing, cutting and gluing, so I'm not as stressed about getting official art time in school. But in order to make up our hours this school year we may need to make sure and do this.

Music-we listen to classical music all the time at home, and he already knows the names of several composers. I'd like to study Bach this year using the book "Sebastion Bach: The Boy from Thuringia " I just need to buy the book still!

Israel-Kindergarten/First Grade??

Israel will be six in October, and I'm really not sure where to place him in school. I think time will tell. He will sit in with us for History, Science, and Music, just as he did this past year. That is a big reason I went ahead and chose to do those subjects as read alouds so he can be present and learn. Also, Mosiah loves history, and so to switch him to a social studies type approach that the younger grades in CLE use would bore him to tears. Possibly, when he gets older, we will use the CLE history program (when they start covering real history).

Math- Israel is half way through Primer (Math U See), and loving it. I'm sure at some point in the year we will start Alpha, I'm just not sure when that will be.

Reading- Learning To Read program from Christian Light Education. The boys will go through this together, but I'm expecting Mosiah to get through it a lot faster.

Handwriting- Italics A

Carrianna - Three Years Old

She adores workbooks, and does a pretty good job of tracing in her Kumon workbooks. I think later in the school year, as she is closer to three and a half, I will start her in the Christian Liberty Press Preschool book. I was able to use it with Israel and, hands down, it is my absolute favorite preschool workbook! We just loved using it, and it is very teacher friendly. I never even used the teacher book that goes with it! I just can't handle preschool programs that require lots of cutting, crafts, glue, gathering materials, baking letters in the oven, etc. :) As fun as it sounds, it just wouldn't happen around here.

Olivia- 1 years old (she will turn two in December right before the baby is born). I pull out magnetic paper dolls, wedgits, board books, etc. for her to play with during school time. I must admit, it is a constant struggle to keep her busy and happy without tearing the house apart. She is at the age where she makes quite a mess! Part of this will be resolved if I purge the house even more than I have. :)

So that is what I have come up with. A mix of workbooks and "living" type books. A blend of both worlds. :)

Here is an excellent blog post I read about using workbooks with large families. As I've said, I will cling to as much of a Charlotte Mason approach as I can make work for our family, but I appreciated reading her thoughts.

Some books to help you with your school planning are:

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At June 16, 2011 at 10:43 AM , Blogger Vicki said...

Sounds like ur doing great!

At June 16, 2011 at 11:01 AM , Blogger ~Heather said...

Oh that sounds like so much fun! Last year was our first year of homeschooling and I so wanted to do Charlotte Mason (with just a few workbooks), but it didn't work for us. I only have 4 children 8 and under, but it was certainly challenging! We used Heart of Dakota's curriculum, but next fall we will be joining Classical Conversations. I need the accountability and my children need the group setting it provides once a week.

We are only required an average of 688 hours here in Colorado. They really count by days and want us to average 4 contact hours per-day. 100 does sound like a lot!!

At June 16, 2011 at 11:38 AM , Blogger Karen said...

I also adore Charlotte Mason in so many ways. We found the perfect mix in The Well Trained Mind. Charlotte Mason Like, but more structured. We will be starting her sophomore year in August and it's nice to have everything planned out already. We also use Apologia for Science and Saxon for math.

I'm integrating "Laying Down The Rails" which is bits and pieces of Charlotte Masons writings on different subjects, in the area of habits. It's meant for moms, but I'm using it with my teenager and using it with a point of view like - when she has her own children, or when she's babysitting her niece, so she doesn't feel like I'm talking down to her. It's worked out very well with some bad habits she had, helping her to break them and build new ones.

At June 16, 2011 at 12:04 PM , Blogger Angela said...

Enjoyed reading your post. Praising God for the strength He is giving you. I know it's not easy and that it can be a bit overwhelming at times.

You are an encouragement to me....wish you lived next store :) We too have five children under the age of eight...8, 7, 4, 3, and 1. And like you we love the Charlotte Mason approach. And like your mom, we tried ABeka and it's no longer around ;) We are BIG fans of My Father's World (which tends to be Charlotte Mason) and we added Singapore math and Primary Language Lessons for English. It's a good combo for us.

Sorry for rambling....

Happy Thursday,

At June 16, 2011 at 12:25 PM , Anonymous Anne S. said...

Caroline, the Christian Liberty Press Preschool activity book sounds really great! What is the content like? Does it incorporate religious or biblical themes, or is it just a basic activity book for teaching simple concepts?

At June 16, 2011 at 12:29 PM , Anonymous Mama Laundry said...

I can really relate to your post. :)

My littles are 6,4,2 and 6 months. My biggest challenge is keeping my littlest two busy during school so I can actually teach and work with my big kids! Boy, it can be exhausting!

I too, like C. Mason style, but realistically it is just not going to to happen in our house at this point in time. I've created a lot of worksheets (in fact, I've got a worksheet site going live in another month) that my son and I complete together as they pertain to what he is studying. I know that a lot of mothers would croak at the thought of worksheets, but it is really working for us! The key is that we do them together.

I'm always looking for ideas. Off to google 'wedgits' - never heard of those!


At June 16, 2011 at 12:33 PM , Blogger Caroline said...

@ Anne,

Here is what the website says about it:

This workbook includes colorful illustrations that will help students comprehend each lesson. Each unit covers activities for one week. By the end of this thirty-week course, students will be able to write each letter in the alphabet, pronounce short vowel sounds, count up to ten, and much more.

I don't remember any religious themes in the workbook, they add different books for the religious part of it. You can view all of it here:

I found Amazon was actually cheaper at the link I gave than the actual website though.

What I really like about it is there are color pictures, but they aren't silly cartoon pictures. I don't like using workbooks with cartoon type illustrations. But I also LOVED finding one that had color, as it held my child's interest a lot better than the Rod and Staff series that is black and white.

At June 16, 2011 at 1:19 PM , Anonymous Gabe said...

I'm in the process of planning school too! I'm going to be using the Mcguffey's readers and Ray's arithmetic this year for five of my kids. It will be our first year using them for all of the kids, but I've been testing the waters a bit with my two youngest school age kids (not using it for my toddlers!), and I'm enjoying it and have seen good results. The rest of our schooling generally consists of GREAT books that I either assign to individual children or we read aloud together.

I'll be having our baby in August, and then moving (out of state- Military) at the end of September so i'm going to have quite a challenge ahead of me to try to keep up with school, but some good planning now should help me along!

I'm also doing "Summer School" with my kids to keep us going, and never really out of school. It is all much lighter and easier than normal though.

At June 16, 2011 at 2:27 PM , Blogger Mrs. David Hankins said...

Thanks for sharing! We're also a hs family with five children, eight and under. What an adventure! We're starting Math-U-See this year so I'm glad to hear that it has worked well for your family. I'm also using more of an eclectic approach with my crew. I like to do history and science together. We've been using Diana Waring's History Revealed (published by Answers in Genesis) for history. I like the structure and flexibility that it gives our family. Her main focus is on the church through history which I really like. She gives the kids the basic information and then encourages them to explore further based on their interests. Anyway, depending on your family, it may be one that "fits" you.

At June 16, 2011 at 6:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new little blessing being knit :)
We also live in MO and have home-schooled from the beginning...or birth ;). I know the 1000 hours seems like a crazy amount but it helps me to have a tracking system of some kind. We currently use EduTrack. We started off with the free download of Home school Tracker and that worked fine...and may have worked through the rest of the years but we were blessed with EduTrack and we *love* it. Things like nap times 'silent reading' everyday for only 20 min can add 120 hours a year in Language Arts. Some form of exercise outside can be P.E., educational videos, and even devotional time can all count toward time. I'm sure you probably know all of this already but I babbled on anyway :D The 1st year we tracked I was so worried we would never have enough time, not only did we make it but we passed it.
We use CLE for Bible and my younger son would really like to change all of his books to that. We mainly use Abeka and CLE. We got to purchase our books back in April at the MPE conference... we so look forward to that every year.
Thanks for the blog!
Ness Palmer

At June 16, 2011 at 10:38 PM , Blogger Mrs. Mandy said...

Oh I did not know you were in MO, we are in St. Charles County! MFW is great for combining CM style, but my absolute favorite is using Ambleside Online with my kiddos and audio books with headphones for whaen I need a few minutes to work with one or two or switch laundry etc. Art and Nature studies can be the best times, just relax and the kids take the wheel. Their interest is what you follow. Check out the Ambleside Yahoo groups (the one for Artist studies is a real blessing, just print the pics for your term as you need).

At June 17, 2011 at 7:03 AM , Blogger Amy said...

Sounds neat. I use a curriculum that is charlotte mason style with a few workbooks too. Mostly for math. I enjoy being walked through and having my plans made out for me. It is I highly recommend their choices for readers. On History I really recommend Christian Liberty press's history choices. American Pioneers and Patriots is a great book. So, if you just want to do American History for the early years it's fine.

At June 17, 2011 at 8:11 AM , Blogger Christine said...

I love your curriculum ideas; it sounds like you made some great choices! Our homeschool is a rather eclectic blend of Charlotte Mason/Classical Christian/etc. One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling is the fact that we can custom create according to our homeschool needs of the year. One year, we could use a packaged curricula approach, and the next year, we may design our own. Homeschooling is definitely a fun adventure. Blessings to you!

At June 17, 2011 at 2:00 PM , Anonymous Lisa said...

Hi Caroline!

Congrats on the new little one!

I couldn't help but smile reading your post, because we had five children in seven years! It's tough at times, but is right where God has placed you and will daily give you the strength to raise them for HIM!

We, too, are planning for next year's schooling. We have been so very blessed to be using Heart of Dakota this year. It is Charlotte Mason in style and is VERY Christ centered. This has been such a tremendous blessing for our family. Our days are so filled with happy learning and joy. I just wanted to share since you mentioned Charlotte Mason in your post. Blessings as you teach your precious little ones and prepare for your little on in the winter!

At June 20, 2011 at 10:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curriculum is fun/exhausting isn't it? We are planning on doing art and science experiments at night this year. Daddy will be around and can help me out. I struggle with fitting those in in the daytime and hope this can be a better solution. I hope your morning sickness passes soon. I was one of those sick all day ones and it IS hard. That sweet new baby makes it all worth it doesn't it?:)

At June 21, 2011 at 10:54 AM , Blogger Canadagirl said...

Sounds like a wonderful and doable year. [o= Praying blessings on you and your family. Enjoy that baby and love on those kids tons.


At July 7, 2011 at 6:39 AM , Blogger Liz said...

I am adapting the Ambelside Online Year 0 curriculum for my preschooler although I also considered Simply Charlotte Mason. Sounds like you have a great year planned!

At March 8, 2012 at 8:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are also using MFW Adventures, then Math-U See for math and I JUST received our Christian Light Language arts for the first time to make all the language arts flow more smoothly and be used more independently. :) I think it will be a great combo. And hopefully I wont have to think about curriculum ever again! Ha. :)


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