Literature based plans for our spread-out homeschooling family.
We’ve got kids in 8th, 4th, Pre-K and a toddler this year.
It’s hard for me to believe this is my 9th year as a homeschooling mom. I remember talking with my husband about homeschooling when Ellie (now almost 14) was supposed to be heading into Kindergarten. The plan at that point was to homeschool for a year because “Hey! It’s Kindergarten. She’s already reading chapter books, how much could we possibly mess her up?” After that first year of learning and growing together we’ve never looked back.
It took us a couple of years to really figure out our style as a homeschool family and with each subsequent child joining the family we grow and shift and change. I feel like we just get better at this every year. I was joking with my 14 year old that little Edith (now not quite two) is going to have a dramatically different school career than Ellie. I will have figured it all out by then.
As always, our plans for the year revolve around reading beautiful books. Lots and lots of books.
Here’s what we’ve got lined up:
We used Year 1 last year and loved it. It’s gentle and simple. It’s full of beautiful stories and inspiring people. The read aloud suggestions are stellar and we’ve really, really enjoyed them. One of the things I love most about this curriculum is that it takes the typical Four Year history cycle and breaks it up differently. So rather than staying in a time period for an entire school year, you cover all four in one year and then cycle back through the next year, but with different material. For example during the Ancient portion, last year we studied Egypt and this year we’ll be studying Greece.
I love shifting gears every so often and focusing on a new time period. A couple of years ago, my kids got so bogged down with our year long Medieval history study that Ethan exclaimed, “I just don’t want to learn about Castles any more!”. We haven’t had that burnout with The Good and the Beautiful!
We’re simplifying science quite a bit this year. We bought a whole collection of Gail Gibbons books (if you haven’t heard of her, you must check her stuff out!). She’s a fantastic writer and illustrator who focuses on science topics. Each book can be read in just a sitting or two and covers a lot of interesting material without being dry. We’ll read one book per week, draw/write in our science journals about what we learned and call it good.
We’ll also be watching a documentary every other week, rotating the off weeks with an Author Access event from the Read Aloud Revival
We’ll be using The Good and The Beautiful for Language Arts. We love this open-and-go program. I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit that I’d either forgotten, or didn’t know from my own school years. It’s gentle and thorough at the same time and pretty self-directed as kids get older.
We’ll also use these copywork sheets and more as I create them.
We’re going to slowly introduce ourselves to Shakespeare this year. We’ll read a play re-written by Geraldine McCaughrean
and then by the Lambs
. We’ll talk about them and potentially watch a movie or play for some. My 8th grader wants to read the original plays as well, but I’m not going to push her on that this year. I fully support her desire to do so, but I will not be requiring it.
I wrote this study guide a while ago in an attempt to help my kids get more out of the stories contained in the Book of Mormon. I found that they were really familiar with the basic outline, they knew all the “right answers”, but the heart of the stories was missing.
This study guide is designed to very slowly lead you through each story. To help you discuss and internalize the choices that were made and the application of the gospel principles in our lives. We generally only read 3-5 verses a day and discuss them in-depth. It’s been fascinating to gain a deeper understanding of stories we all thought we knew well.
We generally have two read alouds going at all times: one that’s just for fun and one that’s related to our History study. For example, we’re currently reading The Birchbark House (which is delightful) as well as The Candy Bomber (also wonderful, but I’ve been reading this one with tears streaming down my face. Such an incredible story.)
I’ve left our “Just For Fun” read alouds open for the year, I’m not going to plan them out. We’ll decide on something when we finish our current read and let that be a little more spontaneous. Our History read alouds this year will be:
I am absolutely delighted to start this literature-based geography study! We’ve been receiving a steady stream of books in the mail that go along with it for the past couple of weeks and every day feels like Christmas. The books look so fantastic and I’m so looking forward to diving in. The study guide is gorgeous, too and covers not only which books to read but also give art and cuisine suggestions. It’s perfect.
We love this curriculum. It’s the only math curriculum we’ve used more than one year. We’re headed into year 3 with teaching textbooks, which says a lot!
As a warning, my sweet husband referred to me recently as “Mutant-Level Organized”; he meant it in the nicest possible way. 🙂 I planned this year a little differently than I have in the past. Some years I’ve gone way too extreme in the direction of over-planning, other years I’ve under-planned. This year, I think I’ve hit a happy medium and I’m pretty excited about it. Plus I made a lovely checklist, so that’s a big bonus.
How do we fit in everything?
Our homeschool year is divided up into 5-6 week terms, with a one week break in between. Each term we’ll learn a hymn, a scripture and a poem. In the past we’ve all worked on separate poems, but this year I decided to try all learning the same ones.
I try to do as much as possible all together. It’s been working extremely well for us to have our read aloud time (our just for fun book) at breakfast. All the kids eat and then sit around the kitchen table, drawing or playing quietly (also, the 4 year old has to be reminded frequently not to interrupt, or yell, or run around) while I read aloud for about 20 minutes. Then I grab breakfast quickly before we read or after we’re done.
After a short break (clean up breakfast, I start dinner prep) we gather together again for Morning Time. We work on Memory Work, Scripture Study, History, Geography, Science and our History Read Aloud. We don’t do all of those subjects every single day. I created a loop schedule for our Morning Time studies and we alternate History, Geography, Science, Shakespeare and a Documentary. The idea is that we’ll get to both History and Geography twice per week and the other topics once per week.
I listed out every single lesson, every science book, etc. and added them to our Loop List for the year. There are no dates assigned (a mistake I’ve made in the past). We’ll just do the next then when we get there. Some days we’ll be able to do more, some days less, but over time we’ll get to everything. For a fantastic explanation of a loop schedule, check this out.
Each big Kid at our house is required to read for 45 minutes per day. They also read aloud to one of the Littles each day (rotating back and forth between the two Littles). These are books of, for the most part, their own choosing. Though I do sometimes assign them to read one if I really think they should. More often than not, I try not to push them because for some reason kids don’t like books as much if I suggest them (have you found that to be true, too?)
Our co-op is just a couple of hours one afternoon per week and it’s got classes for each of our kids’ age groups (including a nursery!). It’s built on a TJed model, so a deep scholar class for the older kids, and hands-on classes and lots of play for younger children. I’m excited to be teaching the 8-11 year old boys this year. We’re going to have so much fun!
We have a weekly nature adventure with friends. This is probably my favorite outing of the week! I love this time with like-minded Mamas, and close friends for my kids to explore with. We go all year round and have had such a blast whether it’s snowy and cold or blistering hot. We love this group.
Neither of our older kids went to an official preschool. It just didn’t seem necessary. But this year Elijah will be going to a sweet little neighboorhood preschool down the road. We are good friends with his teacher and I am sure he will have a blast. Part of me feels a little guilt over this, honestly. But Elijah is so very energetic, so extremely extroverted that I am certain he’ll really benefit from this little outing a couple of times per week. We’re looking at it as mostly structured time with friends and some bonus learning time as well. Mostly I’m hoping it will help him socially and help him be able to sit still for longer than 1.3 seconds. (Plus, I could use a bit of a break…he’s really difficult, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Elijah will also be using Waterford Institute, which is a program Ethan used and loved when he was a preschooler.
We’re also constantly reading aloud, going to the park with friends, and Elijah has been taking violin lessons for over a year now and we’ll continue with that as well.
Music and Sports
Each of the big kids takes piano lessons and does one sport (swimming for Ellie, soccer for Ethan). Even with this limitation, we do a lot of driving to practices and games. We’re headed into soccer season right now which means we’ll have two practices and two games each week on top of Ellie’s daily swim practices. It’ll be a busy few weeks, but also so, so fun to watch them develop their skills and do the things they love.
When I look at this list it seems incredibly long and complicated, but really our school days are pretty simple. Morning Time takes an hour or so each day and we’re generally done with all of our schoolwork by noon.
Are you a homeschool family? What are your plans for the school year?
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