Friday, May 18, 2012

School plans for 2012-2013

Since we started this school year late, at the end of Sept, due to bringing home Brendan, we are still going strong in most subjects, though I'm getting a bit weary and ready to plan for next year. I am thinking we may move to a year-round model of school, though we kind of do that now. I really like the options given for year-round school here. I'm not sure how we will do it exactly--3 weeks on, 1 off; 6 weeks on, 1 off; or possibly just taking natural breaks when we need them to enjoy the weather or get well or just rest. I do like the idea of schooling through the heat of the summer and then taking more breaks in the fall and spring, when we WANT to be outside.

Next year I will have 1 in 3rd grade, kindergarten, and preschool. I have most of our curriculum figured out and purchased, and we are making some big changes this year.

I will be working through Sonlight's P4/5 curriculum with Brendan and Iona.The reading time should be lots of fun, and it will encorporate Bible, world cultures, and science as well. I'll be starting Iona through the Developing the Early Learner workbooks--I'm not sure if she is ready yet, but we'll try. I may also add Get Ready for the Code since she is showing some interest in learning to read. And I'll start her on the preschool handwriting book with Handwriting Without Tears. I bought Math U See's Primer book just in case, but again, I'm not sure if she will be ready for it. I'm planning to track her learning along with Brendan, but I don't want to throw too much at her at once. I do have the K4 program from Confessions of a Homeschooler, but since the Letter of the Week stuff was so time-consuming, I'm not sure if I'll do the next level. I may instead just pull the pieces from it I want to highlight. Iona does not like me to just give her work to do and walk away to help her siblings...she will act out and run away and refuse to try most of the time when I do that. I need to take the time next year to sit with her more and help her build confidence in her abilities and show her she is loved through my time.   

Brendan will also work through Sonlight's P4/5 curriculum at the same time as Iona. I expect he will be more interested in the workbooks than she will be. Since Brendan has learned to write his name and is very interested in learning to write his letters, we may even start the preschool HWT book this summer. I also bought the kindergarten workbook for him. And he is definitely ready to start Math U See's Primer book. Brendan is a hard worker and often is the first one done with his workboxes, so I want to strike a balance with challenging him and getting his caught up with also just experiencing the easiness of kindergarten. He will continue with speech therapy--he understands so much of what we say, but he can't communicate with us as well because of his speech delays. I am going to slowly work through Sonlight's Language Arts K to teach him to read, but I'll admit I'm nervous that I won't know if he is getting the reading down if I can't understand what he says. I'm heard Sonlight's learn to read program is very gentle, and I think it will work much better for Brendan than the Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, which I used with Aidan with complete success. Brendan loves to sit and "read" a stack of books to his stuffed dog, so I think it's worth a try to teach him this next school year.

Aidan--grade 3:
We are making a big shift this year in curriculum to Sonlight Core D, American History Year 1 of 2.
We did use Sonlight for his kindergarten year, but we've dabbled with it here and there since, just not using the full program. Every year when I get the Sonlight catalog, I pour over it. I LOVE the choices they make for junior high and high school especially. Since we use their booklists anyway, I decided to make the complete switch and allow them to plan out the year as well! Thankfully, I was able to buy the IG AND Language Arts 3 used for very cheap, and I've been able to get a hold of all the books separately. This was a huge shift for us because it meant we needed to step away from Story of the World for history, which he LOVES. What we ultimately decided was that he just loves history in general, not just SOTW, and with Sonlight, we will revisit SOTW in middle school. It also means we will stop the scope and sequence of using Peace Hill Press for grammar and writing and instead use Sonlight's program. I think it will be a good fit for us. And I love that Sonlight includes a list of age appropriate chores and skills they should learn.

Bible--I'm don't think we'll use the exact Bible Sonlight recommends because Aidan already has one we want him to use. The 3 kids also do AWANA, so we may or may not also do Sonlight's scrupture memory program. We will continue to read missionary stories, and with this core, since we will be studying American History, we will be praying for different American Indian tribes. We may still continue to work on some hymns. I also have a devotional for kids that focuses on animals and character building and God's character that we may try out. This area is one of the areas I'm still a little up in the air about. I do know we will include all the children in on this.

History/Literature/Readers/Geography/Language Arts--Sonlight Core D. We will use the Readers D Advanced, 5 day, since Aidan is such a voracious reader. I like that the LA is tied in with the history and literature.

Math--Math U See Gamma

Spelling--All About Spelling Level 3

Handwriting--Handwriting Without Tears Grade 3, Cursive. I have the books for grades 3 and 4. We tried this in Grade 2 and he wasn't ready, so we shelved it for a year.

Science--Apologia's Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day and the notebooking journal. I may pull in the littles for some of the activities for this.

Art and Music--Harmony Fine Arts Grade 3. Aidan will also take an outside art class, since he's really interested in art.

Latin--Prima Latina

PE--We will continue with the co-op we are in, which includes PE, art, and nature classes, along with periodic field trips and community service opportunities. Sonlight also has some PE ideas in the IG.

Review of school plans for 2011-2012

Brendan and Iona, Preschool:
Their main curriculum this year was the Letter of the Week curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler. Next week is Z week, so we're almost done! I loved a lot of things about this curriculum, but it did take a lot of grunt work to get the pages printed, laminated, and cut each week. It was a good basis for me to work on colors, numbers, letters, patterns, etc. with the littles. I am definitely ready for a break from it, though!

We also supplemented with Sonlight's P3/4 reading. We didn't always keep to their schedule...we went through spurts with the reading and we are still planning to finish it up this summer. We didn't get to many of the activities with it, mainly just the reading. But the reading is excellent, and I think we will be returning to these books again and again!

Aidan, Grade 2:
Bible: We are finishing reading through the gospels and Acts using a study guide (Foundations 2) from Homeschooling Bible. Honestly, we abandoned the study guide partway through and have just been reading the bible and talking about it. We've also been reading a few missionary stories and working on memory verses for AWANA. This bible time is not just done with Aidan; the others kids are there too. I meant to also work through teaching the kids 6 hymns, but that never really got accomplished like I wanted. And we were going to be praying for unreached people groups around the world, but that also went by the wayside as we got busy. I'm hoping to work on some of those things with the kids this summer.

History: We are continuing to plug away at Story of the World 2: The Middle Ages. This is one of Aidan's favorite subjects. Since we didn't start school until end of Sept due to bringing Brendan home from China, we still have a ways to go until we are done with SOTW. While we love a lot of things about SOTW, we will be using a different curriculum next year.

Science: We are close to done with Apologia's Zoology 1. We used the Zoology 1 notebooking journal with it, and it has gone very well. Aidan has loved our study of flying creatures. We've taken things a little slower than my planned schedule because he's having lots of fun with it. We didn't do as much nature study as I would have liked, especially after the weather got colder, but we hope to spend sometime nature journalling this summer.

Language Arts--Grammar: We used First Language Lessons 2 this year and finished it already. I like how short the lessons are, and Aidan has seemed to retain it.

Language Arts--Spelling: We have loved All About Spelling Level 2. I feel like it's been a lot of review for Aidan, but I also feel like he knows the spelling rules a lot better. He really likes spelling and he's good at it.

Language Arts--Writing: We have finished Writing With Ease 2 this year. It got pretty repetitive and we were both bored with it, so we just did the lessons left that I wanted to make sure he understood. We will be trying something else next year.

Language Arts--Literaure and Readers: We've pulled from Sonlight's read aloud (core C) and readers (grade 3) list. We are very behind in our read alouds, but we have all summer still. Aidan has gotten through all of his readers and he's working through the Geronimo Stilton chapter book series now..basically anything he can get his hands on. The boy loves to read!

Art and Music: We are usin the lesson plans from Harmony Fine Arts for Grade 2. Aidan loves art but not music so much. Brendan, however, always joins us for music and LOVES it. I really like this material. Aidan probably wishes we could go a bit faster with the art lessons, but we supplement with an outside co-op art class.

Math: We love Math-U-See's program after switching from Saxon Math last year. This year Aidan is working through the Beta book, and I assume we will work through it all summer to keep math facts straight in his head. Math is hard for him, but I've seen such an improvement in his ability and confidence since using MUS.

Doing's been a while!

Yes, we ARE doing better since my last post in October. That, my goodness, was a difficult season. We are receiving therapy from The Baby Fold, our local homestudy agency. A therapist comes over once a week to work with the kids together and especially help Brendan to settle into a closer attachment to our family.

Since that post:
  • Aidan turned 8! We had a fun family day + grandpa at Legoland in Schaumberg. Aidan loves all things Lego Ninjago and has recently discovered Angry Birds.
  • We had our first Christmas with Brendan home. Fun times!!
  • We were all really sick between Thanksgiving and Christmas...lots of sharing of germs!
  • I've had numerous injuries to deal with since New knee, my foot, and my neck. Tried physical therapy for my knee, and when that didn't work I went to my wonderful chiropractor. He used a high-powered laser on my knee for a while and it's much better. My foot seems to be fine now, and my neck is better but not 100% yet. Gotta work on that posture!
  • From Feb-May, we averaged 5 doctor appts/week. It has been a very expensive spring for us.
  • I got the privilege to travel with my dad and sis to the Hamptons in New York for my second cousin's wedding! It was SO nice to get away for a few days, even if it was a whirlwind trip. I want another cannoli....
  • Last weekend Iona turned 4! We took the family to the circus and had a family party at our house the next day. Our little princess is in love with the Disney princesses and dress-up and at the same time loves to be uber active.
  • I just had sinus surgery yesterday, so I actually have a bunch of down time to blog a little! I can't do much for the next 2 weeks. I hope to have some time to sleep, price clothes for our garage sale, plan for school next year, and read, not in that order.
Coming up this summer:
  • Another adoption garage sale in June. We are THRILLED at all the wonderful donations we have received. We finally got our tax return, so we're trying to pay off the last $4000+.
  • Brendan's 6th birthday in June, and his first one with our family! Our sweet boy loves all things Cars and crafts.
  • Finishing up this school year and planning for next...not sure about our start date yet for fall. Curriculum post to come...