Wednesday, August 24, 2011

School is almost here!

Next week is back-to-school week. Hubby has to be at school (he's a teacher) on August 30th, although the students aren't back until Sept. 1st. My niece and nephew are with a different school system and they actually head back to school on the 30th. The 17yo, I believe, is expecting to start on the 1st.

I have had in my mind that I would like to have 30th and 31st to homeschool just my two--well, with my youngest niece and the little guy here. Every time I sit down to write out a plan, I get stuck. I have butterflies in my stomach. I feel like I have no clue what I'm doing!

I'm trying to change things this year and really go about things in a way that I can make it all happen. Books that I have been reading have been helping me flesh out goals and my determination to follow through on them, and one of my 4 key goals right now is my children's education. I've got the drive, I've got the will--I just don't know what I'm doing.

What better way to flesh things out than by writing? :D

That's why I'm here right now, writing.

I pulled out a printout of a CM school schedule from way back when. It reminded me that I don't have to plan the whole day--just his 3-4 hours in the morning. I am NOT doing a CM-style schedule, having him change lessons every 20 minutes or so. But I am looking at covering the various subject areas, as I think having a lot to provide him with and for him to choose from will be highly beneficial. I'm not going to cover every subject every day, so I find myself kind of stuck. I have to balance things with having other kids to provide lessons to, to help, to change diapers and potty train... I guess I'm feeling stuck on how I'm going to make this work. (Writing that, I have come into my head, from The Secret, that the "how" is the domain of the universe and my job is to figure out that "what". lol) All right, I need to forget the "how" and just focus on the "what" I want to cover.

What does the CM schedule that I found on the AmblesideOnline site have? (Remembering that they did school over 6 days instead of just our 5.)

The particular sample schedule, which I have to admit I don't know if they changed the schedule each week or what, although I think they must have because there's no mention of Shakespeare in any of the schedules, has as the Monday plan:
*Old Testament
*Drill/10 minutes of play
*Repetition of a poem

I won't be doing drill, but this breakdown isn't bad. Looking at the week as a whole, arithmetic is done 5 out of 6 days; easy enough for me to be prepared to give him math work each day, alternating between concepts (arithmetic one day, geometry the next, back to arithmetic). Of course, because I'm not doing drill and the song stuff they do, I could always add in geometry as a separate subject. (I went through the provincial curriculum not so long ago and I really felt that geometry could be treated as a separate subject, but complementing whatever arithmetic he was covering--multiplication lends itself to looking at area, for example.)

One of the CM books I read talked about giving lessons, not just having subject time, giving the child the work and have them go at it. I need to make sure the lessons are super short, but this has how it's often been with him anyhow and following Montessori, so that's not a problem. With the Old Testament, I think that's a great place to start and I could preview the first chapter of Genesis, see if there's anything to bring up, then have him read it and do some sort of follow-up work: a picture or oral narration. My 13yo could read it, too, and could do a written narration and/or some sort of art (she's very artsy!). While I have not done CM with them and have not done narration formally with her, she is a natural narrator, giving full details of movies, books, dreams, situations that occurred with brother, cousins... Very detailed. lol. Always has been. It's really remarkable. But I digress. Her oral narration is fantastic, so I am not hesitating at all in having her go straight to written narration. (Her age group timetable also start with Old Testament, so combining the two kids' work on this is perhaps rather easy, although I expect I will be able to have her at some point read more than one chapter.)

Arithmetic: Well, I have things written up on my other computer, a plan of the topics to aim to cover each month. Seems to me that the starting topic for arithmetic is place value. For the first day of school, I could do a review lesson with him, see where he's at in identifying place value, and adding in 3 more bits of information, then having him create his own questions and identifying the place value. Actually, a perhaps better start is to see where he is in terms of breaking down numbers (as in, 18 567 = 10 000 + 8 000 + 500 + 60 + 7)--I think seeing what the numbers are made up of lends itself better to learning the name of the positions.

Dictation: Uh... He's still barely writing properly. I think I need to scrap dictation for the first while and instead have this as his repetition time (which is also done in Montessori, so I love that!). That means I'll have to find a book or a collection of poems that he could try to memorize. I have a great book of Poems for the Young that I could use, or maybe print off some of A Child's Garden of Verses. There is a free version (or possibly more than one free version) available online. Can't remember if it's at Project Gutenberg or not. Ideally I will find some good French poetry by Tuesday!

Geography is next on the schedule: Hm. I haven't figured out what I'm doing with him on this. His sister, for social studies, will be spending the year on government--I've modified the provincial curriculum and will be starting the year off looking at how people governed themselves in ancient times. I'd like to have the two sort of working on the same thing, just to make things easier. I suppose Geography time is a good time for him to read a bit about an ancient country and tying it in with a map. I will have to figure out what I'm doing for this!!! I had not gotten that far in his sister's plans to know what she's going to start with exactly and which resources we will use.

After Geography is Writing--this will be his copywork time. We are starting off the year with me giving explicit instruction in forming letters, both cursive and print. He uses capitals where he's not supposed to for letters like P--it looks the same in both upper and lower case and he just doesn't seem to get yet that a lower case lies on the line. So, we are starting from the beginning. I think I will tie in Writing Road to Reading with this since we're doing this somewhat remedially and the approach for learning letters--past the sandpaper letter phase--is really good. I will tie in the idea of narration, having him explain to me how to make a letter so that it looks good and sits on the line properly.

The final subject for the day is supposed to be French. That's excellent. Except that I'm not sure what to do since French is our home language. lol. I suppose I need to decide if I will have him read and narrate during that time or if we'll cover grammar.

Now, I said the final subject is supposed to be French because the above, if he takes the rough amount of time from the Parents' Union School schedule, is missing the 20 minutes of drill and play and the Dictation time, which is supposed to be about 30 minutes. That's nearly an hour missing. What should I tack on as another subject or two? He loves science, so I think that would be a great way to end the formal day for him. What to cover? I hadn't really decided what I would do this year for science with him, I don't think. Part of me is interested in maybe quickly covering the provincial elementary curriculum--all kinds of things he hasn't done that he would really like. I could skip the somewhat superfluous things. I'll have to decide quickly. And figure out another subject to add in. Or maybe not skip dictation, just keep it simple to start with. Hm...

Looking ahead to Tuesday's subjects, I see Latin. I think Latin would be very cool to introduce to him. He's already been grasping certain things from all of his own reading on animals and I just think it could be very interesting for him, a new challenge related to what he loves, to start learning a bit. The thing is: I really, really don't want to use an English-based program and I have not yet found anything for kids in French. I'll keep looking or I'll maybe buy and English program, translate the lesson and then present it to him. (Oooh, just found this be fantastic as a starting point for me to create lessons if I can't find a suitable French resource. Great thing about French being a Latin-based language is that it will be even clearer what the Latin words mean!)

I don't know if he's going to want to continue with German studies this year. If he does, that could replace the "French" classes. (But then, what to do with the German class in the schedule? lol)

Well, this is a good start for a fixed plan for the first day. I'll have to go through a plan for my dd, but tomorrow. I'm getting rather tired and don't want to think anymore. ;) And then I'll have to finalize resources and the actual lessons, won't I? And then figure a plan for my 3yo niece!

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