Another school year has started in our home. I did not have a big “first day of school” announcement. I did not take a single picture the day we started. I did not even tell the kids until the morning that we were starting school that day.
That was SO.MUCH.EASIER…..for me. Not knowing we were starting until an hour before we did, the kids did not have time to whine and complain about work. They didn’t have a chance to think of deals to try to make with me (“If I read this chapter, can I play a Wii game??”). I had a LOT less arguing to do with my older ones about just how much work they would have to do.
Yes, I took the easy way out, planned the day secretly and silently, and I just sprung it on them that morning. They knew it was coming because I was organizing and purging our messy school book corner like a mad woman, but they just did not know which day we were starting. My plan was to wait until after Labor Day, but now that all of our Summer classes and activities and parties were over, everyone was annoying each other. Every game or play time became an argument. Honestly, I was tired of being a referee for Polly Pocket playing (sheesh, girls!!).
So, we started school without any fanfare. And I LOVED IT. So much less pressure to make the day something spectacular. Just focused on the books and it went great!
This year, we are covering these subjects with these books/curricula:
Bible – Lots of memory work here. Right now, they have the first half of Psalm 23 memorized (yes, all five kiddos learned it! Very cute to listen to.). After Psalm 23, we have a lot of individual verses to learn, and I plan to work in some more short chapters again later this year.
Besides memory work, I am also having the older girls read a Proverb a day (which ties into copy work as well). And we will start Bible stories soon, too.
Geography/History – These are combined for the most part. We will be learning about the Greeks. I am not great with keeping up on a timeline, but I am hoping to tie it in to what we learned about Romans last year, then work it into a timeline with the Bible. We shall see how this goes. (FYI – History is NOT my strong suit, and my girls aren’t overly interested in it. I did not purchase a curriculum for it; we are working off what we already have, in addition to a TON of library books from both the children’s and adult sections.)
We are also covering our home state (Illinois). I am not doing too much of the history of it right now. I am focusing mostly on maps – finding it on the globe, on our USA map, and then being able to identify things within a map of the state. We are completing a MY Illinois book with lots of coloring and fact pages. Iris and Lily are the only ones doing this.
Science – This is definitely more child-led than a lot of the other subjects. The kids had mentioned wanting to study the human body, so I am breaking that down in to the body systems. Right now, we are finishing up the Skeletal system. We memorized major bones of the body, facts about the number of bones in different sections of our body, the function and purpose of bones, and other things like that. I am finding it interesting, and the kids are having fun using the bone names in everyday conversation (“I just hurt my coccyx!”). I am trying to keep it light and fun. The older girls had pages to fill out, identifying the bones on a skeleton picture.
I did not purchase a science curriculum either. I am finding library books, along with free curriculum printables online to print out and use.
We are also working on a nature study but have not started it yet. It will probably start later this Fall and go through Winter. We don’t usually do outdoor Winter things for school, but I would like to do hikes and whatnot during the cold months so we can appreciate the plants and animals we don’t get to see in the Spring/Summer months.
Spelling – We will be using words from other subjects to create our spelling lists. Most recently, we used names of 12 different bones to make up our list. Addy had 3 words (rib, bone and skull) to learn to spell and write.
Writing – We are doing copy work to practice handwriting. Iris and Lily are writing out a few verses from the daily Proverb. Addy works on writing her spelling words. Iris and Lily are also required to NEATLY write their spelling words as handwriting practice.
Reading – There is both group reading and individual reading. For group reading right now, we are finishing up Island of the Blue Dolphin (I forgot how much I really like that book!). The boys don’t seem very interested in it, so they don’t usually stick around for it. I end up reading them little books at a different time. I am also reading a Magic School Bus book that corresponds with our skeletal system study (Case of the Missing Bones).
Math – Iris and Lily are on the next levels of Singapore Math. They are still below their grade level, I believe, in the curriculum’s levels. But, we are moving quickly through them, and Iris is actually much more interested in math this year and doing quite well with it. My (personal) goal is to help them through their current level of books in the next two months, so that they can complete two levels by January. I think they can do it, as long as we stay on track. They are much more open to learning new math ideas this year already, so I am sure they can coast right through their current books and “catch up” to their grade level by Spring. Lily is very good at math, but she doesn’t enjoy doing the work (imagine that!). And last year I was not very pushy with it. I am not worried about them being behind. They can add and subtract like they need to in everyday life; Iris is actually getting much better with adding large numbers and multiplication. I know they will get even faster when they see the NEED for math in more areas of life.
Art – We are working through 1-2-3 Draw Wild Animals for art. This is a library book, and I like that it is very basic with drawing but works up to pretty detailed characters. That allows all of us, even the little ones, to attempt the drawings. I also like how it shows the relationship between simple shapes (circle, oval) and a finished animal picture. I haven’t decided which book to work through next. We do not have art every day. It will most likely be once a week. They do a lot of “crafting” on their own, so I will let them continue that – card making, fairy house building (no, I don’t believe in fairies, but they get rather creative with using boxes from our recycling bag to dress up and make little homes. It is pretty cute…and messy.)
In a different kind of art category, we will be memorizing poetry again. I am amazed that they remember the two poems I rushed to teach them in the Spring. Every now and then, I hear one of them reciting it (perfectly) out loud around the house. :)
Music – Iris and Lily will be participating in the Children’s Choir at church in a few weeks. I will also start up piano lessons again with them. We did not get very far last year with piano; I plan to be much more intentional with setting aside time to teach them. We have borrowed beginner piano books from my mom to use.
Life Skills – I have several things planned for this category. First thing we are working on is cleaning! I have created a chore chard for each of the girls (and for the boys because they wanted one, but theirs mostly just say “behave, listen to mom, and get dressed”). Each girl is responsible for some are of the home – Iris and Lily have a bathroom each to clean, and Addy is responsible for keeping the school/loft floor clean. We also have a marker board on the fridge explaining what must be done before breakfast. I am hoping this cuts down on the amount of demands in the morning, but so far we have had quite a bit of whining when the kids remember the board. They still have to go do the work before they can eat, but my hope is that eventually it will just be automatic to do those things before expecting breakfast.
I included some school work on a couple of the days so far. This incites more whining. Haha! But, they get it done. :) This week, I have been lazy and just required they do the basics – dress, bed, hair, read Bible, tidy room.
Another life skill I would like for them to learn is table setting. I have a book from the library on different ways to set the table for different occasions (formal dinner, brunch, casual dinner, parties, etc). I think it would be nice for them to know the proper way to set a table, all the different silverware pieces, and whatnot. This will also include proper table manners…..we have several that like to chew with their mouths open!
Lastly, I would like at least Iris and Lily to do more with cooking and baking. Iris loves to create snacks; she will ask me to pick 5 ingredients and leave her to create something. Lily has done this on occasion as well. They like being creative in the kitchen, which is great, but I would like for them to learn basic cooking skills, baking skills, and a few other things. I have had Iris write out a recipe I created for dinner the other night. It is good handwriting practice, good math work (fractions and measurements), and spelling practice. Plus, I really like that they have an interest in the kitchen, like their momma. :)
I think that covers everything we have planned for at least this first half of the year. The only curriculum I actually purchased was their math books. Everything else was printed from online or borrowed (from library or another person). My goal was to see how inexpensive we could go this year but still get a full, quality education for them. I think we did a pretty good job meeting my requirements!