Monday, August 17, 2015

The Awesome School 2015: What We Plan to Do (K and 1st grade)

Once upon a time, M and I decided to home school our children. Well, we did not have any children, yet. And I have been slowly dreading it to some extent. I mean, it is a lot of responsibility to educate your children, and we have this vision of a classical-traditional-sacramental education we want our children to have so that they can be awesome people.

Last year we went to the curriculum fair at the homeschool conference, and I cried got overwhelmed about homeschooling. I was trying to decide if I should do some first grade things with G (who was five at the time) or not. I finally settled on giving her a year of casual kindergarten. And we did this, and I am going to do the same thing with L (5 in November) for kindergarten this year:

Kindergarten: 
I finished this book (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons) with G last school year, and it was a struggle. We may have fought and cried our way through the lessons. I wish I had become a more patient person through it, though I am not sure that I did. Well this summer (five months after finishing the book and reading really simple library books together), she came up to me out of the blue and said: "Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to read." I really did cry then. Now she reads everything she is able to read. She loves it. She reads to her sisters, she reads to herself. She gets better everyday.

(NOTE: I know this sounds like the book 100 Easy Lessons was awful, but really it was just personality and my dynamic with G. L and I have done 20 lessons so far and it is much different. We think G does better as a self-learner.)


We have been working through the Handwriting Without Tears (Handwriting Without Tears: Letters and Numbers for Me) curriculum, so we just did that everyday. She wrote to her penpal, wrote cards for family birthdays, etc.

I did not buy a kindergarten math book, we just got more comfortable with numbers doing Montessori activities from this book: Teach Me to Do it Myself And it all went well.

And we did random science activities from that book as well. We also joined a twice a month co-op which had art, gym, and a science class for her.

So, I am going to do what I did with G last year for L this year, and if it goes well I will decide if she is ready for first grade next year or just do another casual year.

First Grade:
When M and I were discussing first grade, I really felt like I wanted to get a set curriculum. I am a slight perfectionist, and I can't do something as major as homeschooling without something like, "You will do this exact thing today in this subject, and this in this other subject, etc." That seemed the only way.

But my dear husband, reminded me of our plan to give our kids the education we preferred for them and none of the set curricula do what we want. So, he agreed to plan meticulously with me, with our textbooks and other books, what we are going to do this year.

We decided to start the Awesome School next week. Summer weather will hopefully continue, but I think we are all ready for some structure after the baby.

We are going to do two half weeks, and then after Labor Day jump in full swing. But this also means that I have to get my act together. This week is home organization, and school supply purchasing.

Here are the books we are using (minus the St. Joseph Catechism, because a certain six year old wanted to read it during quiet time):
For reading and spelling we are using the Catholic National Reader Primer and Book One.
I love this. It is an old fashioned reader with reading practice, phonics, plus comprehension, plus spelling words. I am slightly geeked out to use it. We are also supplementing with Explode the Code  because G really likes the activities in it.

For English I am finally going to learn grammar, I mean G is going to learn grammar with Shurley English Level 1. The teachers manual is very scripted, fortunately for her. This must be my post about crying, because I cried for about a week trying to learn the parts of speech and how to diagram a sentence Freshman year of high school because I was not taught how these things in elementary school.

Once G gets the hang of grammar and reading a bit more, we are going to start Latin with Prima Latina . She is already memorizing the Latin prayers with M in his memorization hour he does with her twice a week.

For Math we are going with Singapore 1A & 1B, largely because we have heard it is the only curriculum that prepares students for advanced math. There are already algebraic concepts in 1st grade!

For science we are going all Charlotte Mason/unit study:
M is currently planning units including birds, trees, dinosaurs, astronomy, simple machines, and rocks. We might throw in the human body as well. For this we are using library books, the above pictured books, going outside, and are getting a science museum membership.

In Theology we are possibly doing First Communion prep since G will be 7 in March. We are giving her a couple months before we decide. But we will be working through two books: Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism and Our Heavenly Father (scripture based). We will also be discussion saint days and the liturgical year.

We will also be doing Fine Arts for everybody. We have selected a famous painting and a musical composition for each week to learn about. And we will work on some basic drawing with Draw Write Now.

I think we will probably be doing school 4 days a week for 2 hours (8:30-10:30 depending on baby naptime), and 1 hour on Fridays or our twice a month co-op (the same one we did last year). Science and the Fine Arts will be only twice a week.

In addition to what I am doing with the girls, M is going to be working on poem recitations, Latin prayer memorization, geography, and some history with the girls a couple hours a week. He did this last year with G, and she did really well.
 

Preschool:
F (3 in November) is going to just tag along, color, listen, and be little. :)

2 comments:

  1. I could give you some guidance on Anatomy and Physiology of the human body in a kid friendly version. I have a coloring book that I made copies for the cousins and they loved them. B did not get the concept of color coding that well but Cl and Ca both loved them. We talked about different chambers of the heart and how oxygenated blood (O2 riding on hemoglobin shuttles) vs. non-oxygenated blood are pumped around the body. I wonder if we could plan a weekly lesson on a particular part of the body and talk about it on skype.

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  2. Reading your blog brought back many happy memories ff homeschooling my 3 girls and their two young brothers. We too did lots of reading, playing, talking, cooking, and jam-making. It's true how fleeting the time is, though at the time it seems like it will last forever. Cherish every moment!
    We used 100 easy lessons also and it's not you- my first daughter and I both shed lots of tears with that book. By number two daughter, I realized that the tears didn't really start till after about 60 lessons at which point we put it back on the shelf for a while and used only as needed. By dd#3, we used it mostly for reference and I'm not sure if the boys ever saw it. Guess what? They are all excellent readers now!
    Quite a few other moms I knew also called it the reading with tears book- it was very useful to teach me how to teach, but my kids did better with other books. We really liked sing, spell, read, and write-it was simply fun!

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