Monday, August 19, 2013

Year 4 of Homeschooling

With a complete overhaul of our homeschooling plan well under way I thought I'd take the time to share our plans for this year. In the past we have gone with boxed sets of homeschooling curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications, using both Horizons and Life Pac. They have worked well for us and our sone but we found something lacking in our home this past year -  that personal, passion for learning that homeschooling is meant to create and encourage. Academically, our son is right up to par compared to traditionally schooled children, but he just doesn't LOVE learning as when we first began. For that reason and the fact that we have two five-year-olds and an eager soon-to-be three year old to teach, we needed to bring that passion for learning back to the front of the class. I have included many (if not all) my links from my research as we go along.

After much research (it was a long winter) and encouragement from other homeschooling parents we know, we decided to use the Charlotte Mason approach to educating our children. The basic premise is simple; people learn best when they are passionate about the subject or from those who are passionate about their subject. She encouraged learning from what she called "living books" rather than text books. Living books are most often written by people who are well informed and passionate about their subject and that will come across in their writing therefor, better capturing the attention and passions of your own child (better than any stagnant text book written by a panel of learned people might). We also really like that every part of a child's day becomes their learning. From habit training (or chores as some might call it) to character development to History and Math; all are just an extension of the parent's job to raise up passionate, functioning, educated, adults.

You'll notice that I give about 15-30 minutes per subject. I want to be clear that not all the time will be used for reading/teaching. Some will be left open for discussion and having the children recite back to me the things they have learned so I know where to focus our attention the next time. I'm sure I am missing a lot of details that could help explain how our day will look, but in the end, our whole day is designed to keep our minds active and creatively learning .

Here is what we hope to use as our "Curriculum" and schedule for this year... I'm certain things will adjust and change, but we need to start somewhere...
For the Family Lessons, the initial teaching will be done together on these subjects though the younger children will use more simplified versions than the older one(s). We’ll discuss what we have learned using Who, What, Where, When, Why and How questions. The older one(s) will write out their questions and answers in a notebook and review with me their insights.

While me might have started with Simply Charlotte Mason, We ended up using the Ambleside Online site to help us pick out and organize our year. Both are great, but ultimately we liked the organization used on the Ambleside Online's website and we just needed to tweak is slightly to suit our needs. So not all of these subjects would be found on their site. One of the reasons for that is because Ambleside is a primarily British/American source and there really isn't a Charlotte Mason "approved" Canadian History base just yet. So I have looked up something that I think will be good for our needs and hopefully we'll be able to find most of our books at our local library. See the last image for that outline.

We also wanted to use the Year 2 Bible to start so that we could begin our timeline as a family and the younger children could better follow along (hopefully). We've also decided to use the Exploring Creation Series they sited as an alternative because I know my boys would prefer that brightly illustrated and factual style of learning for that subject. I don't know about you but some of my favorite fact books were those done by Crabtree Publishing, these are similar to those and a bit more text book like than I think Charlotte might have preferred.

Math is also one that really can't just be done as a multi-age, but it can be done at the same time, only making simple changes for the young ones for now. We chose Math-U-See for our son this year. He used to love math but recently began to dislike the many pages of question & answer work he had to do. This curriculum set seems to work past that and engage the children into loving math.

By all means question/comment away here because the more I have to think about it, the better it will be in the end.

Sample of our Canadian History Plan
Some other links:
Manitoba Social Studies outline from the Government's site.
Penmanship, Handwriting tools