Making Adjustments

We are currently working on week #6, nearly half a term down! There are always adjustments, plans have to change to fit reality. Other than formatting the boys’ schedules (which will have to be another post), the adjustments so far have been fairly minor.

All the changes this year stem from one thing: independence. I need the boys to be as independent as possible. School cannot depend 100% on me. After much prodding from family, I’ve started to publish my books written during NaNoWriMo. So I’m moving to being a WAHM, and we’ve had to shift our schooling style a bit.

Without further ado, here are the losers (and replacement contenders) so far:

  • (Week 5) MEP math has been replaced by the review books from Math Mammoth (eldest two), and if MM continues to work I’ll purchase the yellow/green series for them. My youngest will be returning to Miquon, I really think he needs the hands-on, manipulative approach. I feel so guilty about MEP, I’m always saying how great it is (which is still true). But the week we didn’t do MEP dramatically shortened our school days, everyone was more relaxed, no one was waiting for me, and I was less stressed as a result. MEP, I love you, and you are a great program. I’ve learned a lot. But with three school-aged kids I just can’t do it. I’m also planning to use these simple daily review sheets, since Math Mammoth is mastery based. Oh, for the teaching aspect I have the Kitchen Table Math books.
  • (Week 5) Van Loon’s “Story of Mankind” for my eldest. There’s just too much and I don’t have time to help with background. My own education in world history is sorely lacking. He’ll finish up “This Country of Ours” this term covering American history to the 1900s (he is doing a combo year 5/6).  I’d already planned to do modern biographies for terms 2 and 3: Beatrix Potter and Winston Churchill  I think that he and I will read “Story of the World Volume 4” by Susan Wise Bauer during those terms. So he won’t miss any world history, it will just be delayed a bit.
  • (Week 3) Serl’s Intermediate Language Lessons has been replaced by KISS Grammar. I will probably add in some more writing: Nano’s Young Writer Program, letters to grandparents (and other ideas inspired by the Brave Writer Lifestyle), perhaps some progymnasmata modelled after descriptions by Brandy at Afterthoughts. And more written narrations. KISS Grammar is free, printable and fairly independent. With Serl I either needed to be there, or to spend more money to buy the workbook style PDF (which would have forced the boys to write a lot more).
  • (Week 2/3) Spell to Write and Read has been dropped [again]. It’s good, and it has helped me as a teacher. But I don’t have time, even combining the oldest two boys. Which really just makes them goofier and doesn’t save much time. I think all the other homeschool moms who combine kids must be better disciplinarians than I am. Or they have a few kids that are calm. Youngest son will be following the Charlotte Mason reading lessons outlined by a wonderful blogger and the elder two will be doing studied dictation starting with Simply Spelling* (elder) and Delightful Dictation (younger). 

Other changes: I am adding a little bit of Greek with Bluedorn’s Hupogrammon  starting next week. The older boys will alternate Greek with Spanish (The Fun Spanish). We do some Spanish as a group, and their Spanish curriculum lends itself to an every-other-day format, so I think this schedule will work out well. I am also using “Italics: Beautiful Handwriting for Children” with my 7yo. I abandoned it before because there was too much writing – more than I think Charlotte used (she kept a brisk pace of 1-2 letters a lesson). But I’ve decided not to worry about doing every line. I’ve planned to go through the basic alphabet covering about 4 letters a week, focusing on quality work.

And we can’t forget the winners! In alphabetical order:

  • Ambleside Online – boys are in years 2, 4 and a 5/6 combo. So many lovely books!
  • BRIEM Italic Handwriting – my elder two boys are doing the remedial copywork sheets featuring Alice in Wonderland, and they seem to be making progress. Next term they will use the book CM recommended: A New Handwriting and (hopefully) a Commonplace Book.
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. While we haven’t been as consistent as I’d like, due to me assigning lessons to certain weeks we’ve done better than usual. How’s that for a positive spin!! I need a system to note which lessons were missed so we can do them on break weeks. And I’ve had to let go of perfection on this book, and just do our best. It’s all about wonder and exploration.
  • Countryside Rambles – We’ve read the first two sections of “autumn” and I’m enjoying it. It’s helped me see the beauty of fall that I would otherwise miss in my dread of winter.
  • SALSA Spanish – love the videos, but need to work on the activities more. We are trying to push Spanish hard before we go South again this winter to camp — we hope to use a bit of Spanish down there.
  • Visual Latin. LOVE!!! 
  • Wee Folk Art Preschool reading list. My daughter loves the books, and I love that they are generally found at my library. The books are so good I am trying to think of an excuse to start buying them. Is it too soon to purchase them for possible future grandchildren?
Going forward, I want to work on our group time. This is very important to me, but it seems to be forgotten or pushed aside. I love it when we sing together, I love reading the Bible with all the kids together. I’m hoping to habitualize our mornings and do Morning Time more consistently. I’d also like to start having an afternoon Tea Time, and I’m considering putting my 9 year old in charge of that. (He loves having hot cocoa or lemonade, snacks and poetry, and he actually pays attention to little details like what time it is!)
There are always adjustments. They’ve taught me to over-plan less, and I actually look forward to the changes.

* Simply Spelling is difficult to find online, but can be had by emailing the author. You can email her shoelacebooks AT yahoo.com for information.

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