Sunday, August 26, 2012

2012 ~ 2013 Schedule

We are entering our third year of homeschooling.  From everything I have read, this is the year we are supposed to hit our stride.  If last week was any indication...I think we have done that.  It has been my desire from the very beginning of this venture to be laid-back, to let the girls take the lead in their education and to take our time and immerse ourselves in our studies so we really understand what we are learning, not quickly move along public school-style!  But...I have a lot of 'school' in me and I am a planner and a doer and I think a lot about SATs and entrance exams and making sure my girls are well-prepared for all of that.

We have had an upsetting summer.  My uncle, with whom I have always been very close, is sick and it's been a very emotional summer.  My mind and heart are not really in homeschooling right now.

My mind being un-focused has propelled my girls to take more of a lead in their education.  They spend hours building with Keva blocks.  They spend hours in their art studio trying different things, sewing and creating.  We have made a lot of Michaels and Pearl runs lately!  They work with Snap Circuits every single day and it has been amazing to hear them say, "Well, if that worked...maybe this will work..." and deviate from the diagram and add components or bypass's applied learning - and to me, that is true learning!

When we began homeschooling two years ago, we had a homeschool room and created a timeline that covered an entire wall.  We have since given up the homeschoom room in favor of our dining room/living room/library and anywhere else we happen to I gave the girls a project: create a timeline of the first two volumes of Story of the World.  I showed them several websites of ideas: notebook timelines, computer document timelines, page timelines, scroll timelines...and asked them to pick one type of timeline and work on adding the dates listed in the back of Story of the World.  I anticipated this would take a few weeks...but in one week they have added all of the dates in SotW 1 and are halfway through SotW 2. The timeline they chose requires pictures from each period as well as a narrative of each period...something they have been working on together and I feel summarizing periods like this is really helping them to understand what history is all about!

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Our schedule this year will be similar to last year.  It's what works for us and hey, if you find something that works, why not stick with it, right?

We consider "together" things to be history, science...anything we read or work on together or something that I need to explain beforehand.  "Independent" work is anything they work on by themselves - they are each at different levels in math, they watch the videos and then, if they need help, I am there to help; they also have geography books that they work on independently and my plan is to order logic books when they complete the geography books.  Both girls enjoy writing independently.  Last year they also began "Cool Stuff" binders, which are kind of like Writer's Notebooks, where they chronicle anything they think is cool and want to remember; they use these for personal research on whatever they are interested in at the moment - animals, cooking, fashion, decorating, skin care, etc.  They have spent a lot of time and energy in figuring out ways to organize this information in their binders so they can easily find it - an invaluable skill!

Last year, inspired by the Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick, Allie created a Mother-Daughter Book Club with her friends.  We will continue this monthly book club again this year, as all of the girls really enjoy it and it has gotten them talking about books and recommending books to each other.  In addition, this group will also begin a Writer's Circle this year, where the girls will share their writing (if they want, when they want) and help each other make their writing stronger.

Along with de-cluttering our home and striving for a more simple life, I am committed to a "Less is More" approach to education this year...taking on less and really taking the time to sink our teeth into what we take on.  I feel we sometimes over-extend ourselves and end up not being able to give enough time and attention to the tasks at hand.  Although when asked the question, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?" their answers change almost daily, the common thread in all of my girls' answers is usually something related to art or design, so with that in mind, we will be spending our extra time, energy and money pursuing artistic exploration and endeavors.