When we made the decision last March to homeschool, I began the process of figuring out how to go about it. I had about 5 months before we’d begin around the same time when public school would begin. I knew that I was destined to be clearly wrong in many choices I would make, but we all have to start somewhere. It’s interesting now to look back and see how the first 4ish months went!
There are several areas to look back on: Academics, Day-to-day Life, Family Impact. This post is about the academics. One of the earliest things I decided was my general approach to homeschooling. I originally decided on classical homeschooling. However, the language arts approach that classical education uses just won’t work with my boys. They both have issues with writing that really need to be worked on in a very individualized manner that just isn’t consistent with what classical education calls for. However – I do still value many of the tenets of classical education such as a heavy emphasis on history, literature, and “living books” rather than textbooks. As far as specific subjects go, that has been quite interesting! The “original plan” is in red.
Science – Just get books from the library as interests come up, discuss things at home about science all the time like we always do. This plan made me feel uneasy with “keeping up”. I know it probably would work out just fine, but it’s just not my style. We did get an actual science curriculum and DH agreed to teach it! He follows it very loosely of course, certainly not “cover to cover”, and we still throw in lots of our own science conversations. They both highly enjoy it.
Literature – Get some good reading lists and start working through them. Include historical literature from the historical period we’re learning about. This is still basically what we’re doing! I’ve added in some American historical literature and biographies. Fuzzy plows through books about twice as fast as I thought he would! I did get a book for myself to help me have a conversation with Fuzzy about what he read that extends beyond either a verbatim re-telling of the book or a “it was good” statement!
Reading – Fuzzy doesn’t need formal reading instruction anymore. Use a good phonics-based program for Bear with lots of practice. I still feel this way for Fuzzy, he reads a TON of literature. However, for Bear this has been a bit of a struggle. In retrospect he learned to read quite easily. It took a long time for ME to learn that he will learn to read when left on his own with minimal input from me. Our phonics work is actually behind his reading level now pretty much just to put my own mind at ease, but he really enjoys it and gets irritated when I skip it!
History – Use the classical approach of starting at the “beginning of time” and working our way forward. Yep, that’s what we’re doing and it’s working quite nicely! I did change one big thing. At first, I integrated our Bible study with history. Well, I came to realize I don’t actually believe the Bible quite that literally (this is a whole different conversation). So, I separated out the religion from the history and we’ve been happily studying ancient history ever since. We’re up to about 440 BC to the Ancient Greeks.
Math – Horizons Kinder Math for Bear (transitioning to Singapore Math in 1st) and 2nd grade Singapore Math for Fuzzy. Bear already knew all of Horizons Kinder Math before school ever started it turned out. Fuzzy blew through 2nd grade Singapore Math in about 2 months – I think he actually already knew it all in retrospect. Bear is having struggles with the abstraction needed for 1st grade and I see no need to rush him, so we are playing math games. Fuzzy is sailing through 3rd grade math so quickly that I’m looking into other resources to complement our math program that will deepen his understanding. Perhaps strategy/logic games or Math Pentathlon resources will work.
American History / Social Studies – No plan, didn’t think we’d need these in year one! After a while of doing World History, I started to feel a bit strange that we weren’t discussing American History at all. I also realized that when social studies issues came along (say Columbus Day or Thanksgiving) – there was absolutely no part in our week specifically devoted to any kind of study of these things – other than literature. So I added a bit in!
Art – Clueless! Let them play around? Find a class? They absolutely love studying different famous artists. It really surprised me. We’ve studied Picasso and Pollock so far. They are fascinated. They love trying to copy a painting and they are quite the little art critics as well. By the way – they both think Jackson Pollock was a terrible artist! 🙂
PE – Use family time fitness to incorporate daily active time. Ha ha ha ha – that plan bombed. This has morphed into our home therapy program. They also take a once a week PE class now. At first I thought I could successfully do a real PE class at home. I actually possibly could, but frankly I just don’t feel like it. It’s also nice having them off at a class for 3 hours once a week, I won’t lie! 🙂
Drama – this was a total whim and not planned at all. It was cheap and close to the house. Well, they LOVE it. We definitely plan to keep it.