Our Homeschool: January 2019
Here we are beginning a new year.
I’d like to address a message I received over the holidays. Basically, a sweet, young Mom wanted to know if she could/should switch things that aren’t working in their homeschool.
My short answer is yes.
My longer answer is heck, yes.
It can take a while to figure out how you teach, and they learn. Every kiddo is different so sometimes what works for one does not work for another. Sometimes that changes in the span of one year.
It is completely allowed to switch styles or go into a lighter academic season. Use your parenting intuition in choosing new to you curricula, homeschool books, or curriculum guides to change up the academic part of your learning environment. Remember that even if they are scheduled, you can switch that up too. Maybe a loop schedule works better for you. Or a block where you do all the science once a week.
At our house, we’re stoked about beginning our new BookShark Science homeschooling program. I feel like it will add some much needed variety to our school at home and will fit our kids learning style. The first kit that we received in the mail was damaged, but a quick email to them and they made it right very quickly. This is the last year that I anticipate us using a kind of “general” grade school approach and since we are concentrating on other subjects this year- the open and go schedule, fun activities, and cool science books sold me on this program.
We’re in mid week twelve in our BookShark History/LA. (We’re going year-round before anyone starts counting on their fingers and freaking out on my behalf- and we finished a years worth of a different curriculum in a semester!
I actually had to check where we were because the last few weeks I had started just “doing the next thing” instead of consulting the lesson plans. We had been spending an absurd amount of time learning both Math and Latin, and that didn’t leave a whole lot of mental space for much else. That seemed like a good plan until it didn’t.
Taking the last week of the year off and putting it all away opened my eyes to the prevailing atmosphere around here which, honestly, wasn’t great. I love Classical Education (need a primer on that term? Check out The Well Trained Mind from your library and then try not to hyperventilate.
I’ve used that method on and off with my kids for years because every Summer I talk myself into thinking we will be super academic and for some of my kids, I was right during that specific season of learning. Many times I was not right. At least I don’t beat a dead horse.
Confession: sometimes I just get bored. I’ve taught all the grades five times now, and mixing it up with something new is just what I need. Whatever the reason, if you feel like you need to change things up in your home then you should seriously think about it.
My current 13 yo loves memorization. Like he memorizes random lists and facts for fun, he loved the idea of having several subjects worth of flashcards and in his words “hard work.” We’re in week Nineteen (?) in all those subjects, but it is a slog. I’m not in any way saying that school shouldn’t be work, but it also should retain a “delight” factor, and we lost that somewhere. We finished both the Science and American History books and were more relieved than satisfied.
To be fair, its an odd year for us, we’re still grieving the loss of my father in law and settling in a new house/town. We didn’t get a ton of school done last Spring/Summer either as our entire family participated in full-time caregiving.
This is my show to run, and I take responsibility for any misdirection, luckily I did know that we were going to need more books than the four included in our other curriculum. I ordered Bookshark last Fall and planned on using it at half speed as a deluxe Geography program with a set of awesome readers.
I’m not a stranger to the literature based method as we used Sonlight with our older kids for many years. I hardly ever purchased a full core from them, because I resented buying the Bible section that we wouldn’t use. So BookShark was a breath of fresh air where I can just order the entire level with one click. I checked my notebook, and between our five kids, we studied Sonlight cores K- 300.
At first, I didn’t understand the BookShark Language Arts study, it seemed like it jumped around too much and since we were getting plenty of grammar in Latin, I let it slide a bit. We did the dictation and some of the writing. I yanked an old copy of Writing With Ease Level 4 off my shelf, and we worked through the remaining lessons in there to build up some confidence by practicing dictation daily.
I think we’re ready to tackle some storytelling so this week we’ll begin the BookShark LA again with the two-week Animal Story project. It’s the perfect subject for my kid, and I feel confident teaching it as well.
So we’ll be finishing reading Breaking Stalin’s Nose this week and will continue on reading about Russia in our Journey’s to the Eastern Hemisphere book. Our read aloud is I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade. I’ll have to report back after we’ve settled into our new mix of materials a bit more.
I think I may ease up on the weekly updates and save our progress for some longer meatier posts that are less frequent.