Friday, February 16, 2018

What homeschooling looks like this term

Our new year of homeschooling just started up and we're getting a bit more down to business than we did in term 4 of 2017, when we took time to de-school / shake loose of the expectations and routines of school for a while. I'm glad we did that because it gave us a chance to experiment with different curriculums we borrowed from people and figure out what we like.

I thought I'd share what we're doing this term so my friends who aren't homeschooling can get a taste of what it's like, and my friends who are homeschooling can get ideas or nod/shake their heads knowingly, depending on whether they agree with what we're doing or not.

This term L is doing a mixture of activities run by other people, as well as working through various curriculums with me at home.

Outside of the house, L is doing swimming lessons twice a week, an art class, Suzuki violin lessons, a dancefit class, a science astronomy class, a creative journaling class and Kiwisports. We ended up with two swimming lessons because I signed L and S up for afterschool lessons before discovering a homeschool option that runs during the day. I figure that doing a term of two lessons a week will boost L's swimming ability really quickly, and the homeschool lessons give her a chance to meet other homeschoolers and hang out with them in the pool before and after her lesson, so it's win/win.

In the home, we are using The Good and the Beautiful for L's Language Arts and Literature curriculum. I printed this for free, but would have gladly paid for it. It's SO good. Everything in the curriculum has been designed to be good/edifying and beautiful. The curriculum itself is incredibly rigorous and has been set out in a way that is easy to follow, and builds on itself beautifully. I'm really enjoying it.

These challenging words flash cards are part of The Good and the Beautiful curriculum. I've put them into a divided container with one half for mastered words and one half for words that are to be mastered. L really enjoys challenging herself with these words, and it's a quick activity we can pull out at anytime, or even bring with us places. L worked through reading some of the challenging words to me this week while we were watching J do a swimming lesson.

The Good and the Beautiful curriculum incorporates artwork into some of its lessons and I've started sticking that art work up in our homeschool space after we've done the lesson on it, so we can enjoy it for longer. The two paintings you see above are by Arnold Lyongrun.

For history, we're working through The Story of the World volume one. I bought the activity book from a Facebook buy/sell group and purchased the main book from the Book Depository. I'm learning so much from this curriculum, and find it completely fascinating. I hope L does too.

For science, this term we are focused on astronomy, since that's what L is also doing in her group science class and I managed to buy an Apologia astronomy curriculum from a Facebook buy/sell group. We hope to visit the star dome this term as part of the course, and have been watching YouTube videos of the recent Falcon Heavy test flight, which was amazing. Check it out if you haven't already. When we finish working through this Apologia curriculum, I'll be getting some of The Good and the Beautiful science courses, which look so good.

Last term for maths, L worked through Life of Fred Apples, as a fun / light maths curriculum, and this term she's working through Life of Fred Butterflies. This is a story-based curriculum that teaches maths concepts in a really fun and unique way.

This week L has started working through a Step Ahead maths book that a teaching friend of mine gave us. When I want to give L serious maths time, she has a Primary Mathematics curriculum to work on that we have borrowed from a friend, but she doesn't like it as much so I'm taking a break from it while we work through the Step Ahead book. It uses games and puzzles to make the maths more fun, which suits L's personality down to a tee.

Every day L also does a bit of Quick Maths on the iPad or my phone. This is an app I downloaded and she likes it because she competes against herself to get faster at answering the questions and earn a new personal best. Quick Maths has levels ranging from Beginner to Advanced, and you can choose to answer addition, subtraction, multiplication or division questions.

For spelling, I try to take note of words that L gets wrong in her various activities and when I have a list of about ten of them, I'll get her to copy them out three times each and then test her on them. There's also this fun activity my friend, Angela, told me about, where you can type words into a programme and print them out in game-form. We've used that a few times too.

Each day L also studies French using the free online programme, Duolingo. It and Quick Maths are good activities L can do by herself while I'm packing S's lunchbox and getting her ready for school.

We go to the library at least once a week, and L checks out lots of books to read in her downtime. I also read to her most nights from a chapter book that's a little bit ahead of her reading level. This morning we took an hour out of our homeschool time to finish The Princess Acadamy by Shannon Hale, which we've been working through over the past few weeks. It's one of my favourites, and now L's too.

If L does good work or shows a positive attitude, I let her choose a sticker from the above Kiwiana sticker book that I bought from a $2 shop. It's amazing how a little sticker can boost morale. I also have a packet of certificates I got from another $2 shop, and I awarded one to L this week for excellent progress in swimming.

So how do I keep track of it all? I don't have an overall plan as such. I'm just aiming to have L work through all the various subject curriculums so get her to chip away at them whenever we are having homeschool time. Each day I write L a to-do list in a little notebook, and once she's got through everything on the list, she's free to play. The above list shows what we did on Wednesday this week.

I'm really enjoying having my own dedicated office/homeschool space to organise everything, because I'm able to sit down after all the kids are in bed and plan out the next day's activities. Plus I have somewhere to put everything when it's not in use.

So that's what we're doing this term. Now I want to hear from you. If you're a homeschooler - what are your favourite activities/books/resources?

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