I am writing about homeschooling…again. Don’t shut down on me if you don’t homeschool. You may still find something useful in this post for your family or for one of your children even if you don’t homeschool. Or you might be able to apply ideas to other areas of your parenting life like homework or chores.
The way that I decided to start out our homeschooling journey was to use the Add On Method. I wanted to add on one subject a week to our schedule as to get a grip slowly and to create enduring habits. I also wanted time to research each subject and work out the kinks that were sure to come. I knew I wouldn’t get overwhelmed if I were only facing one new subject a week. I also thought this would be the best way for Elle to get used to her new school life.
I started early in August so that we could be in full stride by the time October hit. Public school teachers will tell you it takes until October to get everything fully running in their classrooms as well. I wasn’t worried about a slow start.
(I should say that Elle was an avid reader all summer so I never officially introduced reading.)
Week of Aug 5. – Family Scripture Study.
We started the first week of August with our family scripture study. We sing a song, memorize passages, and read The Book of Mormon. You can read more about our family scripture study here.
Week of Aug. 12- CNN Student News.
This is a 10 minute video clip about world events directed toward middle and high school students. It summarizes news around the world. I figured it was still summer for everyone else and didn’t want Elle to feel too much pressure yet, so it was an easy way to start. I bookmarked the link and she watches it on the computer. So far Elle has learned about Syria, Egypt, the government shut down and the fact that Double Stuff Oreos may technically not be doubled stuffed. She summarizes back to me what she learned and we discuss it. I listen to the newscast in the car on my way back from yoga so that I am prepared to discuss any information, questions or bias with her.
Week of Aug. 19- Math
I wanted to get going on Math first thing because this is an area that Elle needs a little more support in. And it is the easiest one to fall behind in. We found an awesome FREE program on line called Khan Academy. It gave her a little pretest and placed her, and then gave her problems at her level. She liked that it gave her instant feedback on whether her answer was right or wrong. The program helps you work from introduction to mastery of different skills. The only problem was that it is more of a review program than a teaching program. So we switched to Saxon math which I have text books for. This program does a great job explaining the lesson to her so she can work fairly independently. It is a spiral curriculum with much review. She does 1 lesson a day.
Week of Aug. 26- History
I am going with Story of the World curriculum for now. It is the the history of the world in story form – very easy to read and probably a bit below her level, but it keeps her interest and is not boring. We are both learning new facts as we read. After each chapter, she verbally summarizes the chapter and answers review questions with me. We also have a workbook that she chooses supplemental activities from. They range from map work, arts, crafts, to additional historical and supplemental reading. I let her choose what interests her. She has to read 3 chapters a week because our goal is to finish the first book by Christmas and the whole series by 7th grade.
Week of Sept.2- Copy Work
This week isn’t as neat and tidy as the others. Copy Work is a combination of keyboarding, handwriting, and memorization. I want Elle to memorize certain scriptures, poems, Articles of Faith, quotes, etc. Plus I want her to learn cursive and keyboarding, so I kind of threw it all together. She either writes or types the passage to be memorized for the week, or she does keyboarding practice.
Here are some keyboarding sights we bookmarked.
Dance Mat Typing
My awesome homeschooling “friends” let me know about this site where you type in your passage and it generates handwriting practice worksheets for you. I am having Elle practice cursive.
Sept. 9- Personal Scripture Study
I felt prompted to add this to Elle’s daily routine because I want her to start forming habits early. I was also inspired to study with her. We researched a couple of different options and decided to take a topical approach to scripture study since reading The Book of Mormon straight through intimidated her (and we do that as a family right now anyway). It is a Preach My Gospel based program where she reads a paragraph from Preach My Gospel and looks up a few scriptures that go with the reading. The program also has video links she can watch that go along with the topic for the day. The goal is to wake her up 15 minutes before the other kids and we have that personal study time together.
Sept. 16- Writing
Writing is a curriculum in progress. She sees me blog a lot so at least I am being a good example of writing. Then we found this cute little journal on line that we do together. It is more about learning about each other than great writing skills, but it is a start. We have been brainstorming and planning about her being the chief writer and editor of a family newsletter and maybe even having her own personal, private blog. I also have her write some for other subjects as well as practical writing like thank you notes, letters to relatives, emails, etc. S
Sept. 23- Word Work
Word Work is just anything with words – spelling, vocabulary, grammar, etc. I have an old Daily Oral Language book from when I taught 5th grade. She edits a few sentences every day. We discuss the grammar rules she “caught” that day. I also have her edit my blogs and other writing. She has spelling words based on the pattern for the week plus individual words from her writing that are misspelled. We both add words to this list as we recognize words she struggles with. She also picks vocabulary words from her reading that are unfamiliar to her.
I should tell you that Writing and Word Work have been last because I am the least sure about them, but they have also been last because I believe a lot of these skills are developed through avid reading. When you are exposed to great literature and great writing, you see how words are spelled and how punctuation is used. Your vocabulary grows as you read words in context, and you see different writing styles. I am not saying she only has to read, but reading is the priority for me.
You may have noticed that Science is missing. I don’t have my brain wrapped around that one yet either. I just plan on sending her to Texas for a few weeks in the summer for Science camp with my brother who has a PhD in Physics and teaches at Rice University. In the meantime, we do field trips and experiments and nature walks. It is all about creating a love of learning and a observant mind for Elle right now. I don’t actually care about hard facts because no one remembers them past the test anyway.
We have been sprinkling Life Skills throughout our weeks as well. She sews with grandma once a week and goes to piano lessons once a week also. We have Finance Fridays where we do budgeting, tithing, allowance, etc. She helps me with grocery shopping, cooking, baking, or food prep. She has tried ironing and laundry and decorating and designing. She is also learning some new computer programs for the newsletter. Elle doesn’t do all of these things every day; we just make sure she does at least one life skill a day.
So there’s a peek into our homeschooling day. Adding on one subject a week has helped us be successful and work out bugs as we go. We still have some improvements to make, but so far we are loving homeschooling!