Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thinking through curriculum....

in all of its many angles is the primary direction of my days. We are year round homeschoolers for the most part. Certain subjects are practiced every day: Bible, reading and math. If they are using their stomachs, then they are to use their brains.

Trust me, they are using their stomachs.

For the sake of records though, we start on or around June 1st. This year we'll actually start May 30th because starting in the middle of the week grates on my compulsive nerves. Which means that we usually finish our 180 days around the end of February or at least by the middle of March. All things after required attendance revolve around the finishing of curriculum.

With our curriculum fair the first part of May, I then have about two, sometimes three weeks, to plan the next year's schedule. Here are some of the improvements and changes I have noted for our 2011-2012 year.

1) It has taken us two days short of infinity to finish our 7th grade science. The blame rests with me for that one. I like to stagger our subjects and I started our science too late in the year for its depth and requirements. The older two will not really get a break from their science this year, virtually finishing one book and beginning right away the next. Hopefully though, that will mean not so much pushing through to the end.

2) The first year of junior high type classes threw me for a loop. I did not spend enough time previewing the courses last summer before launching us into them. This year I am taking time each day to read through the lesson plans and make some notes about what I need to do for preparation of myself and the boys.

3) The planner options now available to homeschoolers could compose a course in themselves. In past years I have used the free printables off of Donna Young to build my own planners. I still use several of Donna Young's forms. Her resources are truly some of the best if you are starting out and need an idea of where and how to start. Last year I used The Well Planned Day published by Home Educating Family Magazine

This year I took a more techno plunge and purchased The Old Schoolhouse Planner. I like the idea of being able to save it in multiple files so that the older two can check their assignments and keep up with some of their own records. The sheer breadth of forms that this planner offers really does take over 800 pages. I am not printing all of those pages but do like that I can choose to print what I need as hard copy in my little hands.

4) My older two boys are eighth graders this school year. In Georgia I do not have to keep grades or note credits until high school. However, I know myself and have decided to use their eighth grade year as my practice year for high school. I will start keeping track of these records this year for practice and planning purposes. I want to use this year as my learning curve for next year's requirements.

5) My youngest tends to slide under the radar when he sees my attention so greatly diverted by the older two's more demanding curriculum. Realizing that this year has motivated me to change how I approach both them and him. While I am giving them more freedom with their courses and schedules, I am requiring him to work one on one with me.

Those are some of the changes I am implementing for this year's school year. May 30th is awful close and I do not want the year to be awful. Therefore, recognizing my own weaknesses in how I have planned our schedule or course choices or even am choosing to teach a program is the first step in making the necessary changes for the benefit of our family.

Home education is so much bigger than mere curriculum.

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