Putting a Little More Order into My Day & Our Curriculum 2018-2019
Recently, it became very clear that I needed to spend more focused learning one-on-one time with my oldest daughter. She has struggled with math in her education, but I had neatly put if off as an independent subject, that she needed to tackle on her own. Math is not my forte. That’s where Teaching Textbooks was supposed to take care of all her needs. I have younger students that need my time and energy to get a solid foundation in reading and such. How could I possibly fit time in my busy schedule to work with her?
I was really getting overly anxious about it. How can I meet all these needs? You know what I needed to do more of? Pray. Pray and cast these cares upon the Lord. I needed to seek His wisdom and direction with this dilemma, no matter how small it seemed.
After praying about it, I realized I needed to reorganize my more flexible block schedule routine to a bit more structured one. There have been certain seasons where this is necessary. We currently need an hour by hour routine to stay on track and stay focused, especially as we enter a season when all three of my big kids will also need to rotate through use of the piano for their music practice time.
And guess what? It all worked out beautifully. I switched my oldest to a more hands on curriculum to cater to her learning style and now we work together to complete it, and it’s helping to build our relationship too. I was stressing out for nothing. God knew what needed to happen, and helped me map it out. I tweaked the scheduled, printed it out, and posted a copy in a few prominent places in our home.
By the way, this is the third time I’ve tweaked our schedule this year, and that’s ok! That’s one of the beautiful things about homeschooling, is that you can change and adapt as your family grows and adapts.
I love using a schedule in this manner, as each child can see clearly what they should be doing at any given time. They are much more attentive to staying on track when they know what is required of them and when. I tried to add a 15 minute buffer in each hour of this schedule as well, since each “Learning Time” time with each child should only take 30-45 minutes. The extra time gives me opportunity to take care of other needs as they arise, make lunch, change a diaper or lay baby down for a nap, etc.
We also try to stick within the Charlotte Mason recommendation of each subject being no longer than 15-20 minutes, with spelling and copywork/handwriting taking 5-10 minutes each. I don’t try to finish a lesson so much as trying to keep their full attention within a shorter amount of time. In this way, they are less prone to get overly tired and distracted and retain more in the long run. We also rotate science and history every other day.
Besides this daily master schedule, I do write a daily assignment list for each child in a basic spiral notebook for them to check off as they proceed through the day. This allows them to pick and choose which subject they’d like to tackle first within the blocks of time that are flexible.
I am so thankful to serve a God who cares about all of life’s little details. He who is a faithful High Priest interceding on my behalf. He who loves to pour out His abundant wisdom on those who ask. He cares about me and my young. He guides and directs when I am lost and confused. I want to run a home where the Lord is building it and a homeschool that God directs.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalms 127:1-2)”
Curious what curriculum we are using this year?
Math - Titus (4th grade) uses Teaching Textbooks, Karis (5th grade) uses Math-U-See, and Eden (2nd grade) uses Math Seeds & Khan Academy online. She loves Math Seeds, and it has been fun and engaging for her. Khan is also great, especially as it is free! We are also using Amy Snow’s series on Math Facts that Stick, full of fun games and worksheets. Eden is doing the Subtraction book, and Karis & Titus are working through the multiplication & division books to firm up their math facts.
Spelling - All my kids are really thriving with Spelling-U-See. This is our second year using this curriculum and it has been a great experience. Instead of boring spelling lists to memorize, they get to study the words in the context of fun rhymes, information about animals, and history facts. They can do most of the work independently, and then on Fridays we do the weekly dictation.
Language Lessons - We are using Queen Homeschool Language Lessons. They are short, simple, and easy to complete in 5-10 minutes. Includes picture study, grammar, copywork, and storytelling. Easy for independent use. Karis is also using Fix-It Grammar, which I really like thus far. It does require teacher involvement.
Phonics - All my school aged kids have successfully completed All About Reading now, which is my favorite phonics program. Eden finished level 4 earlier this year, thus it is pictured above. I now have my 2nd & 4th grader practice their reading by reading aloud to me each day and then I read aloud to them individually, or we take turns reading from the same book. I just pick an assortment of good literature usually from Sonlight’s book lists or Exodus’ Outside of a Dog Book Lists for this purpose. Currently, I’m reading Henry and the Chalk Dragon with Titus, and Eden is reading aloud from CLP Nature Reader’s and I’m reading In Grandma’s Attic series to her. Eden & Ty also both use Reading Eggs, which is a fabulous online program or via the app on a device.
Science - Science Shepherd Introductory Science. These are very short video lessons that serve as a basic overview of all science concepts. It has been a little too easy for my big kids, and the teacher is rather dry in his teaching style, but they have enjoyed it all the same. Easy to complete multiple lessons in one day. All three kids are using it. Easy for independent study.
Writing - For writing this year, I have just been requiring them to read a chapter of their current book of their choice, and then write a narration in their notebooks telling back what happened in the chapter. They just write one paragraph written in their own words. We are following Karen Glass' Know and Tell recommendations here.
History/Geography - My big kids, Karis & Titus, are using Notgrass From Adam to Us, reading the chapter, and then telling back what they learned on a recorded device. This allows them to practice oral narration even if I’m not available. I enjoy listening to their narrations later in the day. Notgrass has beautiful pictures which the kids like. It is more textbooky in nature, so not our favorite, but it is giving them a good overview of history. We are only using the Map supplement and the the recommended accompanying literature for our history read alouds in Morning Time.
Eden (2nd grade) is using Master Book’s My Story and the World Around Me 1 this year. We work on it during our Learning Time together each morning. She’s enjoyed it, although we have skipped most of the busy work (it has a lot of extra writing/journaling questions, which I feel is too much for a beginner writer). Her favorite is the crossword puzzles in each lesson. She also just finished Skill Sharpener Geography, which she loved.
Spanish - Karis loves using Mango Languages, a free and engaging foreign language program online.
Memory Work (poetry and scripture verses), Art/Picture Study, Composer Study, Read Alouds, Poetry, Shakespeare & Nature Journaling all fall neatly into our Morning Time learning time together.
It’s been a wonderful year! And of course my mind is already spinning with ideas for next school year! :)
Above all, keep your home and routines steeped in prayer, friends, and your home and children will thrive!