First, a note about how our year lays out. We will start our school year the first week of August. Right now it is looking like Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Usually we start on a Monday, but we are going out of town this weekend and I know I'll need at least a day to recover from that trauma! :) I think I have found the perfect year-round schedule for us. This is my third year using it, and it is working well. We do three weeks of school and then have one catch-up week. Barring major family-wide illness and such, work during catch-up weeks should be minimal and we can also take some time to go on a nature walk, work on projects, etc. We will take a month off at Christmas, two weeks at Easter, and a month in the summer. This schedule makes for 11 three week mini-terms...that's 33 weeks of school. Our syllabi have 32 weeks of work in them. I use this extra free week by planning to do only two weeks worth of work during the first term of the year. This gives us extra time to get everything coordinated and all the kinks worked out of our new school year plans. Our syllabi have a four day week scheduled for most subjects...a couple of subjects call for five days in the older grades. In the past our light day has been Thursday because that was co-op day. This year, Monday is the new Thursday. Get this- now on Mondays, Jack has two hours of therapy, Kain has one hour of therapy, Kain has cub scouts, and Maria has dance class 45 minutes away. So,,,that's enough Monday fun. On the upside, our year otherwise looks pretty flexible. I have consciously (often painfully) purged our activities to a more sane level. Outside of the Monday madness, the three older kids will have PSR on Wednesday evenings, Jack has more therapy on Friday, and once a month Kain's cub scout meeting will be on Tuesday instead of Monday. This means that, outside of Jack's therapy, our non-Monday school days are free from interruption. I can chose to attend field trips and other social activities when things are sane, or stay home when things are not. Peachy!
So, my Jack-man is starting kindergarten. If he were going to public school I think I would be almost in mourning! But, since he will be at home, it really doesn't feel much different than what we've been doing. Here's the breakdown by subject, and notes on my Jack-tweaking.
I'm never sure how much is ok to post when discussing curriculum. I don't want to violate any copyright issues. But I don't think I'm giving any information that's not already available on the Mother of Divine Grace website. Anyway, most of the lessons, except when otherwise noted, come from their syllabi.
Religion- We will be narrating Old Testament Bible stories. This will be tricky for Jack. Narration is such a valuable teaching tool. Ideally, you read a story to the child (or an older child might read it themselves), and then they tell you about the story in their own words. You write it down for them, and they can illustrate the story when you're done. Narration teaches a child to hold onto a story, chronologically, in their memory, and retell it accurately. Using good literature feeds their imagination with beautiful images and lays the foundations for learning to write. The problem is that Jack has trouble expressing himself "on command" in this way. I'm not sure how he will do with this. My plan is to try and get him to tell me any little thing about the story and grab onto that. We can build from there. Also, Jack doesn't draw. His motor skills are on about the level of a 2 1/2 year old. He really still just scribbles with a crayon. I will probably have him "coach" me through drawing a picture for him and then let him color it as best he can. His motor skills are being worked on in therapy, so hopefully he will be able to do more as the year goes on.
Reading/writing- our curriculum calls for using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Jack, however, reads far too well already to bother with this. I have a set of the Little Angel readers and I'll have him read aloud to me out of those. We've been doing some of this over the summer, and it's a hoot. He has trouble getting the hang of reading aloud. Usually he will start off ok, but then his voice trails off to a whisper and disappears completely. He's reading to himself and has forgotten that he is reading aloud. So I'll say, "Jack, I can't hear you anymore." And then he'll start reading REALLY LOUDLY....but then his voice will slooooowly get softer and softer until he's reading silently again. hehe.
We are using different writing books than suggested in our syllabus, opting for using Handwriting Without Tears instead. It has a very simple script and the company also sells lots of helps for kids that struggle with writing, like these wooden letter pieces. Such props have not been necessary for the other children, but with Jack I'll take every help I can find. I've used this series for all three of my kids so far. The cursive script isn't beautiful, but it's simple and highly recommended for kids that struggle with writing. Of course, Jack isn't learning cursive yet! We are starting with the preschool book.
Math- Jack will handle this subject well enough. He can already count well and recognize written numbers. We will use the Golden workbooks as recommended in the syllabus and see how it goes. Some people have told me that their kids just eat these fun workbooks up, but because of his issues with coloring and writing I don't think that's going to happen. We will probably just work through one page at a time. We'll practice counting and simple adding and subtracting with counting bears too.
Other fun stuff- We'll be memorizing short Robert Louis Stevenson poems and starting his own poetry notebook, something the kids add to every year through eighth grade. We will also do simple picture studies with art postcards.
That's it for our curriculum stuff...about 45 minutes of sit down work a day. I love this about our curriculum. It's very basic in the earliest grades, leaving lots of room for whatever you'd like to do.
Now for the fun stuff...because I can't leave well enough alone...we'll be dabbling in the Alphabet Path. I've been scavenging ideas from Elizabeth, who wrote the original plans, and Jessica, and Sue, and added some ideas of my own too. We will take two years to finish the path, spending three to four weeks on each letter. During our school weeks, we will have a simple tea time to kick off the letter we will be focusing on, and then we will just do read alouds from our Alphabet Path stack of picture books. Then during our catch up week we will spend some time doing projects....cooking, art, science, etc., maybe even a related field trip here and there.
Of course, as always, we will have regular nature walks and liturgical year activities. We are not doing the co-op this year. This is with some sadness, and also some relief. The kids love the co-op. But it is just too expensive to put all three in, and I just can't teach to earn their tuition with a toddler and baby in tow. So, maybe in another season. In the meantime, not attending co-op will free up time to do other activities with our homeschool groups. We are blessed to live in an area that has plenty to offer homeschoolers, and we are never lacking on opportunities to see friends.
Ok, that's it for the Jack-ster. Next up...plans for Kain!