". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Homeschool Outlook

Looks like it's time for the annual homeschool planning post. Today I ordered materials for the coming year. Since I only have one student now and we are carrying several of last year's books into this year, the order was not large. Still, I obsessed over it for several weeks. This publisher or that one? That book or the other one? Even after all these years, it is hard to know what's going to work and what's not.

Here, for those who are interested in such things, is a rundown of what we plan to do for fifth grade.

We started Saxon 54 last year. We didn't get as far in it as I would have liked. The goal will be to finish it this year.

Language Arts
We also used Saxon for grammar last year. We still have plenty we can do in that book, too, but for fifth grade I am going to return to a curriculum we tried for the first time a few years ago. It is from Queen Homeschool Supplies and uses an integrated, literature-based Charlotte Mason approach. You can view the book here.

We have some work to do in this area. Evan has learned the basics of cursive but we have not emphasized it heavily. This year we will work on fluency. To do so I found a new product, also from Queen Homeschool, that combines the study of art with practice in handwriting. The books utilize Zaner-Bloser style, which as luck would have it is what we teach in our homeschool. Take a peek here.

We will continue with Story of the World, Volume 4 (The Modern Age) as soon as we finish with Volume 3! (I think we're about 3/4 done.)

This is the area I struggled with most. Evan likes science, and I want him to keep liking it. Last year we did Exploring Creation with Astronomy from the Apologia Elementary series. I love these books for the conversational approach and the beautiful illustrations, and there are at least six more books on various topics, including several branches of zoology, botany, human anatomy, and chemistry/physics. But it seems to me that when we stick too long to one topic Evan tends to get bored. So I have opted to use this A Beka book as our main science text because of the variety of topics that it covers. I have used it before and it is attractive and accessible. Plus, it comes with a useful activity book. It is possible to spend a lot of money ordering supplementary materials from A Beka (such as the lesson plans and the quiz and test booklets), but I have learned that I don't need any of that. The main text has chapter checkups that cover the same thing as the tests. And the lesson plans just lay out a day-by-day plan for getting through the book, something I think I am capable of figuring out on my own. I don't think it will take us a year to get through this book. Once we're finished, I may follow up with several volumes of the Apologia series on the topics Evan seems to enjoy most before we gear up for Jay Wile's secondary science curriculum.

Yes, we're going to do Latin this year. I don't think I've broken the news to Evan yet. We'll use Prima Latina, but here again, I didn't buy the teacher's edition or the pronunciation CD's. Unless they've been updated, those pronunciation CD's leave a bit to be desired. I took a little Latin in college and think I can manage the pronunciation as well as do without the answer book. Why do we teach Latin at this age when we probably won't stick with it through high school? I think it is beneficial for teaching an understanding of the building blocks of language that doesn't automatically come from studying only English. The learning of Latin roots is helpful in vocabulary development. Studying another language now is good preparation for learning one in greater depth later. And besides, it's fun! (Evan doesn't know that yet, but he will.)

Evan will be in Confirmation class at church this year and will receive his First Communion at the Easter Vigil (yay!). In family devotions for the last few years we have been using the Treasury of Daily Prayer. That will probably continue, but I am hoping our home devotions will become a little Evan-friendlier this year. He has often had to sit and listen to the big people talk over his head. It will be nice to tailor the teaching to his level for a change. We will, of course, incorporate the catechism songs. :-)

Reading aloud has always been the core of our home school. Our readalouds bounce between something that fits the period of history we are studying and something chosen for its literary value. Right now we are working our way through the Narnia series. We will probably pick something historical after that. To encourage independent reading (something Evan doesn't automatically do) I am planning to institute a daily silent reading time where both of us will sit and read. I need the discipline, too. I am getting my reading chops back, but I still need to work harder to carve out interruption-free time for it.

Let's see, what am I leaving out? In addition to these main areas of study, Evan will continue with piano lessons as well as sing in two choirs (one at church, the other a community children's chorus). I am also looking for a PE option for him, probably swimming or tennis (or both). Another possibility is Tae Kwon Do, which his sister enjoyed and which I think he would enjoy, too, since he is pretty keen on Power Rangers. Finally, we are working on setting up a regular, weekly time to get together with several other homeschoolers from church. We'll let the kids play while the moms chat. Maybe we'll even do something educational every now and then. :-)

Fifth grade, here we come!

1 comment:

Ewe said...

My oldest is also doing fifth grade this year so I loved seeing your list.
Latin-I'm the opposite of you, we could do Prima Latina only using the Audio CD and skip all the book work. I'm with you that I don't need the teacher's edition. But I do think both audio and student edition together are good for both the visual and the audio learners and I have both.
Math-I spent a long time debating on this one and decided to do Saxon 65 this year and then we will probably switch to something else.
Everything else-My middle will graduate from much of his therapy this fall and we will all be glad to get back to a normal homeschool routine and back to all subjects. I'm not quite sure everything else we will do, but I have a couple more weeks before we begin school to browse my bookshelves and come up with a plan!