The season to blog about a new school year that is. We will be starting fall classes in one week, and once again we are shaking things up. The last couple years we have schooled year round but taken longer breaks. We’d work three months, then take one off. This year we will not be taking breaks other than for birthdays and holidays. Oh yeah, and we’re schooling on Saturdays.
Before you call us slave drivers, let me explain.
We want our kids, primarily, to enjoy learning. Kids love to learn and are (overly?) inquisitive by nature. It takes a special kind of “education” to drive that out of them, and we were steering way too close to that kind of special. Something needed to change.
At the heart of our un-fun school year (not that it was all bad, mind you, but wasn’t nearly as fun as we envisioned it, or as it could have been) was the constant, nagging feeling to add more. We have books we haven’t even cracked yet that we bought years ago (is that normal?). Then there’s that gnawing notion that maybe we’re not teaching them all they need to know, as evidenced by all the other homeschool blogs we read. You know the type where their four year olds have nearly mastered Latin and Greek?
So what’s a family to do? Focus and prioritize.
We want our homeschooling efforts marked by focused attention to a topic and information retention which leads to creative thinking. In other words: If they pay attention for a few minutes, they’ll learn more. The more they learn, the more ideas they’ll come up with throughout their life. Pretty simple, if we can pull it off.
That brings us to our latest round of tweaks. We sat at the table for the better part of the day hashing out a lot of ideas. Some we had been thinking about for weeks or months. Other ideas came to us on the spot.
We narrowed down our list of subjects for the year, deciding who was ready for what subject and who needed more time before they were ready.
Cut back to the essentials.
We decided Bible, reading, and gym were the only truly foundational subjects (mind, body, spirit). Everything else we added on top of that was bonus. This helped remove any guilt of not covering certain things yet, and help us focus on what matters.
Rotate classes quarterly
Every three months they’ll tackle 4-5 subjects. For instance, starting in September they will have their core subjects, plus music and history. Then on the fourth month, we scale back to Bible and one other class, like Math.
This will give them a chance to focus deeply on fewer subjects, but still look forward to an entire month of a lighter workload.
This one doesn’t make us very popular parents, but that’s okay. We’ve found our family does better with more structure, and when we don’t do school, the day gets chaotic. Plus, with all the days we end up taking off due to appointments or other life events that get in the way, this gives us a buffer so we’re not trying to play catch-up later on.
I really don’t know if this is how other homeschoolers lay their year out but we’re seeing a lot of good things coming from this schedule. Breaking the subjects up through out the year will give us more time to focus on each topic and do the fun extras that go along with many of them verses skipping or
rushing through them because we have to “get to the next thing.” Plus, it gives the kids a break from subjects that they don’t care for as much, and gives them time to look forward to the ones they do like.
This is what we plan to tackle this year.
Catechism/Bible – M,A,G,E,K,W,T
English – M,A,G,E,K,W,T
Math – M,A,G,E,K,W,T
History/Geography – M,A,G,E,K
Science – M,A,G,E,K
Typing – M,A,G,E
Logic – M,A,G,E,K,W,T
Gym – M,A,G,E,K,W,T
Music – M,A,G,E,K
Art – M,A,G,E
Current Events – M,A,G,E,K,W,T
Cooking – M,A,G,E
Sep, Oct, Nov – Catechism/Bible, English, Gym, History/Geography, and Music
Dec – Catechism/Bible and Math
Jan, Feb, Mar – Catechism/Bible, English, Gym, Science, Logic, and Art
Apr – Catechism/Bible and History/Geography
May, Jun, Jul – Catechism/Bible, English, Gym, Math, and Typing
Aug – Catechism/Bible, and Science
*Cooking and Current Events Through out the year but not scheduled in.
How do you get in all the subjects you want to teach in a year?