Planning for school 2017 edition

I haven’t posted for a very long time, but Brandy requested a post about how we choose our homeschool subjects, so here we go.

Our process for picking subjects for the school year is somewhat cyclical and mostly based on what the girls need that year. I also take into account what the public schools are covering, as a reference point.

History is the most cyclical subject for us. We did early history in the beginning grades so that we could take advantage of the fun stories. Then we covered US history and Texas history in the years that Z would have done them in public school. This leads to a typical homeschool issue (at least typical for us-) when Z was in 5th grade and was supposed to do US history, Tiny was in 3rd grade. I’m not the type of homeschool mom to do two different history curriculum at once, so Tiny did US history in 3rd grade, at a 3rd grade level. This is where the cyclical nature of our approach comes in- she’ll do US history again when we cycle back through to it when she’s in 7th grade and will pick up lots of things that she didn’t get earlier.

The cycle is roughly (based on Z’s grade):

1st grade: Ancient history

2nd: Medieval/Middle Ages

3rd: Japanese history (this won’t be repeated in the cycle- probably) and World cultures

4th- Texas history

5th: US history

6th: Ancient history

7th: Medieval/Middle ages

8th: Early Modern and Mid modern World history
9th: US history through the Civil War
10: US history post Civil war to present

11th: Current events/World cultures

12: US government

All of this could change, of course, depending on what the girls do for high school, but this is the current plan at least.

We’re approaching science a little differently this year. In previous years I’ve followed the rubric outlined in the state standards, which covers a bit of a bunch of different topics. You get a little geology, a little astronomy, a little biology, etc. This year both girls are really interested in chemistry, so we’re going to make that our main focus.

For the arts I choose whatever makes sense for that year. (How’s that for clearing things up?) I know the general areas in which I want the girls to feel comfortable, and I pick from those what seems appropriate and fun for where they are. When they were younger, that meant classical music that they could dance or draw to. One year it was poetry, another Shakespeare (we’ll cycle back through him again too).  Last year we did American music along with our US history. This coming year we will be doing musicals, and painters that they don’t already know. We were going to do jazz, but I think waiting a year will be better, and then we’ll follow that with the history of rock.

This coming school year, Z will be in 6th grade and T will be in 4th. We’re changing up what we’re doing a bit, putting more of the responsibility on the girls to dig in and learn. We’re also changing things up by shifting to a year round schedule. Our summer term school days will be lower key than fall, winter, and spring, and will likely happen in the afternoon when it’s way too hot to be outside anyway.

So here’s what we’re doing.

Math: We will continue to use Math-U-See; it’s served us well up till now, and I can’t see that changing. Z is starting pre-algebra, and T is starting on fractions. (Z would like me to mention that Math-U-See is hard, and Tiny would like to mention that the pages don’t have color and are not interesting to look at. I don’t know what either of them is comparing against.)

History: This year we’re doing Ancient Civilizations, and we’re all excited. We’ll be covering Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia/India, Greece, Rome, and the Byzantine Empire. I’ll have a menu of topics that the girls can choose from to research, study, and create a project about, including: government, architecture, art, clothing, famous people, mythology/religion, etc. Projects can include videos, informational posters, stories, dioramas, models, etc. We’ll do a number of these per civilization.

Writing: This year we’re using the Brave Writer curriculum, which includes copy work and dictation to learn grammar, and writing projects. The writing projects are things like creating a book jacket for your favorite book, or making up a new country and creating a travel brochure about it.

Artists: We’ve done a lot of art, and the girls know a lot of artists, so this year I’m trying to catch some that they should know, but don’t. These will include Munch, El Greco, Durer, Klimt, Rockwell, Escher (I’ve been saving him), Rothko, Dali, and Magritte.

Musicals: This is going to be fun. I made a list of all the musicals I think they should see, and we’re watching one a week for the entire school year.

Science: I already said above, we’ll be doing chemistry this year. I’m still sorting out how we’re approaching it, but hopefully it will be fun.

Of course, all of this is subject to change if it isn’t working, which is one of the beauties of homeschool.

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