School is almost done for this year (1 more week!) and then we go to California for the summer. Since I didn’t want to have to plan next year’s school while we were on vacation, I’ve spent the last month or so getting all of our plans hashed out, and I’m almost done, so I thought I’d share.
We had to wade through a lot of whining this year about school (the girls seriously don’t know how easy they have it-), and the girls love the idea of academies and such (though they don’t want to actually go to one), so I told them that I wanted them to work together to come up with a name for what we would call school next year. I wanted it to be something kind of silly and fun so that they could reframe school in their minds as something they enjoyed. They brainstormed a bunch of ideas and finally settled on Flying Butler Academy, which is based on a family joke. So next year we convene Flying Butler Academy. Z will be starting 3rd grade and Tiny will be in 1st.
You know how some mom bloggers have a word for the year that symbolizes their hopes and aspirations? If we had one for school next year, it would be binders. I’m totally kidding, but I’m not. We are abounding in binders. We’re using a number of curriculum next year that are very hands on, with lots of worksheets and pages to do that require me printing them out or copying them so that there is one for each girl. Instead of rushing to get things printed out the day we need them, I decided to do it all ahead of time. And to keep everything organized, I pulled out the binders.
In previous years, I’ve kept all of one subject in one place, which meant going to a bunch of different places to get what we needed for any one day. This year I decided to organize by month and week instead. Each binder (starting with red and going through the rainbow) is two months, and has divider tabs for each week (8 tabs per binder). Then I took each subject and put in its lesson plan followed by a clear sleeve that contains all of the worksheets that go with that week.
Any subject that doesn’t need something printed out, like math or spelling which have their own books, are noted on a page at the beginning of the week. That way I can open to the week we’re on and see what the plan is for each week.
The form in the picture isn’t completely filled out because that’s the next step I need to get done. But the goal is to have everything we need for the week in one place. The math and spelling books will go right next to this binder, along with the teacher books for grammar and life skills.
The only way that I could split everything up like this is to know what we were doing each week (which I HAVE to know, or I get completely overwhelmed and feel lost). That’s where my beloved spreadsheet comes into play.
The far left column has the school year split into weeks. The top row has each subject that we’re doing, with a notation of how many days a week we will do that subject. Once I figured out what curriculum we were using for each subject, I simply figured out how much we would do in a week. Math is an everyday subject, so the girls do 5 worksheets. Science is twice a week, so we do one main experiment on one day, with a follow up experiment on the other day. On the whole, this part isn’t hard, it’s just time consuming to type everything in. The girls each get their own tab with their own spreadsheet so that I can note where things are different. A lot of what we do they do together, but things like math and handwriting differ, and having it all on one screen gets to be too much.
We’re continuing with Math-U-See for both girls next year, it seems to work really well for both of them. We’re also starting Spell-U-See, which will be new for us, but I’m hoping it will also be a good fit. We’re picking First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind back up for grammar, and using a program my mom gave me called Proud to be Polite for life skills, along with Million Dollar Machine which is a health curriculum. We’ll go through Proud to be Polite and then go to Million Dollar Machine. We’re doing a year long study of the countries of the world from confessionsofahomeschooler.com, as well as a composer and artist study curriculum from her. We’ll do a country a week and a composer and artist a month, respectively. (She has one of her year long artist studies for free download here, if you need such a thing you should grab it!) We’re also doing a Shakespeare study that I created myself, that will cover 8 plays, and is heavy on the things I value in his plays. (Don’t fall in love and kill yourself when you’re 13! Don’t get over dramatic about love! Listen to the witty fools!) For science we’re doing chemistry, using the book Adventures with Atoms and Molecules. The girls will also be learning about the different types of writing one can do (descriptive, narrative, informative, creative, persuasive, etc) and practicing those. And they’ll have Japanese once a week.
It sounds like a lot when I write it all out. Thank goodness it’s all neatly organized into my magic binders of doom. The girls will have their own binders too, to keep all of their work straight and to allow them to look back over it if they want to. They get to do a bunch of fun things like color in flags and make little books about animal habitats, so I’m hoping that they will use them for reference when they’re done.
So that’s that. I’m hoping that it will make for an enjoyable year for everyone, and a relaxing summer of not thinking about it. (For the record, I’m totally being a mean mom and making the girls do math every day over the summer so they don’t lose their progress. But that’s the only “school” we’re doing over the summer. They both read like fiends, so that will happen even if I don’t say anything about it, and we’ll have access to a library, so they’ll be in heaven.)