Monday, April 19, 2010

Planning for Next Year

I'm in the midst of planning for next year's school and thought I'd share a little bit while still in process.  Our state convention is this weekend and I'd like to know what I'm doing before then.  Not that I ever know what I'm doing, but still. 

I like to start by assessing what worked this year and what didn't, as well as taking into consideration what next year looks like- at least as far as I know.  I thought I wanted a structured curriculum this year but discovered that I really don't do well with already laid out lesson plans.  We used Sonlight 6 for the first half of the year and then I threw off the constraints and changed up the second half.  I am still a Sonlight fan, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't a good fit for us right now.  For the second half of the year, I have been using block scheduling.  I sat down, figured out what I really wanted to cover the rest of the year, and then separated the subjects into monthly blocks.  For instance, we spent a month on Science, we are now in our month of Spanish and Art, and next month will be Rome.  Math and independent language arts are included throughout but we concentrate on one main subject at a time, and it has worked really well for us.

My oldest daughter is graduating this year, a year earlier than expected.  This means I only have five children to homeschool next year, third grade through tenth.  My upcoming sophomore will work independently and so I sat down with him and asked him what he'd like to do for next year.  Since high school is more independent, I want my teens to have a lot of input into the curriculum they use.  He looked at a couple of curricula we have, knowing we could research something else or put together our own, and he decided on Sonlight Core 300.  He enjoys reading and he likes the structure of the daily lesson plans.  I purchased this last year for my oldest daughter, who soon discovered she liked tweaking and putting together her own courses like her mother, and I think it will be a good fit for him.  He will also have an Economics course, Advanced Algebra via Life of Fred, and we're putting together an elective on Gaming.  He'll also continue with One Year Adventure Novel, which is turning into a two year adventure novel!  Science is still being discussed at the moment, but he's pretty well set otherwise.  High school has been the easiest to plan this time (If you're looking for help with high school planning, I highly recommend Senior High: A Home Designed Form+U+La by Barbara Edtl Shelton.  I need to find time to write a review on this book, it's my all time favorite!).

The block scheduling has been working, so you'd think I was all fine and dandy on continuing that for next year with the third through eight graders.  Yeah...well..not so much.  I was heading down that road when I decided a literature based unit would be good for a month or two block.  I began reading through Further Up and Further In and soon found myself wondering if perhaps I should take the year and do something different.  We usually base our studies off of whatever historical time period we are in (we work chronologically, but not in four year rotations).  We should be in the Middle Ages.  But here I am intrigued by the idea of tossing that out the window, at least until the following year, and spending a year immersed in the world of Narnia.  After a quick Internet search, I discovered a lot of material available for this.  We could notebook/lapbook through the year and listen to the series using the Radio Theater version.  We haven't lapbooked in awhile and I treasure the file boxes full of my older two kid's lapbooks.  Creating memories to treasure while learning sounds pretty good to me.  Can you tell where I'm leaning?

One thing that is working that I am keeping, is the weekly assignment list.  They are each responsible for completing their weekly independent work and must schedule themselves.  I purchased a cabinet with bins and they each have their own bin.  It's not really "workbox" style, but does work well to hold all their personal school items and they have really loved having their own space.  

Still researching and praying and thinking and discussing with my kids, but thought I'd give anyone interested a glimpse into my mind at the moment. Any feedback welcome!

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