19 July 2013
How We Schedule Our Homeschool Year
Currently Agent E is in 2nd grade and Agent J is in kindergarten. We don't follow an established (grade level based) curriculum, but they like the distinction of knowing what class they would be in if they attended school. (Also comes in handy for outside activities that divide by grade level, such as Sunday school.)
Before we begin I look at a few resources to get a general idea of what kinds of things are studied when. Examples would include the website for the school district we reside in, the World Book Typical Course of Study, the parent's guide to each grade level at Education.com, the PBS Parents Grade-by-Grade Learning Guide, or even (gasp!) the Common Core Standards.
I then develop a list of things we might like to work on for the year, with lots of Agent input. We might brainstorm twenty or more different topics together. (These are ideas for specific studies, like "weather" or "ocean animals" or "geography of the United States" . . . not vague subjects like "history" or "math.") We then choose a few to begin concentrating on right now.
For Agent E we generally divide what we are studying into five basic subjects: math, reading/writing, science, social studies, and art/music. (For now we really don't have a need to distinguish between, say, life science, earth science, health, etc., rather grouping them all under "science.") For Agent J, we really only cover two subjects: math and reading/writing. However, she does tend to glean quite a bit from her older sister's studies.
We have a general plan of what we want to work on for the month, but as far as day-to-day we pretty much wing it. Instead of advanced planning, I tend to do more summarizing/record keeping after the fact of what we actually did. I have tried using calendars (paper and electronic) and Evernote, but now I just type up notes in Pages.
So, for instance, once we kind of got rolling with July, I created a table in Pages with the following columns: subject, specific topics, curriculum/resources, book list, and activities. I then started filling in what we were working on as it was happening, and I edit this document as we find new resources and/or complete new tasks. (I use a similar but simplified system for keeping track of Agent J's work.)
For example, under the main subject of social studies, our specific topics right now are world geography and landmarks. For curriculum/resources I've listed any websites, workbooks, maps, Kindle apps . . . anything we might use to study these two things. I then list several books we have out of the library that relate directly to these two topics. (I should note here that these are not necessarily books Agent E is reading from cover to cover, but more for reference, like an almanac or book of world maps. We maintain a separate list of books she is reading for learning and fun.) Under activities I keep note of any outside things we did that related to our studies (e.g., visiting a local history museum).
When we're "done" with the month, we go back to our list of brainstormed topics and choose new ones. Usually we end up adding to the list as well, so it never actually gets any smaller. Occasionally we decide we need more than four weeks on one or more of the specific topics, so we continue some of them into the next month. Often things like math topics (e.g., multiplication) carry over for several months as we build on earlier skills.
And that's our loose, work-in-progress homeschool plan.