Homeschooling Update: So Far, So Good

We are roughly eight weeks into our current homeschooling year, having started mid-June. {We school year round and usually “grade up” in early July, but decided to be all wild and crazy and get going earlier this year.} We have been pretty good about keeping our daily rhythm consistent, and our transition to 5th grade {Agent E}, 3rd grade {Agent J}, and 1st grade {Agent A} has been relatively smooth.

As far as a day-to-day plan, we do math, language arts, and Spanish every morning. This looks a little different for each Agent because of grade level, but generally they all work on these subjects at the same time. Then we read a few books together.

We don't follow a curriculum for math or language arts, just work on grade-level appropriate topics from a variety of workbooks. All three Agents also enjoy independent reading throughout the day. For Spanish, Agent E is using Duolingo and Berlitz, while Agent J {and to some extent Agent A, although he's not as into it} is having more luck with Mango.

A current favorite math series is Sir Cumference, which we also read last year and the year before. But, they are so fun and I think the Agents get more out of them with each consecutive read-through. {We actually have several book series in all subjects that we tend to re-read as the Agents grow. Basher Books are another favorite.} We often do our Greek mythology readings in the mornings, too, just because they are fun read alouds that all three Agents enjoy. 

Then in the afternoons we tackle our other core subjects, including geography, history, and science {Monday, Wednesday, Friday}; and health, art, music, and world religions {Tuesday, Thursday}. While we do some reading on each subject with Agent A, my goal for him right now is exposure not mastery. I try to have a variety of books available on the subjects we’re studying, and read a few of the “simpler” ones with Agent A and then spend some time with just the girls reading a few more in-depth books on the same subjects.
My lovely students at a rest stop somewhere in Pennsylvania
Our current geography study is climate and weather. Right now we’re on different types of storms {hurricanes, tornadoes} and lightning. Soon we’ll be spending some time on climate change, which is a topic the Senior Agents are very interested in.

We decided to divide history this year into specifically American history {currently we’re covering patriotism and citizenship; elections; and symbols, like the flag and the Statue of Liberty} and world history {currently we’re in the middle of the crusades}.

Science continues to be a favorite subject. For now we are introducing basic chemistry concepts as well as exploring Agent E’s favorite topic: human evolution. We've also been reading several books about the Big Bang, and Agent E is in the middle of The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins. Our ongoing mammals study has turned our attention to big cats for this quarter.

We just finished our human body study that we began last year for health. At the beginning of this year, we wrapped up the final section of our spine book {Mind and Personality} and now we have moved on to studying emotions. We are also big fans of the Robie H. Harris books on the body and growing up.

For art and music we are continuing to work through our spine books {The Children’s Book of Art and The Children’s Book of Music, both published by DK.} We have also read several sections from the 13 Artists series, and plan to read more. I don’t always include Agent A in all of our art and music studies, as it’s a lot of history and theory. Instead, all three Agents participate in “art time” a few times a week {collages are a current favorite} and we try to listen to different types of music and sometimes look at an interesting musician biography.

Agent E plays the recorder and the keyboard, and wants to learn guitar. Agents J and A are not particularly interested in instruments at this time, but then again neither was Agent E until more like the beginning of 4th grade.

After spending a good part of last year discussing world religions, including detailed studies of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism {as well as some “lesser known” faiths and aboriginal religions}, we are winding down our individual studies and looking more at big picture stuff. We’ve spent some time comparing similarities in the different religious mythologies, as well as looking at rituals, rites of passage, and symbols. It’s definitely a fascinating subject, and the girls really like the book we have been reading, What Do You Believe?

And that is pretty much what we’ve been up to the past two months or so. As usual, we don’t have a lot of outside activities, but we’re okay with that. We did travel twice in the last few months; once to visit relatives and once for a long weekend in New York City. Hoping to incorporate more travel as the school year continues.

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