Plans for Our 2013-2014 School Year

Because I enjoy procrastinating in the present and idealizing the future, I've been thinking a lot about moving into our next homeschool "year" (which is really kind of misleading because we go year-round, so not as much of a clear-cut division). We're finishing up first grade here and gearing up for a new adventure with a second grader and a kindergartener. Oh, and a rascally little toddler just to make things extra interesting.

Following is a summary of my brainstorming so far. My intention is to "plan" (ha!) most of this around 7-year-old Agent E, with 5-year-old Agent J completing similar age-appropriate material as do-able. (As excited as Agent J is about being An Excellent Kindergarten Student, I don't have to report anything for her this year—Florida's homeschooling requirements start at age 6—so we're really just all about fun for her.)

I should add here that as proponents of child-led learning this list was created with lots of input from Agent E. Truth is, this "plan" is mostly for my benefit, as I like to have a general idea of the kinds of things we might be doing so I know what kinds of books, printouts, and other resources to be on the lookout for. In reality, though, we'll end up doing as much or as little of each as Agent E determines, and probably change course at least half a dozen times. As Dear Hubby likes to remind me, a plan is merely something to deviate from.

1. Bible study. We started out strong with this for Agent E last year (and her K year) but then kind of fizzled. She's beyond the children's Bibles, both in terms of interest and reading level, but not quite ready for the full text. I'm thinking about getting her a Spark Bible, recommended by friends. I would like to start attending a nice ELCA church again . . . we've kind of slacked off, but that's a whole other post. I'd like to focus on New Testament stories, parables, and the life of Jesus. Also, talking more about the church year in general. 

2. Classical music. This is one of Eva's choices of what to study for second grade. We listen in the car all the time (currently on Chopin, which both girls have declared is "too much piano and not enough other stuff"). I think she will enjoy learning more about the composers and when they lived, as well as the instruments used. Plus, it fits in with that whole Little Einsteins theme. (Also, have I mentioned that Fantasia is one of their favorite things to watch?) 

3. Math. We've recently started working more on the concepts of place (hundreds, tens, ones) and borrowing, so moving on to two/three digit addition/subtraction. She's also big into multiplying and dividing and is totally one of those kids who actually likes learning the times tables. A couple of other things I'd like to address further this year would be working with money, fractions, and measurement. We've already touched on those, but not a whole lot.

4. Reading. We don't really consider "reading" as a school subject, at least not in the way I remember it from elementary school. I recall being assigned different stories and books and then having to either do vocabulary and spelling lists and/or answer a bunch of obscure questions about what I read. Here it's just something we do because we like it. Of course, I'll have Eva read to me sometimes so I can see what's going on with her reading level and get a better idea of what kind of books she might enjoy, and we talk about what she reads, so I know she's "getting" the story, but I don't really tell her what to read or what not to read. Although I do usually pick out many of the library books that come home with us, because even the children's room is somewhat overwhelming. She does pick out her own chapter books, though. One tool we use to get ideas is the Book Wizard at the Scholastic website.

5. Safety. This one is hard for me, because I don't want to make her paranoid, but at the same time I feel like there are things we haven't addressed as well as we should. Some issues, like personal space and her body being her own, have naturally come up as we continue our current study of the human body. She's pretty good with basic safety around the home. And we've talked about what to do if she's separated from me in a crowd (like all those Disney trips). I just . . . ugh. I don't know. I want to be realistic but not scare her. How do you balance teaching young children about safety and maintaining the attitude that her world (and the people in it) are mostly good?

6. Spanish. I know; this was an epic fail on our last attempt. However, both girls have been asking about it again, so we're going to give it another shot. I have no idea how I'm going to pull this off just yet, but I envision it will involve lots of songs on CD from the library and a potential Little Pim purchase. At one point we had post-its all over the house with Spanish words for things, and they seemed to be amused by that. If you've studied Spanish with your students, and have any good websites to recommend, that would be awesome.

7. Weather. This was part of our original plan for first grade but it got pushed out by ocean life. However, it's making a return, so we'll see how it goes. She's already obsessed with checking the weather (not that she got that from me—cough, cough) and The Weather Channel is one of the apps loaded on "her" Kindle. I think she'll enjoy learning more about the how and why behind the weather she sees. Probably would be a good time to talk about emergency preparedness (Is that a word? I think so, but it looks weird now that I wrote it.) given that hurricane season is approaching.

8. World geography. For E's kindergarten year, we did a country a week as part of our lessons, including looking at the map, flag, language, and some random fun facts (e.g., most common animals that live there). We also had a chance to visit many of the countries we studied. I think I'd like to expand on this with more of a big picture view, and add more about the differences and similarities in the continents, landmarks, different types of land areas and bodies of water, etc. Both Agents E and J would probably enjoy continuing the country a week trend, too. Maybe we'll work through in alphabetical order this time.

9. Writing. We really haven't focused much on writing this past year; we've been more about reading. She is learning to write in cursive (her idea) and can already read it pretty well. Knowing what I know about Agent E, she'd probably love learning more about why sentences are put together the way they are, punctuation, parts of speech, etc. One thing I definitely want to do is get her a journal to write in daily (or whenever she likes). I'm thinking a real, actual, hardbound, pretty book—not just a notebook, but instead something a little more special.

10. Etc. etc. etc. Since I need one more item to make this a neat list of ten, I guess I'll go with whatever else comes up. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it's highly likely the specific topics of music, Spanish, weather, and geography will only get us through the first couple of months, as we tend to basically do really long unit studies until we feel we are "done" and move on to something else. Also, we find that many other subjects "sneak in" even when we don't account for them specifically (e.g., geography studies will often lead to history questions, reading and writing naturally lead to spelling  and vocabulary questions). Plus we'll talk about holidays as they come up. And I haven't even mentioned art. or field trips. or P.E. (Okay; this list probably could have been a lot longer than ten.)


  1. I am slowly learning to never plan further than what the kids are saying for the next thing they want to study! LOL Right now we're studying insects, and the next thing they want to study is Japan (with Samurai and Ninjas). I've also heard that studying horses is a possibility for this year :-)

    1. That definitely sounds like our house. E will tell me, "There are too many good things to choose. I can't decide!"