Finishing up week 12 of our current homeschool year. We decided to try a little more structure in our schedule, and so far so good. We were already dividing up the school day into morning school and afternoon school, but we took that a step farther and outlined what subjects we will cover on what days. Right now it looks like this:
- MTWRF mornings: math, language arts, PE
- MWF afternoons: geography, history, science
- T afternoons: art, health, world religions
- R afternoons: music, health, world religions
Of course, everything around here is a work in progress. If we get to the point where we feel like we’re short-changing the TR topics, we’ll have to revisit. For now, though, this seems like it will work well. I should also point out that PE takes place any time of day when we feel like being outside or taking a break, but for the sake of list making I put it on the schedule in the mornings.
We concentrated on multiplication this week. Agent J (2nd) decided last week she wanted to learn to multiply, so we started with the concepts of multiplying by zero and one and took it from there. Skip counting games (e.g., throwing a ball back and forth and calling out the next number) are great for getting ready to begin multiplying. Agent E (4th) has a stack of homemade multiplication flash cards (her idea) that she’s been using. She already pretty much knew times tables up to ten, but she often had to pause and think about it and skip count in her head. Life of Fred motivated her to want to make the answers more automatic. Even after just a few days with the cards she can rattle off most of them rather quickly. And now Agent J “helps” her with the flash cards, so she’s having more exposure as well.
This week we finished up a quick review of grammar topics we covered so far and introduced conjunctions and interjections. I’m still torn on whether some of the written work we do is too much for Agent J . . . sometimes I feel like I’m coaxing her along. Both Senior Agents seem to be more interested in reading than writing at this point. I’m sure that will balance out, but for now our expectations for written schoolwork reflect that. A few of Agent J’s current favorite fiction series include Rainbow Magic, Cam Jansen, and Secret Kingdom. Agent E has been re-reading the Harry Potter series, and she recently got more into the Dear America books.
Earthquakes were on the agenda this week. We’ve been doing just a page or two a week from our spine text, and then supplementing with one or two additional library books. (This week it was Earthquakes by Simon Seymour, part of an awesome series of books published jointly with the Smithsonian.) I’m starting to feel like we’re moving too slowly, though, and maybe we should start combining topics a bit. For example, this week it would have made sense to cover tsunamis as well, and would have only added a few pages of reading overall.
The Agents were very happy to return to our evolution studies this week. We’re currently reading The Human Story by Christopher Sloan and Evolution Revolution by Robert Winston. Of all the topics we’ve covered in the last few years of homeschooling, this has definitely captivated Agent E the most. (The fascination started during our trip to Washington, D.C. last year, which included her first visit to the National Museum of Natural History.)
The goal of taking a week or two on each major body system seems to be falling into place. This week we finished bones and next week we will be starting muscles. Right now I’m also considering when and how to fit in the other required health-related topics from our state guidelines. (New York mandates that we cover certain topics, like tobacco use and fire safety, among others, once a year.) I’m not sure if I want to integrate them (e.g., include misuse of tobacco when we discuss the respiratory system) or devote a dedicated week (or weeks) to address all of them.
This week for art we looked at mosaics and then made our own. Well, sort of. Basically we tossed tiny pieces of construction paper and glue around the kitchen. And I discovered that Agent A doesn’t really know how to work scissors.
We decided to go back to having art and music time each week. (We were alternating, but I felt like we needed to do more of each.) This week we discussed African music and listened to a sample, and then we read a Maasai folk tale. The girls seem to be enjoying our introduction to music history. Agent E continues practicing to read music and play notes, but Agent J isn’t quite interested yet.
We’re in that lovely time of the year where the temperature fluctuates 30 degrees or more each day. We still try to get outside after lunch and after dinner, but we’ll need a new plan soon once early darkness is upon us. We kind of slacked on the cardio videos this week, but we have a new one reserved at the library to try out next week.