NOT Back to School for us is tomorrow. I refuse to start a new school year before September. It's just not right. Starting any sooner would be like celebrating Christmas in November.The kids are excited. Miriam kept telling me today, "I'm so nervous! I don't know if I can do it! Maybe it's too hard!" She is going into K-5, for crying out loud, and she has a very gentle and slow-paced curriculum. She has a tendency to agonize over little things. Thankfully, she is learning in the safety of our family.
Today, the last day of summer break, I finally finished writing the lesson plans for this year. That usually takes all my spare time for a couple of weeks. Yesterday, I spent a solid two hours agonizing over just what new German books to order the kids from Amazon in Germany - does that count as planning? Oh, what would I do without access to books and materials from the Old Country???
Click on image to enlarge, click again to enlarge even more.
I wrote out the first 18 weeks of this today. I saved the other 18 weeks to have something to ruin my Christmas break with. Oh, it was so much fun! Procrastination always pays off! Solomon is green, Isaac orange, John yellow, Miriam pink, and Becky orange. The white fields are shared between the children whose colors they overlap. Last year, we used the same type of planner (painfully made by yours truly using MS Word), and it worked well. Basically, I print off one sheet like this for each child and put it in a clear pocket in the front of their respective binders. The older ones can work independently if I am not immediately available, and everyone can keep track of where they are at by writing on the chart (in the pocket) with a dry-erase marker.
I could bore you with a detailed list of which child is using which book for which subject this year, but I will spare you. As in previous years, each child is on their own level for Math and English (which includes reading, spelling, handwriting grammar, and composition). All other subjects we learn about together at the same time, each on their own level, using "Cantering the Country" and about 50-70 library books for each state we cover. This approach has worked wonderfully for us, and put a lot of joy, peace, and shared learning into the learning process.
Miriam and Becky are only 20 months apart in age. I was tempted to cover the same materials with both of them, but Becky is just not on the same level with her phonics as Miriam. But - she is totally ahead of her age in Math, and on par with her older sister, so I am actually going to go through the same Math program with both girls. Becky is turning 3 next month, Miriam is 4 and a half, and the book we will be using is for 5-year old kindergarten students.
We spent a good part of Saturday finalizing the school room, i.e. boxing up all books and art works from the past year for the attic, putting everyone's new books and supplies out, and generally straightening the room up. By the time we were done, it was late and there was no dinner waiting, so we decided to have pizza, sodas, and cake at Whole Foods instead in celebration of "NOT Back to School". Of course, we still had our customary BBQ today, too, so we really had two parties.
Last week, I spent a couple of afternoons planning weekly field trips for all the home educating families in our church. I think I got about 20 or more arranged. Lots of cool stuff planned. This Saturday, we are driving out to the ranch where we get our beef for a BBQ and apple picking. They said there would be baby pigs and baby calves roaming the orchard, which the kids will just love. Next Friday, we are going to a pizza place that lets kids make their own pizzas, teaches them how to toss the dough, gives the kids a tour of the kitchen, and best of all lets everyone eat their pizza - all for FREE! This is really good pizza, too. Well, too much fun to write about all of it in detail.
Last but not least, a confession: I am addicted to school supplies. And: even though I bought about 40 glue sticks in the back to school sales last month, I could only find 5 of them when we were putting the supplies in the schoolroom on Saturday. Ugh! We have a lot of busy artists around here, but still - surely they must be hiding somewhere, or I am in serious trouble.
Watercolor sets for the older kids
I ***think*** we got enough crayons, markers, and colored pencils. But like I said, lots of busy artists around here.
Some higher quality special supplies for the art curriculum we are using this year. Thank you, Aaron Brothers, for carrying this wonderful German brand.
It's the nerd in me...
... but I love these!
for keeping little fingers busy
the meagerly glue stash
one half of our school room
bins of old school books strategically placed under my husband's boxing bag so he will have an incentive to take them to the attic, lots of learning games for the younger ones in the middle, school books on the right
other half of our school room
This last picture is of the shelf that holds everyone's daily school books. Each child has a box with their materials, followed by their binder and books that are too large for the box. This system has been working well for us for several years now.
5 kids in 4 and a half grades, plus a baby. What did I get myself into??