A little devotional, some reading aloud, a little math and a little history. +Lots of outdoor time. +Many many messes! = Good first day of school!
Our first school day is Monday! This is what we will be doing:
I will be aiming to do as many subjects as possible as a group, then each child will do individual work to complement what we learn, but at their own level.
History: we will be working through The Good and the Beautiful year 1 history curriculum. The curriculum covers a lot, but we like to take little detours. I am planning to add some extra projects on some topics like: castles, knights and the Vikings. For fun, we have read ahead many books about the middle ages, I can see this is going to be a very hot topic in our home. Caleb has been wearing a very detailed knight costume for the last week.
Car school: History, I will be putting History of the World (book 1) in the car stereo on rotation with Classical Conversations foundations cds to review what we have learned. Who says the endless drives to and from sports and activities can’t be educational?
Science: we will be beginning the year with the Safety unit offered by the Good and the Beautiful. There are so many cute activities included in this unit, I am especially excited about the electricity scavenger hunt! It will help us review our emergency plans for fire and weather emergencies. This will be especially relevant since we just lived through our first tornado a month ago. The second unit we will be studying is Space Science. We will use the spine of the Good and the Beautiful, but I have added a science projects kit from the magic school bus, and a craft kit to make our own solar system from Target. I have my eyes on a few other units we may add on if we go through them quickly, such as Marine life, human body prt 1 and arthropods from the good and the beautiful.
Fine arts and Music: We bought Creative Arts and Crafts from the good and the beautiful and the art box from Toolboxes for teaching. The crafts are adorable, and my kids are so excited to get started on them! This will also save me time, from going online, finding something related to our current unit study, then sourcing all the materials. Once we are done the crafts in the good and the beautiful kit, we will work on Drawing with children, by Mona Brookes.
For music, we will continue to take violin lessons privately, and practice 5 days a week. Our teacher had a baby over the summer, so we took the summer off. The kids were a little cranky about practicing by the end of the school year, but 2 of 3 have been picking up their violins in the last week, and wanting to play.
Math: My oldest was doing Singapore math last year, which was quite challenging. However, I found I had to make up activities to explain concepts with manipulatives, as well as do exercises orally, it ended up requiring a lot of assistance and was quite stressful for everyone. I got him the Good and the Beautiful grade 2 (which is the highest level they currently have available). I thought this would be a good review, and be enjoyable. There are a few concepts I wanted to review, with less pressure before we continued on. It contains a lot of manipulatives, games, and it appears as though we will do them together. If he completes the Good and Beautiful level 2 curriculum before the grade 3 is available, we will get the extra practice workbooks for level 2 from Singapore or get the 3A set of books. Looking at the first few lessons from the Good and the Beautiful math, I think he will go through the curriculum really quickly, which is fine, I think having some extra practice, and a more relaxed approach will decrease the stress we were feeling around math last year. Since it doesn’t look like the grade 2 from the Good and the Beautiful contains any multiplication or division and he did a lot last year, I got him the musical multiplication from the good and the beautiful, so that he can continue to practice as he reviews. The songs are beautiful, and he enjoys music.
Elise would be fine to continue doing the Singapore math curriculum, she is quite strong and confident in math. We did level 1 Singapore in the winter and spring. However, I thought she might love the art and activities in the good and the beautiful as well. I also will able to teach the 2 oldest a lot at the same time. Comparing the two curriculums, although both are strong math curriculums, initially, it appears that the Good and the Beautiful has a wider content, but seems a perhaps a grade behind where Singapore would be, but I will know more once we start.
Isabelle will also be doing the Good and the Beautiful Kindergarden math program from the good and the beautiful. We did RightStart math A last year, and quite enjoyed that. It did feel like a little extra prep for me because there were so many different materials to be gathered for each lesson. I am not sure how it will compare, but the reviews look very promising!
All the kids will do the Good and the Beautiful Language Arts program at their own individual levels. We haven’t received it yet, but it looks really good. Last year, I tried to include art study and geography separately, whereas this program includes it right in the language arts curriculum, which is very exciting. The book selection is also look great. My kids are very big readers though, so we will be adding a lot of extra readers. Last year, we got the reader collection from Sonlight curriculum and my two oldest kids read their whole stack and the one for their sibling within one or two months. … so now we go to the library each week with rolling luggage!
We will also keep working through the language arts program from Bravewriter, because it’s fun! We are doing the Quiver of Arrows book club with another family from our homeschool coop, and will begin with The Wheel on the School House. We are also doing the jot it down projects. Which are really great fun projects, we do about one a month. We will continue to do a poetry tea time at least once a week, but the kids are just loving poetry, I keep finding Jack Prelutsky collections in the bathrooms!
French: We will continue to read french books every school day. We will do crafts in french or french writing 3 days a week, related to our reading. We are also going to try a french conversation curriculum, where every week we will have a new “conversation” in french to practice.
Spanish: We will begin learning simple words in spanish once a week and reading simple books. The goal of this is just exposure.
Latin: We will continuing to learn the basic framework through our Classical Conversations memory work each day.
German: Every quarter I plan to play a German conversation cd in the car, mostly for me, but maybe the kids will gain an ear for the language?
Memory Work: We will be continuing to do Classical Conversation this year. Where the kids memorize 5-10 items in 7 different subjects each week (Geography, Grammar, Science, Math, Bible, Latin and History Timeline). What the kids have retained is amazing and I am deeply impressed with the basics that the kids gained through this rote memory work. For example, my 4 year old was able to learn skip counting by 2’s, the geography of the fertile crescent, and the classifications of all living things months ago, and can still recite it to this day! We are not doing it as part of a formal community, because we have too many activities already, but it was quite easy to source all the materials, and get great teaching ideas from youtube.com.
The language arts program also has a lot of memory work built in, for example quotes from great thinkers, so we will also do that.
Outdoor education: The kids will participate in a weekly outdoor education program. The program is run by a naturalist and they will spend 2 hours in nature learning things like: foraging, plant identification, ecosystems, animal life cycles and winter survival skills (important for where we live!).
Sports: The oldest three are all on competitive sports teams. Caleb will be playing hockey again. Last year he was on a competitive travel team, we are still waiting to see which team he will place on this year. The girls are both on a competitive cheerleading team. This is our first year, we will reevaluate at the end of the year. At least they will try a competitive team sport for a year and see if they like it!
If you have just read all this, thank you! I appreciate you sticking all the way through. I just needed to put my ideas down on paper.
This is a review partly about a curriculum, but mostly about my new homeschooler ineptitude. Perhaps in jotting this down, that will help me avoid it in the future!
Since my kids were in second grade, 5k, 4K, as well as a toddler, who isn’t schooling yet, my thinking was, I should get the Exploring Countries and Cultures, which is suggested for grade 3 and up… are you seeing where this is going yet?
It does seem obvious why this didn’t work in retrospect, however, there are a few reasons I misjudged the level. They do say that if you have an older child, you can start this curriculum a little younger. Also, we were beginning this curriculum in late winter, and I figured this could be used for the next school year, when my oldest would be in 3rd grade. The reasons behind beginning a new curriculum mid-year deserves a whole other post, and won’t be addressed here.
Despite buying a curriculum for older children, and having challenges within a few days of beginning this curriculum, I pushed through for the majority of the remaining school year. However, I noticed I was slowly shedding materials like layers in the spring. The kids were not into it. Of course my kids are brilliant *wink, but it seemed like some of the material was just going over their heads, and it was a fight to sit through the read alouds. These are the same kids that happily sit for 2 hours when I read different books, so I realized it just wasn’t a good fit.
Another aspect that is a plus or minus depending on your personality is the daily grid schedule. For me, it was a little stressful. Coming out of a private school setting, I had concerns about organizing everything in homeschooling, just like the kids would do in school. I did not find a way to be flexible when the kids had extra interest in certain areas.
Although, when speaking with other homeschoolers, many people appreciate having everything laid out for them on a daily basis.
We started ditching the things we were not interested in, and I just built my own units based on what we were interested in doing. Some examples: Ancient Egypt, the Human body, Bears, Wolves.
The kids were fascinated with the ocean, and I saw online that the Good and the Beautiful were offering a free unit on the Ocean, and we loved it! We took our time with it, and added in extra things, like the Professor Noggins Ocean game, Toobs ocean life, a few Shark week documentaries and many many books from the library.
I also started researching for alternatives and found Julie Bogart’s youtube videos, and added in much more poetry, and art study. We began the Jot it down program and the Quiver of arrows in the last 2 months of school, and the kids loved it! Gone were the struggles to do school work. In fact, the kids have done many writing projects over our summer break, inspired by my Bravewriter readings.
Although, I could see how a family who wants to have a plan laid out for them would love it. The curriculum is complete, and covers a lot of material. Most likely, if I had gotten a younger grade I would have loved it. However for us, My Father’s World is currently living in a box under my bed.
Shoes are good for kids, right? Wrong! Here’s why you should take their shoes off today!
I remember when my first born started walking. I was so worried about doing everything right… you know, as everyone does with their first child! So we got him the best shoes we could find. With arch support and padding of course. We strapped them on, and our previously very mobile toddler, could barely walk a step without falling. When he stopped falling, he looked like those puppies that have boots on. What was going on?
We did not know then, what we know now. Shoes have no benefit for small children, other than protecting them from injury. For example, stepping on glass.
Shoes can actually weaken the muscles of your child’s foot, and damage their structure.
Children that do not wear shoes, have been shown to have better arches, and stronger feet.
Going barefoot, also allows your child to gather sensory data from their feet. They would not be able to feel the grass, moisture from the soil, or temperature with shoes on.
They also are less able to develop their gross motor skills, because wearing shoes alters their natural balance.
What do we do now for shoes?
Our smallest kids wear Robeez as long as possible, when they aren’t able to be barefoot. For my oldest, we just started buying Vivo Barefoot shoes and we are in love! The shoes are very cool looking, which was a major concern for my oldest. He reports they are his most comfortable shoes ever. They have been good for playing sports, when shoes are necessary. The shoes are also very minimal. (In case you’re wondering, I have no sponsorship deal with either company mentioned in this post).
Do yourself and your little one a favour today, go outside without shoes!
Much of the information is from one of my all time favourite books, Balanced and Barefoot Angela J. Hanscom.
Find a few spots in your week that you can fit in some outdoor time. Two times that work well for us are, right after lunch, but before nap time; or right after school. If we go after school, I make sure dinner is in the slow cooker, so I avoid cranky hungry monsters.
Find one outdoor place, that is easy to get to, and good for hanging out. I would aim for a natural area, that has interesting features, like trees, rocks, sticks, long grasses or a creek. When starting out, you’ll probably want to bring your kids to one spot and migrate every 15 to 30 minutes to a different spot. This can mean moving 10 feet further down the trail. This provides variety for kids that aren’t quite comfortable making up their own games yet. Eventually when kids are used to playing in nature, you’ll be able to settle in one spot for much longer periods… but you may still enjoy variety.
Dress yourself and kids appropriately to enjoy yourself. Bring along extra clothes and layers, especially for your kids 6 and under.
We have a “go bag” that stays in our garage that carries supplies that we want when going to the forest. This will vary for ages, experience level and interests, but things we have in our bag: a magnifying glass, shovels, hand rake, small saw, rope, whittling knife, wipes and band aids. We don’t have one, but a map and compass would be a great addition.
“I’m BOOoooOOred”… If this is happening, you may need to get your kids started in an activity, like helping them build a small fairy house, or dig for worms. However, back off as soon as they are into an activity. By playing independently, they are learning to use their imagination, and directing their own learning. It also gives you an opportunity to observe your children, and let their games and questions direct what topics you could learn about next.
Find a way to enjoy yourself outdoors. Bring a book, garden, watch the birds, read my blog for more ideas… (you know I had to!)
The last point is important: They are going to be messy!! Be prepared. Things that help, are a large boot mat, change of clothes ready, cloth to wipe hands, and PATIENCE!
Yes, it would be easier to just let your child veg out and become a couch potato… but you’d be missing out on the magic of raising a Wild Child!