Friday, August 26, 2011

Back to School

Mitch heads back to school on Monday for a week of teacher workshops and to set up his classroom.  School officially starts Tuesday after Labor Day.  I decided that school would start for our kids this Monday as well.  We have had quite a long enough break! 

About a month ago I began preparing for the new school year in my "free time".  I got in a groove and sold many of our old books on ebay (ones that I'm sure we won't be using again).  I used this money to invest in some new/used books.  Here are what the kids are doing this year:

Zeke and Josh
Zeke will do 2nd grade and Josh will do 1st grade.
Phonics & Reading:  Josh is an excellent reader.  It just comes naturally.  For ease, I will teach them both phonics together on the 2nd grade level for at least the first couple months of school.  We are using A Beka Homeschool edition.  Josh will still use a 1st grade workbook (mainly because that's what I bought for him, and he will still find it challenging enough at times).  I will also have him read the 1st grade books.  Not because he can't read the 2nd grade books, but as a matter of protecting Zeke's self-esteem.  Josh reads enough on his own to be challenged to excel.  

Handwriting:  I have questioned Zeke many times if he would like to continue practicing cursive writing, or if he would like to switch to manuscript.  He really enjoys writing in cursive, so we will stick to that.  I am going to encourage Josh to learn manuscript.  He almost never writes in cursive and often writes in print.  I'm going to go with that bent, and work with him on improving.  He does not have the fine-motor control of his pencil that I expected him to have at this point.  So I'm going to try to relax my expectations and encourage him to keep practicing what feels comfortable.  We are using A Beka for handwriting also, even though I did spend time considering other curricula.

Arithmetic:  Both boys have not enjoyed A Beka Arithmetic this past year.  Getting Zeke to do his math sheet is about as much fun as getting him to pull out two baby teeth that are hanging on for dear life.  He just can't do it.  After spending a good amount of time researching and thinking and shopping (literally months), I have decided to teach using Math-U-See.  (I take math seriously.)  I am very excited about this.  I will do Beta with Zeke and Alpha with Josh.  Deciding what level to put them each on was the hardest.  I am confident about my decision.  I've been trying to generate excitement for them by talking about it in small chunks over the past couple weeks.

Extra stuff:  Science, history, social studies, etc, are all "fluff" subjects at this grade level.  I have some A Beka books that are incorporated into the boys' reading programs.

Micah, Eden, and Caleb
Micah is in 8th, Eden in 7th, and Caleb in 5th grade
Switched-On Schoolhouse:  All of these guys will do SOS for Language Arts, History, Science, and Elementary Spanish.  Eden and Caleb will also do Bible on SOS.  I am going to do some assigned reading for Micah for Bible (starting with How Do We Know the Bible is True?).

Arithmetic:  I felt from the beginning that SOS had a weak math program.  But I went with it, because arithmetic was one of the hardest things for me to grade (got to love automated grading!).  This summer I began digging up some more research and decided on Teaching Textbooks.  At first I was just going to do it for Micah and Eden.  I bought some used copies on ebay.  I assumed that they would not have automated grading.  I tried out Eden's (Grade 7) and it DID have automated grading.  I began to get excited.  Micah's (Pre-Algebra) didn't have automated grading, but the edition released this year would have it.  So I sold Micah's back on ebay for what I bought it for, and ordered the new edition--whoohoo!  And I ordered Grade 5 for Caleb. I created custom arithmetic subjects for each of the kids in SOS so I can easily track their arithmetic work along with everything else.

Writing:  Devona is going to teach the Excellence in Writing course this year.  Our kids will team up with the Emersons and the Loucks' to sharpen their writing skills.  To balance this with what they are doing in SOS, I removed some of the lessons in SOS that are covering the same topics (I love the flexibility of SOS).

I'm excited they are doing Spanish!  Micah really wants to learn German.  I do too.  We'll get there.  Ok, I'm sure all of them want to learn German.  But I know Spanish, so that's an easy place to start.  There's no rule that says they can only learn one foreign language!

I would love to get the kids interested in Speech and Debate.  That's going to take a lot more planning and preparation.  I'm no where ready to dive into this.  I am going to work on laying a foundation for this throughout the school year (talking about what debate is, how it can be fun, why it is important, watching what some other homeschoolers do, etc), to see if there is an interest among the kids.  We'll go from there.  

Also since Micah is in 8th grade, I am constantly being asked if we will continue to homeschool through out high school.  I even had a clerk at Sam's Club outright tell me he disagrees with homeschooling throughout high school.  I really don't care what he thinks!  But I do realize this is a very important decision.  So through this year we have to make a final decision and a plan for 9th grade.  My "pat" answer is that it depends on Micah's desires, his level of maturity and responsibility, and what we think is best for him.  If you ask him today, he will tell you he wants to go to public school.  Whether he will be ready or not is another thought altogether.

Ok, this post has gone on about long enough.  And the flies are bothering me.  Time to get back to work!

1 comment:

  1. Hope you guys have a great start to your school year. Austin, too, wants to go to public school, but mostly to socialize all day long. I don't think he quite gets it.