Everything is a little different this year, as we live through a global pandemic. As we start our 7th year of homeschooling, our theme will be Early American History as we begin 2nd, 5th and 6th grades. We did school year-round this year, so our fall subjects will begin by wrapping up each of our summer units. The official start date will be the day that Lynn starts at a new Classical Co-op. While our summer terms were very relaxed, the traditional school year will bring higher expectations and more traditional work.
Schooling through the summer means our fall school load looks smaller because we have been doing some of our subjects over the summer. We focused on four family subjects over the summer, and each child did independent math. We also did the library summer reading program and wrote the second edition of our School Newspaper.
Previous Years: PreK, 2nd, 3rd K, 3rd, 4th 1st, 4th, 5th
My summer plan started by thinking that if we did a unit of our studies over the summer, it would be one less box to check each week in the fall. Studying US geography was on my list, along with American History for the year. No matter how you organize it, 50 states is a lot to cover! We are using different printables, including this set from 123Homeschool4Me and reading from two different books about each state. We are doing 3 states a week by region, and at the end of each region we do a review activity.
Summer History: Early Modern Times
History was not on my plan for summer but the kids asked for it! We used Story of the World volume 2: The Middle Ages last year listening to the audiobook over the course of the year. The kid enjoyed it so much that they asked to keep going and listen to Volume 3: Early Modern Times over the summer! It works out well because they will have a world-wide overview of the time period as we dive deeper into Early American History for the majority of our school year. To simplify our summer history I am only offering the coloring sheets for each chapter and we add the events to our timeline books, otherwise we are just enjoying the story of history together.
We started our Science Program, Sonlight Science D, early this year because we had space in the summer schedule. It’s a program we have been using for 4 years now and I really enjoy the book selection and the open and go planning. I am not a hands-on experiment mom, so great books are perfect for us. Taxonomy and classification is something we are eager to dive into this year. In addition, animals have always been a big interest here, so I think this will be a win again this year.
We never finished the devotional we were reading in the spring, so we kept going. We do one reading each day from Thoughts to Make My Heart Sing. Based on a verse, the reflections give us positive thoughts to start our day, and an encouraging truth about our God. Having Bible be a part of our school day isn’t something I feel strongly about: we do it when we have a resource we want to use, and we skip it other times. I don’t have a plan for what we will do after this study ends. We are a Christian family, but we don’t homeschool because of our faith, it’s an added bonus of our home being our classroom. We want our kids to learn our faith by watching us live it, not by reading it in a textbook.
With some subjects done over the summer the ones we will start soon for our official school start include American History, Science, Poetry, and Art. With the exception of Art we will be doing all of these subjects all together, 2nd-6th grade. These are all considered content subjects. The material can be taught in any order and at any time in the learning process. Skill Subjects include Reading and Math, where a specific sequence is encouraged and children cannot be taught as easily over a wide age span.
When I first mapped our long term homeschool plan, I knew this would be the American History year, but I was apprehensive because I didn’t know how I would teach it. There are many options out there, and sadly, diversity is not always strong in Christian homeschool programs. I also wanted to be sensitive to my children’s request to study more than just the wars. We have settled on Beautiful Feet Books Early American Intermediate Program. I really like the literature used in the program. I also like that it is designed to be done 3 days a week which fits our current rhythm. The clincher to me was the Enrichment Pack which included additional voices of diversity to the program, with notes on when to add them to the main program. I was looking at adding other sources and this took the planning off my plate. I can’t wait to dig in soon.
This fall when we finish our study of the 50 States we will switch to our Literature studies for the year. A Child’s Introduction to Poetry will be our text. I’m excited to break down the different styles of poetry together. Maybe even write some different types along the way. I will also be outsourcing our Readaloud list to Dad to use as Bedtime stories. We have done this now for several years and it’s a win for everyone, he does great voices and I get a break.
This is the one subject we will not do completely as a family. We will continue reading Vincent’s Starry Night during our Family School time. While Lynn attends a new Classical co-op on Monday the boys will be doing Masterbook’s Living Art Lessons with me at home. She did the same program several years ago by herself. We are looking at some different options for her Fine Art learning including a self-directed Manga drawing study based on her interests.
While much of our learning is done together, which saves planning time and energy, there is no way around having different math and language arts programs. Check out what each child is using for their independent work this year.
Lynn 6th grade:
She needs to discuss the literature she is reading, so she is attending a new co-op for Humanities this year. This fall, she will finish Math U See Epsilon and will start Zeta in the spring. I am adding the Sonlight Readers in addition to her co-op literature to add Historical Fiction to our American history studies. Lynn specifically asked for a handwriting program to use this year, she finds it relaxing to slow down and practice writing and drawing.
Cub 5th grade
Being both Autistic and Gifted brings its challenges to school work. Cub is becoming an independent learner and happy to read and teach himself. Cursive was a success last year until the lines on the page shrank and he wasn’t ready for it. This year I specifically researched programs and levels where the lines didn’t get too small before he was ready. We will continue to read the Sonlight independent reading list this year to supplement our American History studies.
AJ 2nd grade
AJ is Gifted and ahead in many areas. He is also the one who struggles the most with the pandemic. He understands cognitively years ahead of his emotional age, which is more typical for his age. We are switching to the Good and the Beautiful for Language Arts. The skills the program includes, grammar and writing, are areas I have been weak in teaching. He will be using two math programs because my little engineer likes to change it up when he gets bored. The Transition handwriting book can be used for 2 years, it provides print practice before moving on to cursive.