September 13, 2016

Sonlight and Multiple Students-------Take 2

So last year I wrote an extremely detailed post about how I planned to use Sonlight with my, then, Grades 4, 2, and 1 children.

I kept that pace for a few weeks.. and then reworked how it would actually go for 9
full months of school.

Life gave us a few bumps and adjustments that couldn't have been planned for. And as the homeschooling years tick by, I'm trying to remember that flexibility or adaptability is key! Somehow, us homeschool moms need to find a sweet balance between routine and schedule and keeping things real and flexible as life throws unexpected curve balls our way.

If we can capitalize on our slower days, really focus on how great it is, and not get flustered or discouraged on days where it feels like school just isn't working.. I think this can help us avoid burnout. Our family hasn't signed any contract or written in stone anywhere that we will graduate everyone from home, however if we do graduate my youngest from home, we're looking at another 12 years of homeschooling ahead of us.

Setting a healthy pace, and evaluating things constantly, has helped me a lot.

As for curriculum for 2016-2017, we are still using Sonlight. I really have nothing negative to say about Sonlight. Because we live abroad, with no access to an english public library, it is really nice to build our own family library at home. Sonlight gives us the tools to do this, without a lot of legwork. I trust Sonlight's picks to be high-quality. I also love their emphasis on reading aloud.

This year we have Grades 5, 3, 2, and K in our home.

We are going back to Core A this year (World Cultures), mainly to keep my Kindergartner engaged, but also as a good review for my Grade 3 and 2 students. I am supplementing them with some more detailed work related to the topics. My Grade 5 student is doing an online Social Studies course affiliated with the school we are enrolled with in Canada. Because we are Canadian, and Sonlight is American, it's difficult to fulfill Canadian learning outcomes when it comes to Canadian Socials.

Our year ahead looks like this:

History/Social Studies/Bible
Grade 5 daughter will work through Starting Strong for her personal Bible study, and do an online course through our Christian School for social studies.
Grade K, 2, 3 will work through Sonlight's Core A
All of us are working through Young Explorers, Human Anatomy and Physiology (Apologia)
We will also cover some student-led-interest-based projects.... (I'm scared about this)
Language Arts:
Brave Writer (Jot it Down, & Partnership Writing)
Phonics: Explode the Code, MCP Phonics
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise
Readers: Sonlight Picks for their grade level
Grade 5: Saxon 6/5
Grade 3: Singapore Primary 3
Grade 2: Singapore Primary 2
K: Singapore Primary Kb
Music: (I used to be a piano teacher)
Grade 5 daughter is continuing with private piano lessons with me
Grade 3, 2 students are practicing with me but also using a FREE online video series we found, and they really like it called Hoffman Music Academy.

How Do We Get it All Done?

For my older guys, (Gr. 5, 3, 2) I like to write out weekly checklists. It helps them know my expectations without me become more than my normal "naggy" self, and they also appreciate knowing their workload for the day. I am super laid back with my final kindergartener this year, as he is already ahead of schedule when it comes to phonics and math, as well-----I know he'll be fine as I don't see any glaring learning challenges at this point.  :) How's that for vague?

Daily, my goal is to be finished with schoolwork by lunch-time. I've had to recognize each of my children's own learning style. But I'm trying to instill the idea that work comes before play, and school is lumped into that "work" category. This means no video games or tv shows before schoolwork is finished. As well, I have my own things/hobbies I would like to do, so I don't like doing much school work after lunch. I find if things are left until then, they probably won't get done at all. By the afternoon, I'm thinking about shopping that needs doing, supper to prepare, maybe a date for tea with a friend or another project. Who knows.

I try hard to prioritize the items my children will definitely need me for in the mornings, and then they have to get the other things done after that.
So school has 3 basic categories,
1. Work-with-mom
2. Independent-work
And then there's this other strange category that I'm calling:
3. Spontaneous Natural Learning

This final category probably happens more often than I'm even aware. But this year I will purpose to be more observant of this category. So much learning is taking place in our home without me guiding it. Just getting my kids involved with the daily running of our home provides plenty of opportunity for it - - - conflict/resolution, health and nutrition, time management, moral discussions etc...... I think it's key for homeschool moms to recognize how much learning is happening naturally during play and while talking with our young children. What makes it strange or difficult type of learning for me is, there's no substantial proof, there aren't any checkboxes to mark "done"... I can't show it to a teacher necessarily. It's a lot like sowing seeds in the garden and seeing nothing but the soil on top for a long, long time, waiting for the fruit of those seeds to appear.

In any case, every year we tweak and change things as we see the need to.

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