2017-2018 Homeschool Resources

It’s almost that time of year again. That time where I write a post detailing our plans for the homeschool year. I toss in some winsome ideas about how this might really be our last year, how we plan to utilize different curricula and weekly rhythms, and further elaborate on my love for Charlotte Mason.

Last year, I really went all out with a back-tracking of links to our other years. I won’t spend the time doing that as you can go back here and read it and click away.

What remains annually is that each school year presents its own unique set of circumstances. The first year we had just moved to Texas, the second Ryan was deployed to Afghanistan, and last year was our final year in Georgia. This year proves to be no exception and what’s truly unique about 2017-2018 is that our fall semester will be spent in South Carolina and our spring semester will be spent in Louisiana. #serenitynow

I have about decided to call this year our Seventh Inning (Year) Stretch. You know how when you go see a live baseball game and by the seventh inning you just need to stand up, stretch out, sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and renew your interest in the game. That’s kind of how I feel like this year is going to go for us. Year seven: living in two states so we need to keep the main things the main things, we needed to add back in some fun things to renew our interests in learning and being citizens in this world.

I’m always reflecting on the successes and failures of previous years, adding in developmental changes in our kids that need to be reflected in our study, and adjusting accordingly.

Every other year I get standardized test scores to help me see academic deficiencies (if any) and I spend literally hours and hours reading, researching, scouring the web, and interpreting all of this information for the purposes of improving and strengthening our procedures at W.A.C.K.

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Here is a rundown of some of the particulars that went into my process for decision making for the 2017-2018 school year.

  • we need flexibility since we will be living in two states this year; a reminder that I don’t want to get bogged down with a lot of extra, outside-the-house weekly commitments; plan for time to venture out and see the sights in each of these locales; enjoy our neighbors and community as often as possible
  • we need flexibility since Ryan will be in school himself the first semester; we want to be around to have lunch with him most days and invite him into our classroom experiences as often as possible because second semester, well–we probably won’t see much of him at all
  • if this happens to be our final year homeschooling, I want to go out with a bang; I want our year to be fun, interesting, and full of useful skills, nuanced information, more student-led learning, and plenty of experiential knowledge
  • I want a return to delight-directed learning; to take further advantage of the current ages/grades of my children in order to really dig into some unit studies that inform, keep us interested, and connect the dots across the curriculum as well as life experiences
  • we have a fourth grader, a new middle schooler, and one kid who has one final year before he begins high school and will need a transcript; this will be a good year to do a trial run for Thomas and me keeping more stringent records of grades and coursework

 

Here is a rundown of some of our “one room school house,” family table, work together stuff and also the breakdown of our unit studies…

  • last year, we initiated a more structured approach to the morning basket; we will keep that up, use it as a start to our school day; this year instead of packing so much into each day, I’ll keep most of the components but spread them out and pepper them through the week so that the basket time is reduced; what we will keep is starting our day with devotional time using some awesome studies from Right Now Media; we will also use this time to do a read aloud that pertains to our current unit study; for a more detailed look at what that basket includes, look here
  • while last year focused on a overview of all of world history (using Story of the World), this year we will circle back around (again) on more detailed periods of United States history that we haven’t delved into deeply; in addition we will take a closer look at some important global events and issues that impact(ed) America; I have developed these unit studies around these particular eras/events and have chosen literature, social studies, arts, writing, and field trips to compliment and further develop themes surrounding each
  • speaking of field trips, this year we are working a M-Th academic work week with Fridays designated as school days where we will take full advantage of practical learning and excursions to nearby museums, battlefields, national and state parks, as well as out of the house classes and supplemental programming geared toward homeschoolers
  • I have designed and created all of my own unit studies this year; no set curriculum, no set scope and sequence; I literally divided a 36 week school year into 12, three week sessions and began filling in accordingly–I used our locations to help direct me and feel like this is where true learning takes place; if we are going to go all out homeschooling, might as well take full advantage of our geography

 

This is probably only interesting & pertinent to me, but I’m posting it here for posterity. I’ll add in more information, or fill in the blanks with each unit as we go. I have detailed plans handwritten elsewhere, but am constantly tweaking (not to be confused with twerking). Throughout the year, I’ll add links to finalized book selections, arts, movies, and field trips as we work through each unit.

 

(Theme of the Year)

Standing up for what you believe in…

 

Unit 1: (Weeks 1-3)

South Carolina: ‘Dum Spiro Spero’ (While I Breathe, I Hope), themes of hope, new beginnings; review of both Revolutionary War and Civil War; ideas of patriotism, loyalty, slavery, segregation, racism; Francis Marion, John C. Calhoun, Andrew Jackson; music and arts: the Carolina Shag, pinch pots at Old Edgefield Pottery, Battleship; movies: The Patriot, Perfect Harmony;

field trips: The State House, Capitol Building (again), Cowpens, Fort Sumter National Monument (Charleston), Conagree National Park; read aloud Shades of Gray, Thomas literature The Boys War, Mae literature Across Five Aprils, Kate literature My Brother’s Keeper

 

Unit 2: (Weeks 4-6)

Sports & Games: Underdogs and Heroism

 

Unit 3: (Weeks 7-9)

Money & Finance: Where Your Treasure Is

 

Unit 4: (Weeks 10-12)

The Holocaust: Rescuer or Bystander

 

Unit 5: (Weeks 13-15)

Family Heritage, History, & Genealogy: Personal Patriots

 

Unit 6: (Weeks 16-18)

Pilgrim’s Progress: Spiritual Journeys & Beliefs

 

SEMESTER BREAK —– MOVE TO LOUISIANA

 

Unit 7: (Weeks 19-21)

A New State of Mind: Louisiana

 

Unit 8: (Weeks 22-24)

Board Games: Skill, Luck, Diplomacy, & Morality

 

Unit 9: (Weeks 25-27)

Greek Mythology: Gods, Heroes, & the Nature of the World

 

Unit 10: (Weeks 28-30)

SURVIVOR: Preparedness & Mettle

 

Unit 11: (Weeks 31-33)

What’s Love Got to Do With It: Relationships & Purity

 

Unit 12: (Weeks 34-36)

Choose Your Own Interest & Develop a Unit Study Around It

 

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Also for posterity, the kids’ individual subjects in addition to the unit studies:

 

Thomas (8th grade)

Math: Life of Fred Beginning Algebra and Zillions of Practice Problems*

*After a long run of Teaching Textbooks (which I still love and will likely go back to), and after having completed Algebra I as a seventh grader, I didn’t want Thomas to get too far ahead in math and have nothing left to take in high school, so I’m having him repeat Algebra I this year in a different format. He aced it last year so if this it too much of a breeze, I’ve agreed to order Teaching Textbooks, Geometry a few weeks into school.

Language Arts: Wordly Wise 8, Grade 8 Spectrum Writing, Grade 8 Language Arts

Science: PACE Biology with Labs*

*Still a huge fan of Apologia and will likely return to that for next year when I (potentially) have Thomas take Biology a second time for high school credit; the PACE format will be a good introduction and foundation.

Dual Credit Online Courses:

Fall Semester: Public Speaking (CA 112) & Weight Training (HP 105)

Personal Development: Kahn Academy, Duo Lingo French, and continued practice of golf and working toward Trail Life badges

 

Mae (6th grade)

Math: Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra

Language Arts: Wordly Wise 6, Harcourt Language Arts 6, Harcourt Writing Skills 6

Science: Apologia Chemistry and Physics with Notebooking Journal

Personal Development: Kahn Academy, soccer at Fort Jackson, CPR & First Aid course, continued work toward various American Heritage Girls badges, and EdVenture Classes: Engineering Challenge & Magic Potions

 

Kate (4th grade)

Math: Teaching Textbooks Math 5

Language Arts: Wordly Wise 4, Harcourt Language Arts 4, Harcourt Writing Skills 4

Science:  Apologia Chemistry and Physics with Notebooking Journal

Personal Development: Always Ice Cream, gymnastics at Fort Jackson, Handwriting without Tears Cursive Success, continued work toward various American Heritage Girls badges, and EdVenture Classes: Ocean Clean-up & Cooking Lab

 

Claire (The Mom-Teacher)

  • continue reading books for pleasure
  • attend a PWOC Bible Study fall semester (Fort Jackson)
  • continue writing blog posts and complete an outline for book project
  • continue adding teacher resources on Teachers Pay Teachers
  • schedule regular time out of the house with friends
  • stay physically active: yoga classes, tennis, walking the dog

 

I know that everyone has her own way of doing things. I’m no exception. One of the reasons I love homeschooling is that I can tailor every last activity, lesson, and resource to what we like and need.

I can have the fun and creativity of developing my own unit studies that lead us down the path of delight directed learning. I can mix that with some regular, (boring) workbook items that build skills and repetition as well as prepare my kids for the event of returning to public school and every-other-year standardized testing.

I can let my kids work ahead to the levels of their highest potential, or I can have them loop and repeat subjects in multiple formats to establish a super solid foundation. There’s no right or wrong way to do it; and I love how customized our school year and school days can be.

For our family that means laying off of a prescribed, boxed curriculum and leaning into using the world around us as our classroom with lots of hands on learning, living books, hearty discussion, and connecting the experiences of what we have seen and read. It’s relying on the public library, post and community programming, and a few curricula that are tried and true for us.

I repeat this often, mostly for Claire, but God has not called our family to a life in one town, with the benefit of a long-running, systemic public education model within the same school system–with the same kids and teachers–for a lifetime. Oh, how some days I wish he had!

God has called our family to a ministry to the military and thus we have the blessing (and the challenge) of a unique and personal educational opportunity. I pray *constantly* (mostly when I lie awake at night wondering if I’m getting this all wrong), that God would not only continue to give me the wisdom and grace to educate our children effectively, but also I pray that he would continue to make me happy, willing, and obedient enough to do it. =)

Here’s to a great year of the Wood Academy of Christian Kids (W.A.C.K.) in 2017-2018!

“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” {I Thess. 5:24}

 

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