Monday, August 11, 2014

A Brand New Year

Sometime in the last three years I read that the average homeschooler only lasts three years. 

Okay, what I read probably didn't state it like that, but that's what has been running through my head this past summer.  I'm not even sure how accurate it is as I can't remember where I read it, but that's not really the point.

Sort of like poking a bruise to see if it still hurts, I kept examining and re-examining myself to see if I was ready to send my kids out of my house and back to a brick and mortar school.

While there were times I thought, "YES!!"  I don't think I thought it any more often than any previous year.

Although, at the end of the school year, I did find myself looking forward to summer break with much greater impatience than normal and I remember wondering if I would be ready, mentally, for school in the fall.

Amazingly, miracle of miracles, I am.

Even as I worried a little about feeling ready on the inside, I was slogging through getting ready on the outside.

We keep all of our toys in a closet in our school room.  I had to take EVERYTHING out so I could sort through them.  All of them. 

For some reason, the toys manage to find their ways into the wrong bins until one day, each bin seems more like a mixture of every sort of toy found in the closet.  Those darn toys.  I'm sure it's just my toys.  Uh-huh. 

Once that was done, I then had to pull out our old curriculum and school work and sort through it.  I also knew I wanted to reorganize our shelves a little as last year didn't work how I intended (more on that in a minute).

Even though it really is a lot of work and makes I big enough mess that one day I walked out, closed the door and pretended the room wasn't actually part of my house, I love it when it all comes together in the end.  Walking into an organized room with everything in its place makes me smile. 

There are a few changes from last year

I got a new map of the United States.  A HUGE map, at least compared to the one I had last year.

Due to its size, I moved our coat of arms underneath the table glass (the kids smaller ones are on the wall to the left above the white board).  When the kids saw it they told me the coat of arms looked like it was actually part of the table!! 

I also ended up getting some wire from IKEA along with clips to hang our art work.  It's long enough for about four projects, so as we complete the fifth, I take down the first and we slowly rotate out the old for the new throughout the year.

I also added the cube shelves on each side of the white bookshelf.  At first I thought it might make things a little claustrophobic, but I love the extra storage.  When it comes to homeschool curriculum and supplies, I've yet to figure out exactly what too much storage is.  Does it exist?

I also busted out my labeler and put it through its paces.  Now my kids can put everything back in the bin it belongs in and I will always be able to find what I'm looking theory, at least.

Last year each of my kids got their own shelf, but we ran into issues.  We first tried standing all the curriculum up next to the binders, but everything kept falling down.  So, we laid down the curriculum and left the binders standing up.  Except, the binders still had issues and we would "lose" books in between the binders (they're narrower at the back end allowing for books to be back there and not be visible from the front). 

While it's possible the "losing" wasn't always accidental, we still needed anther solution.  Especially when I realized I had another child beginning "real" homeschooling and not another shelf.  At least not one I wanted to empty for him.

So, this is my solution.  We put every one's binders on the top shelf.  Binders and only binders make their homes there which should stop all but the purposeful "losing" of other books and curriculum.

Then, I gave each child half a shelf divided by a smaller bin that houses some of their folders used for our lapbooks.  My only worry is that there may not be enough room for their flashcards on their individual shelves (there are some on there now, but I have new containers that are much bigger).

I thinking we'll figure it out as we go.  I'm flexible like that.

Okay, if you knew me you'd either be laughing hysterically or looking at me in shock at that last statement.  But, I am trying to do a little more rolling with the flow.  It's good for me. 


Okay, now onto curriculum.  I'm not going to go into too much detail.  You can read about what we chose last year here, we're still using A LOT of the same curriculum. 


Makenna has the most new curriculum.  Like normal.  She's so lucky, she gets to be my experiment child.  Luckily, I'm also an oldest child so I do have some empathy for her. 

We're moving away from Latin (although she'll still be slowly reviewing her flashcards so she doesn't lose everything she learned the last two years) and on to Spanish.  We're trying out Breaking Through the Spanish Barrier having heard it really focuses on a grammar approach, which we already know we like. 

To be totally honest, I'm pretty terrified to teach/try and learn this with her.  I don't speak Spanish (even though I've been doing the Spanish app duolingo all summer to give me a little bit of an edge) and it looks likes a demanding curriculum.  Wish me luck.  Lots and lots of luck.

She's also doing a computer programming course through Homeschool Programming, Inc and I've finally purchased Artistic Pursuits after reading about it since before we began our homeschool adventure.


Ben is pretty much working his way through the next level of each curriculum he was using last year. 
The only exception is in writing.  I've discovered I'm not a huge fan of Writing with Ease for the later grades.  I love that it introduces my children to so many fun books, but Ben was done with dictation less than half way through last year.  The rest of the year was sort of torturous (or very, depending on the day).  So, we're trying out WriteShop this year.  I've read some good things about it and I already love the detailed lesson plans.

James is starting a few new to him curriculum, but ones I've used before and still like.  He'll do a few words from English from the Roots Up each week and he's transitioning from Horizons math to Teaching Textbooks.  Everything else is a continuation from last year.


Josh is ALL NEW.  Well, it's all new for him, but he'll be using the same curriculum James did two years ago.  I'm not sure if we'll start with all the workbooks at once, we might hold off on the Spelling Workout, for at least a little while, and see how he does. 


Our last new curriculum is science.

I'm really excited to try out NOEO.  It looks like something I would design for myself if I had a lot more time on my hands.  They find amazing science books, great experiments, and put them all together with a syllabus. 

Makenna will be working through Physics 3, while Ben, James and Josh will work on Physics 2. 

Now, even though they're both physics, the material they cover throughout the year won't match up at a weekly level, but I've decided we're still going to do all our experiments together.  All my kids LOVE experiments and they love doing them together even more.

Then, we'll split up and do our own assigned reading and assignments.  I'm not sure exactly how it'll look just yet, but, you know, I'm going to go with the flow. 

We will be using our weekly checklists this year to help us stay on track.  I've made up the rough drafts and even have them printed out sitting on our schoolroom table already.  I've also grabbed a pen and made a few changes already, too.  That'll happen through most of the first month as our "flow" gets a little more normalized.

I think I'm ready.  Inside and out. 

How about you?


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