Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Homeschooling Adventures

Well, this week is the "Overlap Week" - the week when we're working our way up to a full homeschooling schedule and out of our summer relaxation. No more getting up at 9, no more Lego games until noon, no more free-wheeling days. This year promises to be a challenge if we're not organized. Maestro is in sixth grade this year and I'm a little nervous about the making sure we "cover all the bases." Is there ever a time when we parents are not worried about something?

Putting together a homeschool schedule can seem overwhelming at first - especially if you've never done it before, and sometimes even if you have! This is our fifth year homeschooling and I finally feel like I have somewhat of a clue. There are so many options out there now that weren't around even in the early 80's. Some of the questions I have grappled with seem to come up for all of us at some point: Do I use a boxed set, that includes everything? Do I put it together piece by piece at Borders? Do I enroll them in classes at a co-op? Do I have to be a fully hands-on teacher or overly creative and artistic?

I've gone through all of these. Each homeschooling family will come up with their own answers to these same questions. Below, you'll find some of the solutions that we find successful in our family. Throughout the year, I'll try to put updates on how well we're sticking to it and on some of our milestones and projects. This blog isn't entirely about homeschooling, but it is part of our lifes' journey. May our struggles inspire your journey and help your path be a little smoother.

After weeks without time, I've finally written out the boys' schedules. I have tried to make it both fun and comprehensive - and something they can fairly well follow on their own. Now that Maestro is 10 and "Junior High," I am trying to work him into taking on more responsibility for his schedule, work and chores so that he's well used to it all by the time we get to high school. By then, he should be keeping track of his own records as well.

Our oldest children tend to be our testers, don't they? Lucky boys!

So here is the schedule for Maestro this year - I hope it serves to inspire you and, if you've decided to homeschool, I hope it helps show that you don't have to go for the most expensive boxed-set curriculum. As a side note, for now I've decided against a boxed set because our boys each have their own strengths and are weaker in other areas. It just seems to me that a boxed set would make it more difficult to tailor the work to their needs. Not only that, but they are often more than I can afford for as many children as we have.

We will work four days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is set aside for group PE and errands, Saturday and Sunday are days for family, friends and field trips.

Music: Guitar or Keyboard - 50 min./day - Fridays play a new song for Pop at dinner
Language Arts: 20 min/day - Both boys are working through an older version of Hooked on Phonics that is for advanced readers where they have a little card they read a story on and then answer questions about vocab, detail, etc. It starts out fairly simply, but by the end it is high school level.
* Art: 20 min./day - Pick one major artist each week:
Mon - look the artist up, write down major or interesting facts about that artist (birth day, year died, country, major medium, etc.)
Tues - Pick one major work of art by that artist and attempt to copy it as well as you can. Work on this the other three days of the week.
Math: 50 min/day -
Saxon math: we started out at a full chapter a day, but he is not ready for that in this program so he does 1/2 chapter each day, and checks his own work
* Science: up to 50 min/day - We have several science kits we have been given over time that we are working on using up. Might do this twice a week and spread it out a little so we can get more involved in each subject than just one day will allow.
Reading Comp./Vocabulary: 50 min/day - Maestro really likes to read so I've give him extra time for this. He is to work on one classic novel a week (more if he can but I really want him to delve into one). As he reads, he is to keep his notebook beside him and write down five new or lesser-known words a day, and their meanings, anything he finds of interest in the story or anything he might have a question about. I will also be looking up "book club" type questions for him to answer as he reads or to discuss with me. Once a week, he is to write out a one-page review of the book for me to put here on the blog.
* History: 50 min/day - We use Story of the World and the CD's. They are to listen to one or two chapter(s) a day (they're short on the CD, a little longer to read on their own), and work on the activities for that chapter(s) from the activity book.
* Social Studies/Geography: 20 min/day (might change to 50 later)
Mon. - look up one country (have suggested they look up the country of the artist they are working on), write down major info. about that country (imports/exports, capitol, etc.)
Tues - copy the map, color in the major landmarks, crops, cities, etc.
Thurs - Draw and color the flag and also the traditional dress for a boy and a girl
Friday - Read a traditional story/folk tale from that country and listen to one or two songs from that country.

Down the line we might make the country/artists bits into lapbooks or something equally cool if we have time to spare.

Once a month, we'll go on a field trip to a museum or someplace similarly cool.

The stuff with an * the boys do together.

Some may have noticed I didn't include PE specifically. Well, with all the time they spend with their friends each day, helping out with the house, keeping up with Buttercup and trips out, PE is one subject I'm not worried about scripting in! That should be a time of freedom and pleasure for the boys to choose their own activities. I've signed them up with the Catonsville Youth Baseball League and they'll do bowling or swimming through the year as well.

I hope that this helps you by giving you an idea of how one homeschooler's day goes. Enjoy the journey - it ends all too quickly!


  1. It appears that you have developed a comprehensive, interesting, challenging, and in depth program for your boys. You are to be commended for this endeavor and for unselfishly sharing your expertise with those parents who wish to home school their children.

    How do you manage to juggle so many balls(mother, wife, teacher, homemaker, blogger, etc.) in the air so successfully? That would make a fascinating and instructive blog or ten. Richard

  2. Mmmm... Good question. I'll have to think on how to blog that! I'll admit that it's not always easy, helps to have a really great right-hand man (when he can get away from work) and kids who are largely self-taught. That's the short answer. Thanks for the suggestion! You've got my mind working now...


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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