Week Two- In Progress and progressing well.
Last week, I wasn’t sure how the kids would feel about their schedule. In fact, I pretty much thought that they were all going to complain about the amount of work and say that I was expecting too much. I got a nice surprise when they all said that they liked the work plan books and that they liked the rhythm of the week (even with the extra activities).
So far our days look something like this:
- Awaken, eat breakfast, chores (dishes, feed animals), on your own
- Everyone meets at 8:30 to do a 15 minutes clean up (everyone has one room and one bathroom in the house that they are responsible for each week)
- 8:45 We all meet in the sunroom for main lessons
- After their main lessons (these have taken anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the activities), everyone works on their individual work and I go where I am needed. They enjoy having the freedom to choose what they work on during this time (in other words, they can do math, copy work, grammar, science, etc first).
- Activities begin around lunch time: Mondays-free afternoons, Tuesdays-barn at 12, Wednesdays-free afternoons (we are planning to do our hikes and field trips on these days), Thursdays-barn at 11, Fridays-classes starting at 10 for Sims and 2 for Sawyer.
- Dinner at 6ish
Let’s hope the year continues this smoothly! I hope your year is starting off well.
2016/2017 marks with sixth year that we have been homeschooling. I had no idea six years ago how much one simple (ok-it definitely was a not simple or easy) decision would change my life or my children’s lives. I also had no idea what I was doing! All I knew was what I did in school as a child.
Over the past five years, we have finally found a style of homeschooling that fits our family. I cannot give it a name because it is a mix of a multitude of philosophies including Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason and unschooling. With that when I read about the Taproot Teacher Training, I was hesitant.
I contacted a fellow blogger and now friend, Sheila from Sure as the World, about her thoughts on the training. She said that the training is something that she looks forward to each year even though she does not follow a 100% Waldorf style homeschooling. Lucky for me, she also was one of the presenters this year.
With Sheila’s recommendation, I headed north to Ohio in route to the Taproot Teacher Training on August 11th. My only experience with homeschool conferences was a huge venue with a ton of speakers and a curriculum fair that made my head spin. Taproot took place in Cuyahoga Valley National Park-a much different scene and feel. The surroundings were an amazing feature of the program.
With only 25 of us at the program, I got a chance to speak with everyone and learn from so many other people. The classes that were offered taught me about myself, reminded me of why I enjoy teaching at home, and inspired me to continue on this journey. My major take-aways from the training included working on our rhythm (we have a terrific morning routine but I need to make some sacred school hours and stick to them), less is more when it comes to curriculum (and to life in general), laughter is vital, music helps with learning and is fun, creativity in learning makes it stick, plan time to plan throughout the year, life is learning, and to show up everyday no matter what (meaning to always come together for school).
I cannot think of another retreat, conference or continuing education event that I have been to that even comes close to the amazing experience I had at Taproot. It was LIFE CHANGING. I felt at home with all of the people there and with the environment. I came home recharged and ready to go.
I worked on my school year throughout the summer, however I tweaked it and finished it up this week. I came up with my blocks and most of my resources over the summer. Taproot training helped me tweak and make my schedule a little more manageable. So here goes!
Sims-Grade 8 Theme: Freedom
- Find and utilize an effective note taking strategy.
- Begin to implement assistive technology to complete assignments.
- Learn how to make and work towards goals.
- Awareness of how personal mood, tone, actions can alter other’s mood, tone, actions.
- Determine and complete an 8th grade project.
Person Goals: Find something that he enjoys reading. Canter 4 laps around the arena without stopping. Set up a forge.
Sawyer- Grade 6 Theme: Individualism within Community
- Begin to utilize logical thinking and process in order to draw informed conclusions.
- As awareness of individuality continues to grow, find her place within the community as well.
- Continue to challenge herself with the new skills she learns.
Personal Goals: 2 pull ups. A back handspring. Make pajama pants and leggings. Learn French.
Parks: Grade 4 Theme: Social Responsibility
- Find a peace with activities introduced.
- Continue to verbalize and communicate emotions.
- Find a balance between physical activities and mental activities.
Personal goals: Better handwriting. Set up a YouTube channel. Go to Puerto Rico and Boone
And now to the planning piece! I broke out my planner, my resources, my paper and my markers. As usual, I folded my paper into 12 blocks and added in birthdays, trips, parties, etc that I know about at this time. Next I looked at the blocks that I have planned for each child and I tried to place them together so that there is some overlap. The next step I learned from my teacher training and was one of the pieces that I tweaked. In the past, I have tried to fit all of the curriculum that I have into the schedule. This year, I am using the schedule to determine how many lessons that I can do. Thus, if I have 18 days of free days in a month; then I plan 9 lessons. We present a lesson on the first day and review the lesson on the following day.
Sims’ blocks will include study skills, the Renaissance and Reformation, Civics, US History, North American Geography, and electronics. He will also be doing a pre-algebra review and possibly begin Algebra using Math-U-See. He will also take his first high school level class at a local homeschool group which will be a physical science class.
Sawyer’s blocks will include geology, a review of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, business math, My Little Roman Cousin from Long Ago, North American geography, and physics. She will also use Math-U-See Epsilon for math. Sawyer also is interested in learning French so I am looking into using Middlebury Language Academy for French Lessons.
Parks’ blocks will include NC history, Norse mythology, human/animal, local history, animal research, North American geography and drones. He will use Math-U-See Delta for math.
Together, everyone will use Fix It Grammar books by IEW to work on copywork, grammar and vocabulary. I also made a planner for each of the kids. I hope that it will help all of us keep up!
We started trying to get into our rhythm this week. We will look through all of our books and plans later this week and plan to start lessons on the 29th! I hope you planning is going well!
Lately in addition to hiking and playing outdoors, the kids have found another passion-horseback riding. One request to ride a horse by Parks on his sixth birthday changed all of our lives. Since that day three and half years ago, all three of the kids have started riding horses.
Riding and working with horses has so many benefits. The horses require emotional work-you cannot bring hostility or frustration or arrogance to the barn and expect a good ride. The horses require physical work-getting the horses from the pasture, grooming, tacking up, riding, getting all of the gear off, putting everything away, and taking the horse back to its pasture. The horses require mental work-problem solving, reading the body language of the horses, environmental awareness, executive functioning.
I am a proud mama when I watch the kids at the barn. They are kind and hard-working. They have learned to set goals for themselves on the horses, and they have learned that some days they need a break and just want to ride to enjoy riding. I have seen each child gain resilience, empathy, confidence and strength at the barn.
This week, I had the privilege to watch them at their first horse show. (I have a new respect for those who participate in shows on a regular basis-wow! that is a lot of work and a long day!!) They were excited and nervous. They have never ridden around so many horses before, and they rocked it.
A reminder that we all fall off sometimes.