While we always try to allow for God's leading in our homeschool planning, summer is my brainstorming and planning season for the upcoming school year. I have a lot on my mind lately and some of that is part of the homeschool planning (my end of it -- God's already done His preparations).
So here is a subject list for you so you can see where we are headed, but know that nothing is in stone. Last year, a whole lotta life got in the way of my plans to create a Human Study. I still hope to one day continue and complete that, but I need a break from the human body for now. And everyone is still surviving even though we only made it through a small portion of that study because we learned a bunch of other things, too.
Bible - We will continue to use our Faith Journals this year and I picked up a new devotional to do with the kids each day called, Get-A-Clue Devotions. Of course, we always encourage the kids to do individual Bible reading and devotions as well, but we like to have one we do as part of our school day. There have been many days when the discussions that stem from our daily devotion leave little time for anything else, but I figure the school day is still a success if all we did was talk about faith and God's Word. This book only includes 52 devotions, however, with the new school schedule this year, that ought to be about right. If not, I still have other devotions on the shelf that we haven't completed and I can use some of those for filler.
Reading - This subject is mostly dealt with what we call, "reading." As most homeschoolers, 60% of our time is spent reading stuff. We do read-alouds and the older three kids do a lot of reading on their own. Plus, there is a mandatory time each day for what we call, "book basket," where the kids have access to a variety of books (in a basket or box) that either pertains to some other subjects we are learning or are just general knowledge types of books. Occasionally, we throw in some special project for the kids to reflect on a particular book they've read -- public schools refer to these as "book reports," but I have our kids convinced that this is a fun thing and to call them reports seems to zap the fun out of them. Additionally, we do some reading comprehension worksheets now and then just to make sure they're getting that stuff.
O will receive some additional reading help this year with basic readers and a lot of practice, plus we'll see what the therapist testing him suggests we do to help him out.
Language Arts/Grammar - I know. I hear everyone out there giving me their heavy sighs. I actually enjoy learning about grammar, but I can see how it might be a drag for some people. Anyway, we're trying out The Giggly Guide to Grammar this year for the oldest two boys. For the younger two, we will be continuing our work in some worksheets I have on a CD that a friend gave us a couple years ago. We made it halfway through last year and they keep asking me when we're going to do more, so I know that works.
Writing - Well, the older boys will have a lot of writing to do this year (that they are going to be upset about for a while) because much of their Social Studies will include researching and writing about events and people. Additionally, while we usually keep journals for school, this year I am adding in student blogs. Working through kidblog.org, we've come up with a way to have blogs for each child that I administer (and approve all posts and comments before they are posted). I may share more with you about these at a later date as we are just doing the setup now. J and O will have some creative writing, as well as doing a poetry unit.
Math - We use Math-U-See and will continue to use this for daily math, but are always looking for real-life math opportunities as well (i.e., cooking with Daddy, travel and maps, etc.).
Science - This year, H and Z will be learning about Astronomy as we work through the book Exploring Creation with Astronomy (and other related Astronomy books and projects, etc.). I'll be making my way through Considering God's Creation for the second time, but this time with J and O. Plus, most of our field trips have sciencey stuff involved. Our memberships are with the BioPark (including botanical gardens, zoo and aquarium) and Explora! (a child-friendly science museum).
Social Studies/History - I never know what is the appropriate age is to stop calling this subject Social Studies and start calling it History. So I usually end up using the slash-mark. This year, H and Z will be learning about American History and Geography. We have done a lot of worldwide stuff thanks to our early starts with My Father's World curriculum. But it's probably time to talk more about our country and how we came to be and how all this government stuff kind of works (kind of like Civics Lite). I have a number of books and DVDs we'll be using and I continue researching online about the core topics we should touch on so they're prepared for high school level American History and Civics/Economics stuff (and college-level).
For J and O, we'll be learning all about the State of New Mexico. I haven't yet found a particular curriculum to follow, but I'm finding some good resources online. Plus, we live in this state, so I can think up all kinds of daytrips to make this stuff come alive for the younger two. SchoolExpress.com seems to have a lot of good free worksheets for both levels Social Studies.
Language - My good friend, Vanessa, is fluent in American Sign Language, so she has offered to come teach our kids ASL this year (and who knows how many years - haha!). I am so excited because I've always loved ASL. It's a beautiful language. I hope to learn a lot myself. I also have some flash cards and know of an online curriculum for filler or on weeks that Vanessa can't make it or whatever. S tried learning some ASL and some Spanish in high school, but didn't get tremendously far in either one. But that's from where I have these other resources.
Art and Music - These subject areas are usually covered in a variety of ways and will continue to do so this year. H has been taking some basic guitar lessons from the sister of a friend of his. We sing every Sunday (and youth group on Wednesdays). Daddy has a lot of music discussions with the kids about a variety of genres and groups. I'd still love the kids to have piano lessons, but we haven't gotten that figured out yet. For Art, there are many lovely museums around that we frequent and we create projects based on what we see there. Additionally, we take advantage of free library programs and community art lessons whenever possible. Also, there are many crafts involved with Social Studies projects and Reading projects.
Technology - Ha! These days we barely have to teach kids about technology, but do need to keep reminding them about Internet dangers and safety. Meanwhile, there will be the student blogs I mentioned in Writing and plenty of opportunities for using computers for research and/or typing things, which includes word processing. Most of the library programs for homeschoolers that we like involve computers in a big way. Last year they were designing web pages and learning how to do a lot of stuff even I never learned (but manage to survive without).
P.E. - This is the one area that gets left up for grabs each year. Between dance classes and sports teams and everyday activity (bike-riding, walks, hikes, etc.), we do keep the kids moving pretty well, I think. We sometimes fill in the requirements here with Parks and Rec activities (they even have a homeschool P.E. class that we've done). This year, I want to look at the homeschool swim team offered by Parks and Rec. These classes offer a lot of socializing in a fun environment while the kids learn necessary basic skills of each area of sport and exercise. J will be trying a new dance school next week as her last one disbanded for a break and never reconvened, so she's really been missing it. Z and O were dancing at the last school, too, but have decided it's not for them for now.
Did I forget anything major? Well, home management skills are an everyday process around here. Daddy teaches the cooking and repair classes, while I usually make them tidy up, do their laundry and use their manners at home and in the world. As a family we discuss financial responsibilities as they arise in our lives. Or any other extracurricular discussions for that matter. Basically, we have a mentality of learning that goes on around here all the time and anything is game for a teachable moment.
And no, we do not teach and learn in all of these subjects every day or even every week for that matter. So though this sounds like a whole lot of stuff, it's paced out to make it doable. Obviously, core subjects get a lot more attention (regular reading, regular math, regular writing, regular Bible lessons) while the other subjects may only happen once or twice a week or as little as once every two weeks depending on what it is. Then there are those weeks when we dive into a Science project and do mostly Science all week long.
The great thing about homeschooling (well, one of the great things) is that we can be reasonably flexible with our schedule and our workloads depending on what is going on in life otherwise.
Sorry this wasn't brief, but it was very helpful to sort this out in writing. I hope it helps you understand a little more of what we homeschoolers are about, too.