I can’t believe it’s already that time of year again! But it is, and we are now exactly one week away from the first day of Hall Homeschool, Year Five! As I say every year (because it’s true), this is going to be the most challenging year yet! New subjects for the older two girls, plus the first year of schooling three kiddos, plus the ever-present task of keeping the younger ones occupied will require this year to be the most structured and disciplined year yet. (Insert intense feeling of nervousness!) But we have a plan, all we need is for August 3 to get here to try to implement it!
Abigail will be in third grade this year, continuing with many of the same subjects and curriculum that she’s been doing. She’ll be doing a mix of Veritas’ 3rd and 4th grade reading list. Once they get to 3rd grade they start choosing several literature titles each year that go along with the time period being studied that year in history, so we’re reading the history based titles from the 3rd grade list, and the classic literature titles from the 4th grade list. We’re looking forward to reading such greats as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Mary Poppins, and Dangerous Journey, while throwing in some challenging works like The Children’s Homer, D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, and Black Ships Before Troy–The Story of the Iliad. Can you guess what she’ll be studying in History? Yep, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. We’ll be using the Veritas Press History Cards again, along with all of the wonderful history resources that they recommend to make history come alive. She’ll also be completing the next set of Veritas Bible Cards, which will cover Judges through Kings. For Math she has moved up to Saxon 5/4, she’ll be doing the 4th grade Spelling curriculum from Logos Press, for Grammar she’ll do Shurley Grammar Level 3, and she’ll finish the last two books of the Classically Cursive series.
There are a couple of new components for her this year, though. She will begin a new Latin urriculum, building off of last year’s preparatory study. She and her daddy will begin the Latin for Children series, which will take three years to complete. This is the real deal, learning verb endings and conjugation and much more vocabulary than last year, so it should be a good challenge. She will also begin a Writing curriculum, learning style and structure and how to communicate through writing. We’re not using the DVD course recommended by Veritas just because I want to stay away from DVD-based learning as long as possible, so we’re using some of the materials they recommend as supplements. This year she should complete two of Logos Press’ Imitation in Writing books, both Aesop’s Fables and Fairy Tales. Then we should still have enough time left in the year to do a good chunk of Ancient History Based Writing Lessons, which has writing lessons on topics from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.
Now for our first grader, Catherine. Her only continued course will be Saxon Math, and she’ll be doing Saxon 2 this year. She’ll be doing a combined reading level–we didn’t feel like she was ready last year to do the 1st grade reading curriculum in kindergarten the way Abigail did, so we saved it for this year. However, her reading has improved so much that I think we’re going to try to zip through the 1st grade list before Christmas, then start the 2nd grade chapter books for the last half of the year. So she’ll begin with books like Corduroy, Madeline, and Frog and Toad, then move up to Boxcar Children, Little House in the Big Woods, and Milly-Molly-Mandy. She is super excited to start reading the books that she once saw her big sis reading for school! She will also begin Spelling this year, with The Grammar of Spelling 2nd Grade by Logos Press, and Grammar with Shurley Grammar Level 1.
And Elisabeth starts Preschool this year! This means that I begin my third course of the Veritas Press Phonics Museum, The Child’s Story Bible, and Evan-Moor’s Literature Pockets: Nursery Rhymes, and Folk Tales and Fairy Tales. She is possibly the most excited child yet to be starting school. And we’ll let Samuel sit in on the Bible stories and Literature Pockets so he can do “practice school”–which will not only hopefully help keep him occupied, but also get him used to sitting still and paying attention for when it’s his turn next year!
This year, we’re also going to start what we are calling, for lack of a more creative term, Weekly Stuff. There are a few areas that I knew we needed to be covering but I just haven’t figured out a way to get all the essential stuff done and fit in what I considered “extras” as well. Hence, Weekly Stuff. This is the time each day when we’ll do subjects that need to be covered but don’t require time every day, just like public school. So on Mondays we’ll do Music; Tuesdays, Current Events; Wednesdays, Art; Thursdays, Science; and Fridays, Geography. Music, Current Events, and Art will be for all three girls. For Music we will do a second round of Calvert School’s Melody Lane curriculum; for Current Events we will use God’s World News magazine and teaching guide; and for Art we will begin with Draw and Write through History: Ancient Greece and Rome, and continue with Ancient Greek Art, Ancient Roman Art, and Ancient Greece and Rome Color and Learn. Science will just be Abigail because I think the curriculum we’re using is slightly over Catherine’s head. (Classical education does not put much emphasis on science in the early grades anyway, and this curriculum, Lyrical Science, is basically just a basic memorization of terms and facts and concepts using songs as a memorization tool. There are four volumes covering different topics, we’re beginning with Lyrical Life Science Volume 1: General Science.) Geography will be for Abigail and Catherine, using Veritas Press Legends and Leagues first, then finishing out with Evan-Moor Geography Practice Grades K-2. I am really excited to finally have figured out a way to fit all of these subjects in, and I think the girls are looking forward to them as well.
The other big new part of this year is going to be our ticket system. I’ve been toying with this general idea for awhile now, and tried it using allowance last year, but honestly, we can’t afford their allowance every week! So we’re going to use tickets. I bought a roll of carnival tickets, and let each child pick out a square of material out of which we’ll make some sort of pocket. Then, they’ll start collecting tickets. They’ll earn tickets at school as well as out of school, for papers that earn 100%, for showing initiative, for being kind, for being helpful, for going out of their way to do something for someone else, for completing their chores, for mastering something that they’ve been working hard to achieve, etc. They will lose tickets for disobedience, arguing, whining, not trying their best, not completing chores, etc. (Again, I’m borrowing from a public school idea here.) Then at the end of each month they can shop from my store, which has already begun building stock thanks to a great, accidental sale on Zhu Zhu Pet accessories at CVS. I’ll pick up fun trinkets and toys and books from the dollar bin, or good sales, or yard sales or wherever and stock my store for them to earn with their tickets. I can find some great deals on nice stuff for less than what their allowance cost each week, and it gives me a tangible motivator for excellent behavior and schoolwork. I’m holding my breath, I’ll let you know how we do after we’ve been at it for a little while.
So that’s our grand plan. I, as always, am counting down the days until we begin. We are going to have to be more disciplined than ever to get everything covered every day, to the point that we’re even writing out a daily schedule and posting it on the wall to keep us on track. But I have confidence that we can thrive under the more structured routine. I’m sure we’ll have to tweak here and there–we always do. The only way to know if a plan works is to actually live it out, so I know there will be bumps along the way and we may have to scrap some parts of this and start from scratch. But that’s how we learn, right? So….one week from today–here we go!