It's hard to believe that my son D is in fifth grade this year. How did that happen and where was I when he decided to start growing up so quickly? This is also J's first grade year, and I must admit that I was feeling a bit nervous about having two school-age children to home educate for the first time. How would I find time to get through enough work with both of them? And would I have enough time and energy left over to engage my three year old in a meaningful way? Well, we've only been back to 'school' for a week now, so I don't have the answers to all these questions figured out, but so far things are going surprisingly smoothly.
One way that I've eliminated overextending myself is to try to teach D and J together, and tailor the information to their independent levels. So for science we are focusing on D's favorite, biology, and we are also studying ancient history together. D is doing more detailed work, diagraming, writing, and map work, while I read the information to J and she does simple science experiments and craft projects. We seem to have found a nice balance with our math and language arts too - not too much, and not too little. Over the years I have learned to listen to D and allow him to have a large role in choosing his curriculum, which has been working well for him this year. I am happy with his picks and so is he. Here is what we are using:
For D, age 11, grade 5: Math-U-See 5th grade English from the Roots Up (vocabulary focusing on Latin and Greek root words)
Winston Grammar (A great grammar program for wigglers who are not big on worksheets)
Rip the Page (Creative writing. This book is excellent!)
History Odyssey, Ancients, level 2
Real Science 4 Kids, Biology (This will be a good start for D, but we will need to find something else as this curriculum will not encompass an entire year of learning)
Let's Learn Spanish, grade 5 Books are freely chosen, and there will be some assigned historical novels to supplement his history learning. Also, we are not using a writing program this year, but are planning to work writing work into his science and history learning.
For J, age 6, grade 1
J has been reading fluently since last year so I am planning to just let her check out books she is interested from the library or to peruse our shelves for books as well. Right now she is reading Mummies in the Morning, a Magic Tree House book by Mary Pope Osborne. I also have some readers that she enjoys reading from time to time by Houghton Mifflin. Right now she is reading the second grade reader.
First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind
Writing with Ease, volume 1
Spelling-city.com for some spelling fun from time to time, although I have more or less given up on teaching spelling as a separate subject.
Let's Learn Spanish, grade 1
History Odyssey, Ancients, level 1
R.E.A.L Science Odyssey, Biology, level 1
K is three this year and is soaking in all the things she hears her big brother and sister talking about. Yesterday she told me about nocturnal bats, migrating birds, and that nomads became farmers. How is she learning all this? It's funny to hear her little 3 year old voice saying words like'nocturnal' and I love it! She spends her day doing her 'work', which consists of puzzles, play-doh, and reading books with mom, D, or J. She and J spend hours with creative play throughout the day too, which usually consists of playing with stuffed animals or dressing up. K keeps busy and enjoys learning along side her brother and sister, but sometimes I wonder if I should send her to a Montessori pre-school. D and J both went and thrived there, and I wonder if that would be a more enriching environment for her. I simply can't recreate a pre-school here in our home.
J is continuing with her Suzuki violin lessons, as well as art, and (of all things) ice hockey. So much for my dream of having a little ballerina! D is continuing with art, theater, and ice hockey as well. He is also taking a homeschooling Marine Science class, offered by Northeastern University. He has only had one class so far, but it was excellent. Marine Science is D's passion so I am thrilled that he has this opportunity. Wishing everyone a great start to their school-year!