Thursday, August 28, 2014

Changing Dynamics

EM's books
I'm having a hard time falling back into my former routine of once a week posting here. I think I'm finally back on track, so things should be running smoothly from here on out. In my last post, I shared my plan for JT, now I'll share my plan for EM.

This year EM's work will be much more focused on his reading and writing skills. He does a great job in math and science, but has often had difficulty with language skills. Because JT will be doing much more independent work this year, I have more time to invest in EM. He will continue to have weekly spelling lists with a pretest on Monday, a workbook page each day, and a final test on Friday. He will be working his way through Calvert's Grammar & Usage workbook. He is also starting to use the Vocabulary from Classical Roots series that has been a foundation of JT's vocabulary and spelling studies since we began homeschooling. For now, EM will be using the first two books as enrichment vocabulary work. When he reaches the third book, I will start using them for his weekly spelling lists as I did with JT. He will also be working through the Critical Thinking Level E book. Many of those activities can be used for composition assignments. I also plan to generate writing work for him using a Creative Teaching Press book called Responding to Literature. I plan to have him use the reading text shown in the picture, as well as novels that he will help to choose, with study guides found online.

For science, he will work his way through Calvert's 6th grade science text. I plan to do many of the activities. I will also have him observe some of the lab work JT will do for his biology course. American history will continue to be a time line study following the lives of the presidents of the United States. For world history, we will be reading the second half Volume 3 of The Story of the World that we started last year.

I did find something I can use for JT and his literature study for this year. I went digging in my homeschooling loot I have accumulated over the years. It turns out I forgot that I have a nearly complete course from K-12 called Literary Analysis and Composition. We won't have access to their online instruction because I refuse to pay $425 a semester, but it is still good solid material that I can adapt without that tool. However, the adaptation takes time and planning. I also made one more adjustment to JT's plan for this year. I dropped the Concepts & Connections Biology text and bought a copy of the Apologia Biology textbook and manual. The conversational style of this text fits JT's learning style much better than the C&C text. I also bought an outline for the course developed by a parent that fits it all into 33 weeks of study. That will save me some time in the planning department.

Now that we are well into our third full week of schooling, I'm noticing a different dynamic developing. In previous years, the boys would sometimes work on their independent assignments in the morning, but could choose to save their work for later in the day. Immediately after lunch and chores, there would be this feeling of rushing to get everyone in the classroom for our 'school time'. Because so much of their work is now independent, they are actually working quite a bit before lunch so they can get to their free time sooner. Two days this week, we had no together work to do. I had a few activities to help EM get started, but most of the time, they worked quietly on their own, with no input from me. It took me a week to really see that I have more free time during the day than I have had in many years. That said, my planning time has probably tripled from last year. I will need to learn to do that planning during their schooling time to avoid late nights on the weekends drowning in prep work. It's nice to have more freedom during the day, but it's also a little sad to me. Even though it's a lot of work, I enjoy our time together. It's been a joy to see the boys learn new things and I have had many great conversations with them in our little classroom. We will still be reading history books aloud together a couple days a week, so I can hold on to that for now.

But change is coming... both good and bad.

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