We are trying year round homeschooling. I’ve found that it’s easier for us personally to do a smaller amount, say 3 hours a day for the entire year. I’m a bit of a task master and I feel better when taking the odd day off here and there knowing that we won’t lose steam. Summer is a hard time to focus on what we call “seat work.” That’s the sitting down to focus on a traditional subject, doing worksheets, studying. Not to be confused with the “explore the world” work. That’s more unschooling than anything else and a a natural learning state in the summer. I’ve reorganized our schedule for the summer to allow everyone the freedom they need, including myself. We developed summer curriculum based on their individual interest and what’s needed to move us on to the next level this fall.
For Orion, our 12 year old, he helped design a 6 week plan for personal development that includes mental focus, eating habits, hygiene, physical exercise, Latin, writing, cooking, to name a few. This plan includes subjects that he’s interested in like writing and areas that he’s self conscious about like hygiene. Of course, some subject over lap like hygiene and cooking, and writing with Latin (because he’s writing a story that uses Latin). When he has writers block, he works on character development to flush out ideas. We are also using free writing and outlining techniques to build on his current skills. at the end of the six weeks he will have a chunk of writing done and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Alexander, our 10 year old, wanted to go a more traditional route. He asked to continue to do seat work so we are focusing on language arts, the subject he’s least comfortable with. Spelling is a subject he hates with a passion that burns with the heat of a thousand suns. Yes, he really dislikes spelling. (Backstory: he has test anxiety and used to study spelling for an hour or more every day for public school. He would know all of the words but bomb every test. Eventually he was so disappointed that he just locked up when the subject of spelling came up.) We’ve tried all sorts of methods to try and help him but it’s still a difficult subject for him.
I’ve decided to focus on spelling rules. We discuss different rules, do worksheets, look at their application, and then I quiz him verbally. I’m hoping that if he can get the rules down then he can start to understand why words are spelled a particular way. No more memorizing. Segue to Latin, perhaps?
Alexander and I decided that we we do some math this summer, as well. He’s getting better at his times/division tables but in order to move on it would help to be fluent. We’ve been using my iPad for quizzes and games, and supplementing with traditional flash cards. We can cover the facts a couple of times a day with different approaches and he doesn’t get burned out. Then we will be ready for whatever comes next.
At the end of the summer I plan on doing some evaluative testing to see where we are. It will mark the end of our first year and we’ve all learned a great deal. I’m certainly getting more comfortable in my approach to teaching and homeschooling in general. I spent some time reading yesterday and then purchased these two books:
They are the first books I’ve purchased on homeschooling philosophy rather than just curriculum. I will read them over the summer and then use the ideas to guide the plan for the fall. I really liked their approach to learning and think it will help me clarify my own ideas. I found myself nodding while I read and wanting to take notes. That’s a good sign.
I’m sure the summer will fly by. I’m looking forward to the relaxed pace of our summer learning schedule. Before we know it school supplies will be on sale and everyone else will be gearing up for riding the bus, long days at a desk, and homework. That’s when we will take a long vacation. I like that idea.