Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Ideal Plan for Elementary Home Education (With a Lot of Links!)

My Ideal Plan for Elementary Home Education
(With a Lot of Links!)

Honestly, when I started teaching part-time at a private school last year and my kids transitioned into more traditional classroom education, I thought my 20+ home schooling years were pretty much over. However, since I was not rehired and my youngest daughter has asked to come home from public school, I am now planning to home school her for two or three years before I transition into full-time employment.  Our last year of co-op was rather frustrating and disappointing, so this is also a chance to redeem my home schooling memories and end on a happy note. I most look forward to spending time with just her. She's gotten a little lost in the shuffle the last few years.

We both quickly decided we want to do what I did with her oldest five sisters (now adults) when they were in the upper elementary grades.  My favorite approach for 3rd-5th grades is a good mix of unit study and Charlotte Mason style, along with a little “traditional” school and free-spirited fun.  I am taking a few things into account as I customize her education.  
  • She is extremely curious and creative, so I don’t want to quench the spark in her. On the other hand, we both have attention deficit issues, so we’ve got some work to do with basic habits, organization, and following directions.  I held her back a year already (August birthday), so we really need to nail these skills.  She is not a huge fan of workbooks or formal text books, and neither am I; hence the Charlotte Mason approach of lots of real reading and real writing, the arts, history, and nature studies.
  • She will be my only student at home this year, so I can focus on just her, without trying to coordinate group and individual assignments. That will give us a bit more flexibility and spontaneity. I am looking forward to that! Teaching a bunch of kids who all need attention at the same time can really scatter the brain.  
  • She will eventually return to public school. Elementary students in our area get very little history and science instruction because they are pushing basic skills for the standardized tests. The middle school and high school classes certainly do not promote a Christian perspective, so she's going to have to get that at home from me. She never got a substantial history education in our old co-op, and she was too young for our group history lessons the one year we stayed home. Therefore, one of my big priorities will be giving her comprehensive, in-depth, faith-based history and science instruction. 

With those factors in mind, here is what we plan to use and do this year:

Basic Skills:
  • Horizons math workbook 3rd grade
  • math manipulatives
  • on-line math games
  • A Reason for Handwriting
  • The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists (spelling and vocabulary)
  • Building Thinking Skills books
  • several grammar resources
  • chapter books that she chooses and I approve
  • writing assignments based on whatever she is studying, along with whatever zany stories she makes up 

American History:

We have dozens of non-fiction books, picture books, fiction chapter books, project books, and videos on our shelves. The year we were not in co-op, I compiled a list of them on my computer, sequenced by time periods, with page numbers, brief synopses, and reading levels. I will also use our weekly history assignment pages from that year.  See Favorite Books for Teaching American History.

  • science units on botany, zoology, and earth science using the books and videos we have on hand, as well as the Internet
  • nature walks around the neighborhood and in local parks
  • visit the Orlando Science Center once a month (I am about to get an annual family membership for $135 next week so I can take all of the kids to the IMAX movies over the summer, too.)

Other Subjects  
  • Bible - real version, picture books, and videos
  • P.E. at the co-op while I teach, as well as soccer at a local church  
  • arts and crafts on her own at the desk I just set up with art supplies in the dining room - we have a lot of drawing and craft books!
  • home skills - learn basic household skills, keep her room clean, cook together, visit her four small nephews (my grandchildren)  
  • music - sing favorite songs and American patriotic and folk songs 
  • Christmas - Advent unit study with stories, songs, poems, and crafts

(Note that I'm trying to keep it simple with this last section. I don't want to bite off more than I can chew.) 

So, there you have it! That’s what we’re doing for school for 2014-2015!

As I thought through this article, I realized that I have a lot of blog posts about the foundations of elementary education.  Here are some of my favorites:

Home Schooling Approaches


Basic Skills

American History

Bible & Christian Holidays


What do you like to do for the elementary years?  Leave a comment!

Virginia Knowles

"Colorful House" by Melody, 2012 

"Rainbow" by Melody, 2012

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