Another New School Year!

I love the start of a new school year. We have had enough time off over the summer to really look forward to our busy school days! Don’t get me wrong. We had a very busy summer, but the schedule was just so different from our school year schedule that we feel refreshed and ready to begin again. After four years of homeschooling, I’m finally starting to get the hang of this!

Schedules, Schedules and More Schedules!

I have a third-grader and a fourth-grader doing Year 2 and Year 3 of Ambleside Online (respectively). Here is a link to our starting schedule: 2017-2018 Weekly Schedule.

Like last year, we will follow this schedule as closely as possible for about six weeks. Then, we will take one week off of regular school work while I pre-read, plan and change the schedule as needed. Last year we followed a six weeks on/one week off schedule, and it worked brilliantly! None of us burned out (including and especially me), and we completed our planned lessons. So, we will definitely be doing that again! Here is a link to my plan for the academic year: 2017-2018 Academic Year Calendar.

Because I am following a Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling, we have many varied subjects throughout the day which I have carefully planned so that we are alternating between different kinds of activities. It looks like a lot, but this entire schedule is completed between the hours of 10am and 3pm every day, including lunch and time outdoors!

Curriculum Changes

I am making a big leap and changing to a new math curriculum. We have used MEP from the beginning, and there is so much that I love about that curriculum. However, its “spiral approach” to teaching concepts just doesn’t give either of my kids enough of an anchor to master a skill and move forward. Both of my kids are ready to start second grade math. They are not “at grade level” for many, many reasons, and I love homeschooling because I can adapt our work to the right level for them!

For review and “math drills”, I switched to Math Mammoth. I bought the first grade workbooks, and the kids will work on these books independently for up to 20 minutes per day.

For new teaching, I am working through the second grade work in Frank Hall’s An Arithmetic Primer.  This is a really fascinating curriculum! The activities are not done as worksheets but as hands-on and verbal math. It works like this:

  • Day 1 – Facts to memorize. In the beginning, these are basically number bonds, which we will learn with hands-on activities and games like Denise Gaskins recommends on her Let’s Play Math blog.
  • Day 2 – Linear measurement. The same facts from day one are introduced in the form of linear measurements. We will use an actual ruler and measure lines (horizontally and vertically), bisect them (find half), etc.
  • Day 3 – Spatial measurement. We will measure area and volume by building with cubes, measuring liquids in measuring cups, etc.
  • Day 4 – Apply the facts from the previous three days to addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and fraction problems.

I started using this program at the end of the last school year, and I saw the light bulbs coming on for both of my kids. I loved that more advanced math topics are introduced right away using numbers with small magnitude (i.e. 1-4). It is very clever!

This is the only real change that I’ve made. Otherwise, I really love how last year went, and I’m looking forward to this one!

Best wishes on a new school year!

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