Teaching From Rest Book Review

Right before school started this year, I discovered this little gem of a book called Teaching From Rest:  A Homeschooler’s Guide to UNSHAKEABLE PEACE by Sarah Mackenzie.  It was a quick read, but wonderful!  I also used the Companion Guide to go along with it.

tfr900

I LOVE Homeschooling!  I do!  Even though I’ve been at it for 12 years, I still occasionally feel like I need a renewed spirit, a renewed focus, a change-up of some kind.  I am very confident in my curriculum choices, my methods, and in the way I like to teach and the way my children learn.  But, sometimes I feel like there’s still something more that I’m missing; things have become dull, or I am no longer looking forward to the year.  So, often times, I do more research.  I think maybe I need to change up curriculum, or make a different kind of schedule.  Those things may be needed, but I think deep down, what I’ve really been looking for is REST.  A state of rest.  Over this past summer, I was feeling those feelings again….that need for something different, a renewed focus or goal, a change-up of some sort, when I came across this little book called Teaching From Rest.  It peaked my interest, so I picked it up.  I didn’t read it for some time, though….that happens sometimes when I get a new book.  Finally, at the end of the summer, I decided to take some time and read this little gem.  On the first few pages, I realized that there was also an optional study guide that I could purchase and download.  So, I did that, and printed it out.  I love being able to take a book and make it more into a book study, with notes, and truly feel like I’m growing and changing, so this option seemed like a great plan!

The book is written in three parts.  Part One is: Whose “Well Done” Are You Working For?  Part Two is: Curriculum Is Not Something You Buy.  And, Part Three is: Be Who You Are!  Each of the parts are broken down even further so that you can read in sections, which is nice (especially if you are frequently interrupted).  If you get the Companion Guide, it has a place for you to take notes throughout the chapters, then some application questions following that with ample space to record answers and notes.

Part 2 was very applicable.  Sarah gave clear steps on how to teach from rest and obtain unshakeable peace.  Also in Part 2, she shows you how to break down your busy schedules to see how much time you have, and how much time you need, to homeschool.  We often plan our time around our homeschooling, but she suggests we plan our homeschooling around our lives, around the time we have left.  Sounds like a strange concept, huh?  It makes complete sense to me now, and I am grateful to have read her tips on this!  I did follow her advice, and did simplify our days somewhat, but I think this type of schedule will be a work in process for a while.  In fact, now that we are mid-year, I am going to go back to this book and re-evaluate our schedule, and this time I’m hoping to add in a tea time and a time for rest and reading mid-day (she explains this further in part 2).

The book goes right along with my Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling, too!  But, I do believe that whether you use Charlotte Mason’s methods or not, you will still glean a lot of great information from this little book.

After we had been in our school year for a good chunk of time, I realized things weren’t going as smoothly as I’d hoped. So, partway through our year, I had to make some changes to curriculum and our schedule.  With just a few tweaks, things did improve, and now that we are at the beginning of a new semester I’m changing a few more things, and I believe things will improve immensely!

One of the things that I haven’t implemented that was suggested in this book was a Quiet Reading Hour.  (I briefly mentioned this above).  I really want to include a time for this beginning with the New Year!  I wish I had added it at the beginning of our school year.  We do read, we read a lot.  However, I don’t get that time to read for me.  And, implementing a Quiet Reading Hour would be great because then we’d all get to enjoy some free reading.  Just a time of reading for fun!  I think we could all use that!  I do have one that is not yet reading, so this could prove a bit difficult, but maybe I could give her some audio books to look through.  And, as long as each of us are in separate spaces and being quiet, it should work out just fine.

This book is truly a little gem that I will have to pick up each year, possibly several times a year, to reevaluate, to get inspired, to refocus.  It brings me back to my goals in homeschooling, a simpler way, a restful and joyful way, full of peace.  I would highly recommend it!  And, I would also recommend the Companion Journal.  Check them out here.

Wishing you a blessed and happy New Year!

Dena

Advertisements

Mid Year Homeschool Planning

school-73497_640

Sometimes, mid-year, I feel like it’s time to start planning again.  Sometimes for next semester change ups, sometimes for the future of our homeschooling.  That’s exactly what I’ve been up to.  You see, this past summer I graduated my oldest.  I have three more behind him.  One who is only 3.  So, I have many more years of school to do.  And, I’m hoping with each one, school only gets better!  I feel like #1 was a guinea pig.  I tried so many things with him, switching things often, and changing things up.  Poor guy!  He really probably had it rough, as I had NO IDEA what I was doing!  On the upside, I learned to research, study many curricula choices, and I’ve tried many, so I feel like my knowledge on a TON of curriculum has grown and I could probably give a pretty good review on most anything.  And, if it’s something I don’t know about, I can find out pretty quickly!  I feel it has benefitted me a ton to be able to gain as much knowledge as I have.  My next one is a sophomore in high school this year (just a few years behind him).  She has been a bit of a guinea pig as well.  Not as bad, but she was such a different learner, I had to do things so differently.  I feel like she has it better than he did, but I still have changed a lot with her.  With #3, so many NEW things have come out that I’ve wanted to explore and check out!  We are finding some great things, but also struggling to find a fit in other areas.  I have a great plan, though, and I think things are about to improve greatly!  Then, for #4, I hope to have EVERYTHING figured out, and to use only the best all the way through for her!  I’m excited because I feel I’m getting so much closer to what I feel the BEST is.  (I do realize that the BEST is different for each family, but it is nice to know that I am getting closer to our family’s best!)  I plan to update my Scope & Sequence soon to show what I’ve chosen for all grades and subjects.  My biggest goal is making learning fun and natural; a Charlotte Mason style education, and, a focus on Biblical Worldview.  These things are most important to me:  good habits, lifelong learners, and hearts that love and serve the Lord.  I know I can’t ‘make’ my children do any of these things, but I can do my best to lead them in the right direction.  That is my prayer and hope.  I’ve failed a lot along the way, but I hope I’m improving with each kiddo.  Parenting is hard enough!  Add in homeschooling, and it’s almost too much!  But, I know the Lord helps me.  I couldn’t do any of it without His guidance and leading.

Some things I’m planning on changing up for the 2nd half of the school year are:

I have not used any of the Five in a Row products, the Homeschool in the Woods Time Travelers, or Brave Writer before.  I would love to hear some reviews of any or all of them if any of my readers have used them!  And, if you have any tips on HOW to use them, I’m all for those, also!

I am enjoying using Simply Charlotte Mason’s American History (we are ONLY using the American History and the Geography portions as we already have a good Bible program and I’m not doing World History yet with the 4th grader).  But, it’s not enough hands on for my 4th grader.  I’ve come to realize that she learns best by doing.  So, having that component is super important to her.  I’m hoping that adding in Beyond Five in a Row and Time Travelers will give her what she needs in that area.  And, that it will bring back more ‘fun’ into her school days.

Well, that’s what I’ve been working through for our mid-year homeschool review!  Do you do anything to change things up around mid-year?  I’d love to hear!

In Christ,

Dena

2016-2017 Curriculum Picks

books-1224757_640

Here are my curriculum picks for next year!  I’ll start with my oldest still in school and go down to my youngest.

Sophomore (10th Grader):

Memory Verses: Simply Charlotte Mason’s Memory Verse Pack #4 https://simplycharlottemason.com/planning/curriculum-guide/scripture-memory/

Bible: TruthQuest Beginnings Guide                     http://www.truthquesthistory.com/store/products.php?categoryParentName=Books&categoryName=Creation%2FAncient&itemId=42

Character:  Ourselves Book 1 by Charlotte Mason and Character First:  Attentiveness, Obedience, Honesty, Respect, Diligence, Thankfulness with Write Upon My Heart Character Curriculum (each for 6 weeks) http://www.amblesideonline.org/CM/vol_4_all.html and http://characterfirsteducation.com/c/shop-detail/1998143 with http://www.keepersofthefaith.com/category/WriteUponMyHeartCharacterCurriculum 

Worldview:  Cat & Dog Theology Year 2                       http://www.unveilinglory.com/homeschool/high-school-year-2.php 

History:  TruthQuest Middle Ages Guide and TruthQuest Renaissance Guide alongside Beautiful Feet’s Medieval Senior High Study Guide (only using portions)  http://www.truthquesthistory.com/store/products.php?categoryParentName=Books&categoryName=Middle+Ages&itemId=40 and http://www.truthquesthistory.com/store/products.php?categoryParentName=Books&categoryName=Renaissance%2FReformation&itemId=41 with portions of http://bfbooks.com/Medieval-History-Senior-High-Pack 

Since TruthQuest also uses living books, these are the books I’ve chosen along with dvd’s:

Middle Ages and Renaissance, Reformation & Exploration Book & DVD List

(Plus order of use)

Middle Ages

Beowulf with Invitation to the Classics (Literature)

King Arthur and His Knights (audio by Jim Weiss)

Son of Charlemagne

The Arabian Nights with the Audio by Jim Weiss (Literature)

Leif the Lucky

El Cid (Movie)

How Should We Then Live? (DVD) Episode #2

Castle by David Macaulay with the online Video version from the library

Greenleaf’s Famous Men of the Middle Ages

Ivanhoe (Movie)

The Magna Charta

The Story of Robin Hood (Movie)

Cathedral by David Macaulay with the online Video version from the library

Stepping Stone Kit (Craft)

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy

Inspector General (Movie)

Morning Star of the Reformation

The Chaucer Story Book (Literature)

Joan of Arc

Renaissance, Reformation & Exploration

How Should We Then Live? (DVD) Episode #3

The Black Arrow

Annotated Mona Lisa by Carol Strickland (library)

Sister Wendy’s 1000 Masterpieces (library)

Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting (library)

The Agony and the Ecstasy (Movie)

How Should We Then Live? (DVD) Episode #4

Martin Luther

Luther (Movie)

Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

Martin Luther’s Defense before the Diet of Worms

Mosque by David Macaulay

Pilgrim’s Progress (Literature)

Greenleaf’s Famous Men of the Reformation

A Man for All Seasons (Movie)

Utopia

God’s Outlaw (Movie)

The Radicals (Movie)

The Virgin Queen (Movie)

Under Drake’s Flag

SCM’s Shakespeare in 3 Steps

How Should We Then Live? (DVD 2) Episode #6

Johannes Kepler

Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves (Literature)

Optional Spine:  Trial & Triumph

You may have noticed that I also included the Literature books for the year in the above list.  I will also be using Beautiful Feet’s An Anthology of Medieval Literature  http://bfbooks.com/An-Anthology-of-Medieval-Literature 

Geography:  Beautiful Feet’s Medieval Senior High Guide and The Medieval World:  An Illustrated Atlas  http://bfbooks.com/The-Medieval-World-An-Illustrated-Atlas 

Writing:  Written Narrations and Essays from TruthQuest’s Think Write Assignments and Beautiful Feet’s Guide as well as Written Narrations on each of the literature selections.  Notebooking from A Journey Through Learning for Middle Ages and Renaissance is also availabe through TruthQuest and I will be using it.

Math:  Life of Fred  http://lifeoffredmath.com/

Science:  ACE Paces Biology DVD Course  http://www.heartofdakota.com/world-history-hearts-for-him-through-high-school-descriptions2.php#biology 

Rotation Subjects:

Picture Study (Valesquez, Turner, and Rembrandt – 12 weeks for each) https://simplycharlottemason.com/store/picture-study-portfolios/

Poetry (Robert Browning and Carl Sandburg – 1 semester each) https://simplycharlottemason.com/store/enjoy-the-poems/

Hymn Study (1 hymn per month)  http://www.amazon.com/Hymns-Kids-Heart-Vol-2/dp/1581345828 and http://www.rainbowresource.com/proddtl.php?id=021294 and www.songsandhymns.org

Composer Study   http://bfbooks.com/History-of-Classical-Music-Study-Guide?sc=21&category=-121

Nature Study  http://www.rainbowresource.com/product/sku/033908 and http://shiningdawnbooks.com/available-units/

Art  http://www.creatingamasterpiece.com/

and Shakespeare (As You Like It)                                                                      https://simplycharlottemason.com/store/shakespeare-three-steps/ 

Electives:  Logic, Speech (through co-op), Piano Lessons, and Gymnastics http://www.rainbowresource.com/searchspring.php?q=Falacy+Detective#/?_=1&q=fallacy detective&page=1 

4th Grader:

Memory Verses:  Simply Charlotte Mason’s Memory Verse Pack #4 – same as 10th grader – see link above

Bible:  Long Story Short  http://www.graceandtruthbooks.com/product/long-story-short-ten-minute-devotions

Character:  The Young Peacemaker (Co-op) and Character First http://www.graceandtruthbooks.com/product/young-peacemaker-teaching-students-to-respond-to-conflict-gods-way and http://characterfirsteducation.com/c/shop-detail/1998143 

Worldview:  Apologia’s Who Is God?                                             http://www.apologia.com/who-is-god/216-who-is-god.html 

History:  Heart of Dakota Bigger Hearts for His Glory http://www.heartofdakota.com/bigger-hearts-packages.php 

Geography:  Beautiful Feet’s Geography Through Literature http://bfbooks.com/Geography-Through-Literature-Pack-PB?sc=17&category=14 

English:  My Father’s World’s Language Lessons for Today Grade 4 http://www.mfwbooks.com/item/30018/ 

Spelling:  Simply Charlotte Mason’s Spelling Wisdom 1 https://simplycharlottemason.com/store/spelling-wisdom/ 

Reading:  Heart of Dakota’s Bigger Hearts for His Glory Classic Literature Pack http://www.heartofdakota.com/BHFHG-classic.php 

Writing:  Draw and Write Through History http://www.graceandtruthbooks.com/category/draw-and-write-through-history 

Math:  Life of Fred  http://www.educents.com/life-of-fred-elementary-math-series-9291.html 

Science:  HOD’s Bigger Hearts Science and Apologia Astronomy http://www.heartofdakota.com/bigger-hearts-packages.php and http://www.apologia.com/astronomy/466-homeschool-curriculum.html

Rotations:  Same as 10th Grader – See above

Electives:  Piano Lessons, Youth Theatre Academy, Children’s Choir

Preschool 3:

The Homegrown Preschooler  http://www.thehomegrownpreschooler.com/?product=a-year-of-playing-skillfully-printed-version

Heart of Dakota’s Little Hands to Heaven                       http://www.heartofdakota.com/little-hands-packages.php 

I usually save throughout the year to purchase curriculum for the following year, and I sell the curriculum we are finished with.  It really makes no sense to me to save curriculum for the next child when each of the rest of my kiddos are 6 years apart.  I don’t like to use outdated material, and prefer newest editions in most cases.  I’d love to hear about some of your favorite curriculum choices!  Please chime in!

Our Homeschool Scope & Sequence

eager-read-899311_640

This next school year I will have a Sophomore (10th grade), a Fourth Grader, and a Pre-Schooler!  And, I am graduating my first in a few weeks!  So, I’ve done a lot of homeschooling, and a lot of curriculum!  I love to research and review all the different options out there, and then make the best decisions for my family.  I choose according to my teaching style, my kids’ learning styles, and our method of homeschooling, which happens to be Charlotte Mason Inspired.  I recently revamped my Homeschool Scope & Sequence which gives my picks for all of the homeschool years beginning in pre-school and going through 12th grade.  This is a guide I use, and can change depending on the child and our current life situations.  But, I do like to use it as a guide for planning for the future.

Take a look:

Homeschool Scope & Sequence

PRE- SCHOOL 3 PRE-

SCHOOL

K FIRST SECOND THIRD
BIBLE

Use Simply Charlotte Mason’s Memory Verse Packs and Memory Verse System

New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes MFW K MFW 1st Grade

 

HOD Little Hearts for His Glory HOD Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory

 

Bigger Hearts for His Glory
CHARACTER

Character First along with Character Booklets from Keeper’s of the Faith

Big Thoughts for Little People

My ABC Bible Verses

The Singing Bible

Leading Little Ones to God

Hide ‘em In Your Heart CD

A Child’s Book of Character Building Book 1

 

A Child’s Book of Character Building Book 2 Character First

Wisdom and the Millers

WORLDVIEW Adventures in Obedience

(Cat & Dog Theology)

Cat & Dog Theology Elementary 1 Cat & Dog Theology Elementary 2
HISTORY American American American
GEOGRAPHY BF Geography through Literature
ENGLISH R&S ABC Books? English for the Thoughtful Child 1 English for the Thoughtful Child 2 MFW Primary Language Lessons MFW Primary Language Lessons
SPELLING All About Spelling Level 1 All About Spelling Level 2 All About Spelling Level 3 All About Spelling Level 4
READING/LITERATURE Lots of Reading Aloud!

 

Lots of Reading Aloud!

 

Pathway Readers Emerging Readers

Pathway Readers

Emerging Readers and/OR

Pathway Readers

Pathway Readers
WRITING A Reason for Handwriting K A Reason for Handwriting A A Reason for Handwriting Transition A Reason for Handwriting C
MATH Numbers 1-10 Horizons OR LOF Horizons OR LOF Horizons OR LOF Horizons OR LOF
SCIENCE Shining Dawn Books – Nature By the Season 106 Days of Creation

OR More Shining Dawn Book Units

Living Learning Books Science HOD Science

AND Apologia Flying Creatures

ROTATIONS

Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Studies, Shakespeare in Three Steps, Beautiful Feet Composer Study then SCM’s Music Study with the Masters, Hymns from a Kid’s Heart and Then Sings My Soul, SCM’s Enjoy the Poems and Favorite Poems Old and New and Poems for Memorization, Shining Dawn Books for Nature Study, Art – Creating a Masterpiece, Missionary Biographies

Poet:  Rudyard Kipling

 

Poet:  Lewis Carroll Poet:  Christina Rosetti

Picture Study:  John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt

 

Poet:

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Picture Study:  Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses

Poet: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Picture Study:  John James Audubon and Pablo Picasso

ELECTIVES
CORE CURRICULUM A Year of Playing Skillfully ages 3 & 4

Little Hands to Heaven

MFW Kindergarten MFW 1st Grade HOD LHFHG HOD Beyond LHFHG HOD Bigger HFHG

 

 

FOURTH FIFTH SIXTH SEVENTH EIGHTH
BIBLE HOD Preparing TQ Beginnings TQ Beginnings Continue with Beginnings until finished

Then allow student to own their own study time

Continue with Beginnings until finished

Then allow student to own their own study time

CHARACTER Prudence and the Millers

Character First

The Young Peacemaker

Character First

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends Beautiful Girlhood and Raising Maidens of Virtue Before You Meet Prince Charming
WORLDVIEW Apologia Who Is God? Apologia Who Am I? Apologia Who is My Neighbor? Apologia What on Earth Should I Do? A Young Historians Introduction to Worldview
HISTORY PHFHG with Draw Write Now Pilgrims, Pirates and Patriots and Draw Write Now Napoleum to Lady Liberty – World of the 1800’s and Draw Write Now Invention, Exploration & War – 20th Century TQ Beginnings with Draw Write Now Creation through Jonah TQ Greece with Draw Write Now Greece & Rome TQ Rome with Draw Write Now Vikings, Middle Ages & Renaissance TQ Middle Ages
GEOGRAPHY A Child’s Geography of the World by Hillyer OR Galloping the Globe Trail Guide to Bible Geography OR MapTrek Trail Guide to Bible Geography OR MapTrek Trail Guide to World Geography OR MapTrek Trail Guide to World Geography OR MapTrek
ENGLISH Intermediate LL 1 Intermediate LL 2 Intermediate LL 3 Winston Grammar Winston Grammar
SPELLING Spelling Wisdom 1 Spelling Wisdom 2 Spelling Wisdom 3 Spelling Wisdom 4 Spelling Wisdom 5
READING/LITERATURE HOD Book List HOD Book List HOD Book List HOD Book List HOD Book List
WRITING Begin Typing Continue Typing IEW Student Writing Intensive IEW Ancient

History Based Writing Lessons

IEW Continue Ancient and Begin Renaissance
MATH LOF LOF LOF LOF LOF
SCIENCE Apologia Astronomy OR

Science in the Ancient World

Apologia Swimming Creatures OR

The Scientific Revolution

Apologia Land Animals OR

Science in the Age of Reason

Apologia Botony OR

Science in the Industrial Revolution

Apologia Human Anatomy and Physiology
ROTATIONS Poet:  Robert Louis Stephenson

Picture Study:  Cezanne and Pierre Auguste Renoir

Poet:  Robert Frost

Picture Study:  Giotto and Raphael

Poet:  Emily Dickenson

Picture Study:  Van Eyck and Fra Angelico

Poet:  Alfred Lord Tennyson

Picture Study:  Botticelli and daVinci

Poet:  Sir Walter Scott

Picture Study:  Durer and Michelangelo

Shakespeare:  A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream

ELECTIVES Art:  Creating a Masterpiece OR Artistic Pursuits AND

Barry Stebbing’s Nature Drawing and Journaling

 

NINTH TENTH ELEVENTH TWELFTH
BIBLE Continue with Beginnings until finished

Then allow student to own their own study time

Continue with Beginnings until finished

Then allow student to own their own study time

Continue with Beginnings until finished

Then allow student to own their own study time

Continue with Beginnings until finished

Then allow student to own their own study time

CHARACTER A Young Woman After God’s Own Heart Ourselves Book 1 Ourselves Book 2 Of Knights and Fair Maidens
WORLDVIEW How to be Your Own Selfish Pig

AND, Cat & Dog Theology Year 1

Cat & Dog Theology Year 2 Cat & Dog Theology Year 3 AND

I don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Athiest

Understanding the Times AND

Cat & Dog Theology Year 4

 

HISTORY TQ Renaissance, Reformation, Exploration TQ Age of Revolution 1 TQ Age of Revolution 2 TQ Age of Revolution 3
GEOGRAPHY Trail Guide to World Geography OR MapTrek Trail Guide to US Geography OR MapTrek Trail Guide to US Geography OR MapTrek Trail Guide to US Geography OR MapTrek
ENGLISH
SPELLING
READING/LITERATURE Progeny Press Literature Guides OR The Reader’s Odyssey with Honey for a Teen’s Heart Progeny Press Literature Guides OR The Reader’s Odyssey with Honey for a Teen’s Heart Progeny Press Literature Guides OR The Reader’s Odyssey with Honey for a Teen’s Heart Progeny Press Literature Guides OR The Reader’s Odyssey with Honey for a Teen’s Heart
WRITING IEW Continue Renaissance IEW US History Based Writing Lessons IEW US History Based Writing Lessons IEW US History Based Writing Lessons
MATH LOF LOF Financial Peace
SCIENCE Exploration Education Physical Science Biology 101 OR ACE Biology Chemistry 101 OR ACE Chemistry
ROTATIONS Poet:  Robert Browning

Picture Study:  Titian and Velazquez

Poet:  Carl Sandburg

Picture Study:  Turner and Rembrandt

Shakespeare:  As You Like It

Poet:  William Wordsworth

Picture Study:  Millet and Constable

Poet:  John Greenleaf Whittier

Picture Study:  Monet and Van Gogh

Shakespeare:  Taming of the Shrew

ELECTIVES MFW Health

Creative Writing

Foreign Language

Foreign Language

Logic

Economics

 

Government

Some of the typing transferred from Microsoft Word to blog world came out a bit strange, but hopefully you can make most of it out.  I will stop here this time….as this is A LOT to take in.  Next time, I’ll tell you what each of my curriculum choices for the 2016-2017 year are!  (Not all details of the curriculum types are listed in the Scope & Sequence, and as I said before, the Scope & Sequence is just a guide).

Do you make a Scope & Sequence for your homeschool?  What are some of the “Don’t Miss” subjects for your kiddos?

Until next time, Happy Planning!

2016-2017 Homeschool Planning Underway

desk-912577_1920

So, it’s that time of year again!  My favorite time!  When I start evaluating how our current year of school has gone, and start looking ahead to planning the next year.  I am naturally a planner, so I love, love, love this time of year.  Choosing curriculum is like choosing Christmas gifts, and getting the boxes in is like opening the gifts on Christmas day!  It’s so much fun!  I think anyone who loves homeschooling would agree.

I am an eclectic homeschooler, but my method has grown more fully Charlotte Mason as the years have gone by.  I knew I loved the method and wanted to incorporate it as soon as I began reading about it, but it took YEARS of studying about it before I was able to finally make a schedule that truly is what I imagined a Charlotte Mason Education would be.  Yet, just like growth in anything, there’s always more to learn and changes to be made that can improve on what was already good.  That’s where I am now.

The 2015-2016 school year has been my 11th year of homeschooling.  This year I will graduate one of my kiddos.  I can hardly believe it!  And, next year, I will have a sophomore, a 4th grader, and a preschooler.  Each of the rest of my children are 6 years apart in age, so though early in my homeschooling days I was able to combine some subjects for my oldest two (only 3 years apart), I can no longer do this except for what I call “Together Time”.  This is first thing in the morning where we study memory verses together and do our “rotation subjects”.  (Rotation subjects are usually only done once or twice a week on different days and include:  Poetry, Hymn Study, Composer Study, Picture Study, Nature Study, Art, Character, and Shakespeare – if we are studying a play that year).  So, now that we only do these things together, it has become increasingly important for me to schedule our day so that I can devote one on one time with each student where they need it, allow independent work where they are capable, and breaks where they interact with the preschooler and/or go outside.

I have several other decisions that I have to make at this time of year, also.  Choosing curriculum is the most fun!  I’ve already chosen the curriculum I will be using next year and will talk about that in a future post.  I also have to decide what activities we will be participating in, whether it be a co-op, music lessons, drama, sports, etc, and what field trips we want to take.  I like to plan field trips that somehow relate to what we are learning.  I will admit, these decisions are the most difficult to decide, because if I include too much, it thwarts the learning and cuts into our regular school days.

I pray a lot during the process of this planning season.  I pray about what curriculum to choose; that my children will not only learn and connect with it, but that it will cause a love for learning deep within them.  And, I pray about what activities we should be a part of that will add just the right amount of enjoyment to their year.  And, then, I pray that I will be able to write lesson plans that will challenge, but not frustrate.  There’s a lot of praying going on for sure!  And, right now, I’m in the midst of much of that prayer, seeking His face and His guidance for our year.  I know that my time in prayer is the most important, because it’s in the waiting that I listen and go forward with what I feel He is leading.  However, I have to admit, sometimes I’m not the most patient in the process of the waiting, and that, in the past, has caused me to make decisions that ended up not being the best choices.

The Homeschool Conference season is just around the corner, and I’m so excited!  It’s such a blessing to go and sit through the classes and be reinspired, refreshed, and ready to face the upcoming year.  And, then to have the added benefit of browsing all the curriculum at the Curriculum Fair.  It is often true that I will have chosen two different types of curriculum for the same subject, and then after being able to see and hold each one in my hands at a fair, I am able to make the best decision.  Seeing and touching firsthand is the best!  So much fun!  And, now that one of my daughters is old enough to volunteer at the Conference and Curriculum Fair, we make an entire weekend of it by renting a hotel and really enjoying a mini get away!  It’s such a blast!  And, to be able to share it with my daughters is an even bigger bonus!

So, how do you go about planning your homeschool year?