I am so so so excited about what we’re planning for the next school year! Each school year, we make some changes, whether it’s a change in curriculum, subjects studied, schedule rearrangement, or the number of official students. For 2019-2020, we’re using the same curriculum (but progressing in levels etc), same schedule setup, and the same number of students. Our subjects are mostly staying the same, except we’re doing something else for tech.
For language arts, handwriting, and history, we’ll continue using The Good and the Beautiful. My kids are all mid-level at the moment. When we start the new school year, we’ll pick up where we left off and start the next levels after we finish the current ones. My oldest is a little over halfway through level 4, my second started level 3 in April, and my third is near the end of level K. The levels are advanced compared to public school curriculum, so level K is more like typical first grade work – exactly where my upcoming 2nd grader should be. I’m excited for the newly revamped level 1 to come out! I’m waiting to place my order until then. I absolutely love their history curriculum. I look forward to exploring Year 2! It’s my favorite subject they’ve released – and I have an English degree. I’m also getting Pre-K for my 4 year old, to do casually when he wants to work on it. He’s always asking to do school with the big kids, so this will give him something educational to do while they work. But on his timeline; I don’t want to push it and destroy his love of learning. He already asks to play the games, which we have from when his brother did Pre-K.
We love Math U See for our math curriculum. We’ve used it from the beginning of our homeschooling journey. It’s one of the few constants from year to year. It works great for us! We’re mid-level here as well, so we’ll continue where we left off after our summer break. My kids are currently in Delta, Gamma, and Alpha. I plan to order Epsilon soon. We learned last year that we like to supplement our math curriculum with logic puzzles, games, activities, and more. That’s how we do math on our fun Fridays. Thanks to our online charter, that is now feasible.
Here is where this year’s changes come into the picture. Near the end of the school year, my boys were complaining about homeschool not being “fun.” As I talked to them and learned more about what they meant, I realized that they need more hands-on activities. It’s not always easy for me to do those with littles underfoot, but I’m hoping that it’ll be more doable this next year. By the time the school year starts, my littles will be 4.5 and 2. I don’t expect it to be easy to do more hands-on things with a 2 year old, but hopefully it’ll be more feasible than it’s been before. We’ll see. In that vein, our science for 2019-2020 will be less book reading and relevant coloring pages (which my boys are now tired of) and more experiments and activities. Last year, we studied animals for most of the school year because that’s the topic my kids had wanted to learn about. Now, they want to do other science topics. I hope by doing so they will start to enjoy learning more.
I had to write a description for each of our custom-built classes for our charter. Our reimbursements are based on those descriptions, so I like to be both vague and specific. I leave it open-ended in order to get a variety of things covered, but I also list specific items we plan to purchase. Once the descriptions are approved, it’s basically a green light to get reimbursed for those items. Our descriptions have all been approved for next year. Our science description is as follows:
“We will explore a variety of scientific topics in this course, such as geology, chemistry, physics, magnets, biology, and other topics as desired. We will explore chemistry through cooking (parent-supplied ingredients). We plan to purchase a Home Science Lab subscription, microscope, science books, and other science kits and supplies. We also plan to go on field trips and utilize the free national park pass for 4th graders.”
I’m really excited about the Home Science Lab! I researched several different science subscriptions (TinkerCrate, MEL Science, Spangler Science, Magic School Bus, and probably a few others I can’t recall right now) and felt like this one was the best bang for your buck. It comes with 5 activities per month! Most of the others only have 1-3 activities, so you run out of things to do long before the next kit comes. It’s also more reasonably priced than many of the others. The only caveat is that it’s only a 6 month subscription, because that’s how many different kits they’ve made. However, with 5+ activities per box, we’ll still get at least 30 activities with a 6 month subscription. We do science once a week, so that fills up most of the school year. The rest we can fill up easily with other activities, experiments, and books. I have several things already planned. We’re going to get some geology kits on Amazon, where you get to break open a geode or do an archaeological dig. It’s going to be a really fun year for science!
Our charter has a tech/entrepreneur requirement. Neither my kids nor I are really interested in the entrepreneur part, but tech? Oh, we love tech. We did engineering/building last year, mostly with Legos, Magformers, and other blocks. Our tech description for next year:
“In this course, we will learn about electricity and circuits. We plan to purchase an educational Snap Circuits set, a subscription to EEME, the Lego Technic Power Functions Motor set, Circuit Maze, and Smart Circuits. We will also use other electronic STEM tools and books as needed. This is a combined course for 3 siblings.”
My boys are really excited about the Snap Circuits. We have a Snap Circuit Jr set and they love playing with it. They’re thrilled that we’ll be doing Snap Circuits for their tech class this year. I remember playing with an old circuit board toy when I was around their age and it was so fun. I learned about circuits, transistors, resistors, diodes…I loved it. It wasn’t as cool as what is out these days, though. Isn’t technology great? I’m excited for my kids to explore circuitry as well.
Last but not least, my kids want to do art for their elective again. I don’t see that changing any time soon, if at all. But it’s really really easy to spend our $150 per kid class budgets on art supplies. I didn’t think I could spend $450 on art supplies last year, but it proved much easier than I anticipated. Art books, paper, pencils, crayons, markers, watercolors, specialty paper, items needed for specific projects…it adds up fast!
We will continue to do daily devotionals, where we read about 10 verses of scripture or watch a church video, say a prayer, and sing a hymn. I’ve already planned out which hymns we’ll learn next year. If you’re in the Facebook group TGTB for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Members, it’s in the files section as Hymns for Homeschool. Feel free to use it in whatever way works for your family. Not all of my children are thrilled about singing – they don’t all actually participate – but at the very least, they’ll be familiar with the hymns. There is power in beautiful, spiritual, inspirational music. I want that for my children – even if they aren’t interested in it for themselves! I don’t expect all my children to aspire to be musicians like I am, but I hope someday they’ll at least appreciate it. I have caught the non-participators singing/humming some of the songs on their own time, so I’ll call it a win.
My oldest is interested in learning the ukulele, thanks to a talented aunt who visited last summer and played each night. So that’s on the tech allowance list for this year. It’ll be on her own time, though. Maybe I’ll learn, too. They’ll be visiting again next month, so ideally I’ll buy it before their visit. That way, she’ll be able to learn a bit from her aunt.
We recently got our kids an Amazon Fire, with FreeTime and the kid-safe case. They love playing educational games on it. Their favorite math game is Medieval Math Battle. They also like Wordscapes, Stack the States, and Teach Your Monster to Read. I have them doing something educational each Wednesday throughout the summer and that’s their favorite thing to do. I don’t let them choose the tablet for their educational pick each week, though. Otherwise, that’s all they’d pick! I also want them to practice typing and increase reading skills for my reluctant reader 7 year old – the older 2 love to read. This week, however, it’s church camps – but more on that later. Probably tomorrow.
That, in a (very long) nutshell, are our plans for the 2019-2020 school year. As always, we’ll make adjustments and changes as needed. I don’t currently anticipate any changes, but you never know beforehand. I’m really excited about everything we’ll be doing! It should be a fantastic school year.