This summer I was ready with an entire homeschool curriculum planned in advance. I had the first nine weeks all figured out, hand picking different subjects in different styles for each kid. I even had a teacher planner with notes about which art project we were doing on which day. There were even Halloween themed spelling assignments! But even a few days in, I knew we had to make some homeschool adjustments.
My fifth grader is not a fan of writing. At all. So, while my first and second grader will sit quietly and write their spelling words two times each, or fill in a sentence with a word, my fifth grader thinks that kind of thing is akin to torture. It’s equally torturous to me. I have to remind him repeatedly that he is supposed to be writing his spelling words. I finally remembered that last year I let him just look over his words and he did really well on his tests. So now, I mostly let him just review. Sometimes I ask him to pick the words he thinks are the hardest from the list and only write those (or even type them). He now does just as well on his tests without either of us going through any torture. Good deal!
For some reason, I really thought the littles would enjoy their math workbooks. Completely serious over here. Jack (2nd grade) got sick of them after about week three and asked to switch to the Life of Fred books. We tried them, but he tended to drift off into lala land and not remember anything that was read.
Emma dutifully continued on, but also started to complain (which she hardly ever does). Then I realized that since I was paying for Time 4 Learning for their language arts, I could just use the math program as well. Thankfully they like it much better and I think they’re actually learning more.
I never say I hate anything. Instead, I say “it’s not my favorite”. In fact, there isn’t anything much I actually hate. But teaching science is not my favorite (though I love, love, love science). I bought this science program from teacherspayteachers.com for each grade (1st, 2nd and 5th). It’s similar enough that the kids sort of do the same things, but only not on the same day. This is a problem because when one sees another doing something cool (like magically putting a skewer through a balloon), they want to do it too. Right now. I hadn’t planned it that way. Maybe I should have read through all three of the lesson plans and re-arranged things myself. I didn’t though. Bah!
The other thing that’s not my favorite is that there are links to youtube videos in my lesson plan, but I can’t click them from a printed sheet. (To be fair, this lesson plan includes a live web site with a list of up to date links that are clickable, but… see logistics issues below.) I had gone through and made a play list of the videos for each kid, but since most of them are the same for all three lesson plans, it’s hard to tell which one goes with who and when. Ben (5th grade) might have already watched a video, so when I go in to play it for Emma (1st grade), it already says “watched”. Confusing.
I do have to say that it has lots of hands on projects, which they love. Good for them. Prepping for hands on projects is also not my favorite. It’s hard for me to think of a science plan I would like better that they would still like too, though. Ben told me today that he would like more chemistry based hands-on projects. Maybe there are some in there. I haven’t read it all yet.
I was counting on Time 4 Learning for Emma and Jack for Social Studies. Only I didn’t realize there are so few lessons for 2nd grade and none for 1st. So they both did the 2nd grade ones, but we’ve run out already. The 3rd grade Social Studies lessons on Time 4 Learning are not interactive and none of my children want to sit and read on a screen when they are used to watching a show. I’m going to have to find something for them for the rest of the year immediately.
Arrangement of Subjects
You should have seen me this summer with my color coded index cards with each subject for each kid. I planned which subjects a kid could do independently while I worked with another kid who would probably need my help. For instance, Ben can do his reading while Jack is using the computer to do his Language Arts and I can do Emma’s Science lesson with her. I even put a list of things to do on the board in case one of them finished their subject for that time slot early.
Problem is, Emma usually whizzes through Spelling, Writing and Reading and then is ready for the computer when Jack has two subjects to complete on it first. And since Emma and Jack were both doing Language Arts, Social Studies and Math on the computer (only one computer to use) there was some waiting around happening.
The other issue is that some days one of the kids needs extra attention and wants me to go through almost all of the subjects with them. Plus, Ben says he prefers I sit with him with them all. Always.
So you see, my carefully laid plan to have all subjects done in perfect choreography and finished in under two hours just isn’t working out very well. I can usually get at least one kid finished with “school” in that time. Maybe two on a good day. But no matter what, we finish by lunch time.
All in all, it’s still going pretty well. I’m impressed at how much they are actually retaining. And it completely makes me smile when Emma says “My hypothesis is…” because she learned that in Science. So, yeah, my plans have changed. I’ll continue to roll with it and maybe it’ll even be fun.