O.K., so technically we're a shade past mid-year ... but still, every year just about now I like to sit down with the ed. plan that I so meticulously crafted eight months prior to see where we stand and to figure out where we should go from here.
Because ... there are only a handful of months left in which we might accomplish those goals outlined so neatly last year! Unless of course you don't break for the summer - and I realize some of us don't - but we do take a break from formal lessons in July and August. I need it and they need it, though of course it goes without saying that whether we call what we do lessons or not, we're learning.
That's such a big part of the home learning process - encouraging my children to want to learn and then enabling them to acquire the knowledge they need. There may not be a vocabulary list on the table, but there will be a great book to read and discuss. There might not be a science experiment on the kitchen counter, but there will be lots of time spent outdoors, getting up close and personal with nature. Meanwhile, I've got my nose stuck in this book or that, and catalogs are piled here and there ...
But before I get too far into our summer plans, I must turn my attention back to today. In fact, I always know it's time to sharpen my focus on the year at hand when I start getting itchy for next year ...
"So boys, about next year ... Do you think you'll be more interested in learning about Ancient Egypt or the Civil War?"
Anyhoo. I pulled out the ed. plans, blew off the dust, and sat down to take stock. And in light of a few discoveries, our schedule will get some fine-tuning.
What I like to do is highlight the areas that still need addressing; I use yellow, you might choose pink or blue. :) Then I go back with a pencil and note things we've done, extra books or programs we've used, field trips we've made, along with ideas for the next few months. (I did this last year and it was SO hugely helpful in writing the end-of-the-year report.)
So, a few notes ...
Math - The plan is to continue with Saxon daily lessons, although ... I did just order the new Seton Grade 2 math book for Crackerjack. I realized we have not been doing as much math-related reading as I'd planned, so I marched myself right over to MacBeth's for ideas and I revisited the Homeschool Math Blog. I already have a few books on request at the library.
Language Arts - Well, first of all, I realized I never even ordered the spelling programs - whoops! Actually, CJ is still a bit young for formal spelling and BW is an excellent speller. Even so, I ordered these books from CHC. I also ordered Lessons in Writing Sentences for Bookworm from Seton. He's using Lingua Mater as well; we're following it as a two-year program. Crackerjack is still improving his reading skills, so we are sticking with Little Stories for Little Folks, Language of God Level A and I also ordered Devotional Stories for Little Folks from CHC. I had listed listening and speaking skills on the ed. plan, so we will add more poetry memorization (and recitation), hopefully on a bi-weekly basis. Both boys are attending a monthly Book Group where they get a chance to voice their opinions. Study skills were also listed - I want to show the boys how to research and request books online (they both have their own cards) and I may ask our children's librarian to give us a tour.
History - The big news this year is we went back to using SOTW (Volume II: The Middle Ages) after an attempt to "unit study" it. I feel we are pretty much on target with that, but I'd like to do some review of past chapters. We haven't kept up the timeline as we should have. I also photocopied the list of "great men and women of the middle ages" from the Well-Trained Mind. I think we will make up fact cards for each person and enter them onto the time line. And to be completely honest, we have not been filing our work into a notebook (!) but just adding it to the inbox each week. Yikes, we really need to get that put together as it truly is important to keep the big picture in mind. I will be asking BW to add outlines of supplementary chapters in the history encyclopedia and CJ to add narrations of the same pages. (Basically I am just ratcheting it all up a notch.) We have a homeschool history fair coming up in April, so we'll prepare something for that.
Geography - Well, let's not discuss this one, all righty? No ... that won't fly. The thing is, with SOTW, we actually do geography every week, just not in the way I originally envisioned. I wanted to use this book to do a thorough one-country-a-month study of the peoples, lands, flora and fauna of Europe, old and new. With SOTW, each week we're looking at the globe, the world map and the atlas ... we're locating rivers and tracing the routes of the Crusades (etc.). Maybe next year we'll dive into world cultures in a different and more exciting way.
Science - We spent a rather lengthy time on the planets, and of course we are usually pretty well caught up on our nature study. I have two overall goals for the rest of the year where science is concerned: geology (rocks) and the four elements (water in March, earth in April, air in May and fire in June). More on all that later.
Picture Study - Well, each month I've tacked up the CHC liturgical masterpiece and we talked rather briefly about it. I think we might leap ahead in time and take a look at the art of the Renaissance as a way to wrap up our historical period. Nothing too ambitious - perhaps a good book filled with lots of examples and a binder the boys may keep filled with photocopies and notes. (I saw a blog with small photo albums for this purpose and I can't for the life of me remember where. Let me know if this rings a bell.)
Music - Every Saturday we listen to the Kids' Classical Hour on a local radio station. I wish the show was better organized - for instance, that I could get the information beforehand so as to better prepare for the particular composer or theme. Otherwise, I would just like to get back to the basics - to learn the instrument families and music types. I'm going to plumb the depths of our library's classical kids section and bring home a weekly recording/book/video.
These are the notes I've made so far. They're all pretty much ideas, and I need to translate them into action, beginning this week. Thanks for listening, and I'll keep you posted on how it all pans out. :)