Every year about now, I usually find myself searching for yet again another curriculum to try and micro managing my weekly schedule down to the minute on paper. With the “official” school year approaching, I am feeling much different this year. Much more at ease. There is no searching for anything different. No new big purchases. No micromanaging. Could it be that it has taken me nine…yes, nine…school years to find the security in myself and our home school rhythm? Could it be that I am now able to let go of most limiting expectations that I may have had in the past and just be where we are…taking it one day at a time? Being okay with wherever each child is and working from there on out?
There is something that pulls me in though, when I see all of the school supplies out each summer…particularly, the binders. I have no idea why, but I love getting new binders each year. Each kid gets their own color and I color coordinate with just a couple items I deem necessary. But I still feel a pull to buy glue sticks and new scissors and mechanical pencils and fruit erasers and pencil bags…but I refrain. What I do get each child:
~a 1″ binder
~a set of 5 divider tabs (for the binder)
~a composition book
~a 3 hole folder (to fit in binder)
The 5 binder tabs are divided into English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Health/Art/Phys-Ed. Throughout the year each section will get filled with worksheets, articles, photocopies, photos, and completed projects that fit into each of those categories. The composition books are for writing. Currently, Kayla and Bella are working on Creative Writing, using the book, Rip the Page!: Adventures in Creative Writing. Hawthorn will be using his Primary Journal composition book for daily journal entries. It has space for a sentence or two and then he can draw a picture. Things like this are so cute to look back on! We also like to pick up some $1 workbooks when we see them. Maybe they aren’t a part of an award winning curriculum set, but they still cover the basics.
For me, I always like to get myself a day planner at the beginning of the school year. It comes in handy to be able to sit down when all is quiet and plan out some things for our week. It also comes in handy after the fact, to be able to jot down what we have done on a given day. Multiplication practice, writing, piano lessons, park day, etc. Repetitive things such as music lessons or home school groups can get penciled in for every week. Then I can keep everything together in one place and remember everything that we have done and accomplished and attended throughout the year. Simple, right? I’m happy to say it feels simple this year. With three full time home schoolers at present, that’s saying a lot. In previous years, with the micromanaging…I always set up a very time restricted situation, which only wound up stressing me out two months into it. This year, it feels good to be viewing it from a fresh perspective.
A couple of weeks ago, after reading Lori Picket’s Project-Based Homeschooling I decided to ask each of my children to help me make a list of a few things they each wanted to learn about or explore this year. The topics ranged from learning Spanish and German to studying the desert to doing explosive science experiments to taking music lessons. I am excited to be taking this approach. I think it is important that children feel a sense of excitement and ownership over their schooling experience.
As far as not purchasing a curriculum this year, there are SO many free resources online that I have come to rely on. I know I have mentioned a lot of them before, but here they are:
English (and more): Education.com
Math (and more): Khan Academy
All subjects (with lots of free parts): Brain POP
Science Experiments: Science Bob
Geography: National Geographic
Health: Kids Health
Educational Games: Fun Brain
Throughout the year for a couple months I may subscribe to IXL Math, because it is super affordable and I like that the program can be done month to month without a yearly commitment. And I can’t forget about the library! I just learned that our library offers free language learning using Mango Languages. I am really looking forward to this year!