Not Back to School 2015-2016
Holy backpacks, Batman! It’s NBTS!!
We tend to school throughout the summer, with various breaks as needed, rather than following a strict schedule. We used to – and have tried different schedules over the years. It all works out to about the same amount of class-time, so now I pretty much just plan on school and we break if we need to. We actually started this ‘grade’ a few weeks ago. We’re in week 5 now.
If you’re new to homeschooling, check out the NBTS Blog Hop, sponsored by iHomeschooling Network. It’s a link-up by lots of different homeschooling bloggers. It’s not strictly secular, but there’s something for everyone, and no matter what your personal views, I think it’s always cool to see how others ‘do’ homeschool.
As usual, I’m late on this… somehow, it started way back in July and I am just now catching up. But, as my mama always said, better to arrive late than unprepared! (Well, she said ‘ugly’, but that doesn’t really apply here.) They’ve changed it up a bit from previous years. The ‘used curriculum week’ is new, and useful! I love used curriculum; it’s a great way to homeschool on the thrifty side, as well as try new things without dropping a ton of money into something you may or may not like or use. If you do want to sell, or buy inexpensive/used materials, there are homeschool-specific buy-sell-trade groups on Facebook, like ‘Homeschool Buy Sell Trade‘. There are also state or local area-specific groups that you can join.
Curriculum week is one of my favorites. We don’t switch things up as much as we used to; we’ve been at this long enough to find our niche and to know what works and what doesn’t. My boys are in 7th and 8th grade this year. Here’s a quick look at what we’re using this year.
- Math – Pre_Algebra review with Kuta Software online as a spine with Khan Academy videos to explain concepts I can’t. Core Skills Math: Grade 8 and Algebra Warm-Ups (7+)
- Science – Middle School Science Education – Nebel
- History & Geography; Current Events – Story of the World 4 (plus Activity Book and lapbook), Timeline, various Artist, Composer, World Religion and other unit studies as needed/desired; CNN Student News (note-taking & discussion; research as needed; hasn’t started for this school year yet); Unit Studies centered on World Events/Holidays, etc. as needed or desired
- Grammar, Writing, Penmanship & Spelling – Diagramming Sentences (review), Project-Based Writing 6-8, Spectrum Word Study & Phonics 6, weekly spelling list of 10 words & exercises (test on Fridays); weekly essay writing, daily handwriting/dictation drills
- Reading & Literature – Novel unit studies; daily reading assignment & note-taking
- Logic/Research – games, brain teasers, research project, computer coding, foreign language, areas of individual study/interest
- Arts, PE & Health – art projects (usually monthly based on concept), encourage individual study; daily walks; playing with our dog, Max; daily workout routine (20 min cardio daily, plus target strength training)
- Field trips, Activism & Community Service – weekly educationally aligned field trips with our homeschool group; once-a-month community service project or activity. Activism opportunities as available.
We don’t do every subject every day, and sometimes, the task for a subject is less time-consuming than others. Math, for example, has been a lot of fairly easy review over the past few weeks. I don’t mind re-covering concepts, because we’ll be needing them as we move into more complicated maths. I tend to lump History together with Geography and Current Events – we only cover one chapter per week in SOTW4, so there’s plenty of time in the week to cover a geography lesson or work on a unit study. We also tend to do either science or history on a given day. News, we cover daily, usually at breakfast for discussion.
I am forever asked about school year planning and about my planner. I will do a separate post about planning the year out later, but with my planner, I do a couple of different things. The bulk of my planner is something that I designed. I really wasn’t happy with commercial lesson planners, or even most of the available homeschool planners, so I worked on it for a while to figure out what worked best for me. I have all of the previous, and current blank versions of my various planners available for free download (including a student planner) on the printables page. Something I’ve added to my planner is a downloadable planner page from Passion Planner. With my work picking up, this was exactly the thing I needed to help me keep up with multiple areas of my life. I printed and taped or stapled the PP pages into the middle of the current week for now as a trial to see if it works for me. I do like it, so when I print it again, I will add it into the binding.
That gives me essentially a 4-page week; on the first page is a weekly overview, school curriculum notes, child-specific notes, meal planning and short ‘to-do’ list. Page 2 is Monday – Wednesday, with ‘this week’s focus’ and a gratitude journal section, plus personal and work priorities. Page 3 is Thurs – Sunday, with a doddle/journal section at the bottom, and the final page is for this week’s field trip information and the kids’ actual assigned work for this week. The tabs are downloads from Scattered Squirrel; binder clips and washi tape are from either office or craft supplies stores. I print my planner every year, in December, and have it spiral bound at a local print shop. I usually include other things in the binding as well – interview sheets for the kids to keep up with their interests by year; homeschool laws in my state, pages for blog planning, craft planning and other note-taking. I also have a section for things that I feel like help me be a better parent and teacher – personality profiles, mindfulness tools, communication tips, and things like that. Here’s what this week looks like so far:
Our school room is the same as ever. We are fortunate to have a dedicated room to school; it’s our ‘office’ of sorts. All of the computers are in the school room, along with my desk (which houses both school, work and art). My Loverly Husband is all about the PC Master Race, so he spends a lot of time in here as well. It’s pretty much the ‘hub’ of our home. It’s not super pretty, and is forever in a state of being ‘decluttered’ (I tend to work best in a state of controlled chaos), but it’s worked for years. We’ve gone through phases of being more and less enamored with actually working in here (largely dictated by temperatures), but we always come back to it, it seems. We have two big slate chalkboards that we use daily, and flip pads/anchor charts in here and in the kitchen… school isn’t confined to one room when we’re working. I just try to keep most of it in here so our house isn’t totally over-run, but there’s definitely a ‘homeschool chic’ vibe to the decor.
The ‘Eyes of the Student’ week used to be ‘Student Picture Week’ or something like that. I don’t mind sharing our pictures; we took them today for this very post! I make student ID cards for my kids every year, so they needed updated pictures for this year anyway. Here’s how they look – the info and colors just get updated every year. I also get them laminated. The kids carry them in their wallets. I’ve heard horror stories about harassment of homeschoolers if they’re out without a parent nearby, but we’ve never experienced anything like that. All the same, my kids know their rights, and we’ve spoken at length about ‘what to do if’.
I’ve added an editable word.docx that you can download and use to create cards of your own. It’s fully editable, so you can add features you want and delete those you don’t. There’s a student ID, an educator ID, and the medical release for the back sides of the student card. homeschool ID cards BLANK
And here’s this year’s school picture:
The last 2 prompts are ‘day in the life’ posts. I’ve done a DITL from my perspective before, but it’s been a while so I’ll work on doing it again. I haven’t ever done a school day POV from the kids though – sounds fun. We’ll try that soon.
How’s your school year starting out?