Trying on Homeschool

This weekend I did something I’ve often thought of doing, but had never actually done. I created lesson plans.

I’m so excited about it! The appropriate word may be “giddy.” And the good news is that the kids are pretty excited about it, too. Before I show you what I made, let me back up a bit.

I’ve toyed with the idea of homeschooling a few times. A number of my friends do it to differing degrees and for different reasons. We faced tremendous difficulties — educationally, socially and spiritually, both our kids and us as parents — this year when we switched from private Christian school to public school. (You can read a bit out that here. I didn’t write half of what we faced because (1) it’s too personal and (2) this blog is too public.) We are hopeful for a much better year beginning in September and are not currently considering formal homeschool.

That said, I simply can’t abide an entire summer in which brainless activities fill a void of structure. On top of that, I want to strengthen any weaknesses and bridge any gaps residual from this past school year. So into the dressing room I go to try on homeschooling. Just for the summer.

It started with a book. This book.

Summer Fit 1-2

Every year I get the kids supplemental education books for the summer, usually BrainQuest or something offered specifically through the school.

This book, however, is different. It incorporates sheet work (which, of  course, the others provide, too) with fitness activities and brief biographies that encourage positive values. I used their simple format as a springboard for my summer homeschool curriculum.

Creating a General Plan:

One of our family summer goals is to institute weekly memorization of Scripture, so the first thing I did was to find verses that I want us to memorize and align them with the weekly “core value” the kids would be learning in their workbooks. (The biographies and values in the workbooks are consistent across grade levels, so while the kids will be learning at age-appropriate levels, they will still have matched themes.)

I also added a reading list. Some of these books are direct suggestions from the Summer Fit books. Some are additions I made. When I finished, our summer plan looked like this:

Summer Schedule

Creating Specific Plans:

The workbooks only give the kids one page daily, five days a week. That takes my kids about 15.7 seconds to finish. So my next step was to create additional assignments that target my kids specific needs in writing, reading and math. I also added assignments for history, social studies and Bible. They each have a weekly schedule that details what they should do for each subject each day.

Here is Ellie’s schedule for the first two weeks:

Ellie Summer

And here is Zach’s:

Zach Summer

The gray sections indicate a “break” for that subject.

As you can see, most of the assignments are pretty simple. We’re starting the summer slowly (especially since this week includes Ellie being gone for half the day at VBS).

I’ve tried to incorporate fun stuff along with the necessities. Our math assignments include doing figures, but also reading a book on Christian stewardship, flashcards, counting piggy bank contents, singing “skip counting” songs and playing arithmetic games like Monopoly, Hi-Ho Cherry-O and Toy Story on a V.Smile. Our reading involves Hooked on Phonics (thanks to a complete set I got free from Amazon Vine almost two years ago), alphabet and phonetic puzzles, trips to the library, and electronic games on the kids’ “kindle” (which is really a V-Reader).

You’ll notice my definition of “social studies” is a bit broad. Our studies include understanding calendars, learning to tie shoes as well as cultural and religious differences around the world.

So there you go. All their work takes no more than an hour a day leaving plenty of time for summer fun. I’ve set a rule that they can do their school work whenever they want, but if it’s not done before lunchtime, there are no screens until it is done.

We’re on Day 2, so we’ll see how long the commitment and my sanity lasts. 😉

YOUR TURN: If you homeschool, how much time each day do you typically spend on school studies? Do you homeschool year-round?

If you don’t homeschool, what do you do to challenge your kids over the summer?

Talk to me!

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