It's that time of the year for this homeschooling mama! I've been working like crazy to try to get ready to start school with all these kiddos God has blessed me with. I've cleaned out the old books, shelved the new books, gotten notebooks ready, printed and laminated their new checklists, and worked at adding a few new things too.
What's new for the 2015-2016 school year?
First off, we have a new student! Yay! Denise is a joy to teach and we are really looking forward to what this year will bring. Maybe some day I should do a post on the Ugandan schools, but suffice to say she has been trapped for years in a broken system. While she has some wonderful strengths, particularly in the math and science areas, she has quite a bit of catching up to do in the area of reading. We are using the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. I love this phonics book. I've used it with many of my other kids and a few Ugandan kids, always with great success. In this context, I particularly love the fact that other than a few references to hot dogs, it isn't saturated with American culture. ;-)
Secondly, Timothy is now in high school! How in the world did that happen? Yikes! Keeping a transcript, assigning credits, and making sure he is taking all that he needs to be taking is all new territory for this mama! He will be taking the Tree of Life Great Ideas course this year. He took their "What's the Big Idea?" courses for grade 7 and 8, so we are excited to start this new phase. He is very interested in going into engineering, so the elective he's most excited about taking is a robotics course based on the Lego Mindstorm kit.
Next, I changed a few organizational things in an attempt to streamline the kids a little more. We've done Shurley English for years. I really like it. But the problem is when you have 5 students and they aren't necessarily at the same place due to varying levels of vocabulary. It takes a lot of my time to teach all the different levels, even though all the concepts are the same. My huge summer project has been to combine the levels into one program that can be taught to all ages at the same time. It's using all the Shurley material, but hopefully will save me a LOT of teaching time! I'm also combining many more kids in their IEW writing this year. I have 4 that will be going through their Narnia theme based writing book.
I also switched my literature program from Teaching the Classics to Veritas Press Curriculum Guides. While I really like the idea of Teaching the Classics and in an ideal world would still be doing it, I just don't have the teacher time available. The Veritas Press can be done fairly independently. So, we made the switch.
I also added a Weekly Progress Report that each child will fill out at the end of each week telling me exactly what they did for each subject that week. One of my challenges has always been keeping good tabs on where each child is in each subject (8 school age children times 4-6 subjects?? Ack! Too much for my mommy brain!). It's such a hassle to look in all their books, find the pages, etc... So, I'm hoping that this will help. I also copied ALL our tests that we need and got the answer forms ready. It always drives me nuts when I'm in the middle of teaching and a child comes to me and using their Ugandan English says, "mommy, I need my math test copied now, now." (When you say "now" it refers to an African time table. "Now, now" is what an American would consider to be "now" haha!) So, I photocopied them all now, now. Yay for planning ahead! I also got some really fun hanging folders from Amazon to use to store their papers in. I used to always store them in my lesson planner binder, but by the end of the year it becomes way too full. So, on the wall they went.
What is still the same? We are still doing Story of the World History. My kids really enjoy the curriculum. We are still doing Apologia Science. This year we are doing Botany. I figured it would be fun to do Botany this year before we, Lord willing, will be on furlough next year. We have flowers blooming year round on our compound! Most of the kids are still doing Saxon Math with great success. We especially love the DIVE cds to help. Timothy got about 2/3 of the way through Algebra 1 last year completely on his own. Towards the end, he needed a little bit of help. Whew...that College Algebra class I hated, but studied my brains out for during my freshman year at Covenant sure was a blessing! haha! And we are still drawing and tracing maps for geography. This year we are working our way through North, Central and South Americas again.
What are you doing this year? Are you making changes or sticking to the same thing? What curriculum is really exciting you? If you're a mom to many what kinds of things help you get it all done?