It seems to be the thing to do to post what one is planning for the coming year. And it has been on my mind a lot so I thought I would say a little about our plans for the coming year.
Two big goals for the year are to transition to having the kids do a little more independent work and to streamline. We have always done a lot of subjects together and, frankly, I really love that time to read and discuss together. But my oldest will be in 8th grade and I feel like he should be doing more of his own reading, hence the move to more independent work. A Charlotte Mason education I believe is really fairly simple. Reading and narration are a large part of it. And then there is copywork or dictation which really covers a lot of aspects of langauge arts. So I am trying not to let our schedule get cluttered with too many extras which are very tempting, especially when everyone else seems to be doing them, but are not really necessary.
So starting with what we are going to all dp together, we have:
1. Bible — I am going to have the children all read some Bible on their own, but we are also going to do some together. I have James Beeke’s Bible Doctrine for Older Children to use for part of the year. We have done the earlier level previously (see this post) and while I don’t think it is the perfect curriculum, it is the best thing from a reformed perspective which I have found. We will also continue with the church history series Chronicles of the Ancient Church. The kids have really enjoyed this series. As my older daughter said, “I like how they make a story of the people’s lives.”
2. History — We are up to early modern history this year, beginning with the exploration of North America and hopefully getting through the American and French Revolutions. My plan for our together time is just to read a spine book aloud and have the kids take turns narrating orally. I posted previously on our spine choices.
3. Science and Geography — We will alternate science and geography. For geography we will begin where we left off in Spotty the Bower Bird, a book on Australian animals, and then try A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf and perhaps Richard Halliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels.
In science, we plan to use living books to study earth and space, beginning with meteorology, then geology, and ending the year with astronomy. I haven’t found one great spine book for any of these, but I do have a list of books to use. I still need to sit down and plan out exactly what we will read when.
4. The arts — We will alternate art and music. My plan for music is not elaborate. Mostly I will pick pieces of classical music and we will listen to them. If we manage to get that done, we will be doing more than last year and I will be content. For art, we will read from Hillyer’s A Child’s History of Art one day a week (we did his volume on architecture last year) and also use Cornerstone Curriculum’s Adventures in Art which should take two days a week.
5. Poetry and Shakespeare — The poetry is pretty simple: pick a poet and read one of his poems a day. I am thinking of beginning with Lewis Carroll and then moving on to Longfellow. For Shakespeare, we are going to try How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare and I would also like to find time to get more in-depth on As You Like It. By that I mean read a simplified version of the story, read some selections from the play itself, and then hopefully find a good movie version to watch.
Hopefully, all our “together” work will take one and a half hours. The rest of the school day will be spent on their individual work. By “individual” I do not mean that they can do it all without me but that they are not all at the same level so we are not all doing the same thing at the same time. Here then are our individual subjects:
1. Bible — Read assigned passages. Nothing too complicated. I know my kids’ Bibles have various plans for reading at the beginning to I will probably pick one of those.
2. Math — Life of Fred or Math-U-See depending on the child. See this earlier post.
3. Foreign Langauge — My younger two are learning Spanish with La Clase Divertida, year two, which is a video-based curriculum I had also used with the older two. They do this with me. We do not do the workbooks. My older daughter is using Rosetta Stone (after many failed attempts with other curricula) to learn French. My older son is using Open Texture Greek; I belive he is in year 3.
4. Language Arts — For the older two this consists of prepared dictation using Spelling Wisdom volume 3. This is our first year using this curriculum though we have done dictation in the past. We will spend 3 days on each passage, one just reading over it and discussing what might be troublesome points, one analyzing its grammar based on KISS grammar’s approach, and one doing the actual dictation. We have in the past used Spelling Power and may get back to it later in the year. The younger two will use volume 1 of Spelling Wisdom, doing copywork rather than dictation. They will also do cursive handwriting using Handwriting without Tears. I may also have the older two do some longer writing assignments as we have in the past.
5. Map drills — this is only once a week for each child. We use Sheppard Software’s free online map drills.
6. Reading — Most of what is above should not take the kids more than 5-10 minutes per subject per day (15-20 for math). The bulk of their time is their independent reading and narration. I plan to have the older two do two written narrations a week. Otherwise, they will narrate orally to me, or to all of us during our together time, or perhaps find other ways to convey what they are reading. I suspect that things like drawing or making charts may be more appropriate for some science reading for instance. The older two will read history every day plus some other subject, probably alternating a literature book and a science book. The younger two will only read once per day and will probably alternate history and science.
I expect the individual part of their work to take 1.5-2 hours a day so we are looking at about three and half hours of school total per day, even for my 7th and 8th graders. Other things like physical education, hands-on art classes, music lessons and nature walks we tend to do as outside classes or with other families.
That’s our current plan. We will see how it pans out!