Wednesday, January 08, 2014

New Year, New Plans

Happy New Year! Are you glad to see 2013 leave and 2014 come in? I certainly am. There were many wonderful things in 2013, to be sure, but there were also some less fun things, and I am glad those are behind us.

January always brings change, doesn't it? Resolutions, of course, and I'm revising our homeschool plans, evaluating what's working and what isn't. We had a rough start to our school year, and didn't really get going until October. Top that off with a lack of motivation that has run rampant through my house, and we are 3 weeks behind where I'd hoped we'd be at this point, which means we will finish our current school year in the middle of September, 2014 if we keep to the same schedule. I am hoping to be able to move things along a bit, but if that's what happens, the world will not end. I keep telling myself that. There is no point in panicking, right? It is what it is.

We've been plugging away with Ambleside's Year 7, and for the most part, it's been great. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Watership Down - the girls both enjoy reading this, and I've been listening to the audio book to keep up with them, and it's been great.
  • The Brendan Voyage - What a FANTASTIC story! We're reading this as part of our geography studies, and it's an amazing book. I highly recommend it. I'm looking forward to exploring other books by Tim Severin.

What has been less fun:
  • The Birth of Britain, by Winston Churchill - This book is no one's favorite. We tried reading it aloud, and we tried having the girls read to themselves. Abbie says it puts her to sleep. We're going to switch it out for The Middle Ages by Dorothy Mills. 
  • Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott - The girls are having a difficult time with this book. I've been listening to the audio book, which is excellent, so I'm going to have them listen to it as well. I know they will get more out of it that way, and I do want them to get into the story.
I'm also going to implement more read-alouds. I purchased the TruthQuest guide for the Middle Ages last summer, and spent quite a lot of time collecting books to go along with our studies. I don't feel the girls have extra time in their school day for more reading at this point, but they're always up for reading with mom, so I'm going to read at lunch, I hope, and perhaps in the evenings as well.

When we started our school year, I gave the girls their own planners, along with a copy of the PDF schedule printed out from the AO website. For the first month or so, I sat down with them and showed them how I would schedule the work for the week, and then let them try it on their own. They haven't done very well with that. I'm in the process of entering everything into a homeschool planning program, which has an app that will allow me to push schedules to their iPads, or print them out for them. I am hoping this will help them get more work done. Also, they know they don't get to do any fun things until school and chores are finished. 

Another thing I've found is that we need to severely limit their time on their iPads. They were birthday gifts a couple of years ago, and we have let them have free access to them, with limits on internet connectivity. What I should have done is keep them with me until I saw proof of finished chores and school, so we're now backtracking and setting those boundaries. I wish I had been more savvy about the need for limits in the beginning, because taking them away at this point makes them feel as though they're being punished. However, it needs to happen, and I am setting the same limits for myself - my internet access will be very limited until all the kids are in bed in the evenings. Hopefully that will help me stay on track with things I need to do, as well.

Isaac and I are going to start working together on a more regular basis, too. I have a confession: he is so very difficult about doing any school work that I haven't pushed getting into a routine with him at all. We need to start working on some things, so I've gone over a book list for a Year 0.5 which was put together by some of the lovely women at Ambleside Online. I have several of the books - certainly enough to make a great start, so I'm going to put together a little schedule for him with lots of fun things, some handwriting and reading practice, and some math. We were using MEP, but I think we are going to change over to Arithmetic for Young Children by Horace Young. It's in the public domain, and has the student do lots of active things, as well as mental math. I think that will go over better with Isaac at this stage than MEP. He was capable of the work, but not very interested in coloring things in a particular pattern. He loves to teach things to me, and I think this book will allow for that nicely.

I got some great ideas for Year 0.5 at the Wise Owl blog. That's also where I found the link to Young's math book. She has a daily schedule typed up in the post I linked, and I put it into a table so I could see how it looked on a weekly basis. If you'd like to see that document, click here

Have you made any changes in your homeschool? I've heard lots of talk about reevaluating and reworking among my homeschool friends. I'd love to hear what you're doing too!

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