I have decided we will continue with schooling through the summer. We have been very ‘unschoolish’ in the past and just started working on academic things in January, so I don’t feel now is the time to stop; we’re still just getting into the habit.
My sons are 7yo and will be testing next week, after which I want to change our routines/habits with a spring-summer schedule. I’m going to write it out and hopefully some of you will give me feedback. My planning started with me looking at a list I have created of all the subjects I’d love to cover in our homeschooling and picking out what seems to be perfectly suited for warm weather months. In addition we’ll continue with them learning to read and some math (which we’ve been hit or miss on so far).
Our Usual Days
7:00 to 8:30
Morning Cards includes eating breakfast (the things we do every day to get ourselves, our pets and our home ready for a new day)
1. Ten minutes of silent reading to start the day, me included. Ultimately I want an hour of silent reading to be a part of our every morning. I am going to try to start practicing the new habit at 10 minutes while the boys are very new readers, with the hope of increasing it to 20 minutes in the fall when they ‘start second grade’.
2. Language Arts 7 days a week
AAR v 2 and McGruffy’s Eclectic Primer
3-A-Day for spelling words (review plus new words)
(1.25 hr/day, ~30 min with each boy plus the spelling words and silent reading)
Spring is for Science:
1. One day a week work on science lessons out of Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. (2 hr, 1/wk)
Watch monarch movie at IMAX
Read An Extraordinary Life’ and introduce narrating to the boys (30 min, 2/wk)
Creating a Masterpiece: Lessons in Silk Dying: Rainbow Butterfly (1 hr, 2/wk)
Raise monarch caterpillars
Weekly Bird Focus chosen from our list of 30
‘Burgess Bird Book for Children’ (1 chapter/wk, 20 min)
Sketch bird in nature journal adding important facts (30 min/wk)
Go to NCBG to bird watch
‘An Owl in the House: A Naturalist’s Diary’
‘Adopted by an Owl’
‘The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds’
‘Birds, Nests and Eggs’
reread ‘The Boy Who Drew Birds’ and ‘For the Birds’ (Audubon and Peterson biographies)
(20 min/day to read bird books)
Birding By Ear CD
4. Plenty of time for nature study (plan 4 hr hike each week). Look at ‘Keeping a Nature Journal’ via interlibrary loan.
5. Plenty of time for yard work – make butterfly garden, make carnivorous plant garden, pull invasive weeds, dig vernal pool and use dirt to make bike jumps, make disappearing pond (plan 6 hr/wk)
‘Among the Night People’ read as bedtime story
Take night walks, listen for night sounds
Find neighborhood nesting barred owls
Catch fire flies
Plan several evenings to stay up late and explore outside.
6. Family Work – 30 minutes every day for cleaning, projects, cooking, etc.
5. Character Study will be focusing on following our routine. We need to make really steady: Morning Cards, Family Work (house work), quiet reading time, boys reading to me
The boys really love using ixl.com which I’m allowing right now to expose them to more first grade math and testing type questions before the test next week. I don’t know if I plan to continue it after this month.
We have Math on the Level which I really like and I’ll pull from RightStart Level A to see if there is anything else in there I want to cover before we sell it.
Plan 10 min, 2/wk for 5-A-Day math problems.
Plan individual math lessons three times a week for each boy, 20 min each lesson.
I also have the first lesson in Living Math Through History ready and it will take a month to cover if we do it daily so in reality it will take most of the summer to complete it. Plan 30 min 2/wk.
Try to get into the habit of playing a game after lunch. Most of our games are math based. Plan 45 min/day.
History: I’d like to read A Child’s History of the World up until early exploration of America, to Chapter 61. (260 pages) This will catch us up in this book to be ready to start with Early American history in the fall.
Plan 15 min/day. *We’ve already covered much of this history in other ways over the past 1.5 years. The boys now want to learn about American History so I though this would be a good way to do a quick wrap up of the earlier lessons.
Swimming: Plan 3 hours a week, no lessons.
Artist Study: Vincent Van Gogh, continued
Art Exploration: Plan for 1 hr 2/wk for something more structured (creating a masterpiece and Van Gogh style), but the kid can do their own painting during their free time whenever they want.
Spanish: For Spanish we’ll be using the Dragonfly Language video flashcard lesson and I’ll be teaching them and using a lot the additional topics I’m noted. I’m only planning four lessons for the summer because I think each will take about two weeks but since this is new we’ll just see how it goes. I can add more whenever we need it.
1. Dragonfly Lesson 21 – Las emociones
b. Me llamo/se llama
2. Dragonfly Lesson 13 – La Ropa
a. Donde esta?
c. Gracias/de Nada
3. Dragonfly Lesson 3 – Los Numeros
b. Addicion de los numeros menos de diez
4. Dragonfly Lesson 4 – Dragonfly Lesson 2 – Los Colores y las Formas
b. Cual es?
Plan 20 min, 5/wk.
My Own Study:
1. Spanish workbook and literature
2. ‘Gentle Measures’
3. Great Courses: The Joy of Thinking
4. Great Courses: The History of Science – From Antiquity to 1700
This all sounds wonderful to me, but when I plotted it out last night to see what it looks like I realize it is entirely too much! I know for things like the yard work, it will be me working and them helping as they want and otherwise playing in the yard. I’m trying to see what else to delete. Maybe save the Building Foundations in Early Science for fall? But I’ve had the book for about six weeks and I’m really excited to share it with them. I think they’ll like it. (We’ve never ‘done science’ before, only nature and books of their own interest.) Maybe drop the history until fall? Maybe just know that some weeks we’ll only do two hours of yard work/projects, or none? What do you think? I want them to be able to enjoy the outside which is the basis of much of this plan, I really love free time for them but we also *really* need to learn how to follow a routine and not be so indulgent of our many whims and I want to use this summer to accomplish that. But maybe this is asking too much?
I’m not sure what’s best for your family. But my gut feeling is that they are only 7 and I’d try not to cram in too much. I’d focus on character/habits, math and language arts, and nature study. And reading good books. It sounds like you have a wonderful plan in place, but in my home it would be best to implement most of the other things in the Fall….my kids would really balk at doing that much school in the summer while the neighbor kids are having fun. I think if you focus on good habits w/these things, it won’t be too difficult to continue on in the fall adding in more formal science, history, Spanish, artist study, etc.
But that’s just me…we really love our summers:) I’d just be careful to not burn them out and have some fun breaks in there, too. Just my .02:) Blessings, Gina
Yeah I think you’re right. That was a shock last night when I realized how much time it all takes. I mean much is game playing and swimming and playing/working in the yard, but to start I’ll remove the Building Foundations in Science and the history until fall. And maybe Spanish but that seems to be a natural fit for where they are right now so maybe I’ll try it and see if it feels good to be doing. Let me see what that looks like…
My DS is only 5.5 so I’m not there yet, but what if you look at each day of the week and have a main focus, and then see what few things you want to do daily. So you have nature study day (that might be all you do that day). You have yardwork day, you have swimming day. Then the other days can just be regular playing outside days. Then I’d plan a few structured school things around the mealtime anchors. So maybe after breakfast you do chores together, then do some read aloud stuff, then some math. Then some independent reading and some playtime. At lunch you pick something else to focus on, either daily or a couple times a week. You could do spanish then, or art. Then in the afternoon you do your big chunk of time thing for that day. Or if it’s really hot where you live, you could do the outside stuff in the morning, and indoor “school” stuff in the afternoon.
Mama, that seems like such a reasonable way of looking at it. Let me go through it again and see how it fits into a schedule like that and what needs to be on an ‘as wanted’ schedule. Boy do I fluctuate between too unstructured and too structured (though we never actually DO the too structured). I’ll report back this evening a simpler schedule. Thank you all!
Shannon-Glad it makes sense to you. I LOVE making schedules for my kids. One of my hobbies.
Ack. I don’t know how so many of you say there’s so little actual work to do with the very young ones. It still seems like it takes a long time! Where should I be cutting time here?
silent reading: 10 min
boys read to me: 1 hr total (it may be shorter – I don’t set a certain amount of time, but it tends to be ~30 min with one son, ~20 with the other. I’ll try to fit in a few spelling words each day.)
I read to boys: 45 min
chores: 30 min
So if we’re diligent about getting started and staying on task, this will take from 8:30 to ~11:00.
After lunch we can do a math focus. (We’ve done very little math so far; they still haven’t gotten through a K curriculum. I feel we should start working on it more and seeing what they have picked up and what they need to learn.) I’d like to do a 5-A-Day (a la Math on the Level) every day, then we can play a game, give a lesson and/or read or do a project for Living Math through History. I’ve estimated it would take 1.25 hours each day for this.
In the afternoon I can let the boys choose from the following: swimming, yard work (truly they want to do this bc it is creating things they want), nature hike, art, science or nothing.
These are still such full days. I just don’t know how to do less and still have them progressing in reading and math, primarily. Everything just seems to take such a long time. I’d love to keep that Spanish in there but it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere easily so maybe we’ll just do it irregularly and see how they like it.
If you have more suggestions, please tell me!
I think having them read to you for 20-30 minutes seems long! My DS is reading fluently now. When he was learning, we just did 5-10 minutes before his nap/rest time.
I would probably try to do math in between them reading to you and you reading to them. Can you have one do silent reading while you practice reading with the other and then switch? 1.25 hours for math seems crazy! Can you alternate days for math games and a math lesson? CM says each subject should be 20 minutes or so at this age I believe.
Those short lessons are something I’ve never understood how to actually implement! (can you tell?) I just say ‘let’s read’ and let them stop when they are tired. One son really pushes himself and enjoys the challenge. He is the one doing AAR v2. He seems to be a good judge of when he is getting tired. It is always at least 20 min. My other son was resistant to lessons and so taught himself to read. He would be happy to do very short lessons; he gets tired of it much quicker. He says he wants to do AAR also bc his brother loves it so much, but I think in reality he wants stories. I’m ordering Pathway Readers (no workbook) this evening – I’ve never seen them before but thought we’d try it. But even with him, 15 minutes goes by really fast.
I’ll change my notes to allow 45 min for them reading and I’ll try to stick to it.
When one brother reads, the other does whatever he wants (legos, look at book, play outside, or paint usually). I want silent reading to be separate and a time we all three are reading. Its not something we’ve ever done before so maybe it won’t work, but it is a start to a vision I have of us all reading quietly with a cup of tea and starting our day in that peaceful way.
I have to do their math lessons separately right now. I think my goal is to have a lesson a day, alternating who I am working with. I’m sure we’ll miss days, but I’ll try having that alternating pattern and aim for 2-3 lessons for each boy a week. I think most lessons can be done in 15 min. They’ll each have a 5-A-Day page I make up with math problems but that takes less than 10 min total.
The games should just be fun. They always ask for games but we’ve gotten so busy finishing up projects lately we’ve not done any for weeks. A game takes half an hour or so, but isn’t really a ‘subject’. And then the Living Math Through History is primarily me reading to them again. I think I’ll plan 1 hour a day and have them do the 5-A-Day math problems and two lessons a week each pretty strictly (so about 30 min any given day) and we’ll fill the rest of the time with games and reading, both of which can be dropped if/when needed.
This is feeling much for reasonable to me: about 1 hr 45 min of reading (them to me, me to them) and 30 min of math, plus 30 more of games + living math when we want. Does this look like a healthy summer schedule yet?
It takes about 2 – 2.5 hours to get through everything with my 7yo DD and 5yo DS.
20-30 minutes reading to you seems like a lot for each boy. What is your purpose here? My 5yo reads at about a 3rd grade level. He reads about 5-10 minutes to me, just to work on fluency. If he wasn’t reading independently yet, a 20 minute reading lesson would be plenty. I don’t make my 7yo read aloud at all (also an early reader, so I know she reads well already). When she was learning 5-10 minutes was all we did. She also isn’t starting spelling or until next year (3rd grade).
When you read to them for 45 minutes, what does that involve? I read about that much to DD7, but it includes science, history, literature (not all of those everyday). You seem to have these subjects IN ADDITION to the 45 minutes.
Math: In MOTL, there really isn’t much to do a 5-a-day with at the kindergarten level. Most of the concepts at that level are not yet ‘paper and pencil’. It wasn’t until grade 2 level material that we had enough to actually create a 5-a-day. And then they should only take a few minutes. If the 5-a-day is taking very long, then the child doesn’t know the skill well enough for it to be on their 5-a-day. For kindergarten and grade 1 math we do lots of activities – things like measuring everything in the house to practice using different units, playing ‘store’ to practice money, playing card and board games to practice addition facts, sorting all types of things, creating patterns with blocks or Lego or anything, noticing the temperature as we check the weather report, or talking about time (clocks, calendars, etc.) whenever it comes up in regular life. Other than a longer board game, 20 minutes would be an unsually LONG math day. Even now, working on grade 2/3 level, I don’t think we do more than 90 minutes in an entire WEEK. There would be mutiny here if I tried spending an hour on math, even once, let alone everyday.
I love many of your ideas and book choices, but I think you may be trying to cram in too much all at once. Are the time frames you mentioned what you actually do, or your estimates of what it will take? We use some of the same things, but are spending much less time. For example, with the Burgess Bird book, we spend about 20-30 minutes total, including reading, and then a quick sketch and a narration (which I transcribe to go with the sketch.) I also don’t have a list of books and activities to go with it. For BFSU, we spend about 20 minutes, MAYBE 30 minutes sometimes, compared to the 2 hours you mentioned. There are only 40 lessons over a 3 year period, so I don’t try to complete an entire lesson every week.
It’s so hard to really understand what’s going on in another home, so maybe I’m off base, but those are some of the things I noticed from what you laid out.
Shannon, I didn’t read all the responses word for word, but one sentence stood out to me in one of your posts. If you have a hard time implementing all the short lessons, get a timer and use. Literally set it for 10 minutes and when it dings, resolutely shut the books with a happy “that’s all for today”.
Oh man, sheraz, I don’t know why that freaks me out. I feel like such a rebel even thinking of trying it! :) I think part of my concern is it seem to convey that learning is something to ‘get through’ and not because you are doing it because you love doing it. But maybe they could keep reading to themselves if that is what they want to do. I’ve read CM’s writing on and off for years, but am just now getting more into it. There’s a lot I still need to learn and even more I need to put into practice!
I will try using a 10 min timer for them reading to me. (Is it OK if they want to do it twice in a day, separated by a few hours?) Maybe the change to a summer schedule is the perfect to try this out.
To Joanne, the 45 min of reading is for all subjects: the things I want to read to them (primarily nature right now) and the things they want me to read (also usually about animals.
Maybe my estimates of timing is just way off. Maybe my wanting to pad the time so I don’t feel rushed comes off (to you all reading this but also to me) as feeling like there are too many things I’m trying to cover. In reality we’ve never used the Building Foundations science book so I just said 2 hrs to just make sure we can do it as long as we want and not need to get to the next thing. Maybe 20 minutes is all we’ll need after all. It isn’t that I’d make it go on for two hours…just that I’d want to make sure we have all the time we need to continue for as long as we want and not feel like we have to finis up to get to something else.
For MotL, it isn’t that they are K level, not really. It is just that we haven’t done much specific math related. We DO do the things you’ve mentioned (Joanne) about naturally including math into our day. Maybe I’ll find they actually do know much of what is normally covered in K and 1st grade curriculums, but for instance, I realized they will be taking a test but I had never shown them the format people use for addition (2+2=4). We had never written it down. I’m sure it was in some books we’ve read, but I wasn’t sure they understood what it meant so I wanted to let them know. I used the 5-A-Day maybe 4 times (to sample what it is like), but then we stopped doing it and I’ll pick it up again this summer. They each like me to be with them when they do them; they aren’t used to doing anything alone at this point. Maybe once we do it regularly they’ll not need me to sit beside them. Well I’m sure eventually we’ll get there!
Thanks for all your thoughts and reminders to get me on track. We’ll end up starting some of this new schedule this week so I need to get my thoughts wrapped around what to do.
But, Shannon, part of stopping isn’t that you are not making progress, it is also to help them retain their interest and their best effort. If they are not fluent readers, twenty minutes can be a long time. You tell them that this is to help them build the habit of attention and best effort, so it helps them concentrate better. Just mix up the activities so their brains can rest. (That sounds so funny!) It also helped my dds attitudes about school in the summer since I promised an end in sight.
I was weirded out by the idea of the timer, too, but I tried it. Sometimes we were ready to be done and sometimes we took a few more minutes. I was amazed that our abiltity to be consistent dramatically improved because I wasn’t overwhelmed by how much time it might potentially take to do school when I have so much other stuff (house, etc) to take care of. But I was also surprised at how much MORE we ACTUALLY accomplished over the long haul. Who’d’ve thought that?? lol
You can easily do two sessions of shorter time frames. Lots of people do it for core subjects like reading and math.
Well, I do see that knowing the time commitment is short can be a great advantage. This week we’ve been finishing up a project the boys have created (a booth to share information and raise money to save coral reefs) and we didn’t do reading any. Not one day. If 10 minutes had seemed enough, maybe we would have done something.
OK, I’m going to try it. The idea has become more and more exciting over the day as I think about it. And I also feel ready to read more of my CM books and here at the SCM site. Before I’ve been a very pick-and-choose reader as to what I think ‘works’ and what doesn’t. But what I’ve been doing hasn’t been feeling right, so I look forward to my summer of learning. I was even thinking I may try setting a 10 min timer for housework. Ten minutes of a good attitude and work ethic is certainly better than 20 minutes of complaining!
Oh, one more question. Is me reading to them also in the 10 minute category? They could do that for much, much longer. Subjects being history, science, some math, classic, etc. Do you stick to 10 minutes for those also? Or maybe 15-20?
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