27 August 2009

Homeschool Organization and Scheduling.

Almost all of our curriculum is organized by lesson numbers or by weeks (1-36). And almost always, I don't do things that way. I like to do things like "supplement" or go on little rabbit trails. I'll just give as an example what we're up to in Social Studies. As our base curriculum, we're doing BJU 3 Heritage Studies, but we've been working on it for a year and a half.

We will study the things in the textbook, but we'll also take time out to do things like make a model of the Bastille and have a bit of fun.

Here, we're staying a few months on the Civil War. Our Bob Jones curriculum tells the story of the Civil War in brief outline. It's probably written by a Southerner because the curriculum includes the holiness and devotion of the Southern commanders (list six reasons Stonewall Jackson is one of the greatest generals of all time!) and emphasizes the fact that most Southerners didn't own slaves, the South had very little in the way of weaponry and factories and able-bodied white men ready to fight, etc.

And you know, they're right. Of course, it doesn't follow that slavery was the "right" thing (and I think our curriculum makes that pretty clear). More that, nobody likes to feel bossed around and having their rights taken away, even if one of those "rights" is to harm another person under the law.

One rabbit trail we happily followed was finding out more about Jesse James. Click here to see those adventures! (This post might pop up first... if it does, just scroll down.)

Now, everyone outside our local area will tell you that Jesse James was a "bad" guy. Here? They have festivals for him. And look-alike contests! You can see his farm and museum. Or the bank he robbed. They even have a documentary at his farm about how he was truly a great countryman, and this whole robbing trains thing was the North's fault (they started it because they didn't let the South alone).

So anyway, to balance our curriculum a bit, we are watching the Ken Burns Civil War documentary. Elf has been visibly upset through most of it. It is very hard for him to watch. He doesn't see that much real-news violence and that sort of thing, so even the paintings of battles are difficult for him and he is sad for the drummer boys and the slaves, and the men... Well, everyone. He says that he wishes they didn't have a war anyway.

We are also using Evan-Moor History Pockets. This history is told more from the Northern perspective and features a section on "famous abolitionists" and the like. Elf and Emperor are colouring the pictures of the various Union and Confederate soldiers based on a chart. They're also learning a bit about life in the armed forces and later will be doing some recipes. (Modified slightly. I refuse to serve squirrel or "worm-castle" biscuits. Thanks.)

I tend to concentrate on whether the children are learning about a given thing and nevermind the gaps. After we're done with this curriculum, we're going to do a world overview for a while. Which I think will actually be much tougher, the reason being that when one doesn't cover something in depth, whole countries and eras are going to be skipped. My children may just emerge from that year-long (or two!) study not knowing where Zimbabwe is located. Most people at least will not quiz my young kids at the local Feldman's. Speaking of which, we MUST make the trip out there next baby-chicken season in the spring. This place has the entire line of Farm-Boy clothing AND wrenches as big as your arm. G was not surprised to see this stuff. He said no, it's not a joke. You need that for tractors.

(OK... I TOLD YOU we went on rabbit-trails here.)

Now, every month or so, I write a few lines under each subject and give an update in my log book. This is usually where I realize that wow, we haven't done science in a few weeks or whatever. I tend to do intensive work in social studies for a few weeks, and then intensive science work. It seems too much switching around, combined with inevitable rabbit trails, is just too hard to keep track of if I try to get to every subject each day.

So why don't I just lay out my schedule and follow it? That's a good question. I think when the children get older, it will be necessary. For now? Nah. Though I do follow the math curriculum very strictly page by page. I just don't necessarily do a full "lesson" each day. I do it based on how long the children will reasonably take to get something done. So, some days we will just do a few problems, and other days we can zing through and get a lot accomplished. The main idea, however, is that the children learn the math. Promise you that 20 years from now, it won't matter what workbook they used. It will, however, matter if they can't add and subtract. :]

8 comments:

  1. I think one of the great things about homeschool is the experiential learning. You have just demonstrated that. It sounds wonderful and I can't wait to get started!

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  2. You're already doing it, Bonnie!

    I agree, Ganeida!

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  3. Schooling them is so much more fun when they're younger and you're not getting them ready for anything--like the ACT or the GED or--currently--high school. I loved the nature walks--learning about trees, identifying flowers, going on field trips to science museums, videos on the history of the west, visiting really cool civil war sites, art history and techniques (Dada was fun), architecture and design . . . I'm afraid this year is a whole lot more about the books than I care for.

    So much of it was decided on the spur of the moment too! Someone asked a question and we were inspired to go in search of an answer.

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  4. *sniff*

    I can't imagine letting these days go!!

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  5. Geesh guys. I'm so new to homeschooling I'm just trying to find my way around. Lord, help me!! Seriously. I don't know how to find rabbit trails because I'm scared to get behind. Sigh. I need help here. Goodness gracious.

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  6. Flexibility and doing what works is what I love most about homeschooling.

    Pamela and I have been doing three hours a day, purely Charlotte Mason style. What fun!!!

    I have turned the Math-U-See Pre-Algebra upside down to do it CM style and have been blogging that.

    Looks like you'll have an awesome year, too . . .

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  7. Virginia, if you're worried you might fall behind, you may want to stick closely to "schedule" until you feel more comfortable. It's supposed to be fun! :]

    I love the flexibility, too, Tammy! I also like reading your posts but they're so well-researched and detailed that often I have nothing to add. Pamela is in some very good hands. :]

    For some reason of all the videos you've put out the meal delivery one has stuck with me the most. Perhaps because you are so very calm about things and casually go over stuff. I feel like I was in the car with you guys!

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)