A New Year and a New Plan
This is probably the most requested blog post I’ve ever written, and I apologize in advance that it’s a brain dump, not a carefully word crafted masterpiece. As the emails, phone calls, and text messages have poured in asking me to share “EXACTLY what curriculum you use and what you do for your daily/weekly homeschool plans” I’ve tried to pull this together as quickly as possible, knowing these questions are time sensitive as we all figure out plans for the Fall.
This year I’m trying something different: I don’t plan to work with every single child on all of his/her core subjects every single day. Part of this is a survival mode strategy as I learn to navigate the needs and time commitments of my special needs baby (who will be in multiple therapies throughout the week). This year will be a “discovery year” for me as it is for many of you too: figuring out a rhythm and schedule that fits the changing needs of the family.
I plan to do “mom time” with two of my students two days a week. That means I’ll work a little bit longer with them on reading and math and the core “mom time” subjects on those two days. The other two days they’ll do independent work (older ones) or outdoor play (younger ones) while I’m working with the other two. We will learn together as a family daily during breakfast, snack, lunch, and the “Family Time” learning hour. I’m using a 4 day rhythm so that Fridays can be reserved for catch-up, fun, field trips, play dates, house cleaning, poetry tea time, etc.
Here are some screenshots of my daily lesson plans/rhythm. They’ll of course change and evolve as I figure out how the year best works for us, but this is my starting point:
In addition to homeschooling I work a full time job/salary on extremely part-time hours, so you’ll notice in my homeschool schedule I am done with formal schooling by 1pm every day. The afternoons at our house are reserved for quiet work, reading, playing games, art, outside time and chores. (And yes, a Leap Frog or a NOVA as I need to use the TV). Early mornings and middle of the afternoons is when I get my business work done.
Below you’ll find the lists and links of our school plan. Each child has individual work for their two days a week with mom and their independent work at my table. Below that I’ve listed our Morning Time and Family Time work as well (the subjects we learn together are the anchor of our family life and homeschool philosphy).
Each Child’s Independent and Work-With-Mom Work
Kindergarten Age 4:
For K4 my goal is to instill a love for learning, teach habits of attention and the discipline of (brief) study time, and make it really fun. If she learns to read this year that’s great! And if it doesn’t happen until next year that’s great too. Everything below will be adjusted as I see what she needs – some of my kids desperately wanted a stack of busy work books in K4, and some didn’t want any of them.
My number one priority this year is to read aloud to her. I am a firm believer in Andrew Pudewa and Christopher Perrin’s philosophy that learning to read starts with the ears, not with the eyes. If nothing else works this year but reading stacks of picture books to her every day, I’ll feel happy with the school year. I hope to read aloud to her during our “mom work” time blocks in my school schedule, but I’ll also be relying on bedtime story books as part of her education (Daddy usually reads those to hers, she looks forward to it every night). My K4 is obsessed with art, mostly painting and crayon drawing, and I plan to provide as many reams of paper as she needs.
- Twenty Six Letters to Heaven
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
- BOB Books Series 1-5
- Catholic Treasure Box Books (TAN Books) Mom reads aloud
- KUMON Simple Addition and Simple Subtraction
- Handwriting Without Tears My First School Book
- Leap Frog and Letter Factory Shows for fun (occasionally in afternoons)
- KUMON Books on mazes, tracing, cutting, etc for fun as needed
- Tons of art (painting, drawing, sketching) and read-alouds
- Monthly library haul for picture books (Read Aloud Revival Book Lists)
Similar to K4, my goals for first grade are to instill the habits and disciplines of a good student, a deep love for learning, and I want him to enjoy it. I’ll be prioritizing math, reading, nature study and outside time. Everything else he learns will be a cherry on top. Much of our curricula is subjects we learn together as a family. My first grader will have a welcome seat at the table as we study ancient history, astronomy, Latin, and other subjects, but he will not have any homework from these subject, I just want him to listen, and then verbally tell me what he remembers.
- All About Reading Level 1
- All About Spelling 1 Student Packet, Teacher Packet, Interactive Packet
- Singapore Math 1B Textbook & 1B Workbook; Singapore 2A Textbook & Workbook
- (Utilizing Singapore Math Live if we need it)
- Easy Readers and BOB Books Series 1-5 that he will read aloud to me.
- Handwriting Without Tears Letters and Numbers for Me
- Explode the Code (for fun as we need it)
- Picture Books and Read Alouds (Read Aloud Revival Book Lists)
- Lots of art
My third and fifth grader are 17 months apart and love learning together. This year I’ve put my third grader in IEW Level A and Latin 1 along with his older brother, but if it’s too much, I’ll pull him out and wait a year. Math, reading, and spelling are still my priorities for him over Latin and writing. My third grader is currently very interested in cursive and handwriting, so I may get him a cursive program beyond the HWOT’s below (If you have one you love please let me know in the comments!). I’ve given him a stack of these books and these so he can create his own stories and comics (he LOVES them).
- Singapore Math 3A and 3B (with Singapore Math Live tutor as needed)
- All About Reading and All About Spelling
- IEW Style and Structure Level A
- Live Latin Class via Memoria Press
- Handwriting Without Tears Cursive
- Explode the Code (for fun, as needed)
- Piano Lessons
- Typer Island
- Quarter Mile Math Drills
How do I have a FIFTH GRADER y’all! It’s crazy how quickly the years go by. This is the first year that I’m seeking outside help for math – my 5th grader is a gifted learner and what he needs in a math teacher is getting to the point that it’s beyond what I can give. He’ll have a live math class and live Latin class this year, and we are using Andrew Pudewa’s DVDs for writing. It’s a relief to my mind knowing that for some of his core subjects he’ll have a teacher that’s not me – it will give me more freedom to spend time with him on some of the fun subjects we both love (history, Bible, nature study, the GREAT BOOKS!, etc).
- Singapore Math Accelerated (Live Classes via The Potter’s School)
- IEW Style and Structure Level A
- Live Latin Class via Memoria Press
- Memoria Press Famous Men of Rome (Spring Semester)
- Tons of Living Books on all subjects (Comment if you want to see a book list post!)
- Piano Lessons
- Typer Island
- Quarter Mile Math Drills
Morning Time: Subjects We Study Together
Morning Time Menu
For a video overview of Morning Menus, see my Instagram story highlight “Morning Menu.” This is Memory Work covered while we eat breakfast. I will change out the topics monthly. Menu topics include: Poetry, Faith Facts, Bible Verse, Hymns and Singing, Nature Topics, Geography. I will start my menus for this school year August 1st, and plan to share them with those interested. (Follow me on Instagram for the details August 1st!)
Snack Time and Lunch Time Read Alouds (Loop Schedule)
See Pam Barnhill and Sarah Mackenzie (their books and their blogs) for more about what a Loop Schedule is. Basically you have a stack of books for the year (or the week or the month, up to you) and you rotate through reading a little bit from your stack daily. You start with what’s on the top of your stack and you get through what you can in the time you have that day. Then those books go to the bottom of the stack. The next day you pick up the next thing, whatever is now on top of your stack. You don’t assign a specific book or chapter or topic to a day. It removes the stress from the teacher of ever feeling “behind” because the task for the day is to just pick up the next thing in the rotating stack. I use a RASKOG cart from IKEA for my loop books, art supplies, and morning menus, and keep it in our breakfast area so it’s always right there for me. This year’s titles will include (not limited to):
- Life of Our Lord for Children
- Golden Book Old Testament (Out of print – look in thrift book stores!)
- Poetry for Children – various anthologies (comment if you’d like a poetry post!)
- Life of Fred Books
- Storybook of Science
- D’Aulaires Greek Myths
- Classic Myths to Read Aloud
- Audio Stories of Egypt, Greece and Rome narrated by Jim Weiss
I do not stress about any of the above. I use these books and resources to help us learn together but I don’t let myself become a slave to any of them – we fit in as much as we can and are at peace with that.
Family Hour (11:00-Noon) Loop of Subjects We Study Together
We cover history, science, religion, Bible, nature study, art, and literature as a family. It’s like having my very own one room school house. It’s my very favorite part of homeschooling! The older children will do any homework or activity book attached to the subject or curriculum, but the younger ones will not do any of that. They’ll just listen as I read aloud the subject, and at the end I’ll ask them to repeat back to me what they remember from what they just heard (see Mackenzie, Foss and Rollins in the book list section below for more on how to do Charlotte Mason style narration with various ages).
- Story of Civilization: Ancient History (TAN Books)
- Greenleaf Famous Men of Greece and Famous Men of Rome (supplements for my two oldest while we do the TAN series above)
- Astronomy (Apologia Science) (This is mainly for my two oldest, the others can listen in if they want. I may also get the mp3s to listen in the car).
- Exploring Nature with Children (this has been an anchor of our nature study for four years! I love this beautiful, gentle guide so much). Her nature book lists by subject are worth the price of the book!)
- Story of the Bible: The Old Testament (TAN Books)
- World Geography with Living Books, Atlases, etc
- CCE Catholic Classical Co-Op, Cycle 1 (Ancient) (Friday Co-op through my church. This year I am doing the co-op memory work at home on Friday mornings.)
- Composer Study (I have Book 1 and Book 2) and Artist Study (This year I’ll be using A Child’s Introduction to Art, and Vincent’s Starry Night)
Extra Resources that Help Me
Homeschool Planner I use: My Humble Kitchen Charlotte Mason Planner (use code THANKS for 20% off for a limited time). I don’t use all of her pages, just the calendar, weekly schedule, notes, and pretty covers. I don’t make daily lesson plans since I use a loop schedule for nearly everything. A weekly plan is enough to keep me on track.
Personal Planner: Theology of Home Planner from TAN Books (link coming any day!!!)
Toys we love that keep kids busy for hours here. (If you have little ones, Magna Tiles and Kinetic Sand from this list would be great places to start – they are better than a baby sitter at keeping littles busy for a long long time).
Blogs and IG’s that have deeply shaped my homeschool:
- In the Heart of My Home by Elizabeth Foss
- Read Aloud Revival by Sarah Mackenzie
- Your Morning Basket by Pam Barnhill
- Raising Lifelong Learners, by Colleen Kessler (if you have a child on the gifted spectrum you must must follow Colleen! She has been a lifeline to me with my gifted learner!)
- Farmhouse Schoolhouse (my go-to for nearly everything!)
Books that Have Shaped Our Homeschool and My Heart:
- Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss (Link coming SOON! Follow me on IG for details!)
- Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins
- Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie
- Educating the Whole Hearted Child, by Sally Clarkson
- For the Children’s Sake by Sarah MacCaulay
- Better Together by Pam Barnhill
- The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie
- The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Baur
- The Call of the Wild + Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education
- Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition, Karen Glass
Supplies that are Essential or Super Helpful in Our Homeschool:
I was nervous to share this list because I don’t want to overwhelm you. Please know I have collected much of the items and resources below over time – years – and that building your supply slowly and as your budget allows is a great plan. As long as you have paper and good pencils and a comfy couch for reading and a smile on your face you have the most essential things you need for your homeschool. The rest can come with time. Here are some of my favorites:
- Ticonderoga Pencils. Don’t buy any other brand. Just trust me on this.
- I use these restaurant menus for my Morning Time menus: Pack of 10 or Single.
- Prisma Colored Pencils (the quality of these pencils makes a huge difference in their sketching. It’s an investment but they last a full year or more and are so worth it).
- Watercolor set (I have one of these per child per school year)
- These Journals are great for copy work, written narration, and for nature journaling!
- I buy spiral bound sketch/paint journals from the Michael’s Crafts or Hobby Lobby artist section each year. They are pricier but you can often catch a sale or use a store coupon to get them cheaper. The thick artists paper makes for such beautiful creations, and it’s all in one place for the whole year. When they do an art version of a narration or paint/sketch our weekly nature study subject, we use the nicer art journals.
- I use beeswax crayons and blocks in our art supplies, and it’s another pricier item that I feel makes a big difference. One set will last us an entire school year, and the colors are beautiful. I get the sets of twelve of STOKMAR blocks and the STOCKMAR crayons and I use this wooden holder designed by Treasures from Jennifer
- Trace and Erase Chalkboards by Chalk Full of Design for my little ones.
- This clock for learning shapes, colors, and telling time
- A good laminator is such a useful resource! I have this inexpensive one from Amazon and it’s worked great for year. Don’t forget laminator sheets!
- Don’t make this your first homeschool investment, but a microscope is super fun to have down the road! We have this one and each of my kids also has this pocket microscope that we keep on our nature desk.
- Also not essential but I sure am obsessed with them: Cavallini Nature themed wall posters. They are all GORGEOUS. I have the maps and several of the posters so I can switch them out throughout the year as we are studying different nature topics. These are stunning and you could use them to decorate any room of your home.
- The National Forestry also has nature and wildlife posters and maps of all kinds, either for free or for a small fee.
- TOOB Toys are fun for hands on learning of various science, nature, and history subjects! They help keep little hands busy while you read aloud too! (I would not make this your first homeschool investment by any means, but maybe something fun to add down the road!)
- Dover Coloring Books and Dover Stencil Books are favorites in our family! Few examples of how we use: I will be using the Greek and Roman history coloring books to keep hands busy while I read aloud for ancient history this year. We’ll use the Egyptian stencil books, the leaf stencils when we do autumn leaf studies, the butterfly and bug stencils when we get to those topics in the spring, etc. They’re fairly inexpensive and all ages love them. (I usually only buy one coloring book for each topic and copy pages for multiple kids).
- FANDEX are so much fun. I have them on history, geography, and nature topics and they are the perfect little resource to pick up for extra study on a subject we’re already diving into. I leave these out year round in a bucket on our learning table so the kids can grab one any time, and then I’ll use them more intentionally to reinforce a topic we’re studying. Birds, presidents, 50 states, composers are some of my personal favorites but my boys would probably tell you dinosaurs and bugs are theirs, haha!
- Brave Grown Home nature prints. If you follow me on Instagram you know I am a huge and longtime fan of Ashley’s work. I have her entire nature collection and will continue to purchase as she creates new ones. I use her prints along with Exploring Nature with Children as my monthly nature topic guides.
- Enduring Roots is a new morning time menu company that has beautiful inserts you can purchase on morning time routines and Catholic prayers. I haven’t used them yet but I’m especially interested in her monthly Catholic calendar!
- AmpersandETC also offers Catholic morning time menus and beautiful Catholic printables!
Lesson Plans, Schedule, Morning Menu and IG Live on MONDAY 7/20!
Over the next week I’ll be working on my weekly lesson plans and daily schedule and will share it here in this very post as a Google doc in case it’s helpful to anyone. I’ll also be finalizing my August Morning Time Menu and plan to share it here, so check back close to August 1st for those details.
On Monday night at 8:30pm EST I’ll be doing an Instagram LIVE for 30 minutes and doing some show and tell of my lesson plans and books and answering any questions you may have. Please come join me on IG Monday night – I’d love to see you! (I may have a big announcement to share with you during the LIVE too – please come so you don’t miss it!)
I know this is the longest blog post in history and probably overwhelming to some, but please know that YOU’VE GOT THIS. Truly. Be gentle on yourself, give yourself lots of grace, and pray every day. The rest can all come with time as you learn right along with your children. As you begin, you’ll find the rhythm and books and schedule that fits your family well. That’s the beauty and the blessing of homeschooling.
I’m praying for you!!! Please pray for me too.