Easing Back to Homeschool 2015-16

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Last week our eldest started high school. (We’re so proud of her!) It has been a huge adjustment for all of us, beginning with the fact that her school day now starts at the same time that she used to be waking up last year for middle school.  The changes in our family’s routine only reinforced my decision to ease into homeschool with Kate this year.  We only did a few things last week.  We went to the library.  We finished one book we had been reading this summer and started a new novel.  She took extra naps as her body was getting used to waking up extra early.  She worked on her online reading program, Reading Eggs.  Weird name, good program. We opened up our first science kit from the Magic School Bus Young Scientist and did the first experiment.  I asked her what she wanted to learn about and do this year.

The toughest aspects of working with my child: ADHD, her low tolerance for frustration and the resistance she has  to “school”.   School makes her feel almost as anxious as going to the doctor, which is also a constant part of her life.  It can be exhausting on some days to try and work with her.  While last year I began the year with very specific goals for her learning this year I didn’t make such a list.  Having curriculum guides you towards mastery of reading, math, etc. but the goals I made last year only frustrated me and, in time, Kate as well.

What I’ve learned so far about working with my struggling learner  is that our routine needs to include breaks, movement and limit learning tasks to 15-20 minutes.  This year we’ve made some changes to bring in more variety and to include more opportunities for fun with others.

  • The most important thing I did was change my work schedule so that we have a lot more time to ease into our day and so that I am not feeling rushed.  Also, I want to have more time to relax so that I don’t experience constant burnout, as I did last school year.
  • We are going to join a co-op this year (or at least that is the plan.)
  • We will be hiring a tutor to help us with reading.  (This is an expense that we can now cover with our scholarship funds.)
  • Kate is going to read 100 books this school year.  When I presented her with the idea/challenge she was totally enthusiastic about it.  These will be mostly audiobooks and read alouds, in addition to her leveled readers from her reading program or series we find that we like.
  • While I’ve purchased a lot of things for this year I want to make sure that I don’t get married to any curriculum. Getting too attached to curriculum last year made homeschooling harder than it had to be.  The reality is that all curriculum needs to be adapted and modified.
  • We added meditation to our morning routine, which consists of a few minutes of guided meditation from a couple of kids CDs I bought from Amazon. She experiences a lot of anxiety around medical procedures and even educational activities, so I want to her to practice daily how to calm down and relax and become more mindful.  We have already added it to our routine this week and it’s going well.  ( I could use this practice myself.)

Curriculum for 2015-16

For reading we will start  with All About Reading and Explode the Code workbooks, which we have been using, but in time we will add in Reading Assistant from Scientific Learning. We will also continue with our summer program,Reading Eggs.  Kate loves this program and is making good progress.  For language arts we will be doing activities from a special education curriculum that I think will be perfect for us.

Math- We will continue where we left off with our Math Mammoth and Touch Math but will add Reflex Math (math game)and CTC Math (complete online math curriculum.  We also got a math games and Learning Pallettes, for hands on learning in math.

Handwriting-  Draw Write Now Book 2, Handwriting without Tears and Keyboarding without Tears

Science- Magic School Bus annual subscription (Loving it so far!)

Spanish- We’re starting with Middleburry online program but then will go back to our classes online via Skype through the Homeschool Spanish Academy

PE and music will be group classes. The homeschool co-op will provide the music class.  I’m looking forward to art this year since we will be doing art lessons with Atelier, which is a DVD based program.

One thing that is missing from our list is social studies curriculum and that is because we will join a book club at the homeschool co-op and all the theme of the books will be about ancient history.  So we will cover social studies through our book reading and group discussions/activities.  (More books to help us get to 100 this year!)

I am excited about the new learning tools and classes.  I think I like this more relaxed approach.  We’re ready for the school year, wish us luck!

What we’re reading now:

Read Aloud- Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale (Sequel to Princess Academy)

I think we found a new series of books during our last visit to the library that our Katie likes and is motivating her to read: Katie Woo.

Number of books read this school year: 03