Homeschooling Plans Summer/Fall 2012

I spent most of last week working on homeschooling stuff.  We only have three weeks left in our spring semester, so it was time to start making final decisions about the summer.  And our fall semester is set to start a little less than two weeks after my due date with baby #5, so I definitely want to have all of my p’s and q’s in order for that.  And who am I kidding?  Getting that delivery from Rainbow Resource Center is like Christmas morning for me, and I can’t wait to dig into my new “toys”.

Our spring semester officially ends May 18th (the 17-year anniversary of my graduation from high school).  I’m going to give Bailey two full weeks of absolutely no schoolwork, and then we’re going to spend a week going through the Spectrum Practice Test for Grade 3.  The state of Illinois does not require standardized testing for homeschoolers, but I feel that learning how to take standardized tests is important for college preparation.  Next year we may do an official CAT test through Seton Testing Services, but I think the practice test will serve our purposes at this time.

We’ll officially start our light summer session on June 11th.  Piper will pretty much keep doing what she has been doing:  one math exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and five activities on Explode the Code Online on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I’m going to have Bailey read one chapter from Life of Fred: Apples and do one math exercise from the Singapore Extra Practice 3 everyday.  I really don’t expect this to take her more than 30 minutes.  And if we miss a day here or there for fun summer activities, it really won’t be a big deal.

Piper will technically be a first grader in the fall.  But we’ll see where she is academically by the end of the summer.  I’m guessing that she’ll be almost finished with the second half of her first grade math (Singapore Primary Mathematics US 1B).  Then I’ll have to decide whether to move her straight into second grade math or stall her a little bit with some extra practice.  It’s always that fine line between not holding them back when they are excelling and not pushing them in over their head.

Piper also just started workbook 4, out of 8, in her Explode the Code Online.  My best estimation is that workbook 4 is roughly equivalent to 2nd grade reading and spelling.  Our subscription expires at some point in August, but I think now they give you a one month grace period to decide to renew.  We’ll see how far Piper gets by that point, and then I’m going to have her start reading out of the Elson Reader Book 1.

The idealistic homeschooler in me would love for her to pick her own books to read at that point, but the realistic homeschooler in me knows that if given the choice she would just choose not to read at all.  There will be much less hassle if I just hand her the reader and explain that this is her school book.  I like that the Elson uses short stories from real authors (such as Aesop), not just lame things fabricated to be “grade appropriate”.  The first book might end up being a bit below her actual reading ability at that point, but I am hoping that easing in will make reading more enjoyable for her.

Piper’s course load for first grade will include three subjects per day for approximately 45-60 minutes per day, as opposed to her current 15 minutes.  She’ll have math four days per week (MTRF), reading three days per week (MWF), History two days per week (T, R), Mind Benders Beginning 1 logic puzzles one day per week (W), and Religion five days per week.  History and Religion will be combined courses with Bailey.

Bailey will be fourth grade in the fall.  (Fourth grade!!!)  She’ll continue doing math five days per week using Singapore Primary Mathematics US 4A.  She’ll be using Wordly Wise 3000 again for vocabulary three days per week (MWF).  Either it’s the transition from book 3 to book 4 or previously we had a different edition of the series, but the format is slightly different this year.  There are more units, so I really don’t expect us to finish all of it in one semester this time.

New subjects to Bailey’s schedule this year are typing, grammar, and literature.  All three will be done everyday.  For typing, we’ll be using Typing Instructor for Kids software.  For grammar we will be using three different books.  Prima Latina uses introductory Latin in combination with English grammar concepts, so this will really be a two-for-one program (three-for-one if you count the Catholic prayers that are part of each lesson).  Bailey and I will go through one lesson of Prima Latina three days per week (M, T, W).  On Thursdays she will do one lesson from Simply Grammar.  And then on Fridays she will do one page from Grammar Rules.  For literature, she will be using the Kolbe Elementary Literature Curriculum for grades 4-6.  It pretty much needs a post of its own.

This year in history we will be studying the modern period from 1850 to the present.  There’s a lot of important information to be covered, and I am slowly in the process of putting my course outline together.  We will continue to use the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History as a spine as much as possible, but, like most history texts, there are a lot of gaps about events of the past 20 to 30 years.  I’ll probably fill in those gaps with library books.

Piper will be joining us this year for history, and she will just start the cycle with modern history.  Next year we’ll be going back to ancient history.  I think it will be easier just to incorporate each child in to the existing cycle than have each kid on a different one.  Besides being easier on me, I think it will offer more opportunities for group discussion and exploration of the topics.

For this year at least, we will also be doing religion as a group.  I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to focus on this year, and, with the new baby coming, the idea of putting together my own course of religious study for two grade levels just seemed a little over-whelming.  So, I decided to shell out the money for the Family Formation program.  In August they will send me the first of nine monthly packets with weekly activities for multiple age groups that correspond with the weekly scripture readings at Mass.  I’m estimating that it will take us three days per week (M, T, W) to go through it.

This past semester I made saying the Rosary our religion work on Thursdays.  Each week we either say either the Introductory prayers and the first two decades or we say the three remaining decades, completing each set of Mysteries within a two-week period.  I use one of my free CD’s from the Mary Foundation to lead us.  There have been so many educational and spiritual fruits from this; I can tell that the younger girls have been soaking so much up just from being around while Bailey and I say the Rosary.  When Piper joins us in the fall, this will be a practical way to make sure that she knows some of the basic Catholic prayers (Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Apostles Creed, and Fatima Prayer) in addition to the major events of Jesus’ life.

On Fridays I’m just going to slap together something a little extra to round out our week.  I did work up a few lessons about the different prayers that we say as part of the Rosary (history and meaning).  I figure we can read a Bible story or saint story, or we can discuss some of the Little Teachings from Little Catholic Bubble or other interesting Catholic blog posts.  Or we might end up needing an extra day for Family Formation.  I’ll probably kind of play it by ear.  And eventually, we’ll have to start hardcore preparation for Piper’s First Holy Eucharist in the summer of 2013.

So, those are the basics of our plans for the summer and fall.  Of course, what is the old saying about God laughing when we tell him our plans?  I suspect we’ll be doing a lot of “couch schooling” if I’m dealing with a newborn when our fall semester starts.  And if #5 decides to come late, things could get really interesting.  I’ll just have to trust that even if all my well-laid plans go kablooey everything will work out right in the end.

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One Comment on “Homeschooling Plans Summer/Fall 2012”


  1. […] mentioned in this post about how I will be using the Kolbe Elementary Literature Program with Bailey as she starts fourth […]


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