Busy in a good way

After a season of saying no to a lot of fun and good things, the whole family is back to being busier than ever. Which probably isn't that busy to many families, but it is to ours. But so far, the busyness feels purposeful and appropriate.

2nd Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2021-2022

Sylvia is the only girl in a house full of boys. She is so creative and is always sewing or finger knitting or folding paper or making something! The house is full of her creations. She also loves animals and will sometimes list all the animals she is going to own someday. Recently, she really has her heart set on getting rabbits to care for herself, but I'm not open to that for at least another year!

She loves being out in nature, although long hikes are still not her favorite. She caught and kept crickets again this summer and we got to observe all kinds of cricket behavior. She has a big heart and sometimes nature's way can be very overwhelming to her. We both cried yesterday to find that two large robin nestlings we had been observing since their hatching had died . . . maybe from the remnants of Ida?

Sylvia is a very young 2nd-grader who just turned 7 (the age I turned 3 months into my 1st-grade year). If I could go back in time, I would have given her a second year of kindergarten last year, but there was a recent change in PA education law and I wasn't sure how to interpret it at the time. 

So, last year was 1st grade and this year 2nd grade. But I have determined that she still needs a very gentle year. We are continuing to work on big feelings and fears and perfectionism that interfere with learning on some days. I have faith that if we continue forward with consistency, she will "catch up" to her numerical grade in another year or two (just as her older brother has almost "caught up" with peers in reading). 

Here is the very simple year I have planned for newly 7-year-old Sylvia. 

4th Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2021-2022

This year feels very different with John in a good way. He is reading with so much more ease than ever before. In a momentary place of insecurity, I googled phonics instruction for older children a month or so ago and found this article which just reaffirmed what I already knew. John needs to practice reading. He needs to see himself as a reader and he needs to build fluency through reading books, not phonics. Period.

Every year I try to intuit what is the right balance of subjects and pages and reading levels for each child. And this year, I cut and simplified for everyone. For John, this looks like doing many of the typical form II subjects and practices while skipping ones like grammar, map drill, and written narration (for now, at least!) because they just don't meet up with his reading ability. 

We are also not including any foreign language. It isn't in my wheelhouse and John doesn't enjoy any kind of rote memorization. He is more of a free-spirit creative type and we love him for it. 

Sixth Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2021-2022

It is August and I finally feel like myself again after surviving one of the strangest years and my most difficult year of homeschooling yet. I'm so glad that we had a LONG break from early May until early August that we filled with two out-of-state camping trips, our usual cottage camping at a state park, and lots of trips to the pool, playgrounds, and state parks nearby.

But we did have to return to "official" homeschooling eventually and I would rather start in early August, take many days off, and finish early than be slogging away at our 180 days come June. So we started last week and even though there are going to be some small tweaks to come, it went very well. Here is what I have planned for my 11-year-old sixth-grader:

Family Subjects, 2021-2022

Even though we have been recording a number of homeschool days already (in PA we have to document 180), our official start to Term 1 of formal lessons will begin in just 1 day . . . I feel excited and mostly ready. 

Despite feeling the need to simplify and reduce in many areas, we are going to continue most of the "bonus subjects" that a Charlotte Mason education has to offer including folk singing, composer study, artist study, Shakespeare, and handicrafts. They can be fairly easy to include, especially if I can be satisfied with however we manage to get them done. 

1000-1650 Living Book History Plans for Second, Fourth, and Sixth Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Every year I feel like I am refining what the best books for our homeschool look like. I'm learning new things while unlearning or correcting some of the defects of my own history education (that officially ended in high school because I took zero history courses after that).

This year I combed through MANY possible choices for history books and additional or supplemental books for studying a very difficult and lengthy historical period. The books I was seeking needed to be
  1. Living books, that is full of living ideas and told in a narrative style that doesn't talk down to the student
  2. Written in a way that represents native people of the Americas, explorers, colonists, and African Americans in a way that I feel good about sharing with my children and matches our family values (aka has the ideas that I want to nourish my children)
  3.  At a reading level that my 2 older students can read (nearly) independently, even given that my middle student is not a strong reader yet.
  4. Affordable

Free Nature Books by Alice L. Hopf

I love the surprise of picking up an interesting book at a used book sale and discovering a new favorite writer. Many years ago, when I was buying up all the old-fashioned living nature books I could find for $1 or less, I picked up a copy of Biography of an Ant by Alice L. Hopf. 

We started reading it at morning time and everyone was transfixed by this simple and powerful story of an ant's life. Not only was the story exciting, but we all learned so much. And we began to observe the truth of the story in the real world when we took time to notice ants in our backyard. 

This was a living book. The ideas inspired us to notice and wonder. There were so many facts in the books, but they all hung on the ideas so they were delightful and palatable instead of dry and forgettable. 

While searching archive.org for some new living books to use in our nature studies this year, I came across many of Alice Hopf's titles that are available to be borrowed online for an hour and read through a browser or device or even cast to a tv. I've added them to my  Best Free Nature Lore Books List or check them out below. 

Unfortunately, Biography of an Ant is not on this list, nor are many other of her books. But I'll just keep her on my book sale hunting list and she will be another author whose books make my heart skip a beat when I finally find one!

Alice L. Hopf
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 1 hour from the Internet Archive.

If you haven't visited my Best Free Nature Lore Books List, it is a great place to find wonderful nature lore books to download from Google or the Internet Archive or borrow from the Internet Archive for one hour at a time. If you don't like reading on a device, some can be found inexpensively used and a few are starting to come back into print! 

Recap and Review 1st Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021

My plans did not work as well for Sylvia this year. I pride myself on being a good planner so that is hard for me.  Amidst a lot of good, we had some parts that did not function well and I need to learn from it so next year can be better for all involved.

Recap and Review of 3rd Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021

It feels like forever ago that I posted these homeschool plans. But finally, we have (almost) reached the end of our 180 days of schooling and I can look back on all the things we accomplished this year.

You can read more about John and about how I planned out our homeschool year in the original planning post, but know that he thrives in a physical and practical/mechanical setting and is still building reading fluency, although he loves books and stories. 

Recap and Review Fifth Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021

It feels like forever ago that I posted these homeschool plans. But finally, we have (almost) reached the end of our 180 days of schooling (as required by PA) and I can revisit our plans and show how we accomplished them, what we ditched, and what books rounded out our home learning for the year.