Monday, January 5, 2015

Work Plans for the Week of January 5, 2015: Back to Work!

I'm actually hesitant about writing this full schedule of work plans for this week--the kids have spent our entire holiday break doing a half-schedule of schoolwork (Math Mammoth, First Language Lessons, a reading assignment, and a hands-on project four days a week), and then spending the rest of each entire day playing contentedly with each other. They cooperate on video games, they build Kapla block structures and Hot Wheels tracks and LEGO machines, they draw and paint and chase each other outside in the freezing weather, they spin elaborate tales and act them out with their toy animals, they play board games together and Sydney only occasionally throws a fit over the outcome... it's been a great source of joy to me, watching them this active and engaged and content with each other. I don't want to disrupt it.

All that to say that yes, I have a full schedule of work plans for the children, but no, I'm not going to shove them away from their play to complete them. I suspect that with Matt out of the house again (he was able to take the week between Christmas and New Year's off just to be with us, and it was our happiest week of the year, barring digging for dinosaurs), the kids will transition back to our regular schedule fairly readily, but as it's currently almost 9:30 am, they've haven't yet appeared from their bedroom, I promised them a half-hour of LEGO Marvel before they had to start school, AND we've got our volunteer gig to get ready for at 11-ish... we'll see.

MONDAY: I liked the system of handing the children a book to read each day (Syd's a picture book or leveled chapter book, Will's a longer non-fiction book) so well that I plan to continue it this week. The rough theme behind the reading assignments will be "diversity," to help them prep for brainstorming for an essay on that topic on Friday.

Will is in the middle of geometry in her Math Mammoth this week, with an emphasis on circles, so we'll be revisiting the mandala drawing that Syd and I did together early last month, based on a class taught by Julie Gibbons. Not only was it fun and creative, but it was great practice for using a compass and mastering radial symmetry.

The children barely got a start on their Hoffman Academy lessons before our break, so they'll be reviewing the old ones and then completing a new one, as well as doing the written work associated with it. I expect them to practice keyboard in their own time throughout the rest of the week, although I've made it my goal this semester to be more present for this.

Will's goal is to earn ALL of the Junior Girl Scout badges before she bridges to Cadette in the fall, and to that end, her short-term goal is to complete a Girl Scout badge every week. Today, I'll be asking each child to choose a badge and to plan out how they might complete it this week--I'll look over their plans and assist as necessary, whether it be taking them to buy supplies or planning an impromptu field trip or setting up something that might need to be done after this week. I only halfway expect that they'll do this badge work in their own time throughout the rest of the week; I'm prepared to shift or delete other school tasks, if necessary, to accommodate their work, because as I've mentioned MANY times before, I'm sure, I find that these Girl Scout badges are really valuable as a source of cross-curricular study and an encouragement to the kids to stretch themselves academically.

Everyone loves our weekly volunteer gig! There are a number of jobs there that the kids can take responsibility for, although sometimes they choose to read or play or taste the entire time, and that's okay, too, although I don't mark those hours on their log sheets (they're both working toward the President's Volunteer Service Award). I've been researching a couple of additional regular volunteer activities that are quite academic, as well--I'd like us to make a monthly commitment to the Paleo Prep Lab at the Children's Museum, which is excellent science enrichment, of course, and I'm in the process of signing the kids up to be pen pals with a couple of local senior citizens, for additional handwriting and composition practice.

TUESDAY: Since most of the children's extra-curricular activities haven't started, yet, this day works out to be our Free Day this week, AND the forecast calls for snow! Our Girl Scout Co-op will likely come over to play on this day--well, the kids will play, and the moms will discuss Very Important Cookie Business with me, The Cookie Manager. Girl Scout Cookie Season starts on Saturday!

WEDNESDAY: Syd's Math Mammoth this week is a review of place value in the thousands; geometry is up next for her. Will in the middle of geometry now in her Math Mammoth, with fractions up next. Both of their current units are pretty easy for them, but I expect that we'll be doing a lot of hands-on fraction activities in the near future.

Again, we didn't get much out of Song School Spanish before the break, although the kids have kept their vocabulary, and the Latin equivalents, in their heads thanks to my militant ten-minute memory work drill time during our first car ride of each day. Even counting one day every week when we simply don't drive anywhere, that's a good hour of nothing but memory work every single week. It makes a HUGE difference in easing their learning, I think.

Night of the New Magicians is the subject of this month's Magic Tree House Club. It's been our tradition, ever since Syd was so small, to listen to the audiobook of the current book on the day of the meeting. During the meeting, Ms. Roni leads the kids on a cross-curricular study of the book, and then sets up little activities and craft projects that the kids can do in their own time afterwards. My two absolutely LOVE it.

THURSDAY: We blew through a ton of First Language Lessons during our winter holiday, and that was a good thing, because the daily practice with it gave me the time that I needed to work out modifications that I could make to make the curriculum better for us--I added some depth to the poetry memorization, and figured out ways to cut out most of the silly scripted dialogue. Thank goodness!

I had considered wrapping up our endangered animals study, but in the car ride home from Indianapolis last night (we saw Marvel Universe Live, and it was freaking AWESOME!!!), Will randomly started going on and on about Hector's dolphin, one of the animals that she studied during this unit, and I realized that I can't delete a subject that gives her so much pleasure. Since Will needs more practice with visual arts, however, and Syd, who's much cooler on the subject of endangered animals, loves the visual arts, I'll be experimenting with emphasizing that manner of expression in this study. We'll see how it goes.

FRIDAY: You might notice that I'm constantly engaging the kids in whatever academic or arts competitions come along; I think they're great practice in working to a prompt, something that us free-range homeschoolers don't get an excess of, and in encouraging the study of something totally new and totally unchosen by the kid, something that us self-directed homeschoolers also don't get an excess of, and, as Will can attest with her FIFTY-DOLLAR prize from last year's essay contest, AND her FIFTY-DOLLAR gift certificate from a volunteering contest a couple of years ago, they can result in tangible rewards for the kids, which us non-grading, non-sticker-and-pencil-and-extra-recess-and-lunch-with-the-principal homeschoolers also don't get an excess of. There are actually a few contests that the kids are working on right now--an endangered species art contest, a Black History Month essay contest, and this one on human rights and diversity.

Finally, we'll be beginning on Friday a study on Georgia O'Keeffe, inspired by a temporary exhibit that we're going to see at the Indianapolis Museum of Art before the museum begins to charge admission in a few months and our visits to it become highly curtailed--BOO!!! I'd like to combine biography with hands-on art in this study, which means that I need to make a mental note to intersperse some Draw Write Now and other Drawing With Children-style practice into our days starting next week.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY:  The kids have a program on Japan on Sunday, and we'll be taking down our Christmas decorations and hopefully doing some projects with our tree before throwing it out in the yard and letting it dry out so we can burn it this summer, but the big news is that Saturday is the start of Girl Scout cookie sales! It's the kids' first year selling, AND I somehow ended up being the Cookie Manager for our little band of Juliettes, so you can understand why this is big news for us.

Also, want to buy some Girl Scout cookies? Starting on Saturday, I'll know a couple of little kids who can help you out with that...


Tina said...

I really wish we lived closer so I could pick your brain on lots of schoolish type stuff. We are once again getting back to more structure school work, only this time most of the school work will happen in the evening. We figured out it's the time that Emma naturally wants to learn- Take last night. I printed out some spelling lists for her to start working on and when she retrieved them from the printer, she asked if she could do a spelling test. Right then. She had 20 minutes left before bed.
Anyway, we are giving it another go. Eventually we will get it figured out, probably once she is graduated :0)

julie said...

I wish that you lived closer, too!

Evening homeschool is an awesome idea! It's the perfect set-up for an astronomy study, especially.


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