Beginning our School Year

We’re three weeks into our K-5 school year. Now, because I’m a nerd and I love everything having anything to do with education/school, or really just an excuse to buy pencils and notebooks, we had some sort-of “preschool at home” years with Finn when he was 3 and 4. Which is funny, because if I had to pick an official stance on educational methods for young children (though with my limited experience,I should hesitate to do so), I’d probably fall into a Charlotte Mason-y “let them be children” play-led-learning sort of camp. We’d also read a lot of books in that camp, because, well, among the billions of parenting and education issues that are really divisive, reading books is pretty much agreed upon as “always a good idea”. So, it was definitely for my own enjoyment rather than any sense of obligation that we tried to spend about an hour a day doing “school stuff” for the last couple of years.

So with a couple of “practice years” under our belts, our first “official” school year got off to as smooth a start as it could. And, since this is my first post since many years ago, it’s worth noting that this is with a 2-year-old and newborn in the same happy school-room picture.

I want to try to document, however rudimentarily (is that a word?), our schooling over the year(s). Maybe for my own reference, or maybe to share with others down the road. Mostly, I just don’t want to let the substance of our school-mornings together slip away amid the crazy, harried life that fills our home most days.

So, 2015. Finn is 5 years old, and in K-5. We’ll be starting our second year with our local Classical Conversations community next week – similar to a once-a-week co-op, it helps support parents to educate their children classically. I decided to start our year at home kind of early, because one of the things our “practice years” taught me is that it’s a lot easier to pad the school year at the beginning when it’s still exciting, than at the end when you’re just plain ready for summer. Now that we’re at official school age, we’ve got to get a solid 180 educational days in, and I know I’ll want a week off every now and again. So we started at the very first of August, doing Math, Reading, Handwriting, and Science at home. He’ll get plenty of History once CC starts up (and I’d say he would get enough Science, too, but this kid really never gets enough Science to suit him). For some reason it feels really dull to share the specifics, but it wouldn’t be documenting if I didn’t, so here’s what we’re using:

  • Saxon Math K-5. I’ve found this to be boring, but I kind of expected it would be. We’re using Saxon because it’s familiar (I used Saxon in school), and easy, and scripted, and I already had a copy. Finn actually really likes the manipulatives, although 15 lessons in and it does feel like we’re just playing with toys every week. I guess that’s why he likes it. We’re skipping the “Meeting Book,” so there’s not much to our lessons, yet. Really basic stuff, like counting, and sorting colors, and simple patterns.
  • All About Reading Level 1 – We really, really like this. I’m thankful to a friend for loaning me the reusable portions of this, because I’m not sure I would have tried it if I had to buy the whole set. However, now that we’ve used it, I’d definitely pay for the whole thing. Reading lessons seem effortless, and he is progressing so much faster than I expected. When you’ve only learned 10 letter sounds, stories and readers can be very limited and silly, but the readers that come with this are surprisingly engaging and have cute illustrations. So far, we’ve been progressing through sounds that he mostly already knows, but I’m eager to see how the program works once we get to the harder phonetic blends and things.
  • Getty-Dubay Handwriting Italics – I can’t say much here. It’s handwriting. I was so worried that this part of our day would be torture, because Finn doesn’t enjoy penmanship, but because I offer a chocolate chip for every satisfactory writing sample, we’re working through it easily.
  • Apologia Elementary Zoology 3 – This is so basic-textbook that I really thought it would be too dry for us. But I did mention that Finn adores Science, and this is surprisingly his favorite part of school. We just sit on the couch and read the textbook. It includes projects and experiments – we did one of them last week, but honestly I expect we will mostly skip them going forward. The material in the experiments is slightly over his head, and I don’t love the prep-work required for that kind of stuff. He will do science experiments weekly in his CC class anyway.

I hope that I can hold myself accountable for occasionally updating on how things are going!



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