Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sunburn Hack...

I sunburned the top of my feet of all places!  Tuesday we went to the water park because you know Wisconsin holds the water park capital of the we went to a small rural water park in Minnesota, ahem.  It was great!  No lines, pack your own lunch, park right next to the picnic area, lower cost, etc.  Of course, we all slathered in sunscreen and reapplied after a few hours, but I never thought to cover my feet.  Well, low and behold on the way home, they started to itch and burn.  By the time I got home and took my socks/shoes off, I saw they were fried!

After my initial panic, I applied coconut oil with little relief.  Next, I headed to my stash of Young Living Essential Oils because they are one of my new favorite things.  I became a distributor last year so I could get a good deal on oils for my family.  We've been experimenting with them since.  This time, I grabbed Lavender because I'm aware of its healing properties for skin related issues.  I applied a couple drops directly to my sunburned feet and immediately I felt relief.  Since, I've been putting a couple of drops on in the morning after my shower and a couple of drops at bedtime.  Today, socks are more tolerable and the irritation is much better.

I am not a doctor and by no means am I trying to give medical advice.  I just thought I'd share what worked for me.  Young Living Lavender Oil on sunburned feet brought fast relief.  It's a good thing!

Monday, July 25, 2016

2016-2017 Curricula Choice - Heart of Dakota: Creation to Christ....

The jury is in.  It's been decided.  I'll be using Heart of Dakota's Creation to Christ for Ruben's main educational program this year.  Riley and Ruben will both study Ancients, but use separate books/programs for the first time in their school career.  Riley asked to do her own thing and I think it's time.  I'll be posting her plans at a later date.

I chose Heart of Dakota for a variety of reasons.  I love the books used in Creation to Christ!  They are living books that were on our list to read anyway and we already owned most of them.  The two or three that we don't, I'll most likely sub out.  The program was written for students ages 9-11, but does come with an extension package for older students.  Ruben is 11 and on the older end so we will be adding a few of the extension books as well as a small number of others that I want him to read while studying this time period.  A couple of the books are used in Ambleside Online and Beautiful Feet, which will cross over with what Riley's reading.

I really like the science selections.  Creation to Christ covers biology and the area of life science through the study of plants, animals, birds and the human body.  In addition to the five books shown below, An Illustrated Adventure in Human Anatomy by Kate Sweeney is also used.

The more time I spend with Creation to Christ, the more I love the layout of the lesson plan.  Each day is a two page spread with ten boxes, each containing a different subject.  The left side focuses on History.  The right side focuses on other subjects including Language Arts, Math, Geography, Bible, and Science.  Each day's work is marked "I" = Independent; "T" = Teacher directed; or "S" = Semi-independent.  I think this will be helpful as I'm trying to guide Ruben into more independent studies now that he can read.  I also like that the schedule is four days per week for 35 weeks.  This allows us time for extra curriculars like choir, book club, and art.

I did create an at-a-glance chart to give me a quick view of the week's lessons.  I'm a big picture kind of girl and this gives me the information I need at my fingertips without having to page through the entire instructor guide.  It makes for easy prep so I can quickly see which books I need to pull out for the week.  Below is a sample of the first week with my book abbreviations to follow.  I do have an extra column for math on the original plan, but it's blank at this point so I deleted it here for aesthetic reasons.

Heart of Dakota Hearts for Him through Time: 
Creation to Christ Lesson Plan
Unit & Day
History Read
History Project
Independent History
(Read Aloud)
Bible Quiet
Bible Study
Language Arts
Science Explore
Create a flapbook
WITW, Disc 1, Tracks 1-2
Dinosaurs  Narrate
Ch 1-2
Genesis: FOR
Read & Copy
Ch 3-4
ACG, Vol. 2
P. 5-8
Read & Paint
L Animals p. 1-4
WITW, Disc 1, Tracks 3
Ch 6-7
Genesis: FOR
p. 11-12
Read & Paint
L Animals p. 5-8
Written Narration
WITW, Disc 1, Tracks 4
Ch 8-9
ACG, Vol. 2
P. 9-12
L Animals p. 8-11

SOTAW – Story of the Ancient World by Guerber
WITW – What in the World? CD by Diana Waring
Genesis: FOR – Genesis: Finding Our Roots by Beechick
ACG – A Child’s Geography Vol. II by Voskamp
L Animals – Apologia Land Animals of the Sixth Day

As with any box curricula, there are cons such as being tied to a pre-made schedule.  However, I've been doing this long enough that I don't feel the need to complete every suggested assignment or reading.  As a matter of fact, some of the history projects feel a little hokey or geared toward younger students so we will omit them.  I will focus mostly on reading, narration, writing, and notebooking.  At this point in the game, I'm OK with letting the curricula guide me rather than making it my master.  The plans are written flexible enough to allow you to customize to your own liking.

Creation to Christ offers you the option of picking your own language arts and math programs.  There are suggested resources for those who need them, but I plan to chose my own.  I will spend time this year working with Ruben on beginning written narration, which is scheduled weekly on day four .  There are also built in oral narration and dictation exercises, which I will adjust accordingly.  The program suggests two days per week spent on writing and two days spent on grammar.  I'm still working on those details.  Click here for a complete list of Creation to Christ suggested resources.

In addition, Heart of Dakota offers pre-made notebooking pages to use with Creation to Christ.  However, Ruben will design his own instead.  They look beautiful, but I was concerned about whether or not the boxes would be big enough for Ruben to write in.  Furthermore, I believe it's better for the student to write what's meaningful to him, rather than fill in this box with "abc" and that box with "xyz".  I also will not be using HOD's Drawn Into the Heart of Reading program as I've used it in the past with Riley and we didn't care for it.  We will simply read great literature and discuss it rather than taking a workbook approach.

I don't normally go for box curriculum, but this year, I felt like it's just what I need for Ruben.  It will allow me time to focus on teaching specific skills rather than getting wrapped up in scheduling and lesson plans.  I'll still be planning Riley's year, as well as beginning odds and ends with Levi.  I also have a friend using Creation to Christ with her son, who's the same age as Ruben.  She has used HOD in the past and has been a great resource for bouncing ideas.  I love having that local support.  Overall, Ruben and I are excited to try this new venture.  We're looking forward to a great year.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Findings: Water Restored, Read Old Books, Stop Assigning Reading Homework, Pokemon Go, and More....

So I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but we have water problems.  The pump in our well plugs up with junk (tannin and iron), then we lose water pressure and eventually have no water.  Well, we've been losing pressure for a few months now and of course on Monday afternoon all water flow completely ceased.

Thankfully, I had a laundry weekend and most of it was caught up.  Monday night I took the kids to my dad's for a shower and a toilet.  We hauled 5-gallon pails and milk jugs of water back home.  Tuesday morning, I took a frigid polar refreshing shower from one of those 5-gallon pails.  Later Tuesday, the pump guy came and was able to restore water to the house, but not within the house.  Next up, was our water conditioning company, who afforded us a small stream of cold water, as in it took me five minutes to draw five inches of water into a pot that we had to heat on the stove to wash dishes.  Wednesday night was back to dad's for showers and a trip to the laundry mat so my baby had clean underwear.

Finally yesterday, Thursday, our water conditioning company installed a rebuilt water conditioning unit and our water was completely restored!  We were overjoyed!  The weather has been absolutely sultry here in WI this week, with temps in the 90's, but feeling like 110-degrees with the heat index.  One of the first things the boys did last night was fill the little swimming pool to splash around.  My warm (the water heater hasn't fully recovered yet) high pressure shower felt like a luxury this morning.  We are all thankful to once again have the precious gift of water at the faucet.

As you may know from other posts, I'm a huge proponent of old books.  In 3 Reasons to Read Old Books Mystie lays out three arguments for breaking out the classics.  I recommend you consider my latest read, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.  It was fabulous!

Joshua Gibbs gave some excellent points to ponder in Stop Assigning Reading Homework.  I'm not a huge homework fan anyway.  I wish more teachers would consider reading aloud to their students in class.  It's very beneficial.

Why I Don't Let My Kids Play Pokemon Go may seem radical to some.  Yeah, it's just a game, but Amanda reminds us to not let our guard down.

Whether your children are heading back to a brick and mortar school or school at your dining table, 30 Days of Prayer for the New School Year is a great post with ideas for prayer for our kiddos and the upcoming year school year.

Speaking of kids, ours had VBS this week and I'm tired.  I was assigned nine-ten preschoolers for three hours each day...YIKES!  I did have to bale out yesterday to meet with the water conditioning guy, see above story.  Hopefully, I can finish strong today.

Cave Quest is the theme and of course, the kids love crawling in and out of the cave....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What I Love About Beautiful Feet...

As I was browsing the 2015-2016 Beautiful Feet catalog, I realized, I've used nearly every BF guide in some shape or form.  In the past, I've used Early American Primary and Intermediate, History of California, and The Western Expansion with Riley and Ruben.  Throughout high school, I used Ancient History, Medieval History, and U.S. & Modern World with Angel.  In 5th grade, RileyAnn completed History of the Horse...then we borrowed it to my sister to use with my niece.   This past year, we completed Geography and History of Science.  We are also nearly done with Modern American & World History.  The unused exceptions are Teaching Character and History of Classical Music, of which, I have both and may use in the future.

I love the simplicity of the Beautiful Feet guides.  And, we adore the book choices!  Each and every book we've read through our BF studies has a memorable place in our hearts and minds.

Beautiful Feet encourages a Charlotte Mason education by use of living books and narration.  In addition, the guides offer Socratic questions for further discussion of each book.  Keeping a student notebook is necessary while using Beautiful Feet for recording the student's work, including maps, narrations, essays, poetry, copywork, etc.  I also love the record the notebook affords each of my students upon completion.  It's like having a scrapbook of their school year.

This fall, we'll be heading back to Ancient History and RileyAnn will be using the BF Ancient History Intermediate guide.  I'm excited for her and will be posting more specific plans over the next couple of weeks.  For now, I will suffice to say, we LOVE Beautiful Feet!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Schole Sisters: Anna Karenina...

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way...So begins Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. My Schole Sisters and I finished reading this 817 page Russian classic and met for our final discussion last night.

Throughout my reading of Anna Karenina, many people, who were not in our group, asked me, "What is that book about?" and the best way I could sum it up was, "Anna Karenina is about life."  It's about families and relationships.  It's a story of love and the lack thereof.   It's about a woman, Anna, who is physically beautiful on the exterior, but lives with an ugly, raging internal storm.  She is married and has a wonderful son, whom she adores.  She has wealth, class and high ranking social status.  Yet, she fights loneliness, jealousy, and feelings of emptiness to the point of her self-destructive demise.

In stark contrast, Anna Karenina, is also a story of hope, forgiveness, and survival.  Through the character of Levin, Tolstoy ponders the meaning of life.  We see him wrestling with this idea of faith, whether or not there is a God, and what that really means.  Interestingly, some of the women in our group thought the book was wrongly titled since the story was more about Levin then Anna.

Lastly, Anna Karenina is about the transformation of Russia during the late 1800's.  During that time, Tolstoy's native country was undergoing a huge political shift.  Through Anna Karenina, we see the debate between the aristocratic society and the agricultural peasants.  By the time of Tolstoy's death in 1910, Russia had transformed from a backward agricultural economy into a major industrialized world power.  Tolstory shows us his Russia and some of his possible uncertainty about the future of his country.

Tolstoy was a master storyteller.  His character development was unlike any I've read.  We all knew the events unfolding in Anna Karenina were so morally wrong by Christian standards and yet, everyone of us agreed that we could totally see and understand each character's thought process throughout.  I personally saw parts of myself and various relationships with others in each and every character.  Tolstoy's ability to think like a woman is unbelievable.  Overall, his character development was phenomenal!

Regarding our Schole Sisters group, over a period of two months, we met a total of four times to discuss Anna Karenina.  We ended with ten strong participants who desire to continue.  We all loved the fellowship and camaraderie the group afforded us.  It was a chance to read our own book, not to the children or school related, and have meaningful discussion with other adults.  It was decided we will continue in August by reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and meeting for discussion.  I'm super excited to read through my book list with friends :)

Anna Karenina made a lasting impression on me.  My copy is marked with many tabs and I'm sure I'll be quoting and referencing it for some time.  I am also using Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy as my classic in translation in the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge.  

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Findings: Kids and Jobs, Dyslexia/Dyscalculia, Disciplining our Daughters, Ask Andrew....

I've been providing taxi service for the past couple of weeks because our kids (R&R) have a job.  They're pulling giant ragweed from corn fields on an organic dairy farm.  It's been an interesting process and is Ruben's first job.  Riley has worked out of home babysitting since last summer.  They are assigned a corn row and walk the fields, pulling the plant by hand.  They work in the early morning hours before the heat of the sun is on high.  They receive an hourly wage, lunch, and play time with friends in the afternoon.  They love it!

There are many benefits to kids having jobs.  I believe in learning the value of hard work and developing a work ethic at a young age.  Learning to interact with a boss is a great skill to obtain, as is interacting with other employees, and it requires practice.  Also, working for your own money to acquire a desired thing is invaluable.  It's not always easy trying to raise ambitious children in a lazy world, but I believe it's important.

I've had paid jobs since the summer I turned eleven and now so have our two eldest.  It's sort of become a right of passage.  We don't give allowances here, but we have hired kids to do extra chores/jobs around the farm.  However, there's something special about working for someone else outside the home.  

Dealing with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia?  Kori offers some helpful tips and advice for helping your student succeed.

I stumbled on a series called Disciplining Our Daughters and was intrigued.  As our precious daughter draws closer to those teen years, I want to be sure she is armed and confident in her faith.  This five part series shows insight and has some great suggestions and resources for use with daughters of all ages.

I've been listening to Ask Andrew at the CiRCE Institute this week.  So far, I made it through the first four episodes.  These short nuggets of wisdom from Andrew Kern are delightful.  I loved what he said about giving our children actual tales rather than the Disney version.  This is very much in line with Charlotte Mason's philosophy.

Ruben and I pruned up our vines a couple of weeks ago.  They are starting to trail over the pergola.  I just love the way they look after the kids finished mowing the lawn....

Monday, July 11, 2016

Math Books and Resources For Sale....

Updated 9-21-2016

Below you will find our latest list of math books and resources for sale.  The Houghton Mifflin and Scott Foresman texts are great older hard cover math books.  They are pre-common core and are a wonderful resource for teaching math concepts or giving extra practice problems.  The prices do not reflect shipping. I accept PayPal and ship media mail within the U.S. Please use the contact form on the right side bar to send inquires and desired list.

Thanks so much for your consideration,

Math & Logic
Scott Foresman Exploring Mathematics 4th grade set $50
-       Teacher’s edition
-       Student text
-       Enrichment blackline masters
-       Enrichment blackline masters key

Houghton Mifflin Mathematics Text – grade 3 (hardcover) $5

Houghton Mifflin Mathematics Text – grade 4 (hardcover) & Teacher’s Edition (spiral bound) $12

Houghton Mifflin Mathematics Text – grade 5 (hardcover) $5

Houghton Mifflin Mathematics Text – grade 7 (hardcover) & Teacher’s Edition (hardcover) $10

Math-U-See Pre-Algebra Student Instruction Manual & DVD $20 set

Math-U-See Fraction Overlays $6

Every Day Counts Practice Counts student workbook & annotated teacher’s edition grade 4 $5 set

Family Math $5

Count and See by Tana Hoban (hardcover) $2 each

Take Shapes Lines and Letters by Jeanne Bendick (hardcover) $4

Discovering Math – Subtraction by Alison Wells (hardcover) $2

Dividing Treasures (hardcover) $3

Logic Brain Boosters by Becky Daniel grades 1-4 $3

The Handy Math Answer Book by Patricia Barnes-Svarney & Thomas Svarney $4

Math Matters! Adding by Brian J. Knapp (hardcover) $3

The Story of Money by Betsy Maestro $4

Anno’s Math Games III by Mitsumasa Anno (hardcover) $5

Summer Math Skills Sharpener 6th Grade Math Review (spiral bound) $1

Subtraction Bingo (game) $2

Cuisenaire Rods - $3 set

Linking Cubes - $3 set

Magnetic Days of the Week (Today is….) (Tomorrow is….) $3 set

Summer Math Success kits – covers grades K-6 $40 set

Moving with Math - covers K-8th grade (levels A-D), teacher and student resources and some misc. manipulatives $150 set 

Telling Time Grades 2-3 (A Frank Schaffer Publication) $2

Time, Money & Fractions Grades 1-2 (School Zone) $2

Learning About Money by Linda Schwartz $2

The Smart Alec Series – Problem Solving Grade 4 $2

Evan-Moor Daily Math Practice Grade 4 $5

Evan-Moor Daily Math Practice Grade 2 $5

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Enrichment - Charlotte Mason Style Electives: Nature Study....

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he will learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God. - George Washington Carver

Oh, how I loved this quote by G.W. Carver from the first time I read it!  It put me in mind of Charlotte Mason...
Now the knowledge of Nature which we get out of books is not real knowledge; the use of books is, to help the young student to verify facts he has already seen for himself.  (Charlotte Mason Vol. 2, p. 261)
In the chief duty of man, his duty towards God, Nature is an exquisite instructor. (Charlotte Mason Vol. 4, Book 2, p. 99) 
Nature study is very important in a Charlotte Mason education. Getting outside in nature was the basis for science in Mason's schools, particularly in the elementary grades.  However, in our modern society, nature study can feel like a burden. We have become sedentary, parked behind digital devices for hours on end.  It's easier to think about nature study or look out the window and wish, rather than get up and go outside.  I must confess, I too have been lazy in committing to nature study.  I have the desire, but in the day-to-day, I just don't always take the time to do it.

Charlotte said that children should get out-of-doors for a walk everyday.  Yes, this would be ideal, but I'm here to tell you, one day a week is better than nothing at all.  Don't let ghosts of Mason past make you feel guilty.  If you're feeling overwhelmed by nature study, start small.  Simply commit to taking your children outside one day a week.  Now is a great time to start, especially here in Wisconsin because the thought of starting nature study in January is definitely not appealing to me in below zero temperatures, as is typical here.  However, summer is a fabulous time to see a variety of birds, wildlife, plants, and trees.

Even though, I have been sporadic, here on the farm, we are fortunate, our kids are outside on a daily basis with or without me.  Today, Ruben found a Leopard Frog while mowing the lawn.  I actually happened to be lying outside under an oak tree reading Tolstoy's Anna Karenina when I heard his holler of excitement and the rest of the kids went running.  Ruben easily identified it and Riley knew it was a male because of past nature studies we'd done.  This prompted me to see how important those impromptu trips outside really are.  I was surprised by how much the kids retained.

Nature walks don't have to be a big ordeal.  Simply head out into your yard or a neighborhood park.  I remember reading about Orville and Wilbur Wright's mother packing a picnic and spending the day in the woods.  She would let her children romp and roam, making discoveries on their own.  Of course, they came back to her with questions, as will your children.  It's OK if you're a nature study novice and don't have all the answers.  After a period of time, you go back indoors and bring out the books to find answers to those questions.

Charlotte Mason recommended starting nature study with very young children, however, don't feel like you've missed the boat if your child is older.  Nature can be enjoyed by anyone from 1 to 100.  Just do it!

Once you've developed the habit of spending time outdoors, you could start a nature calendar of firsts throughout the year...
It is a capital plan for children to keep a calendar - the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when.  The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations.  Think of the zest and interest, the object, which such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions.  There is hardly a day when some friend may not be expected to hold a first 'At Home'.  (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, p. 54)
Next, you could do a month-by-month study in order to recognize seasons....
They are expected to do a great deal of out-of-door work in which they are assisted by The Changing Year, admirable month by month studies of what is to be seen out-of-doors. They keep records and drawings in a Nature Note Book and make special studies of their own for the particular season with drawings and notes. (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, p. 219)
Other ideas for study are learning to identify birds and their songs or selecting a tree to follow throughout the year.  Turn over a log and see what's underneath, look at the clouds and notice what shapes you see, catch snowflakes and look at the different shapes.  The possibilities are endless.

You'll notice Charlotte mentions a Nature Note Book in several of the quotes above.  Riley is my Nature Note Book connoisseur.  She has kept a variety of notebooks over the years as you can see pictured below.  I personally really like Clare Walker Leslie's books on keeping a nature journal.   She has written several books which are very helpful, whether you're a beginner or a more seasoned naturalist.  Once you've established what kind of notebook your children will use, you can either take the notebooks outside to draw in while on your nature walk, talk photos of things they may want to draw, or let the kids bring in specimens to study and draw in their notebooks once your nature walk is complete. Unless, you're drawing a scene, the later is our preferred method.

A few other helpful nature study resources are:

Jimmie's Collage

Handbook of Nature Study

Nature Study as Independent Work

Brandy Vencel on Nature Study

Carol at Journey and Destination on Nature Study in Australia

Celeste at Joyous Lessons on Nature Study along the Pacific

Ambleside Online

Nadene at Practical Pages on Nature Study in South Africa 


Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Findings: Beautiful Feet Sale, Andrew Clements, Homeschool Planning, Chores...

Beautiful Feet is running a spectacular sale on their D'Aulaire books.  If you haven't read these, you must!  I believe every home library should have a copy of these books to pass on to future generations.

I'm not a Read Aloud Revival member, but I did watch the FREE Author Access Event with Andrew Clements.  I'm not sure how long the link will remain free, so if you're interested you should act quickly.  I really enjoyed listening to Mr. Clements and loved what he said about the writing process beginning one word at a time.

I've been catching up on Mystie's Planning Chats and so appreciated Planning That Matters.  It was a treat to see how each different mom develops her planner, some digital and some paper.  I personally use a hybrid, but tend toward paper.

Loading the Dishwasher while Standing on Broken Glass gives an interesting perspective on chores.  I agree with Danika in that we don't have chore charts, however, I'm not having the same joyful result in getting tasks completed that she proclaims, therefore, I've been considering a chart of some kind.  Her article is making me step back and reassess our situation.

Summer scenes of brothers...

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Planning Your Homeschool Year...

I was looking back on past planning posts and realized I've shared bits and pieces, but never a start to finish planning post so herein lies my feeble attempt.  First off, my favorite planning resource is Simply Charlotte Mason's Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education in 5 Simple Steps.  I have the original blue edition and am not sure how it compares to the new green book, but it works for all intensive purposes so I don't plan to upgrade. I also have not watched the DVD, just simply reference the book.

Recently, I have determined I'm a hybrid digital-paper planner with a strong bent toward paper.  I love creating charts and tables digitally, but must print them so I can see the big picture.  I attempted to go totally digital one year, using Excel spreadsheets for planning and record keeping and wouldn't you know, that was the one year our computer died.  I took it as a sign that I should stick with paper ;-)

The five steps I use in creating our homeschool plan are as follows:

1. The Big Picture

This is where you outline an overview for your child’s education by recording your personal goals.  What are you trying to accomplish by homeschooling?  These goals may be very different for each child depending on strengths, weaknesses, personality, etc.  Or, they may be a standard set of goals for every child in your home.

It's also here that you'd determine which school subjects you want to cover during which years. When setting goals and choosing subjects, you'll want to keep in mind your state requirements.  For example, here in Wisconsin, on the form we file with the Department of Public Instruction, it says we must agree that...
The program provides a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.  (WI DPI PI-1206 form)
Now, we can add to these subjects as we choose, but these subjects must make up the bare minimum of our studies according to our state law.  If you're trying to provide a Charlotte Mason education, you want to be sure to set forth a broad and liberal curriculum, attemptng to cultivate affinities, not a utilitarian education steering the child toward some particular career.  
"They require a great variety of knowledge, - about religion, the humanities, science, art; therefore, they should have a wide curriculum with a definite amount of reading set for each short period of study."
If your goal involves a college bound student, here is where you'll want to check with prospective colleges to determine requirements for entry.  I am not suggesting that you choose a college for your early elementary child at this point,  However, as your students enter middle and high school, you're going to want to determine how many credits of particular subjects they will need for college entry.  For example, will you need two or three years of foreign language and how many credits and what type of mathematics are required?  Knowing this upfront, will greatly ease your stress when the time comes to plan those high school years.

2. Your Year

Once you have your goals and subjects set, you will organize a year of study for your child by determining what you want to teach during that particular year.  For example, if you have a 1st grader, you may wish to focus on copywork and oral narration.  However, if you have a 4th grader, you may wish to begin transitioning to written narration.  

An overall determination of what to teach when should have been accomplished in the Big Picture Plan as outlined above and you'll want to reference that list in this step.  Now you are simply looking at this specific year ahead of you to determine what you will teach in that particular year. Some of these subjects may include, Bible, History, Geography, Mathematics, Science, Language Arts, Music/Composer Study, Shakespeare, Handicrafts/Life Skills, etc.  Here is a post I wrote back in 2012 showing some of the resource/subject charts I'd created for this step at that time. 

When you have your subjects in place, you can then begin to select the resources you want to use to cover each of those subjects.  For example, what time period will you study in history or what concepts will you cover in math?  This is also where I determine which subjects will be family studies or circle time and which will be individual studies.  Being a bibliophile, this is one of my favorite steps!  This year, we'll be studying Ancient History and I will pull resources from programs like Ambleside Online, Beautiful Feet, TruthQuest History, A Mind in the Light, Veritas Press, etc.  

3. Your Term (quarter, semester, etc.)

Next, you will need to break up your school year into manageable sections or chunks of time.  Do you want to school year round or in a 36-week chunk?  Do you want to break that 36 weeks up into 12 week, 9 week, or 6 week terms?   Do you want to school 4 or 5 days per week?  Here is where you decide and schedule your terms on the calendar. What breaks and holidays will you want off?  Do you have any family vacations planned in the upcoming year?  These are questions you'll want to take into consideration when dividing and scheduling your terms.  Pam Barnhill has a great video here showing how she sections off her school days on the calendar.  We tend to complete the bulk of our school year during the winter months because here in Wisconsin we have a lot of time indoors during December, January, and February.  However, as Pam mentions in her video, in the south, they plan the bulk of their year in June, July, and August because it's just too hot to be outside during those months.  

Whatever you decide, after dividing your terms, you need to determine how many lessons or how many books you will read per term.  I even go so far as to divide out chapters and pages per term.  Ambleside Online has information here regarding numbers of books and pages read in each Form in the PUS schools.  Nicole Williams at Sabbath Mood Homeschool has put this information into a useful chart here.  I also found her series of posts on Preparing a CM Schedule very helpful in this step of the process.  I've posted samples of our Year 5 and Year 4 Term Schedules in the past.  

4. Your Week

Once you've set your terms and what you will teach each term, the next step is to map out a weekly schedule.  First you will need to determine how often to do each subject during the week.  Then you will choose which subjects to do on which days.  You will want to vary the order of subjects altering between concentrated intense subjects and less intense subjects including those that allow for physical movement; using different parts of the brain allows for better attention span.  I've written more about this step in Pulling Your Charlotte Mason Education Together.  

5. Your Day

Finally, you will create a daily plan that works for your family situation by determining when to do each subject during the day.  Are you morning people or do you peak after noon?  Also, estimate how long to spend on each subject.  Again if you are planning a Charlotte Mason education, that Ambleside link above or Nicole William's chart is a great reference tool to determine length of time for each subject.  A key method to a Charlotte Mason education is short lessons beginning around age 6 for approx. 15-20 minutes, increasing around age 10 to 20-30 minutes, and continuing around age 14 to 30-45 minutes and beyond. These times are per subject and will help cultivate the habit of attention in your student.   You can see a sample of my Year 4 and Year 5 Daily Checklists here.  

There you have it, five simple steps to planning your homeschool.  I should note that typically, step number one is not something you would redo every year.  However, I would definitely go back and reassess your big picture plan annually to ensure that you're meeting your goals.  Also, it's OK to change your goals as time goes on, your kids age, and you settle into a philosophy of education.  For me, creating a homeschool plan has been a fluid process.  I've learned a great deal since that first day back in 2007 and my ideals about education have changed considerably.  I even switch out parts of the five step plan from year to year, but having a framework sure is helpful so as not to reinvent the wheel year after year.

How do you plan your homeschool year?  I'd love to hear about it.  Feel free to share in the comments section below....