I choose to school year round. Slowly. With lots of interruptions. It just seems to work better for me and the gang. And in yesterday’s post, I explained that school is the first task to be tackled in our day.
Since I’m educating children ages 5-8 at very different levels-and with a toddler and baby in tow-there’s quite a bit of multitasking. But because we teach classically using Classical Conversations (essentially a one-room schoolhouse model that isn’t divided by age and covers all material via rote memorization until age 9-ish), we’re able to accomplish quite a bit in a short amount of time.
So, here’s our Summer School Schedule:
And it hangs over our breakfast table with the other aspects of our schedule. Plain and simple.
This nook serves as our ‘school room’. As does this bookshelf in the kitchen…
…along with my laptop and the local library. As a minimalist at heart, this is something I really appreciate about the classical model; it doesn’t take over my home. Or day. A common saying to describe classical education is “give me a stick and some sand and I’ll give you an excellent education.” My own personal saying is, “Just gotta stay one chapter/youtube video ahead of the kids!” We really are learning together!
So let me break down each part of our school work, noting that there is a sea of fantastic resources out there and that these are simply the ones that are working for us.
- Math: This is our 4th year using Math U See and we’re sticking with it.
We can move at our own pace, and even the toddler enjoys playing with the math manipulatives when the others aren’t using them.
- Memorizing Books of the Bible: Classical Conversations offers a song by which to memorize the books the Bible, so we’ve put that in the summer rotation. Because the kids are used to memorizing large amounts of information through song, this is coming very easy for them.
- Timeline: This is another fantastic resource offered through Classical Conversations. Timeline is a 12 minute song covering 161 historical events, representing major cultures on every continent, from Creation to current events. And it’s awesome. And catchy. Catchy in the kinda way that one might find them self humming it while in active labor (The Middle Ages, Counsel of Chalcedon, Western Roman Empire falls to Barbarians, Byzantine Emperor Justinian, Benedict and Monasticism….ooh…contraction….breathe….Muhammed Founds Islam, Zanj and Early Ghana in Africa.) True story. Each week we cover 7 history facts and supplement them with books, youtube videos, etc.
One note about our memorization: we knock this out first thing in the morning. Kids sit groggily awaiting breakfast, which serves as the PERFECT time to practice our memorization. We’re finished faster than they cay say “I don’t like this protein smoothie”. Kale? Kefir? What’s not to love??
4. Spell To Write and Read: Starting with phonics-based spelling, Spell to Write and Read weaves beginning through 12th grade spelling into a full language arts program. Rather than merely memorizing words, students are taught how to analyze the reasons behind a word’s spelling and pronunciation, giving them a strategy to learn any word they encounter (side perk is that it will undoubtedly help them win Jeopardy.) We are almost done with memorizing all the flash cards, and sometimes-like today- we wait until we get to the pool to work on this. Because being able to cannonball after reciting Rule #2 is just way cooler.
The last few items on our school schedule- cursive, penmanship, alphabet & reading- are a semi-orchestrated movement that’s hard to even put into words. One might sit at the coffee table to work on a math test while one practices cursive and I help the other with the alphabet.
Or one copies the sentence of their choice while the other reads about the Spanish Inquisition as I sit with another and read Treasure Island.
There’s just so many variables! However, I find it helps if I put them in different spaces with different tasks. We do try to stick to 30 minutes, and we’re almost always done with school by 10 am!
Lastly, here’s a few ways we continuously supplement our curriculum:
1.Story of the World. These cd’s are just fantastic and are often playing in the van as we run errands, or in the background to their lego-building, or at night as they fall asleep. Story of the World covers everything from Ancient Cultures to the Middle Ages to The Modern World. They’re wonderful for road trips, too!
2. Memory Cards. Classical Conversations covers Latin, English Grammar, History, Science, Math, Geography, as well as the Timeline. And then they kick it up a notch and put all that material on these nifty laminated cards that are color-coded, water-resistant, and are easily placed on a key ring and stored in a diaper bag. I take these everywhere and the kids are continuously reviewing all they’ve memorized. These cards really help me take our school on the road…or the park…or the backyard…
3. Handwriting paper. For every day. In every way. We have an ever-flowing supply of handwriting paper in our school nook, and it is well-used.
4. Perspective. Homeschooling can quickly feel overwhelming. It helps to remind myself that I don’t have to cover all the subjects all the time. Lord willing, we’ve got a lot of years. And at these ages, I find that subjects pertaining to science and the arts are beautifully built into their days as they explore the world around them and ask questions. It just happens organically. Like today, when we were given 2 bikes by a lovely friend, who’s husband happens to have a glass eye and was happy to talk about it with the kids, which led to googling all things eye-related!
So that’s how we tackle summer school. Funny, my hope was to make this post as simple as possible, but I wonder if it sounds complicated? Actually, I wonder if any other human’s life sounds complicated compared to the one they’re living. I used to find myself saying things like, “I could NEVER do what so & so does!” or “I don’t know HOW she does it!” What I’m learning is that we all have our own unique approach to parenting and schooling and life. And as you explore your flavor, I hope this post offers some fresh seasoning!