So, it's begun. A new "school" year. Actually . . . we started about a month ago. We were all ready after the baby break. Granted, it was not started all at once, nor have we completely enjoyed every minute of being back on schedule, but after a month we're finally realizing this is our new reality! :-)
Yes - - we started a new schedule. I love scheduling! I love figuring out just what we're going to do to make things work each year. It's like putting a puzzle together. What's funny is that the general schedule almost never changes. I keep thinking I'm going to do something new . . . but I don't. Because what we've done has worked thusfar. However, this year we are doing some things a bit differently. Which is exciting. I've changed some things partly because:
a) I now have a "middle schooler"/transition-to-scholar/11yr. old prepubescent boy/whatever you wanna call it!! - - can you believe it! And yes, he stayed home (I used the parental veto chip on that one)
b) I have a baby with a schedule. His own.
c) I was energized by Charlotte Mason and another TJEd article and my own inspiration as I've watched my children completely GLOW when given a project assignments.
So, our basic schedule is as follows:
Morning family scripture study
Breakfast (bedrooms cleaned first, usually)
Family work - each child has an area they are responsible for cleaning and sometimes we have other group cleaning we need to do as well
Family Learning Time - This consists of our read aloud book and then an activity based on the book and/or US History, science or whatever I'm in the mood to "teach" that day. This is when I will introduce a project that will be due a week or so later (more on that below).
Individual Learning time (about 4-5 hours of free learning time w/ lunch in between) - this is when the kids will each work on their own skills...math, reading, writing, piano, whatever else interests them, etc.
And then free play time for a couple of hours before dinner prep, quick clean up and evening activities
So, that's the gist of what we are trying to do.
Now this project idea came to me while going through my parents' storage unit. We found an activity that I remember doing in 5th grade as a kid. We created our own colony complete with a map of the colony and a flag. There was also a written report of different facts regarding our colony and its history. So fun!
I decided to start with Colonial times in our history this year (using A History of US as a guide, by the way, fabulous series!!) and presented my kids with this project idea. They ate it up!! All throughout the day I would find one or more of my children working on their project with excitement. I gave them a little over a week to complete the assignment. They were so proud when they were all done.
Just last week I then gave them a project where they were to choose one of the 13 colonies to learn more about and create a poster showing some key facts about their colony. Again, I saw excitement and eagerness.
So, I am now completely convinced that PROJECTS are the way to go for our family. They love them. There are three great benefits from doing projects this way: 1) they each get to work on their projects at their own pace and time; 2) each project is completely individualized! It was so fascinating to watch how one child would spend more time on the poster decorating while another would spend more time reading details and copying information word for word from a book on their colony; and 3) I don't get so hung up on what they're doing during free time (this is my problem). I know they have a project due at a certain time and leave it at that. I can give gentle reminders, but it's not really up to me to micromanage the situation. I'm there as a mentor and that's it.
SO! NOW I'm thinking I need to come up with some more project ideas!! If you have any suggestions please send them my way (especially in the US history dept.)!
Next week things will get a bit crazier with some class scheduling and so we'll see how that works with our home schedule and a baby schedule. But for now, this is working great for us. :-) Hope it continues. Wish me luck!