*Disclaimer: If you don't homeschool your children, you may not find much in this post interesting. We homeschool moms are full of self doubt and anxiety about whether we are doing enough and we try to remedy this by comparing our plans to others and then freaking out over things we aren't doing. It's a time-honored tradition.
Woo Hoo! It's almost school time! "School," at our house doesn't look like "school," but I call it that because it's shorter than all the other ways there are to describe it. We are what I would call "relaxed classical" homeschoolers. I loosely follow The Well Trained Mind, including the Trivium, and the 4 year cycles for history and science. The Well Trained Mind was the first book I ever read about homeschooling, and it really stuck with me. I have ventured away from it numerous times, but we always make our way back. It makes the most sense and seems to be how my oldest learns best, with rigorous and challenging school work, but also freedom to create when he needs to. As much as I would love to be a Project Based homeschooler, H doesn't thrive with that much freedom. His brain is kind of like a tank I need to fill every day. I do pull ideas from PBH and unschooling even, but I have learned that our core philosophy for his education is to keep him challenged.
Here's the plan for my rising 6th grade 10 (almost 11) year old. He's a verbal/humanities kind of guy who is becoming interested in science, and has an all encompassing passion for music. We are playing around with what an intense focus on music would look like this year, so he can feel out if this is the route he would like to take going forward. One change we made this year was we joined a co-op. It's a STEM centered co-op with a social justice/ community service mission. I think it will be great for our various needs. One kid needs more field trips, one kid needs more socialization and one kid needs both, so this meets those needs. Since we will co-op once a week, we will only be "schooling" in the traditional sense 4 days a week.
Here's what we'll be using for our foray into middle school: (!!!My kid is old!!!)
Grammar - We will use Michael Clay Thompson's The Grammar of Literature program. Michael Clay Thompson uses classic literature to teach grammar in a whole-to-parts way that really works for us. H has done the Grammar Island program, as well as Grammar Town, and really really loved it. I loved it as well so when I got the inkling to add some grammar back into his schooling (I subscribe to Julie Bogart's theory that student's need to hit grammar hard one time in elementary, one time in middle school, and one time in high school.) MCT was my go to, and I didn't really consider anything else. It's so rich and inviting and really speaks to kids in a way that brings the topic to life. Anyone homeschooling a gifted kid should give it a look.
Literature - You can see our full, but ever evolving, list here. We use the Mensa Excellence in Reading lists as a jumping off point and add in books from the Great Books Academy lists as well as the Bravewriter Book lists. We read A LOT, it's the foundation of our day and a non-negotiable. I can tell you that we are starting with The Odyssey, which I haven't read since middle school and I'm looking forward to it.
Writing - We will definitely be doing some academic writing, but I still want the majority of H's writing this year to be what he loves, creative writing. I am toying with the idea of NaNoWriMo for kids this November. I think he could make a lot of progress on his novel this way. He's also interested in taking a Bravewriter class online, but I'm not sure if he will have time. My main goals for him are to learn how to outline and start to write in a more academic way, but also to continue to nurture his writing voice through fiction.
Math - Oh math. How do I loathe thee? I'm not mathematically inclined. I blame this on a poor public school education and a poor attitude. I seem to have, despite my best effort to hide the previous points, passed this poor attitude onto my son. He's pretty good with numbers, but claims to hate math, so we decided to back track a bit and re-do pre-algebra with a different program that will hopefully spark an interest in the beauty of math. (I'm sure this exists and would love to find it myself.) The program is Art of Problem Solving and it's supposed to be excellent for bright and mathy kids. We did a different pre-Algebra program last year, and he did fine, but we are going to give him another year to mature before Algebra I. Another change is my husband will be teaching him. He loves math and that's how you inspire wonder and awe in a subject; you send someone with a true passion for it to be the teacher.
Music - This is where H will be spending a big chunk of his time. Last year he switched from the Suzuki Double Bass program that he was in for 4 years, to playing the piano. He will continue weekly lessons and daily practice as well as joining the Rock & Blues group at our music settlement. Along with playing, he will be taking Intermediate Music Theory online. It's a high school level course with tests, which he has never done! It will be an interesting challenge. He will also continue his hip-hop music making and producing. It's always been music with this kid, from the time he could walk.
Spanish - H will continue on at the Homeschool Spanish Academy,** using a tutor via Skype. He receives one on one tutoring twice a week and we are very happy with it. It is very reasonably priced and we love his tutor. This was a no-brainer.
Latin - This is an "if we have time" kind of situation, but I thought I would include it anyways. Perhaps I will feel obligated to start it because I posted it here and then it will actually get done. H did a few Latin programs from grades 2-4, and then we dropped it for Spanish. I feel the time has come to take another look. I think it's a valuable subject to study, especially for someone who loves words like this kid does. We will be (maybe) using Getting Started with Latin. We used Getting Started with Spanish before switching to Homeschool Spanish Academy and H had pretty good retention. It's just a starting point to see if we want to re-commit to Latin.
History - We are going to give The Big History Project a try. It's a really cool, free program that kind of combines science and history to teach the expanse of history from the Big Bang to the present, there is even a unit on what the future may look like. We also have a subscription to Great Courses Plus that we will use to round things out, along with any other documentaries or activities that I hopefully find once I start researching these things. I'll probably add The Big Fat Notebook of World History at some point as well because H enjoys these books and I've found them to be great for reinforcement.
Science - Along with The Big History Project, we will again use Uzinggo. H loved it last year for Biology. I bumped him from middle school to high school and I think this will be a better fit. He requested chemistry this year so he will be doing Uzinggo along with MEL Chemistry sets. He will also be reading some books like A Brief History of Time, Brilliant Blunders, The Disappearing Spoon and Radioactive. As I mentioned, we also joined a science heavy co-op that meets a few times a month for more hands on experiential learning. A couple other supplements we will use on a regular basis are our National Geographic subscription and The Big Fat Science Notebook.
Logic - I am still fleshing this out, but I think we will mostly concentrate on games to stretch his mind and get him thinking critically. (Chess club here we come!) I really do not want to add another workbook type resource to our day. If anyone has any suggestions for games that teach logic, I'd love to hear them.
Art - H will be doing this film making class as well as learning chalk pastels with the rest of us on "Fine Art Fridays." We will do our fun Bravewriter Lifestyle stuff, like Poetry Teatime and Friday free writes, along with art projects, art history and piano lessons. We'll also do other fun and interest-led activities like the Keri Smith books, trips to maker spaces, and Shakespeare movies.
This all seems like a lot when I type it out, but he won't be doing every subject every day. I'm doing a trial of Homeschool Planet digital planning to try to figure out how we will fit all of this in. It's tedious to type in every detail to HP, but I think in the long run it's going to be nice to have a plan for once. A couple of these subjects can get dropped with no sadness or shame on my part. We have our priorities (Math, Writing, Reading and Music) and everything else will fit in where it fits. (I'm considering a loop schedule but I'm feeling shaky on the implementation. I'll keep you posted.)
That's it! We, well, *I* at least, are excited to get started. This year will be a lot different than years past, with more structure and more work. I'm glad we have the flexibility to back off a bit if it is too overwhelming for either of us. Home schooling is cool like that.
**This post contains one affiliate link for Homeschool Spanish Academy. I truly believe in the program and had been using it for a year before becoming an affiliate. By using my link, you are supporting my son's attempt at learning a living language.