I put a lot of time and effort into choosing the right curriculum for each boy this year. I know their learning styles better, their strengths and their weaknesses. Harry is my live wire, my loose cannon. He is in constant motion, finding it nearly impossible to sit still in a chair for even five minutes. He is quick to anger, and yet the most friendly and outgoing member of our entire family. If he were in traditional school, we’d be having meetings about him distracting the rest of the class and bandying about labels. He’s brilliant. He’s a challenge. And he has more personality than anyone I’ve ever met.

Last year, second grade, was our first year homeschooling. We survived. In some areas I’d venture to say that we thrived. Harry’s reading has flourished. We had to backtrack nearly a year in math due to…. an unfortunate situation with his first grade teacher in his former school. He’s now completely caught up and ready to tackle third grade math. He didn’t enjoy it, but I still consider the progress he’s made a great success. This year, Harry learned to play the piano. He learned to swim. He’s gone from little kid to full on boyhood.

I’ve put hours and hours of thought into choosing this year’s curriculum for this boy, taking extra pains to respect his strengths and his struggles. This is our plan for the coming year.

beast-3aMath: Insert heavy sighs and dragging feet any time I mention the word “math”. Math is the thorn in Harry’s side. And I’m 99% sure it’s not an ability problem. It’s a mindset problem- Harry’s mindset being that math means worksheets and drudgery. And, if I’m being fair, last year was lots of worksheets. So perhaps it’s not a mindset problem at all. It’s the approach that’s the problem. So we’re going to turn math on its beastly tail and take a fresh approach. Beast Academy combines a textbook in graphic-novel format and a workbook that is light on rote memorization and heavy on applied learning. I see a lot of buddy math in our near future, but I think this is a huge step in the right direction.

large-grammar-islandLanguage Arts: Last year Liam and I tried out Michael Clay Thompson’s language arts curriculum with phenomenal success. Initially, I had planned to hold off on MCT for Harry until fourth grade, but decided the level one package is right on target for my less-is-more, fewer worksheets, more content child. MCT has grammar, vocabulary, writing, and poetry components. Once we’ve covered the basics of grammar, we’ll also dive into MCT’s literature program for this level, the Mud trilogy. To round out LA, I’ve got a generic handwriting book for (short) daily practice and a generic spelling workbook.

gombrichScience and Social Studies: We’ll continue to be primarily interest-led when it comes to science and social studies. Not a day goes by that this kid doesn’t take in a NOVA, or several Crash Course videos, or lose himself in a nonfiction book. In addition, I have a generic geography workbook, just to be certain we hit the basics, and we’ll read our way through E.H. Gombrich’s “A Little History of the World.” 

Parlez-vous français?

Parlez-vous français?

French: This is the subject that elicits heavy sighs and dragging feet from me. I love French, I’m glad my boys learned it when they were young. But I don’t know where to go from here. We read books in French, we watch movies, we are trying to remember to spend at least one afternoon a week speaking solely in French. I feel the need for a more targeted approach. I just haven’t found what that looks like yet.

Music: Harry will continue taking piano lessons. Practice time is the best part of the school day, as far as he’s concerned.

PE: We’ll continue with weekly swimming lessons. And I’m seriously contemplating adding aikido this autumn. Harry would really benefit from the extra physical/mental workout.

It’s always a work in progress, but I think I’ve struck a good balance of rigorous academics whilst respecting Harry’s personality and learning style. Most of the books are in place, or will be by this time next week. Our new school year starts the first Monday in August, less than a week away.