(Note: don't worry, this will not turn into a homeschooling blog. But I'm just too darn excited not to share!) After plenty of begging (really!), I've conceded to starting homeschool tomorrow. Truly don't have a clue what I'm doing, but like anything, I figure it's best to jump in and figure it out as a go. Otherwise, I might never begin as there is no perfect time. I also start teaching four online sections for the university back in Oklahoma, so I think it will be helpful to get a feel for homeschooling before that whole circus begins again. (Does the love for my job come shining through, or what?)
As I started planning last week, I found so much inspiration in Calli's nature study plan, over at Sparrow and Lillies. She used the lovely Julia Rothman book, Nature Anatomy, as well as Charlotte Mason theories, to form her plan. I am not ashamed to admit that I took her plan for the school year, but tweaked it to fit our locale and study. But I urge you to please check out the original, because hers follows the book so much better than mine. And since I'm a tad bit lazy, rather than give you the week by week study, I'm going to share the monthly themes and a smidge of insight into our game plan.
Besides leaning heavily on nature study, I am planning to incorporate books from the Before Five in a Row series as well as some of my favorites into the monthly themes. And since V is only 4 (or nearly 5 as she eagerly tells EVERYONE.....March, ahem), we'll go light on the academics. Learning the sounds of the alphabets as well as recognition, numbers and basic addition/subtraction, will form the core of our learning. We'll learn 1 alphabet letter and 1 number per week, focusing heavily on all aspects of it--how it sounds, looks, how it is formed, etc. Many of the activities that I'll use are Montessori in nature, but I also found inspiration in the Oak Meadow curriculum I almost bought. And finally, we'll do plenty of crafts and some art study, daily circle time, and manners formation. Oh the fun of it!
8-10am: breakfast, Bible story, and morning movement (walk or play outside) 10am: circle time 10:15am: alphabet recognition and letter formation 10:30: snack and literature read aloud 10:45: number recognition and formation activities 11-11:30: nature study (M, W, F) or craft (T, TH) 11:30: lunch
Afternoons will be spent outdoors or exploring our community. As part of our bedtime routine, we'll read from an early reader chapter book that fits in with the theme. I can't wait to read Little House in the Big Woods with her during the forest theme month! Several months ago, we incorporated "candle time" into our bedtime ritual where we light a candle then say our prayers. It's a peaceful way to wrap up the day.
Now on to the monthly nature study units!
August: Water--exploring all aspects of the Great Lakes, sand dunes and grasses, fish, tides and waves
September: Forest--a deeper look into a forest ecosystem and the animals that inhabit it (V's choices: deer, bears, and owls)
October: Trees--an overview of the life cycle of trees, identification of local trees, study of their leaves and bark, and animals that live in trees
November: Rocks and Minerals--a very beginning study of all things fossils, rocks, and minerals
December: V wanted to focus on Christmas related topics, so I let her choose for this month. We will explore the world of evergreens, particularly pine trees and their parts. We will also briefly discuss water and its stages as well as animal hibernation.
January: As the trees will be bare and the ground will (probably) be shining with snow, we will study the moon cycles, constellations, and type of snowflakes
February: During this month, we'll do a general study of different types of weather as well as clouds
March: All things birds will be the main focus as we study local birds such as seagulls and sandpiper cranes. Hopefully, we'll hone our identification skills as well as look at the general anatomy of a bird
April: Bugs and Frogs--we'll discuss some of the backyard bugs we see, such as spiders and ants, and also take a closer look at the life cycle of a frog
May: In our final month, we'll take advantage of all of the gorgeous wildflowers that bloom around us and delve into a study of them. Likewise, we'll take a look at how bees work alongside the wildflowers to produce honey and ideally visit an apiary
So that's my basic plan, a loose framework to hold me accountable, but to also allow for some freedom. I don't desire to push academics early or to be too school-like, so if at any point she starts dreading our little daily homeschool session we will definitely change things up.