Thoughts on our next school year

I have discovered the wonder that is Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education. After years of thinking I knew what her philosophy was and thinking I didn’t like it I came across a most excellent book that puts a Catholic spin on her methods and I fell in love. Her methods fit so well with our dreams and goals for our home school, I can’t believe it took me this long to discover it!

That being said, our next year will loosely follow her methods as outlined in year 1B of Mater Amabilis. It will give us just enough structure to our days that I will be able to show that we are actually doing school while still giving Mary the time and opportunity to follow her own interests. Our main goal in homeschooling is for our children to love learning and reading so spending time curled up with interesting books will always trump any other school plans I might have.

For my planning I have been using the Sanctus Simplicitus Planner (they are apparently sedevacantists but I discussed it with dh and decided that didn’t bother us enough to not use their products. We will pray for their conversion and call it good). I bought the pdf version and had it spiral bound at Staples. It cost me $7 to have it bound which is significantly cheaper than paying to have the printed version shipped to me. I love the way it is layed out and especially love their liturgical year planning pages.

Here is a general overview of what I have planned for next year:

Religious Education:
We are using a delightful little book called Jesus and I. We will also continue to use the Saint Joseph First Communion Catechismwhich is so far my favourite book that I have come across for First Communion preparation.

I have so many different saint books, we will probably use Marry Newland’s The Saint Book: For Parents, Teachers, Homilists, Storytellers, and Children to begin with. She also has a book called The Saints and Our Childrenthat is full of great ideas to teach your children about saints and stories that pair up with certain virtues, who better to teach the virtues than the Saints who exemplified them!!

*(side note: Every single one of Mary Reed Newland’s books is absolutely amazing. If I could only have one book to plan our celebrations of the liturgical year with it would definitely be one of hers!!!)

*(another side note: I love the idea of finding the country each saint is from as we read their story and then putting a pin on a map, we will definitely be doing this!!)

On the days we don’t read a saint story we will read from the New Catholic Picture Bible.

We will continue to celebrate feasts and solemnities and live the liturgical year as much as possible. I plan on (finally!) purchasing a copy of Catholic Mosaic: Living the Liturgical Year with Literatureto help me plan these days. I already have most of the books on her book list but after looking through a friend’s copy I definitely need my own.

Each night when he tucks the big kids in dh reads to them from Little Visits with God. When we begin our new school year I hope to have the last half hour of the day set aside for snuggling on the couch and reading together. The kids love it when their dad reads to them, hopefully we’ll be able to say prayers, read, and then send them happily off to bed (ha.).

Math
We will try out Math-U-See Alpha. We started it with good intentions at the beginning of the year and Mary did enjoy it but it ended up getting pushed to the side. If she doesn’t love it I may just end up holding off for another year and getting her a work book to do some pages on when she feels like it. She completed most of the Horizons grade 1 math book this year for fun so I’m not too concerned about her falling behind. If I can squeeze the money from our home school funds I would like to purchase the elementary set of Life of Fred for Mary as well, I think she would love it.

English
Copy work will continue to be daily, from either the memory work we are doing or a part of a poem. Mary is desperate to learn cursive so we might start that as well.

I was thrilled out of my tree to find a leather bound copy of Favorite Poems Old and Newat Value Village for .99!! Mary will read a poem a day to me or her brothers.

I have a stack of books to use for narrations. We will start with the Complete Tales Of Beatrix Potterfor formal narration but Mary often narrates what she is reading to me without my asking so I’ll encourage her to continue with that.

We will most likely continue with PAL:Writing and All About Spelling Mary did enjoy this program so we will pick up where we left off.

My plans for English really require their own post, I’ve listened to so many of Andrew Pudewa’s talks my head is spinning.

History

After much internal debate over where to start we are starting a study of Canada. I went back and forth about starting with ancient history but in the end I decided against it.

This year I plan on using the Sleeping Bear Alphabet books on the Canadian provinces, starting with S is for Spirit Bear: A British Columbia Alphabet to make a scrapbook. We will study one province a month, colour the flag, learn about the provincial symbols, and hopefully find some living books for each. I’m pretty sure I already have M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet and Z Is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet around here somewhere as well.

(side note: I’m trying to convince my husband I need a Silhouette Cameo Digital Craft Cutter Machineto do school projects like this with… I really want one!!)

Science

Mary is fairly self directed in science. I don’t feel like I need to do anything here right now. I will probably buy¬† a copy of Exploring Creation: With Astronomy to read out loud and possibly the Notebooking Journalthat goes with it.

Nature Study

Living where we do I don’t expect a great deal of nature study to happen during the winter. I do plan on having a bird watching station set up so hopefully we will be able to do some observing. Our nature journals also need their own post, I have found so many fabulous old nature books.

Habit Training

Using Simply Charlotte Mason’s Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook we will start practicing the habits Charlotte Mason recommends in her works. I would like to make a scrapbook of some sort to chronicle our success. I’ll use the We Choose Virtues kit we were given along side this as well because I love it (and so do my kids!!).

Art/Music Study

We will begin piano lessons for Mary but other than that I don’t plan on planning much for either of these subjects for this year. I plan on printing some art from Costco’s collection for us to study and listening to classical music is already part of our days so I will just let it come naturally. Mary loves the DrawWriteNow books, hopefully I will be able to add a few more to our collection.

Like I said in the beginning, these are a very general outline of our plans. Living books, the liturgical year, and field trips will always be priority over any book work. I plan on having a morning basket like the one at Wildflowers and Marbles and I hope that we will be able to find a nice, slow paced rhythm for our days. Extracurricular activities will be limited to piano, gymnastics, and hopefully some sort of homeschooling group if we can find one.

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Colour Sorting

This is one of my favourite Montessori inspired games. I painted little wooden flower pots and little wooden balls. Mary loves to sit and practice sorting. I set her up at the table on her tray and she sits and sorts them, then dumps them back onto her plate and sorts them again.

I am going to home school our kids. I can’t wait. I am surrounded by families who home school and I honestly can’t wait to be one of them! I read books on homeschooling, read home schooler’s blogs, dream about all the fun school things I’ll do with my kids when they’re older…. I want learning to be incorporated into everything we do as a family. Jessica at Shower of Roses is an amazing homeschooling mom who incorporates the liturgical year into almost everything they do! I want to make feast days special too, I love all her ideas! We are even working on our own set of little wooden saints!

I think Mary will be ready for some basic preschool activities in September, I plan on using some ideas from Elizabeth’s Along the Alphabet Path and lots and lots of stories!

Some of my favourite books on learning are about the Montessori method. I love Maria Montessori’s methods and I hope to include a lot of them. I have found lately that Mary does much much better when she is challenged. She gets bored very quickly with her toys and we haf far fewer tantrums when she is challenged with something.

I just went through all of our toys and got rid of *tons* of them. I organized what is left into pretty photo boxes. I take one out and set her up with the activity, when she is done we clean it up and get out another one.

In the next few weeks I’m going to try and blog about some of our favourite games and activities.