Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Rambling Homeschool Planning Post

While I will still be working until the beginning of September, we will begin our homeschooling adventure next week so the girls will stay on the same schedule as the local public schools. Brave? Crazy? You make the call. I am not married to the idea of strictly following the public school schedule, but for this first year, I think the girls will be more comfortable starting school when everyone else does.

Right now, I am trying to construct a school supply list for the year while the sales are good. Here I will explain the general nature of my amorphous ideas and you, helpful friends, might help me construct a supply list.

For the girls


In the beginning, Math will be Khan Academy. I would prefer to move towards a book curriculum in the second semester, but for now, I only want to establish the habit of working on math everyday. I want them to use scratchpads for their work so they will have something like a math notebook.


Do you need supplies for this? I want to cover other subjects through reading and like the idea of a library checklist. What categories should be included? I have science, biography, history, and fiction.


We will be doing open-ended journaling daily for a set amount of time. I am thinking 20 minutes. Is that too much? I also like the idea of a copybook. How many notebooks do you need to get through a year?


We have the first level of the Memoria Press cursive curriculum. Handwriting is something that was only touched on minimally at school and we would all like to have better handwriting. Should I buy more "official" books or just use the book as a guide and keep the practice to a separate handwriting tablet? I do not expect to get to handwriting until LATER but I want them to have the materials available.


Another thing for LATER, but I was shown a handy grammar website today with lessons already divided out. I want to try to work these in for both girls. More paper?

Practical Life:

I want to especially focus on meal planning, cooking, and establishing a housekeeping routine. Do you need extra supplies for this? I don't think so, but let me know if you disagree.


A friend from church who has an art degree has just offered to teach a monthly art class. This is fantastic news. I know I will need to buy supplies for that, but what do I need to keep at home? Sadly, art has been a weak point in our household. Coloring and painting does not happen very often mostly due to logistics, but I am hoping with the establishment of a housekeeping routine, art will finally become a thing at our house. Should everyone get their own sketchpad? What else? Tape, glue, construction paper, colored pencils. We have four million crayons. I also want to buy one of those outstanding Dover coloring books just because I want one in the house. Should each child get an individual art supply box or does corporate property work decently?


I think I have this one covered. The only thing missing is uncovering the keyboard. If there is something specific that you recommend, let me know.


Sam will be added to this mix at some point. I only note this for purposes of quantity since I am trying to buy for the whole year. You only get a shot at 10 cent notebooks once.

For me

What do I need to make this operation run? I want a portable calendar--Google calendar does not work because I have a dumbphone--and something in which to record the day. I suspect a ream of paper would be helpful and a good pencil sharpener. A whole box of reams? We have a couple of small whiteboards so we probably need new dry erase markers. Sharpies? Ink pens? How many pencils considering we have them falling out our ears. Or do you just buy new pencils on principle to begin the new school year?

Regale me with all your suggestions.


bearing said...

Pencils: Dixon Ticonderoga. Cheap pencils are a false economy.

Do you have a photocopier? Like, a laser printer that also makes copies? Honestly don't think I could live without mine.

Experiment with kids to find out whether they enjoy writing more in bound books or on loose paper that can then be put in a 3-ring binder. Don't be wed to either system until you find out which works better.

Two effortless record keeping ideas. Idea one: Keep a daily journal for yourself for a while and just write down what you do (can be electronic/internet based of course) -- just a list of how you spent your time. Takes only a few minutes and it will do wonders for your spirits on those days when you wonder if you are accomplishing anything, to look back at the entries. Also, you can generate any other kind of record you want later from these diary entries, for example, a list of books read or whatever. Alternative: Give your kids who can use them paper to-do lists each day, and then save the to-do lists in a binder -- they will become a daily record.

My favorite handwriting curriculum is Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting. I thought I was going to be one of those "everyone should learn copperplate cursive" parents and then... it just wasn't worth the struggle. I like BFH because it stresses functional writing: FAST and LEGIBLE writing over perfect and beautiful writing, although someone who wants to make their writing beautiful can do so.

Not sure if you need supplies for cooking/housekeeping. I think there are meal planners you can buy. I make my own meal planning forms and grocery shopping lists in spreadsheet programs.

Ask your friend what you need for her art class, and just start with that material set. You can definitely add to this a little at a time. Tape, glue, crayons, some different kinds of paper, some play-doh. Some of those cheap little watercolor boxes -- eight or sixteen colors. Crayola watercolors are actually pretty good. Do not try to save money by buying RoseArt brand instead of Crayola. I think a bigger question to settle than "does each kid get his own?" is whether you want to allow free access to the supplies or whether you want to get them out for kids who ask for them and make sure they get put away. Me, I have functioned well with Barry Stebbing's art books, learning along with the kids.

One thing I learned about art and me, since I hate dealing with mess, is that it worked best to have a long block of time every week for it, to supervise it closely, and to get it all cleaned up and put away as part of the tme block. And we all did art together, the same medium. My entire Friday morning was nothing but art for 2 years. And I learned so much!

Work your way slowly up to the 20-minute writing goal. Some kids thrive on open ended, but I might suggest that if you get a lot of "but I don't know whaaaaat to write" that you make it less open ended. Most writing has a purpose. Try reading a super short story (like, Aesop's fables short) and having them retell it.

Music: Recorders are cheap. I have a bunch. And a copy of Penny Gardner's Nine Note Recorder Method. My daughter likes to work on that independently. I was thinking of buying a couple of ukuleles this year.

bearing said...

And a real, school-quality, bolted to the wall hand cranked pencil sharpener.

bearing said...

Ziplock bags (separate from your kitchen ones)

Jenny said...

We do have a printer that is also a copier. How much ink do you go through in a year?

There will not be free access to the art supplies because then I would die. I like the idea of having a set block of time for art to minimize my feelings of out of control chaos.

I honestly am more attracted to the idea of bound notebooks rather loose leaf paper because it seems like it will be less messy and less to keep up with, but I think Grace really wants a binder with loose leaf paper so I will forebear, I suppose.

I am not sure if I have a spot to bolt a pencil sharpener to the wall where there is not carpet underneath. I will have to think on this. It is really better than an electric one?

Jenny said...

What are the ziplocs for?

entropy said...

Bearing's suggestions are good, especially jotting down what you did. for reading lists, also sonlight catalog

I like the Italic series for handwriting--fast, legible and pretty.

There is so much out there that is good and useful but don't get overwhelmed. Pick something and go with it. If it really sucks you can quit but don't let the-grass-is-greener syndrome get you down.

Congratulations on your new journey!

bearing said...

Ziplocs for corralling random small objects. Kid needs to take his schoolwork in the car: handful of crayons. Math curriculum wants you to have envelopes of index cards with numbers written on them: screw the envelopes, use a ziploc bag. Place value exercises with dimes and pennies: gotta keep those dimes and pennies somewhere. They're just super useful. You really only need the sandwich size. I also find paper lunch sacks to be very useful items

bearing said...

Thought of something else -- several packs of cards and a book of fun card games. I actually think you would do well to get a few new board games appropriate to play with each of your kids. You guys are going to need some just-for-fun one-on-one time too. Anyway why not celebrate all this time you are going to have together?

Maybe some cookbooks aimed at kids. You can work your way through it one meal at a time.

bearing said...

Printer ink. Maybe 2-3 toner cartridges a year? Black and white laser, not inkjet. I don't have a color printer and have never missed it. On the rare occasion when I really need a color printout I send it to a copy shop.

Jenny said...

Ours is an inkjet. :/ We have been eating up the ink with Dave's real estate stuff. We have used more ink in the past 6 months than we have probably in the last 6 years.

Jenny said...

Thanks Entropy! It's hard not to get overwhelmed, but I'm excited.

bearing said...

Yeah, do the math on a laser printer and its toner cartridges, bearing in mind that color is not important.

Anonymous said...

A big box of page protectors might be good for Grace if she wants a binder. Elise and I have been using them this summer as we cook through some recipes, also for the brochures/maps we've picked up on social studies family field trips. It is so easy for people like me who procrastinate filing.


bearing said...

I went through 3 electric sharpeners in 3 years before I bought my old-school model, which has been going strong for a couple of years now.

mandamum said...

If you have glue-stick users, the sales can be a good time to stock up (25c for 4-packs, often). I stock up on crayons then too, so I feel free to pull out a fresh box midway through the year, or for a special occasion.

Congrats on kicking off a new adventure!