phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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How to Organize a Homeschool Year

For me, organizing our homeschooling year is one of the most interesting parts of the progress. My background includes a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction, so you could say this sort of thing is my jam. I teach English at the collegiate level, and I always enjoy making the syllabi for my courses and thinking about how to break down the big-picture goals of the course into the weekly and daily practices. Charting a homeschool curriculum is a similar process.

I begin with the New York state regulations and break them down into the requirements for my children’s ages and grade levels.

Then, I look at the year month-by-month. Here is our rough topical schedule for 2017-2018:

First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter
July 2017

Geography

  • Hello Kitty, Hello USA!
  • 50 States Puzzle
  • Wee Sing America

U.S. History

  • (See Above)

Science

August 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 1-6

U.S. History

  • American Revolution

Science

  • Ocean Preview

September 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 7-12

U.S. History

  • American Revolution

Science

  • Ocean
October 2017

Geography

  • Judaism/Israel

U.S. History

Science

  • Farms/Farm Animals

November 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 13-18

U.S. History

Science

  • Inventions

December 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 19-24

U.S. History

  • Civil Rights

Science

  • Space Preview

 

January 2018

Geography

  • Story of the World, 25-30

U.S. History

Science

February 2018

Geography

  • Puerto Rico

U.S. History

Science

March 2018

Geography

  • Story of the World, 31-36

U.S. History

  • Pioneer Preview

Science

  • Trees

 

April 2018

Geography

  • Story of the World, 37-42

U.S. History

Science

May 2018

Geography

  • Explorers

U.S. History

Science

June 2018

Geography

  • Finish Story of the World

U.S. History

  • Field Trips T.B.D.

Science

  • Field Trips T.B.D.

 

 

 I do not include arithmetic, English language arts, health education, music, visual arts, or physical education on here because those are daily topics for us. This chart represents the big unit studies that I do and record on my website: phdmama—though I am woefully behind in posting what we’ve covered already!

I use the following chart to track their monthly progress, inserting brief notes and dates for my family’s usage. Since we school year-round, I review three months of these in order to write my quarterly reports. So, for instance, for our first month, I would write “September 30” and the appropriate year for the Quarterly Report due date. For the month, I would write “July,” and then in submitting the first quarterly at the end of September, I would look at the months July, August, and September. I store all of these files in a binder, one for each child. A typical entry in the chart below might look like this: “7/12—Tour of Kingston Senate House” for “United States History,” or “7/2, 7/9, 7/16, 7/23/7/30—Swimming” for “Physical Education.”

Quarterly Report Due:

Grades 1-6: 225 hours per quarter

Month:

Arithmetic  

 

 

 

 

English Language Instruction

(Reading/Spelling/Writing)

 

 

 

 

Geography  

 

 

 

United States History  

 

 

 

Science  

 

 

 

Health Education  

 

 

Music  

 

 

Visual Arts  

 

 

Physical Education  

 

 

Finally, I use a whiteboard on the refrigerator to cover the daily work expected of my children. That way, I can easily update their workload when they complete a book or we need to shake things up. Since we work year-round, I do build in breaks around holidays, visits from grandparents, and vacations, as well as the occasional day off when my kids just need it. Sometimes, though, the curriculum gets stale and the whiteboard flexibility allows me to accommodate my children’s choices and needs.

The whiteboard currently looks like this:

Kid 1 Kid 2
Monday Piano Practice, Science Experiment and Journal, 3 pages Math Workbook, Times Tables Flashcards, French Piano Practice, Science Experiment, Sight Words, 2 pages Math Workbook
Tuesday Piano Practice, Dance Class, 3 pages Math Workbook, Times Tables Flashcards, French, Handwriting Piano Practice, Dance Class, 4 pages Big Workbook, Sight Words, Handwriting
Wednesday Reading, Puzzles, Games, Crafts Reading, Puzzles, Games, Crafts
Thursday Piano Practice, Times Tables Flashcards, Magazine, 50 States Workbook or Flashcards, French Piano Practice, Sight Words, Magazine, 2 pages of Mazes, 2 pages of Number Dot-to-Dot
Friday Piano Practice, 3 pages Math Workbook, Times Tables Flashcards, French, Handwriting Piano Practice, 4 pages Big Workbook, Sight Words, Handwriting

The unit studies listed above are in addition to the daily activities and field trips. Both of my kids are bookworms who love to read and write, so at this stage, I don’t list it on most days because they do it without thinking of it as “school.” For workbooks, I like the Kumon Math Workbooks and buy the whole series for each child’s grade level. For Big Workbooks, I like the variety and coverage of the Brain Quest series. Each child uses the Bastien piano book appropriate for her abilities. The magazines are either Highlights or Ranger Rick.

All of these charts are posted in my kitchen, so the entire family knows what’s scheduled for when. We’re currently working on the final quarter of our third year of homeschooling, and, so far, this is a system that supports the structure and flexibility my family needs.

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