Saturday, August 24, 2013

Funschooling is 5 ... and Year 6 Begins!

Can't believe the blog is five years old! What began as an experimental log of our homeschooling journey in August 2008 (when kiddo was in Year 1 or first grade) has evolved into an obvious part of my life now. I might not update the blog as often as I used to but I do look forward to posting when I can and am thankful I started it when I did. I can't rely on memory alone much these days. I've made so many wonderful online friends through the blog too...a most unexpected and valuable experience! :D

So kiddo is now in Year 6. Sixth grade. Almost 11 years old! Wowzers!
Time is really flying and I am trying to hold on and slow it down but to no avail. I miss those chubby little fingers and toothless grins of the earlier years. :) He used to be so little! When we kept him from preschool in 2006, instead of sending him to an expensive half day arrangement, I had no idea at that time that we would be continuing this up to middle school age! For now, we are very sure, unless kiddo changes his mind, that we'll homeschool through high school too.
To give the new school year a little oomph, I surprised him with a "Welcome to Sixth Grade" package. Notice that big grin? That's exactly what I was hoping to see. :) He opened his gifts and then we headed out for Asian food and ice cream afterwards. It was the first time we had made a bigger deal of it than usual and I think it was a good idea. In case you are curious about the gifts, this is what I chose:

I want to transition him into using pens this year. Hopefully, it will reduce all the unnecessary erasing that has been known to drive me nuts (wink). He really enjoys Hanjie puzzles and was finishing up an easier book over summer. I was glad to be able to find the next one in Gareth Moore's series. E.B. White's essays on his dogs are beautifully written. Kiddo has been asking for more books about dogs (and one or two essays are written from a doggie perspective too) so he was really pleasantly surprised by this gift.

Year 6 is going to see a little twist to my record-keeping style. I've made myself a little log book and will use it to record what happens each week. It replaces the "daily boxes" style planners that I have been using so far (like the ones you see here and here).

The weekly boxes have little time indicators to help me gauge how much time we are spending per subject per week. Very open ended. I can fill in a week-by-week plan if necessary. Or I can leave it all loosey goosey and only write in what we achieve every week. Those sets of four 15-minute time indicator boxes fill a dual purpose. First, to report to our charter school how much time was taken per subject per month (we have been asked to do isn't a biggie for me with an only child so I do comply with crazy requests when I can). Second, I see a benefit in that when subjects that I feel are important are neglected, I can direct us gently towards completing them (at least enough to keep my paranoia at bay). Kiddo keeps his free-flowing learning style. And I still get to check some boxes. Perfect! :)

I'm not listing what we are using per subject. In the past, researching and listing curriculum was a helpful endeavor at the start of the year, but by the time we were a third of the way through, I kept having to change plans to suit my guy better. This time, I have a handful of goals and we'll use whatever resources necessary to help us achieve them.

Goals for Year 6:
  1. Continue having as much fun as we possibly can, without sacrificing hard work and good work ethics.
  2. Improve writing confidence and fluency with as much Socratic discussion and writing across the curriculum as we can muster.
  3. Try a more in depth world history year, using lots of fun project ideas, Teaching Company videos and good quality narrative style books plus historical literature selections.
  4. Learn to use the microscope more confidently.
  5. Keep having a blast with math, german, physics, rocketry and biology, making as many cool memories as we can -- I will not try to reinvent the wheel here since what he has been doing all this while in these subject areas is obviously working well for him.
Listing goals helps me to feel less worried about not finishing a curriculum from start to end. :) I hope it's a good year for us. Wishing you a lovely year ahead too dear reader!


  1. Wow! He's grown so much. He looks so mature in his 2012 photo.

    I love the way you balance work ethic with funschooling. And I love those little boxes for keeping time and how it's customized to fit your needs. It's brilliant - visual and easy to total up.

    It's also wonderful how you've found your groove. I'm still working on mine, tweaking things every day and sometimes starting from scratch.

    Love the idea of starting the new year with gifts. Kiddo looks like a happy homeschooler and learning so much.

    Best wishes for the new year!

  2. Thank you M! I tweaked and restarted things from scratch many times too. Things do fall into place after a while. I think you are doing really great with K. The yardstick is always how eager they are to learn despite all our err, "attempts", and it looks like she's having a wonderful time with it. Hang in there my friend!

  3. Ha, I do believe you are finally relaxing into this - no curriculum research this year!! Kiddo looks so grown up now. Miss you guys so much!

  4. I love seeing the changes over the years in your son. He does seem to have grown up quite a bit this year. Before you know it you'll have a teenager on your hands. :)

    I hope you and your son have a wonderful school year. I am off to look up the book on dogs. I know a few kids around here who would probably enjoy reading that.

  5. Hey Kerrie, you know me best...I'm still sorely tempted you know! :D

  6. Jill, I hope you don't mind. I was very much inspired by your own over the years photos. :) Thank you and hope you enjoy the book too!

  7. Congrats on the anniversary and the new year. The planner sounds great. You know that's pretty much what we do (or more, actually) and it works pretty well. With 5 kids, I would go crazy with anything else though. :)

  8. Thanks Alicia! I always wonder how you do it. You inspire me so much!


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