When think of restful homeschooling what comes to mind?
This has been the question I’ve been contemplating this summer.
For me, I imagine a home where learning takes place in a natural way, with lots of time for discussion, contemplation, and independent learning.
A home that is focused on truth, beauty, and goodness. Sadly, our homeschool falls short of these ideals.
So this summer I’ve been listening, reading, and discussing these ideas with other homeschool moms and have pondered how I could bring these virtues into our homeschool for TJ’s 5th-grade year.
The end result is a drastic change from our usual schedule.
The first big change is the addition of a Morning Meeting time. I have a few reasons for adding this to our day:
- Focus on prayer & devotions first.
- Begin our day with things that are true & beautiful.
- Facilitate a shift to more independent learning.
After our Morning Meeting, my daughter can start her independent work for the day using her assignment list.
She’ll still be working in open living areas like the kitchen or family room where I’ll be available as she needs me.
We’ll break for lunch and have some time to practice French, play math games, or work on Logic problems.
After lunch we’ll have a 2-hour block of time for content subjects – history, geography and science, which have seen the biggest change.
Instead of covering history 3 days a week and science 2 days a week, we are moving to a completely different schedule.
I originally read about the idea on The Well-Trained mind message boards and this post about table time at The Planted Trees.
This was my biggest area of concern when I was looking at things that needed to change. After we had worked through all our other subjects history and science were often moved through quickly to get them checked off the list.
I would rather spend time discussing and delving deep into topics that interest us. Something that would be impossible to do with our regular schedule.
So, instead of a mix of history and science lessons each week, we will spend our time focused on one subject.
3 weeks each term (we school in 6-week terms) will be history-focused, 2 weeks will be science-focused, and 1 week for independent study.
By allowing ample time each day and week to focus on one topic at a time I believe that we’ll have a more relaxed and restful atmosphere.
After that daily 2-hour focus we’ll wrap up our day with tea time and reading.
Since first grade, we’ve used the grammar series from Peace Hill Press. First Language Lessons has been a wonderful program for us but, currently, the last book in the series is book 4.
So, with 5th grade approaching, we had to find an alternative. Thankfully, the first program we tried is just right for us – Rod & Staff English.
Grammar With Rod & Staff
The English series from Rod & Staff is a blend of grammar and writing lessons (for a complete language arts program you’d want to add reading and spelling as well).
It is a solid program with built-in review and easy-to-follow lesson plans.
A Look At ‘Following The Plan’
The 5th-grade set, titled Following the Plan, includes a student book, a teacher’s manual, as well as test and worksheet booklets.
All you really need are the student and teacher books but I like using the tests because I save the completed tests for our year-end portfolio and the worksheets make for a nice break from the written word.
The teacher’s manual includes the student book (at a reduced size) with lots of notes for oral review, teaching the lesson, answers for lesson material, as well as answers for the worksheets and tests.
I really like the Oral Review section – it provides a nice quick review of previous material.
Lessons are divided into a few different parts:
- Oral Review
- Lesson material
- Oral Drill
- Written Practice
- Review & Practice
- Challenge Exercises
One caution: if you have a pencil-phobic child this might not be the right program for your needs. There is no workbook, just a text. Students are expected to write their answers out on paper.
We really like Rod & Staff English. It’s a solid program that doesn’t take lots of time. It works well for kids who still want or need parental involvement (though you could certainly use it more independently).
I’m happy with our choice and plan to continue using the series through the 8th-grade book (which, hopefully, will be plenty of grammar!).