Friday, February 13, 2015

8th Grade Planning

We are half way through our third year of home schooling. We've been using this curriculum.  We initially chose it because it was the same curriculum our son's school was using.  We thought the transition would be easiest for him if we kept the same program. It is a great option for someone that feels overwhelmed with the prospect of planning a curriculum on their own.  It's very organized and easy to follow.

There are some things about the program we don't like.  It doesn't leave a lot of room for creativity. There is a lot of seat work and limited hands on learning. My son has voiced his opinion about it and I am following my intuition.  We are breaking free.  We are going to complete this school year with the program, but are planning on creating our own curriculum next year.

Creating our own curriculum is VERY overwhelming, especially since my son will be in the 8th grade.  The 8th grade!

Some may think it's a bit premature to start planning for next year, but I'm a planner and I am detail oriented.  One can get lost in the sea of options out there.  I want to have plenty of time to research and think through what the school year will look like.

Stanley Schmidt, author of The Life of Fred, says it best:
"The world is not divided up into little water-tight compartments...
One teacher will say, “I teach chemical engineering.”
Another will say, “I teach German.”
Let us give five stars to the teacher that says, “I teach students.”
What a novel idea!—treating students as if they were humans, rather than
receptacles into which they can pour a single distilled subject."

And with this concept of cohesive learning, where all subjects melded together, the following is my plan.  (disclaimer: everything is subject to change)

We are going to use The Life of Fred for our math.  I love this program because it is fun, interesting, and engaging.  If your kid hates math, I highly recommend it.  It's math and so much more.
We will use Khan Academy as well.  I like the interactive website and videos for explaining all sorts of math concepts.

I plan on combining this with other subjects.  A report on deciduous trees can count for both English and Science.  I can pull words from other subjects to use for spelling and vocabulary.  We can use a paragraph from a history novel to diagram and identify parts of speech.

We are definitely going to incorporate a Nature Study in our studies. My son has specifically requested this.  I have some fun science projects in mind as well.  I plan for this to be mostly hands on learning.  Our bee keeping will also be included.

I'm still debating if we will use an actual curriculum or just free form learning. I was thinking of printing out an American history time line and filling it in with booksdocumentaries, and movies to correlate with each period.  I think the information will be easier to absorb and will also provide an opportunity to practice note taking.

I plan on note-booking as our documentation. Each subject will have a tab.  All worksheets, notes, reports, etc will be kept as well as any photographs of projects or details regarding field trips.

So, that's my plan to date.  I'm open to ideas and suggestions.

And for those concerned about socializing a home school-er so as not to have a feral child, my son takes karate twice a week, meets with a home school co-op for field trips and outings every Monday, and goes to Sunday school. He's pretty domesticated.


  1. You are rocking it....seriously! When I taught I went to many conferences on differentiation and it inspired me to change the way I looked at my students and the curriculum. I give you so much credit for taking this on! It isn't easy but you have a solid plan and your kiddo is going to be all the better for it! Well done! Nicole xo

    1. One always second guesses if they are doing the right thing, are they learning enough, etc. but I need to trust myself - a hard thing indeed!

  2. I think what you are doing is amazing. You are giving your son the education he needs and so much more. He will love learning because of you.
    Hugs and good luck,

    1. It's a hard balance of making learning fun and meaningful while still pushing him.

  3. Yes, planning a whole curriculum is very time consuming and mentally exhausting! I have not planned a home school curriculum, but as a teacher, I have planned whole curriculums for full and half year courses. Hands on is certainly the way to go- kids (and adults!) learn when they are able to get involved, discover, explore, experiment and figure it out on their own. That's real, lasting learning right there! Often "book learning" can go in and disappear right after the test is taken. Are you doing any arts, such as visual arts, music, drama, dance or performance with your child?

    1. My son is really into Legos. He builds, photographs, and makes stop motion videos with them. I guess you can say he is involved in drama, in that he creates stories and voices for his stop motion videos.