Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preparing For a Year of Adventure!

Last year was our oldest's first year of Ambleside Online's Year One homeschool (free) curriculum, which we followed loosely. I really liked how flexible it was, to pick and choose what we wanted to do, and my son was able to listen and narrate and finish the assignment within 20 minutes. Then, we were able to go and do fun things and continue with our usual life learning.

However, I found that even with using only a few of the recommended books, we still didn't get everything done and that for my young active son, he needed more hands-on things to do, as a focus.

This coming year,  I'll finish the books from last year's list that I see as being worth our time and add in a very few new ones. Mostly, I see us doing more hands-on things and going places together. AND including the younger ones more. I really missed that last year as I sat with my oldest to get through the books on the list. The morning is such a precious time! (And the best time for the little ones.)


NOW: I have my eye on adventure and THAT is something we can all be excited about! I think learning should be exciting and something fun to look forward to. (More about this toward the end)

Tidepools in Oregon 2010

From last year's experience with 'table time' and morning devotional time, when we sing a song, pray and read a scripture story or memorize a verse, I realized that I don't need to cover subjects every day or even every week to make sure my kids get all they need.

I discovered the kiddos learned things even faster than I thought we would. That is encouraging because we plan to welcome another child into our family soon, we hope. Doing less as far as putting out my time and energy into homeschool everyday with all the kids will allow me to build in periods of rest that I will need during the day and week, should we be blessed with another pregnancy this coming year.

Keeping those insights in mind, I decided to plan a year theme and monthly themes that relate to the year theme. During the month, I will plan one activity that coincides with the monthly theme and that will be an adventure with Daddy, too, or just me and the kids. I figure one project per month, I know I can handle. The size and scope of the project could be grand one month and simple the following. Built-in flexibility: LIKE!

The rest of the kids' learning will come from their curiosity and branching off into areas of their interest either from the project we do (which happens naturally) or into areas of interest in which they stumble for other reasons. In other words, it's back to mostly unschooling, just focusing on character building and using living books regularly. My husband and I will continue to support them in their interests as we normally do.

We'll see how things actually shape up.

I know things always shift a bit when mixed with real life.
But I am excited! And I am looking forward with eager anticipation
for the fun I can have with my boys, and little girl along for the ride.

How it started...
I came across a children's devotion book for boys about being a godly warrior. I loved that it includes scriptures that show how to have courage and make right choices, with a special focus for little boys. Perfect for my 3 little boys!


My boys make weapons out of anything they come across and Dad and a friend of ours just finished building the awesomest boy fortress ever. They love stories of heroes and brave men and boys.

I felt a Year Theme coming on...

Warriors for God!

Our oldest (on the right) practices fencing at cub scout day camp this month.

The inspiration flowed as I planned some tentative monthly themes. I want them to have experiences that will strengthen their character and meet them where they are at. In addition to the normal everyday things, I planned in some Adventures for us.

Each month has a theme. October will be based around a Civil War re-enactment in our area: real guns, cannons, men in uniform, a re-enacted battle! What's a kid not to love? Another month will focus on "Weapons, and other Warrior tools", including archery and shooting. We'll talk about first aid another month, and blood: what it is made of, etc. Another month will be stories of compassion; warriors can be considerate, too.

As you see below, we have learning times penciled in here and there (it's necessary for planning purposes within a large family with varying schedules), as well as a few adventures and outings thrown in for good measure, but it all happens within the framework of an ordinary, everyday routine. Homeschooling feels so natural this way! We tend to go out in the morning and be home for quiet and rest time in the afternoon.

Daily routine:

Mom puts a load of laundry in, children help in Family Work time
Eat, devotional time at table together (15 minutes)
Lesson  or outing (see weekly schedule)
Kids play time, I spend one on one time with each child
Dinner prep (inviting the children to lend a hand where able to)
Dinner, read a scripture as a family (20 minutes)
Family walk /  bike ride
Baths, quiet play (Dad helps)
Clean kitchen
Bedtime, read from Godly Warrior devotional book, listen to the CD

I tuck fun ideas into each envelope as I think of / find them. The kids choose which one to do.

Weekly schedule:

Monday: Homeschool co-op on the morning for an hour and a half. I am teaching a fun class about creating things, and experiences, like stop motion videos and funny poetry as a group. Other classes the two oldest may participate in: a board game class, beginning recorder.
Family Home Evening that night. (Games and devotional time)

Tuesday: Character training at breakfast (lesson of the day). We'll be using the 12 songs and storybooks from Brite music's Standin' Tall series. Once a week lesson, for about 15 minutes, repeating the same character trait for 4 weeks.

Wednesday: Library as option in the morning for story time, once or twice a month. OR History lesson, once or twice a month, abut 20 minutes, using Story of the World as a jumping-off point, fun activities as the focus. Afternoon: My oldest and I sit down and do some cub scout requirements or plan an activity together. This is also his journal time, practicing hand writing (10 minutes). He attends his scout troop that evening.

Thursday: Learn a children's primary song at breakfast together (15 minutes). Repeat the song each week until everyone is able to sing most of it and then introduce a new one. Tentative: playgroup with 3 other little boys for our 4 year old. Afternoon: My oldest and I will read a book together and he will tell me back, in his own words, what we understood from the story.

Friday: Theme Day! (Once a month) This day can be swapped with another week day if an outing is planned, like the Civil War Reenactment. Otherwise, we'll have a fun Adventure to do together (about 20 minutes). The other 3 weeks, we can choose from various Art, Nature, and Math activities to do, using the materials we already have and books from our own family collection. We'll rotate through those four areas, one topic per week as a guideline.

Park Days with other homeschooling families are a highlight of the month. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the days those occur, and I'll choose carefully which ones to attend each month. We may attend more often when the weather is good or when no one is sick, and we may attend less if circumstances dictate. The End-of-the-Summer / Not-Back-to-School parties with fellow homeschoolers are about to start! We look forward to those fun things.

That's a peek into our homeschooling plans this year.

Happy homeschool planning!


  1. Sounds great! I love the flexibility of homeschooling....how we can adjust everything to suit our own families:) sounds like you've made some great adjustments. I found that doing AO1 has also eaten up some of our park / nature walk time that we did together before, I am still working on how to adjust things for us in that area.

  2. Hi, Rosemary. Isn't a new year fun? All the possibilities! Best of luck finding time for nature walk again! (I am excited for that, too...ah, green, growing things restore my soul!)

  3. Looks like a great schedule. You appear very organized:) Thanks for linking up to the NOBH

  4. Well, the plans change as we go along but that's okay 'cause we're flexible. Thanks for visiting!

  5. I LOVE your ideas!! And I love seeing your schedule! I haven't done homeschool but I've thought a lot about it. It's great to see how you do it. Good luck on your next baby! Hope to hear of your pregnancy soon.:)


Thanks for your comment today! I love reading your thoughts, too. :-)