A Bird’s Eye View of School Year 2011-2012

I cannot believe how fast this summer has gone.   It feels as if we only recently stopped meeting around the table during the afternoons!    Days go by and I look at the practically empty planners that I was so excited about when they arrived on last week; I can’t help but wonder if my hesitation to write anything is more than fatigue after a crazy, busy day.   It’s an odd place to be for me because I love planning for the school year.   Execution is still sometimes hit-and-miss, but thankfully far more hits than misses.

Dawn wrote a very thought-provoking post about her thoughts on her family’s upcoming school year.   As I begin the planning stages–much later than I normally would–her post made me think about where I would want the school year to go directionally.

The oldest’s year looks deceptively simple–college on two days in the mornings, one class in the afternoon afterwards, with no more than 3 major classes per day.   Of course, we will continue our staples of Bible study and reading in the afternoons.   Yet, like most of us when there are few time constraints, her task will be to not stretch a day without many requirements into a 10-hour school day, which she is fully capable of doing.   She wants to continue to be very active in dance while adding another college course to the one she has.    It’s a battle we are having because I want her to adjust to the pace of college courses without adding to her workload with having to attend dance classes each day; she believes she can handle it all.     I want fewer days of going to bed after midnight and waking up tired; she doesn’t see it as a problem.   Ugh.    I am missing the days when, as a smaller child, she would go to bed without discussion about why she needed to be awake a while longer.

This year, she’ll study economics.   I knew I wanted to have a living books approach to this study rather than a textbook, and I settled on Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics, based upon suggestions on the Simply Charlotte Mason forum.   Sowell has an integrated approach to economic theory, incorporating historical events and explaining why they occurred in terms of the financial aspect.  This is exactly what I wanted for the concepts behind economics, but I am also having to complete a bit more research for fundamental formulas and activities to seal in the learning.   What I found quickly was that there are a number of resources that teach personal finance and related economic principles, but not too many that teach why economics matter.    Here are a few links that I’m excited about and thought I’d share:

Teaching Economics as If People Mattered


John Stossel’s online videos

PBS Economics Resources

There are several more, and I think that once I put all of this together, I’m going to list it as a Squidoo lens so that I’ll have it where I can refer back, and others can use it if needed.    In the meantime, I am excited about learning about money and other resources in a way that will build upon the values that we have established in our home–loving others as you love self, giving because God gave, and being a good steward of the resources that God gave you to manage.

I have an opportunity to develop, or tweak, a number of my lesson plans in the coming year.   Our son will begin mostly 9th grade courses in the fall, and will begin the same Great Books studies that I’ve worked on with the oldest.   We have used a commonplace book for notebooking our studies for the last year.   This has worked well, but the oldest loves to write.   As the year went on, she got away from other ways of capturing her learning (maps, pictures, etc.) and stuck almost exclusively to response papers.   This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I believe that one missing aspect of her understanding history is putting together an event with what was happening elsewhere around the world during the time.   In reading a post from Barb over at Harmony Art Mom, I saw how I might help our son arrange his work a little differently to get a better picture of history and how various events fit together and affect one another.   Of course, highlighting maps and developing timelines won’t be a problem for him; he truly believes that a picture is worth a thousand words, and unless urged to do more, would gladly copy and post a few scenes from a book to tell his story.   Ever wonder how two children from the same womb can be so different?

I mentioned in a previous post that I slowed down our math studies a bit to give our youngest more time to understand borrowing.   Although our summer lessons have been more sporadic than I would have hoped, she has performed well, and I look forward to getting back on track with her basic studies.   I cannot believe my “baby” is now entering 3rd grade.    I blew the dust off of the first grammar book in the Rod and Staff English series and began thumbing through the pages.   She’s big enough for a textbook(?!), I thought.   She’s also at that stage where I have traditionally begun Latin studies.   I also get to revamp my own elementary history curriculum as I lead her through early American history.   What I want most for her, though, is to give her more exposure to art, poetry, and music–especially the former two areas–than the older two had.    LindaFay does an excellent job of describing how to introduce children to these areas before giving them “hard core” studies at an older age.   If you care to read, those posts are here, here, and here.   By the way, Pandora is an excellent online radio station that you can customize to introduce your children to the works of various composers.

So that’s where we are as a schoolroom right now: helping one transition to the demands of college, helping one step up to the increased expectations of high school, and recognizing that one is a not-so-little girl who loves her creative side.   Lord, help.

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