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VaScarlett

Changing things up in homeschooling?

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Seeking advice from this tribe of homeschoolers. I am new to the WTM Community online but have been homeschooling for 4 years. I have four kids DS 9, DD 7, DS 5, and DS 6 months. My husband was homeschooled so he is very supportive of what I am doing. For the past three years, we have been in different CC communities (different ones bc of moving). I am disenchanted with CC. I don't want to start bashing CC, it just doesn't seem to be working for my family. However, it relives the burden of art and science and my kids love the social time. I am thinking about talking to my husband about not returning next year. However,  we have already paid a deposit. 😐 I know he will be concerned and ask questions if I can do it on my own. Its been a difficult year with the new baby and recovery process. Right now, I only get through Language Arts LOE and Horizons Math every day. I will start Apples and Pears Spelling soon with my DS 9.  It scares me when I reread WTM and see everything she suggests. Grammar, spelling, reading, writing, science, art. etc. How do I devote that much time to older three and take care of a baby. I realize history,  science, etc. can be taught in a group. But getting my kids to get their math done takes an hour. And its three different levels. After phonics, we are worn out. 

Okay, so after all this venting a question. How do you do it all?! Teaching multiple ages on different levels with a baby in tow? I wantI to follow WTM but my day to day just has too many people and emotions to deal with. I have looked at MCT for a long time for language arts and would love to do that next year, but DS 9 will be in Essentials next year and starting IEW. I'm nervous it will move too fast for him but I also don't know if I can teach it on my own. Please give me advice, encouragement and tell me what your day looks like with multiple kids!

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A few suggestions which may or may not be helpful. First of all, it is ok to just get the basics done with the kids, especially with the ages you have. If you get math and LA done, that's pretty good. You can slowly add on, like you are doing with spelling soon, as you feel able to. If you want to add in history or science, I would definitely pick something you can read aloud to them as a group. When mine were smaller, we did those group subjects first. Then we would all go to the dining room table and I would sit among them as they did their math or whatever. Then whoever finishes first can run away and play and doesn't have to wait for everyone else to be done. Can you take advantage of your baby's nap times to get some things done during those times? Don't worry about doing all the subjects. That will all come as they get older. If you do math and LA plus reading aloud, I think you are good for now.

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First, don't be overwhelmed by everything in WTM! She never meant for any family to do everything in it! As pp said, it's okay to just do the basics with kids. FWIW, we have kids similar in ages (ours are almost 8, 7, almost 4, and 2). The only things I plan out are language arts, math, and speech (all have articulation issues). Our day starts with morning time. This is where we read something for history and something for science. Sometimes we read a handful of picture books too. Sometimes I read a chapter from our current RA. Morning time can vary from 10 minutes to 45 minutes. It depends on when everyone wakes up etc...Then we break for breakfast. After breakfast we do phonics/reading and speech before another break. Then comes table time, which includes math and everything else for LA. Then it's lunch time. I just rotate through kids for each thing. They know they shouldn't bother me when I am working with another kid (well, not the 2 yo).

I have intentionally chosen programs that are "do the next thing" in order to decrease planning time (exception is Miquon math for littles). I don't plan our history or science stuff. Well, I choose a bunch of books and stuff them in a box. They are allowed to choose whatever they want me to read for sci. or history during MT from that box.

That's all our "official" school stuff. The afternoons are then available for art projects, handiwork, gardening, or whatever.

I agree with the pp in that you should choose one subject and start it. When that's going well, add another. I hope you find the rhythm that works for you and yours.

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Eyewitness Documentaries is on youtube and covers all sorts of science topics.

Crash Course Kids on Youtube also covers Science. 

And for history/social studies there are a ton of documentaries, travel shows, etc. 

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Oh, and is the 9 yr old still doing phonics? My opinion is you do reading/phonics until that is strong, then switch to spelling. Not both at once. 

Handwriting can be independent mostly. 

 

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You may want to read “Teaching from Rest”by Sarah Mackenzie. It may help you figure out the balance between not enough and too much with school. 

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6 hours ago, VaScarlett said:

Seeking advice from this tribe of homeschoolers. I am new to the WTM Community online but have been homeschooling for 4 years. I have four kids DS 9, DD 7, DS 5, and DS 6 months. My husband was homeschooled so he is very supportive of what I am doing. For the past three years, we have been in different CC communities (different ones bc of moving). I am disenchanted with CC. I don't want to start bashing CC, it just doesn't seem to be working for my family. However, it relives the burden of art and science and my kids love the social time. I am thinking about talking to my husband about not returning next year. However,  we have already paid a deposit. 😐 I know he will be concerned and ask questions if I can do it on my own. Its been a difficult year with the new baby and recovery process. Right now, I only get through Language Arts LOE and Horizons Math every day. I will start Apples and Pears Spelling soon with my DS 9.  It scares me when I reread WTM and see everything she suggests. Grammar, spelling, reading, writing, science, art. etc. How do I devote that much time to older three and take care of a baby. I realize history,  science, etc. can be taught in a group. But getting my kids to get their math done takes an hour. And its three different levels. After phonics, we are worn out. 

Okay, so after all this venting a question. How do you do it all?! Teaching multiple ages on different levels with a baby in tow? I wantI to follow WTM but my day to day just has too many people and emotions to deal with. I have looked at MCT for a long time for language arts and would love to do that next year, but DS 9 will be in Essentials next year and starting IEW. I'm nervous it will move too fast for him but I also don't know if I can teach it on my own. Please give me advice, encouragement and tell me what your day looks like with multiple kids!

I promise that more people have homeschooled multiple children without CC than have homeschooled with. If your dh was hsed, he should be much more supportive than this. 😞

Also, CC only does art and science? Heck, you're still doing the burden of teaching everything else. And your children (1) don't need as much social time as they (and you) think they do, and (2) that's what support groups are for, only they take up less of your time.

And also, way more people *don't* do WTM than do, so don't think you have to cover all the things that are suggested in the book. Although much of WTM sounds good, and appeals to me, when I actually look at some of the materials and imagine myself teaching it, and my dc doing it, I know in my heart of hearts that it just wouldn't work for me. And I'm good with that.

That you are doing LOE and math daily is enough with such young children. They don't need grammar yet. The littles don't need spelling yet (but you're doing LOE, yes? Well, isn't that everything?).

And you know what? When you aren't leaving the house twice a week for CC, things are going to change drastically. Don't you have homework with that? Yeah, that will be gone, too.

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I agree with advice above - don't try to do it all, start with the basics, gradually add things on in an efficient way.  Also, give Story of the World audio a try.  If your kids like that, you could use it during lunch or car ride or whatever - once less time you have to use your voice, lol.  English / Language arts subjects can really bog down the day - streamline those or eliminate as you can.  For example (as others said) don't start spelling until phonics is completed.  Don't start grammar until mid to late elementary age.  You aren't thinking of doing MCT with Essentials, are you?  That would be too much.  Also, as much as I love the approach of MCT, it does have a lot of pieces for LA.  If you want to use MCT, I wouldn't use all the pieces and make sure you are comfortable with it.  For example, the writing didn't feel very open and go to me which I needed when I had so many needing me for so much of their work.  

One more bit of advice for getting to the extras - loop them.  So, do your basics everyday, non-negotiable.  After that make a list of the "extras" you want to get to (history, science, art, music, whatever....), so after lunch (perhaps), start on that list.  If you only get one of them done that day, no problem.  The next day at that time, start with the second one.  And so on.  You won't do everything everyday, but you will eventually get to it, even if it's once a week, which is fine with their ages!  

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Just anecdotally, I never did any science curricula with my oldest until middle school.  She’s now in 7th grade doing just fine in Apologia general science and kicking butt in Lego robotics.  She watched a ton of kids science videos like PopularMechanics forKids and did nature study once a week.  The nature study usually consisted of me saying, “find something in the backyard to draw and we’ll google it if i don’t know what it is.”  We would also pick up leaves or seeds on walks or draw birds/insects/lizards from the yard. Every once in a while we’d drive somewhere a little wilder for variety.  So nature study could be your science and art!

WTM is agreat book but it’s not a bible and I don’t think even SWB followed it completely. So maybe it would be helpful to read some different viewpoints and then talk to your dh about your own goals. I think there are very few homeschoolers who follow a particular method completely. Adapting to your own family’s needs and values is normal and good. And over time you may change and that’s normal too.

If it’s helpful, this is what my morning might look like when mine were younger like yours:

Morning prayer and memory work all together, often nursing.  Check diaper and put baby in baby carrier. Walk and bounce around the table doing seatwork with kindergartener while older two work independently (I started making them planners in third grade).  I only spend about half an hour on seat work at that age. Kindergartener can go play while I work back and forth with older two. Hopefully baby fell asleep in the carrier. If not, they might have to come get help from me while I’m on the couch nursing or on the floor with baby.  At some time mid morning everyone will need a snack break. Hopefully second oldest will be done by thenand can go play with kindergartener. Focus on finishing up with oldest while juggling baby. Finish by lunch. After lunch try to take them outside. Then naps for all. Especially mom!

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It is definitely possible, even with twice as many children. First, as Ellie pointed out, leaving home with your children takes time. Getting ready to leave, travel time, time there, return trip, and regrouping when you get home is all available teaching time. 

For me, having a natural daily rhythm/routine has been vital for our long-term homeschooling success. My kids have spent their entire lives living this routine, so it is just what they know we do. They wake up and are ready to follow the routine. It isn't based on a clock, but it is sequential around "pegs" or specific normal activities. For example, for me, the very first thing Indo every morning is throw in a load of laundry. That is my first daily "peg."  I started that practice yrs ago bc I realized if I never had time to throw in another load, at least one load was getting done in the morning that I could quickly throw in the dryer at some pt during the afternoon.

With 9,7,5 yr olds and a baby, I am assuming 3rd (I have a Dd who turned 9 the end of Dec and is in 3rd), 1st or 2nd, and K.  (I have also taught Horizons math to all 8 of my children, so I am very familiar with it.) My days with kids that age looked similar to this:

9 yr old reads silently for 45 mins while I work with 5 yr old. 7 yr old sits and plays with baby or if baby is happy, works on something independent (handwriting, copywork, silent reading, drawing, etc.) I work with the 5 yr old on phonics, reading, handwriting/copywork for 30-45 mins. Then, I would go over their math lesson with them. They complete their math lesson while I attend to baby's and get the 9 yr old organized and ready to start working on math. (Reading, writing, and math are all I do for K.) The 5 yr old is finished for the day and can go play.

I would then teach the 9 yr old their math lesson. Then while they do math, I would work with the 7 yr old on phonics, spelling, writing.  Then I would teach the 7 yr old their math lesson. By that pt, the 9 yr old should be ready to have math graded. I would grade their math and have them do corrections and get ready for the rest of their work. While their doing that, I would grade the 7 yr old's math. The 7 yr old is now done.

I would then do grammar, writing, science, and history with the 9 yr old.

For those grades, that would be the end of our academic seat work. 

For k-2, I focus on reading, phonics, handwriting, and math. 3rd grade I add science and history. Around 5th or 6th, I add Latin. Around 6th or 7th, I add another foreign language if they want one.

They spend approx 1 hr per grade level on seatwork so approx 1 1/2 hrs for 1st and approx 3 to 3 1/2 hrs for 3rd. In middle school, they spend between 6-8 hrs per day. In high school, 7-9 hrs per day.

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12 hours ago, Ellie said:

I promise that more people have homeschooled multiple children without CC than have homeschooled with. If your dh was hsed, he should be much more supportive than this. 😞

Also, CC only does art and science? Heck, you're still doing the burden of teaching everything else. And your children (1) don't need as much social time as they (and you) think they do, and (2) that's what support groups are for, only they take up less of your time.

And also, way more people *don't* do WTM than do, so don't think you have to cover all the things that are suggested in the book. Although much of WTM sounds good, and appeals to me, when I actually look at some of the materials and imagine myself teaching it, and my dc doing it, I know in my heart of hearts that it just wouldn't work for me. And I'm good with that.

That you are doing LOE and math daily is enough with such young children. They don't need grammar yet. The littles don't need spelling yet (but you're doing LOE, yes? Well, isn't that everything?).

And you know what? When you aren't leaving the house twice a week for CC, things are going to change drastically. Don't you have homework with that? Yeah, that will be gone, too.

Thanks for the advice. What curriculum are you using? FLL or WWE or something else? I promise you, my hubby is so supportive. His hesitation in leaving CC would be the $ we already paid, making another change for our children, and me figuring things out on my own which I have expressed difficulty with in the past. I like having a map laid out for me which CC provides. In doing more research, I wonder if Horizons Math, Apples and Pears Spelling, WWE and FLL would work for my oldest. Or R&S English? Then SOTW twice a week. I am all over the place trying to figure this out. 

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Your 9 yr old can read whole books independently on history and science topics every day if you don't think you can make sure to do it with her/him. I disagree that math and language arts is enough for elementary school (and I am very much a laid back, better late than early homeschooler.)

Your student can check out nonfiction books from the library on various topics and spend 30-45 mins each reading and sharing what they learned at the dinner table, while you fold laundry, etc. It doesn't have to be a classroom approach for them to be learning, but it does take conscientious deliberation to ensure they are.

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5 hours ago, VaScarlett said:

In doing more research, I wonder if Horizons Math, Apples and Pears Spelling, WWE and FLL would work for my oldest. Or R&S English? Then SOTW twice a week. I am all over the place trying to figure this out. 

I wouldn't personally double up on WWE and FLL. Pick one. Get the other practice more loosely. For example, if you feel like you need the structure of FLL to teach grammar, then get narration/ copywork /dictation practice with books your 9 yr old is reading on his/her own. If you need help with what this looks like, just ask. If you feel you need more hand-holding with narration/ copywork/ dictation, do your grammar work with the sentences WWE has you working with anyway. Focus on one part of speech at a time, adding that as five minutes on the end (or the beginning) of the WWE lesson. Once that one is done, add a second one into the five minute add-on. WWE already has some punctuation awareness built in.

IMO, you don't have to do a full grammar program every year - and that is coming from someone whose kids forget things if they don't constantly review them.

My plans, especially for the younger years, are usually pretty simple because I only have so much time. I only teach handwriting (I'm a cursive-first person) in Kindergarten, then we focus on using it in our other subjects - double dipping, so to speak. I don't use a grammar program until 3rd grade and then alternate grammar & writing programs every other year through middle school. In high school, we focus on cleaning up anything they need to work on, spelling or grammar-wise, in their writing in English or content subjects.

My oldest kid is a senior in high school and despite reading late, being a terrible speller until her teens, and being my guinea pig with home schooling, she turned out pretty well. My lack of doing all the top / fancy programs didn't mess her up completely. :laugh:

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Magic School Bus videos are great for Science. My oldest kids (college graduates) said the other day that most of what they've learned about Science is from Magic School Bus lol. I would sometimes play one during lunch time. You could also do some videos for History like "Libertys Kids". With the ages of your kids I would mostly plan on the basics, Math & LA. I wouldn't even worry about the Science and History everyday. Maybe you could do a read aloud in the morning while they colored or something. You don't have to do everything at these ages. Relax and enjoy your kids 🙂

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We always had an "afternoon subject." Mornings were gor Sesame Street, chores, core schoolwork, then lunch, outside and naps or rest/silent reading time. After rest there was sometimes more outside time, then afternoon subject. Monday was art, Tues/Thurs was history, and Wed was for science. Read alouds happened at bedtime or over lunch and before rest and often coincided with our current studies ala WTM. 

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A lot of people do not like CC. And whenever I see someone new to home schooling going to CC or something similar, it seems like they usually quickly move back to public school or go to regular home schooling.

 

Things are not as hard as they seem. Try doing the skills subjects in the morning....handwriting, spelling, grammar, writing, math, that sort of thing. Then, in the afternoons, rotate subjects. Use programs that can be used with multiple levels so you are not running several science and history programs at once. For example, we use Mystery Science as well as Considering God's Creation. Well, you don't need two programs at once, but my child just loves science. We listen to Story of the World in the car and when we have the chance, we do an activity or a map exercise. But I am not strict about it. I do resort to youtube videos and such sometimes. But, if you do science just once a week, or even for a week or so and then switch. When my oldest was in public school, he would have science for three weeks and then social studies for three weeks and so on. Now, in high school, they will do science for a semester and then social studies for a semester. But they never do both on the same day. You could of course. The point is, I find days to go easier when I am thinking along the lines of doing one subject in the afternoon rather than balancing several at once daily. I am sure once you get going, you will find your days going much better than they did when trying to follow someone else's lesson plans like you do in something like CC.

 

edited to add: we do not do both grammar and writing on the same days. Last week was a grammar week and this week, we are doing writing.

Edited by Janeway
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Welcome to the forum!!

We are all unique people/families. Don't be afraid to be unique. Don't look too hard at what other people are doing.

Packing up and traveling seldom is more efficient than staying home and doing SOMETHING for the subject. Schools and other for-profit supports only stay in business if they create dependency. They do not strengthen you and teach you to do things for yourself. They focus on themselves not you. They are the center; you orbit. One tactic is to overcomplicate something and then sell the product that they can provide using their strengths and resources that are different than your strengths and weaknesses.

Make sure you know what your priorities are. Humans are social creatures. We are designed to absorb the beliefs and customs of those we interact with. Spend some time deprogramming yourself, and get back to YOU and YOUR beliefs and take stock of YOUR resources and limits. Get the priorities done and accept that all the details don't get done for most families: homeschoolers, public school, private school.

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On 3/29/2019 at 9:34 AM, Spudater said:

Just anecdotally, I never did any science curricula with my oldest until middle school.  She’s now in 7th grade doing just fine in Apologia general science and kicking butt in Lego robotics.  She watched a ton of kids science videos like PopularMechanics forKids and did nature study once a week.  The nature study usually consisted of me saying, “find something in the backyard to draw and we’ll google it if i don’t know what it is.”  We would also pick up leaves or seeds on walks or draw birds/insects/lizards from the yard. Every once in a while we’d drive somewhere a little wilder for variety.  So nature study could be your science and art!

 

 

Amen to this --- we took the same approach with my oldest homeschooled student. I love science (I'm a registered nurse), but I never seemed to be able to fit it in. FINALLY, I just gave myself permission to stop sweating it. We started formal science last year, with the MPOA for 6th grade, and it has been wonderful. If your kids are getting outside and PLAYING, I don't think you really need a formal science. 

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On 3/29/2019 at 11:46 AM, VaScarlett said:

Thanks for the advice. What curriculum are you using? FLL or WWE or something else? I promise you, my hubby is so supportive. His hesitation in leaving CC would be the $ we already paid, making another change for our children, and me figuring things out on my own which I have expressed difficulty with in the past. I like having a map laid out for me which CC provides. In doing more research, I wonder if Horizons Math, Apples and Pears Spelling, WWE and FLL would work for my oldest. Or R&S English? Then SOTW twice a week. I am all over the place trying to figure this out. 

I am no longer hsing, having graduated both my dc. 🙂

I can tell you that FLL and WWE would not have been a good fit for us. Of the things you listed, R&S English is the only one that we could have done. I prefer R&S and Saxon for math (R&S until the children test into Saxon 54 and above), and Spalding for spelling (and/or reading, depending on how old the dc are). Can't help you on SOTW, but it looks good, and it's doable.

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This is a hard decision. I often tell people with older kids, that if your kid has a group of friends and they're not a bad influence, to stick with whatever activity keeps them together!! Finding friends as a solo homeschooler is very difficult, as kids are so spread out among varying activities and classes, and they just don't have one place where they have the time to get to know people.  I usually say, if the kids are happy and have friends, to stick with it even if it's not perfect.

However, generally speaking, when I give that advice,it's about ONE class, or about a sport or other activity which isn't all consuming to the entire family.  If you were talking about one class, or a sports activity such as gymnastics, or something like that I would say, hey it may not be perfect but if they're good kids and your kids have friends, keep it...

But in this case, it's very all consuming, and limits your ability to have freedom with your children's schooling, which is kind of the whole point of homeschooling.  Additionally, as they get older you may find that they don't fit the CC "Mold" which is SPECIFICALLY designed for :

1.  Neurotypical (no autism, ADHD, etc.)

2.  No LD's (no dyslexia) (My dd cannot diagram, or memorize grammar concepts due to her LD even thought she is gifted IQ)

3.  Bright but not especially gifted (my son was leaps and bounds ahead of almost their entire program- we would look at it year after year and he was three years ahead in almost every area)

4.  Not exactly outside-the-box 

5. Exactly one age per grade

Kids....

I feel like the likelihood of all four of your kids fitting that mold perfectly is super unlikely.  With every child you have, the statistical likelihood that one of them would in some way not fit exactly inside that box increases 🙂 I only had two and neither one fit.

So my advice, would be to drop it like a hot potato BUT you do have to allow your kids (especially your older two), to explore sports, karate, swimming, or another not all-consuming co-op where they have the possibility of finding friends that they can stick with for the long haul. A little exploration is normal and then once they find something later by the time they're 11 or so, make every effort to help them stick with it..... They may love being together now, and I'm sure they always will but a few good friends would be helpful.

As far as what to actually teach them and what curriculum to use, that'll work itself out and I suggest new threads based on your kids actual needs.  I suggest keeping them separate in 3Rs but combining the older two in Story of the World for history and doing Science using Science videos from the library, (magic school bus!) magazines (some libraries allow you to check them out! Check first! One of ours allowed checkout and they had all the science and MUSE and cricket brands!).. and a few kits (which also make great Christmas presents). ANd your oldest can learn a lot just by reading well chosen books!  Don't let them rot their brain on TV or video games, ever, and you will be amazed how much they will read. 

For 3R's my suggestion is always CLE or something that is mostly independent, includes all you need and somewhat self instructional, since you have multiple children and a baby.  Rod and Staff for grammar and English is also another good choice.  If you end up with a kid with LD's then you'd start a new thread for that situation.  

For math, I recommend Horizons for the kids who like color, and are impatient and quick learners and Saxon for kids who have a little more patience and can do without the color.  They're both great.  Both easy to teach.  I re-read and see that you are doing Horizons.  Great. Stick with it 🙂

 

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