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Lacey Dawn

Feeling Lost. Need y'all's guidance. Curriculum & Planning.

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Y'all. I'm feeling utterly lost. ODS is 10.5, YDS is 7 and we've always homeschooled. The boys refuse to public school because they want to be together and with me, even cranky me. I have ADHD and fairly certain ODS does too but we've never had him tested. I also suspect he's somewhere on the gifted scale (not profound). We're debating having him tested just to see where he's strengths lie and where we can better meet his needs. I struggle with pulling together all the subjects and curriculum choices. I'm not trying to be a Pinterest mom but I want to engage my kids, let them do interesting stuff and get them prepared for 2ndary education and life while not going insane. We're a military family and we move in a year to ??? so this limits us on outside lessons, groups, etc. They both do sports and love it.
Given our struggles with sticking to a schedule and having a good rhythm we're going to implement a Block Schedule with some looping. As in, doing an hour of math and for 30 minutes he's going to work through his spine (Singapore). For 10 minutes work on multiplication & division memorization. Then 20 minutes of fun or practical math like board games, budgeting, read some of our fun math books. Repeat for other subjects. We've really been lacking the structure and expanded learning that drew us to homeschooling. While he's doing his independent work I'll be working with YDS on his stuff. We'll do some of the fun stuff together.

ODS - 10.5 years old. 5th grade

Math

  • Singapore 4/5.
  • We've gotten a little behind in the curriculum but have done a LOT of practical stuff and math is one of his favorites. He'll be breezing through or skipping several sections in 4 because he's already done it elsewhere. He's going to start working through LOF Fractions in a couple weeks. 

I'm thinking that we'll be heading to AOPS for PreA for 6th grade. Should I transition or supplement with Beast Academy? Is Singapore, with IP enough? 

Language Arts

  • Grammar - Finishing Grammar and Writing 4, just the grammar portion. Will move to Fix It Grammar when done. 
  • Writing - Starting IEW. 
  • Spelling - Running through AAS to make sure we haven't missed anything. 
  • Reading/Literature - Total Language Plus for guided novel study. Plus choosing books from various lists (Mensa, Newberry, NEH). ODS is an avid reader so we'll just be guiding him to good books for free reading. 


YDS - 7 years old, 2nd grade
Math

  • Singapore
  • Life of Fred (reading together, more for fun than main curriculum)

Language Arts

  • All About Reading
  • IEW
  • Reading/Literature with Total Language Plus & his own reading lists for free reading. He LOVES listening to Audible books & being read to. He'll spend HOURS listening to books so this is very appropriate to him. 


***They'll be doing science, social studies, most extracurriculars together just on age appropriate levels.
Science

We've got a couple of Apologia texts & journals but we haven't been super formal with curriculum to this point. We want to work in a lot more experiments and hands on stuff. I really need to do some backwards planning to figure out what we need to do to get ready for middle and high school. 

Social Studies

  • Notgrass Uncle Sam & I for an extended study on government as a lead up to the 2020 election.
  • Jr. Ranger Programs. We like to camp & road trip so we'll be hitting a few of these. 
  • Geography - ??? We'll talk about specific locations as they come up in our studies but we do want a more structured something to really reinforce geo. 

Extras

Some art with youtube, typing, coding & cryptography for ODS. Dinosaur stuff for YDS. This is open to whatever the kids are interested in. Plus practical life skills like cooking, budgeting, calculating prices while shopping, domestic chores, etc. 

 

I don't know if its FOMO or my guy saying something's off or self-doubt or what but I feel like I'm not doing right by my kids. The journey to today has not been very easy. We've had 2 international and 1 cross town moves in the past 5 years. There's another move in a year; possibly international. Given my ADHD and other (minor) health issues we've REALLY lacked structure that ODS needs. I know I've said structure multiple times but it has become clear that its VERY important for our family. 
Please give me ALL your thoughts and recommendations. I'm 100% open to whatever you have to say!

 

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None of this sounds bad.  It sounds like you know what you need to do, but you're struggling with going about it.  I think the problem is being intentional? 

I have trouble focusing for long periods but I have found that I tend to gravitate towards tools like my timer (every day it's set during the school year to remind me to record work done).  During our moving years I used to put together 3 months' worth of basic work in a binder.  My oldest did SOTW so I ordered the pdfs to do one year, Noeo was notebooking science with living books, so that was replaced with an online science for a bit, geography became a study of places we've been and diving into our new home.
I'll also say that I, personally, tend to do better with curriculum that can be broken up into units or doing unit studies entirely.  It's a mental thing, but it's like a fresh start every month or so.

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You have great programs and resources in your list, but I vote for streamlining wherever you can.  I don't think I'm ADHD, but I have found I can't engage well with lots of shifting among extra resources.  It's great to work on math facts and games, etc., but realistically I can only use one resource for math and get it done, so that's what I do.  Start with basics, start with bare minimum for core subjects.  When that routine is going well, add in other things.  Then when you have to move again, your bare minimum routine for making progress is already in place and familiar to everyone and more easily run on auto-pilot.  

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On 8/1/2019 at 4:15 PM, Lacey Dawn said:

Please give me ALL your thoughts and recommendations. I'm 100% open to whatever you have to say!

My biggest suggestion is to write down everything you do and routinely tally it up or write a narrative about it. I do this each school year, and it always makes me feel better to realize I almost always did a LOT more than I thought I did. Don't make side stuff part of the curriculum--if you like it, make time for it, call it life, and then surprise yourself at the end of the year by listing those things as a bonus. On the flip side, don't let completing every single page of Notgrass keep you from seeing something at a ranger program, kwim?

Testing is an excellent idea. Truly. It's made a huge difference for our family. Both of my kids are 2e and have ADHD (and other things!).

I think you are doing a good job at heading toward your stated goal, and you're probably just feeling at loose ends. 

Yes, I think Singapore with IP is enough, but if you are using the US Edition, and your kids have done some bunny trails, you might see how your coverage lines up with something like Math Mammoth (similar math philosophy, but has more topics than US Edition Singapore). I opted to change my younger son from US Edition Singapore to Math Mammoth because I think he needs, and would enjoy, the extra topics. For my older son, the extra topics would've been stressful. We are not using AOPS, so YMMV, but lots of people use Singapore before AOPS.

Science--do you want some structure for your experiments and hands-on? I think most middle school options don't need prep--they assume they are giving groundwork for high school science. We've like Ellen McHenry units, and they have a lot of hands-on stuff (some lab-like, some are games to become more comfortable with the concepts and get them into memory). This resource looks really good too for hands-on: https://www.rfwp.com/book/amazing-ants-simple-sidewalk-science   If you want short, do-able labs that aren't expensive, TOPS science has some ideas. I find ALL science labs to be fiddly and easy to put off, honestly. We do better if we set up our own lab "intensives" where we start the year with a day or two of labs to get us rolling! Neither of these are scheduled resources, so that is my only caution about structure. But they are pre-determined activities vs. just finding your own stuff to do.

Geography is sort of an extra. You should do it sometime, or in little bits every year, but it's not something you have to add this year unless you want to. Some options for your older one (probably not the younger): Memoria Press has a series of three books, each progressively harder, that has the fact-based stuff and some political/historical stuff in it. They aren't meant to be done in one year. If you stay with Notgrass, the other two middle school options include some geography. Horrible Geography books are great. The Boy Who Biked the World is great (3 books). Holling C. Holling books are great. Fifty States and Where to Find Them is good. Trail Guide to US and/or World Geography is another (and is meant to span large age ranges). There are lots of ways to do geography. 

 

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We would probably struggle to do several different things for each subject each day.  We make index cards for everything that I want to do in a week - if I want to do singapore math 4 days, then I write 'singapore math' on 4 different cards, and if I want to do life of fred 3 days, then I write 'life of fred' on 3 cards.  I write out all of the cards and let the kids separate them into stacks for each day of the week.   Then, every morning, they get the stack and work through each subject.  For subjects divided into lessons or chapters, it's easy for them to figure out what to do - we do 1 lesson of math, or read 2 chapters of history, for instance.  Some subjects obviously require multiple assignments - spelling, grammar, and literature as part of language arts - but we've found that, with the exception of quick, fun things like balance benders or mind benders workbooks, it's best not to have too many different things going on every day for any subject.  We lose time switching gears. 

In your situation, I wouldn't do more than 2 math things each day.  Singapore can be done 4 days/week, LOF 1 day, with facts practice 2 days and games 3 days (or whatever combination gets you through what you want to do).  Then let your kids choose which 2 things to do which days of the week and stick with that schedule.  One of mine prefers to front-load the week so Fridays are easy - that kid would do Singapore M-Th and facts practice M/T and then do LOF of fred on F and games W-F.  My other kid would try to avoid having 2 hard things on the same day, so would probably minimize over lap between facts and Singapore.  We also don't schedule multiple writing assignments on the same day - if we write for a co-op composition class on Monday, then we put writing papers for me for history on Friday.  Good luck finding a plan that works for you.  

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All good input above. See what resonates with you among the ideas.

For both me & my boys, I link doing 6 week rotations of things that we don't get to much. So, we do six weeks (3-4 days each) of intensive grammar then take a week off & do six weeks of art. Take a week off & do six weeks of geography. Etc. The two keys for me are to pre-plan & to know that even if someone hates it, it is only six weeks. You can do five of these during the school year - or short/longer ones 4 weeks, 8 weeks, etc depending on your needs & their interests. I try to switch between fun (6 weeks of board games, Readers Theater) and not-so-fun (Writing with Ease, States & Capitals). 

Also, I found that science can be more interest-led in the younger years. My girls got more well-rounded science in elementary but my boys remember more of theirs because the latter wanted to learn it at the time.

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On the maths- I've found it better to do flashcard review or fact practice separate from regular math period. My best years are when I can have a morning time where I sit and work through those things quickly with kid before we start "schoolwork." So if one of my goals is math fact practice I would do that for five minutes out if my morning basket with kid. Then boom. Here is the Bible verse of the day. And now watch this ten minute CNN video for kids. Kid never leaves seat. Kid is not responsible for getting out the supplies. Everything is handy ready to go in the morning basket that mom pulls out and moves through quickly. We can go quickly through a few review things, a story, and therapies for the year really quickly. Then kid has the regular time periods just for one math resource in his math period to hero track of. My ADHD and dyslexic kids have trouble keeping track of multiple things too. I have to do it. 

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