Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ten things I'm doing to plan Year Eight better (and a bonus if you read carefully)

1.  Because I try to homeschool frugally, and also because we're on the last Squirreling: I've been going through all our potential resources and seeing what might line up with or amplify something already on the list.  The ecology book we're using has the right idea but comes up short on examples, for example, explaining in an interesting way about different biomes: desert, grassland, rainforest, tundra.  But we have a couple of good books with extra information on those topics (one simple one we've had forever is the Usborne Living World Encyclopedia).  I wouldn't base a term's work around books like that (that are mostly pictures), but we do have them on the shelves. So those are going on sort of a second booklist of good reference stuff, and I'm making notes on the schedule at the places where we might want to haul them out.

2. Because I've been doing that, I can see, out of the books that did NOT make it into this year's main list or reference pile, which ones we are so unlikely ever to use again that I can happily send them to a church yard sale this weekend.  Which gives us more room on the shelves for the good stuff.

3. Because we go to a church that sings hymns, usually several of them, all the verses, in four-part harmony, AO's list of hymns is sometimes pretty basic for us.  We sing them, but we don't usually need to learn them.  So most of next year's hymns will be the mostly German-authored ones found in Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation, ones that are not as familiar.  We read the book a few years ago but didn't learn many of the hymns; this year we'll just use it as a hymn reference.  I found that several of the hymns are in the old Mennonite Hymnal that we use at home--but that they are often different translations from the ones Douglas Bond includes. We will see which ones we like better, over the year.  (I also noticed that June's hymn, "Let Us with a Gladsome Mind," is by John Milton.)

4.  Because we don't have a passel of kids around anymore to just enjoy singing with (on the other hand), Dollygirl's Lydia's repertoire of folk songs has suffered over the last few years. (Scots Wha' Hae is the exception.) So the AO Year Eight folk song list should be plenty challenging as is.

5.  Because I don't like to waste time and materials on science experiments with negligible learning value, I've gone through the science textbooks we're going to be using, and written only the for-sure ones into our weekly schedule. That way I am not thinking that I need to track down a nine-volt battery, a stick of butter, or a fresh carnation for next week's science, if it turns out that we've a) done it before or b) wouldn't do it anyway.  That also leaves room for better experiments, demonstrations, or even online videos showing somebody doing the same thing (especially when it's complicated or expensive).
6. Because I'm kind of wobbling right now on the best English history textbook for Dollygirl (the Apprentice says "I kind of liked Churchill!"), I've scheduled in both Churchill's The New World and Arnold-Forster's History of England.  I'm planning on having her start with AF at least, and we won't do both at once, but if we switch over to Churchill at some point, the pages are ready to go.  Here's the bonus for careful readers: the page schedules for Arnold-Forster are now on the AO website, on the Year 7 Lite and Year 8 Lite 36-week schedules.  You can access the book at  (Last year I downloaded it as a PDF file and printed out chapters as we needed them.)

7.  Because we've done a lot of Shakespeare already, and because there is going to be a lot of Shakespeare-era focus in Term Two, I'm using A Man for All Seasons as our Term One play, and All for Love in Term Three.

8.  Because I'm doing all this over-planning for next year, including marking in holidays, I can lighten up some of the weeks, or add in seasonal stuff.  Our Term II starts at the beginning of December, and we will get three weeks of it in before the Christmas break--but if whatever it is doesn't really need to get done then, it can go on the schedule for January.  The artist we're studying in Term II is Albrecht  Dürer, and we have a copy of Martin Luther's Christmas Book, illustrated by Dürer; we'll also look at his painting Adoration of the Magi during that time.

9. Because I've been going through so many of the Year Eight books, I've been learning lots myself, and that definitely helps.  I've written occasional quotes and notes and "why did he say that's?" into the schedule, like this:
-- chapter 22, Democracy and the Constitution. "The Founders were afraid of democracy, and to protect liberty they created the Constitution as a way to weaken democracy."

10.  Because I know I will probably come across some good stuff or want to make some changes before September, I'm holding off from printing out most of the schedule until the last minute.

Mission Possible: Year Eight!

1 comment:

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I was just telling my daughter that this is the time of year I miss homeschooling the most. I always had fun putting together our new year's studies.

She is taking training in something new, a classical program she likes called Classical Conversations. Every time I talk to her she tells me once again that I would LOVE this book or that book that they are using.

She came home so excited from the intro meeting (traveling on the foothills of the Berkshires to get there) that her husband, after listening to her go on and on, said... "You have FOUND your people!". ;)