Making Up Our Homeschool Curriculum

living maths homeschool curriculum

This week’s Homeschool Help topic is “What’s new in your homeschool curriculum?” For us, the biggest change this year will be in our homeschooling style.

We’ve been moving in an increasingly interest-led direction ever since we began homeschooling. In fact, next year I’m declaring us almost-unschoolers.  “Almost,” because I still find it useful to think in terms of school subjects when I’m strewing and suggesting ideas.

In practice, our homeschool won’t look much different. The key for me is a shift in mindset.

Until now, my ideas for what we should be doing with our “school” time have taken priority. I have declared our school day started, and although my kids have loads of latitude, their plans have had to be fitted around our (my) routine.

Next term I intend to flip that around. We’ll still have a routine, but it will be fitted around what the children want to learn. And I’m hoping that the boundaries between what is and isn’t “school time” will blur.

Maths

After the success of our living maths experiment last term, we’ll be continuing to do our own thing with maths.

Living math literature - homeschool curriculum

Literature

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure

Pythagoras and the Ratios: A Math Adventure

Archimedes and the Door of Science

Mathematicians are People Too

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table

Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter

Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map

Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone

Several of these we’ve already read, but we’ll explore the maths in greater detail.

Hands-On Maths Activities

Well be doing lots of hands-on maths like All Things Beautiful‘s co-ordinate graphing, and Highhill Homeschool’s density experiments.

And we’ll be playing with manipulatives like tangrams, pattern blocks, geoboards, and geometry instruments.

Open and challenging problems

This summer I’m taking Jo Boaler’s free Stanford University course How To Learn Math.  The course is reminding me how important it is for students to tackle open, challenging problems and have the opportunity to make mistakes.

Maths literature is a great source of open and challenging problems. I pre-read a book and talk about the problem with the children. We then read the book together later, but only after they’ve had plenty of time to work on their own solutions.

We’ll also use problems from maths websites, the Murderous Maths series, and books by Rob Eastaway and Edward Zaccaro.

English

We began last year using grammar and spelling books. The children politely played along for a while, but our little forays into structure are always short-lived. English is definitely a subject we do best unschooling with a relaxed routine.

Copywork and dictation – Copywork and dictation provide great handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar practice.

Both children choose their own copywork.

Poems copywork - homeschool curriculum
Recently C(9) has been taking her copywork from Great Poems (compiled by Kate Miles)

Freewriting – all three of us freewrite together. The only “rule” is to keep the pen moving until the timer beeps. Sometimes we use the same writing prompt, other times we follow our individual inspiration.

Poetry Teatime – whenever I bake, we gather the poetry books, light a candle, and read poetry around the table.

Creative writing coaching – C(9) works on her creative writing with an experienced home-educating mum friend who has helped her own children write using Brave Writer ideas.

These coaching sessions (and email exchanges) give C(9) a dedicated space to develop her writing style and improve her revision and editing skills. C(9) loves the sessions, and when she gets an email from Gaynor,  we see C(9) dashing up to her room with pen and paper, her iPad and a timer.

Reading – Both C(9) and J(8) love reading and listening to books. I let them read whatever they want to, and offer plenty of suggestions.

I choose audiobooks from Audible (with the children’s input) and they choose others from the library.

I’ll continue to offer Toe By Toe to help with J(8)’s mild dyslexia, but if he doesn’t want to do it on a particular day, I won’t insist. There were days last year when he became frustrated to the point of tears with these sessions, and nothing is worth that.

I’ve flicked back in the book to show J(8) how much his reading has progressed in the year since we started the program, and he says he wants to continue with it, so I’m going to trust him to work at the pace that’s right for him

I heard such inspiring stories from a dyslexic unschooled teenager recently that my anxieties about J(8)’s reading have reduced hugely. (More about this in my unschooling post in two weeks.)

Writing practice – Both children have their own blogs (J(8) dictates his). They also practice writing and grammar during games like Consequences and Mad Libs.

Science

We’ll continue with our hands-on approach to science, with me offering “invitations to experiment” like those we did last year.

We’ll also continue nature Study at our local pond.

And I’ll be sure to make time for any scientific enquiries the children express an interest in.

Art

I love doing art alongside the children. Next year I expect we’ll continue to do art projects from 52 Art Labs for Kids.

C(9) often takes inspiration from Art Attack (books or TV programmes).

I’d like to find more art ideas to inspire J(8) – perhaps involving Mario or Minecraft. Ideas welcome!

History & Geography

Last year we read the first half of The Story of the World, Volume 2. We only covered half the book because we took so many wonderful tangents. It was so liberating to realise we didn’t have to cover it all in one year!

Next term we’ll continue where we left off (right in the middle of Marco Polo’s travels). In keeping with my unschooling mindset, I’ll offer SOTW as a read-aloud and make suggestions for related activities, but I’ll be guided by the children’s interest and busyness with their own activities as to how and when we fit it in.

marco polo homeschool history - homeschool curriculum
Learning history and geography with Marco Polo

Foreign Language

French – both children take a weekly class with a native French teacher.

Latin – C(9) enjoys using Minimus: Starting Out in Latin.

More homeschool curriculum plans from the Homeschool Help team

Julie at Highhill Homeschool – Curriculum 2013-14

Savannah at Hammock TracksNew Curriculum – A Grammar Year

Chareen at Every Bed of Roses – Year ahead 2013-14

Bernadette at Barefoot Hippie GirlRadical Changes

Nicole at One Magnificent Obsession is grounded by old faithfuls, and inspired by the new and shiny at Something Old, Something New: Curriculum Edition

homeschool curriculum

Next week I’ll be giving you a peek into our learning space for the Homeschool Help topic, “What’s new in your schoolroom?”

homeschool curriculum

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16 thoughts on “Making Up Our Homeschool Curriculum

  1. I’m still getting my act together with regards to planning for next year. Things are still quite fluid at this point, so I really appreciate the many good ideas you’re sharing here. Thank you!

    1. I love fluid. My “plans” are very much so! This year particularly I’m trying to find a balance between having interesting resources to offer, and leaving room for the children’s interests. It’s all a balancing act really, isn’t it? A fun one, though!

    1. I’d love to be more unschoolerish but it’s taking me a while to let go… I’m on a quest to practise what I preach and feel comfortable with our homeschool style rather than feeling too unschooly for the curriculum-crowd and too schoolish for the unschoolers! 😀

  2. When I read posts about curriculum I think if I was a kid would I like this school. I think I would love your school. It sounds like you have a great plan.

    1. Art Attack’s very much a kids programme so I don’t tend to watch but it seems like whenever C(9) watches she has to get “making” straight after. She gets the books out of the library too.
      I’m glad you reminded me about that blog, I used to love it but I think I stopped subscribing a while back when she said she was quitting blogging! (We know how that goes…)

  3. I’m so looking forward to your unschooling post. I had a peek into the conference you went to and it looked like it was very interesting. Come on girl, get writing!!
    I bet this time next year you’ll be unschooling proper like and not almost at all! (yes, I know that’s terrible English, I’ve not slept for almost four weeks (horrible insomnia) and I’m a little tired!)

    1. I like your grammar in that sentence – rolls off the tongue nicely 😀 And I appreciate your confidence in me. I’m working on feeling it myself!

      I promise I’m doing the unschooling post, but most of it will be in the Homeschool Help post that’s scheduled for 20 Aug!

  4. I found this SO helpful! So many areas…thank you!!
    My son has dys also and we struggle to find resources that are suitable. I’ve not used Toe to Toe…I tend to develop my own ;materials spec for him…but this prog sounds good. Thanks for the rec:)

    Be well and God bless!

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