It’s always nice to read about other people’s approaches and methods – at least, it always fires me up to see how other parents approach homeschool, adjusting and doing their best to come up with schedules and lessons to suit their specific families. While we’re all gearing up for another semester/year I thought I’d share our Cunning Plan, and how we came up with it. (And those who have seen ‘Blackadder’ and know the reference will understand immediately that a Cunning Plan is not always as brilliant as one at first hopes . . . but you never know, sometimes It Works!)
First of all, I looked at our limitations, or shall we say, I evaluated reality and came up with some reasonable expectations. Three main points came to mind:
1 – We never get up and going as early as I think we will. Why? It’s either cold/flu season (so healthier to take time to get more rest and fight off the bugs than get sick and do nothing at all) or we’re tired from making a really good effort, or the neighbours decide to move their furniture around at 1am, or . . . there’s always something. So never mind the getting up early.
2 – We absolutely have to get outside in daylight hours. In winter, this means before 4pm.
3 – If we do not end the day by relaxing and digesting various events and all that, nobody can get to sleep (see number 1).
For the past few years we worked out our schedule by putting up a simple list on the wall, as follows:
The way it worked was by beginning each school day with the subject beside that day and continuing down the list (an hour or so per subject), then carrying on from the top, until all subjects had been completed every day. For example, Wednesday would begin with Math, followed by Science, German, French and English. It was an easy way to make some variety with a simple list.
This year we’ve decided to turn on the juice a bit more, so I’ve gone back to a more complicated schedule that does not require that every subject be addressed every day. Nonetheless, my daughter will be free to change things around within in each day as she sees fit life (say, doing piano mid-day in between other subjects). I keep in mind the likely scenario that no more than 5 hours per day will be spent on school including 1 ½ hours of piano, so ½ hour per subject (our daughter thrives on shorter, intense efforts, unlike me – something I’ve had to adjust to). The books are ordered, the lists have been made. In short, the Wild Ambitions for Grade Nine are complete. Here’s what the weekly schedule might look like (though I repeat, things do have a tendency to change as they evolve):
Our focus this year is on our own heritage. Why read about the Greeks? We have no affinity for or affiliation to that culture. Instead we’ll look at the Scots (also a remarkable nation!), some of our ancestors, who made huge contributions to English literature and western society (even here in Montreal). Many concepts important to the study of history (nationhood, religious identity, government, etc.) can be addressed through studying the history of Scotland. We’ll also continue with French (Canada’s second language, and the language my husband’s family spoke) and German (the language of many of my ancestors), and we’re adding Latin (a language important to the French Catholic heritage, and language in general). She learns Mohawk informally with Dad (it’s an oral tradition to begin with).
For English we’ll focus on plays – two Shakespeare, and however many we see fit by other playwrights (Tagore, Shaw, Wilde, etc.) and Scottish literature. We’ll also continue with essay writing and various exercises related to defending an argument well. (I foresee a paper on Haudenosaunee government). For French we’ll choose specific topics and learn about their context as we go (reading the memoirs of Napoleon’s personal manservant, for example, and writing an essay French-style on the subject) – which is also how we’ll approach Scottish history, learning about the context of the literature we read. For history we’ll also read through ‘A Short History of the World’ by Wells (for the big picture) and focus more specifically on some Canadian History (again, our heritage). Math and Science will be pretty straightforward with Algebra and Physics on the menu (the physics was my daughter’s preference – absolutely no influence on my part, believe me!! I never made it past ‘go’ in the subject.)
Below is a list of resources we’ll be using. A few of them are still on their way in the mail, so I cannot yet vouch for their contents (marked with *). Some we wrote ourselves.
Advanced French Reading & Essay Writing: Napoléon et Joséphine (to be published soon)
Advanced French Reading Comprehension: Childéric, Roi Des Francs (to be published eventually)
Bescherelle Le Français Pour Tous (an excellent reference that also includes exercises and answer keys)
Daily French Verbs Practise Sheets (though likely not daily)
Plays: Romeo & Juliet; The Merchant of Venice; Etc.
Scottish Literature: various, from different eras
(note: the ‘Answer Key’ and ‘Latin Grammar’ are also required, so I am told)
Either one of the subjects already listed, or programming, embroidery, baking . . . something that requires an effort but is not necessarily academic or ‘bookish’.
Add to this, piano, fencing, helping out with the occasional cake-baking adventure, and plenty of time to make silly jokes, do nothing, and stare out the window at the snowflakes and chickadees, et voilà! And now, to put it into action . . . ! 🙂