Planning Our School Year
Planning our school year with KONOS was a little more difficult than I’d anticipated. KONOS curriculum has three teacher volumes, with each book designed to take you through two years of homeschooling. We’ll be opening up our school year with the unit of attentiveness. This unit is 15 weeks. I was surprised at the amount of content related to the subject of being attentive and how easily this character trait is taught with science and history.
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There is quite a bit of preparation involved in this curriculum, which is completely unlike my past experience. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time tracking down updated or similar versions of books that are recommended for study. Since this was written in the 1980’s many of the books are either outdated or not at the library anymore. I can be frugal about money, so only when I think it is absolutely necessary for the unit will I purchase a book. We have a very good home library of books and I will add to it if I find that a library borrow is worth the extra expense to have that book on hand permanently.
The first thing I did was organize a daily schedule. I put my day into (loose) time slots. I have discovered over the last 7 years of teaching homeschool that I am unable to follow a tight schedule. Inevitably, crafts or other lessons go longer than intended and I’ve had to let go of my personal agenda to allow my kids the freedom to learn on their own timetable. Here is a brief overview of my schooling days:
9:00 – 12:00 > KONOS
12:00 – 1:00 > Lunch
1:00 – 2:30 > Individual math and English (30 minutes per child)
2:30 – 3:15 > Quiet Time
3:15 – 4:00 > Clean up chores
4:00 p.m. > Free time
This schedule is for Monday through Thursday. I reserve Fridays for field trip days, “homemaking” activities, or catching up on stuff around the house.
Konos lists dozens and dozens of activities per unit of character trait study. The idea is to not feel overwhelmed and that you must complete them all, but to provide plenty of choices when choosing the right activities for YOUR family. I felt comfortable assigning 1-3 of these activities every day. Here is an example of my planning “form” to help me organize my week. Pinterest also make it incredibly easy to find supplemental or substitute lessons for the occasions of exploring a subject in more depth. There are numerous boards to follow that are specifically geared toward KONOS curriculum.
I will be teaching a 5th grader, 1st grader, and kindergartner, although these are are just labels for me. I don’t really keep track of what grade they are in, but just go along with their interests and abilities as they grow. This has been a process for me and wasn’t something that happened overnight. I’ve had to adjust my attitude and focus on not feeling threatened by the social perception of how school “should be taught.” I favor more on the side of “unschooling” but if I don’t set up specific teaching times, I myself get distracted and miss opportunities of teachable moments.
The girls will be taught math and English on an individual bases. For English, I use Rod & Staff, beginning with English 2: Preparing to Build. (I teach reading in first grade using Reading Made Easy.) I’ve been very happy using this English series and so far have experienced no difficulty with application and comprehension. The teacher’s manual lays out clearly how to teach each lesson and the amount of practice is very reasonable.
Math curriculum has been a major struggle for us. When I first started homeschooling, we were using Singapore Math. Despite its excellent ratings, we were unable to make it work for my oldest daughter. We bounced around various other math books, which has resulted in a significant delay in her math knowledge for 5th grade. Last year we started Life of Fred, which she took to immediately. This program does not teach basic math skills; however, so I plan to supplement with Mathematics Power Learning for Children. I’ll keep you posted on how this is working out for us.
I do have some trepidation about teaching all the kids together. One of the main reasons I chose this route was because I was unable to sufficiently occupy the children who weren’t schooling to avoid constant interruption. And I mean constant. I tried quiet boxes, computer, structured play time, etc. Everything failed. I expect interruptions from my 2 year old and manage those as best I can, but generally she is happy to sit in on whatever activities I’m doing with the other kids. I will be taking frequent breaks since we are in the midst of potty training.
In a few days I’ll share with you how our first week of schooling together went. Hopefully I’ll still have all my hair and there won’t be an empty wine cabinet staring me sadly in the face.