Following the Covid Pandemic, we’ve seen a huge spike in the number of families choosing to follow the home education route, along with countless requests for guidance on just how to do it.
Seven weeks into our new homeschool term, we’ve settled into a joyful rhythm – Bean11 even came over to me the other day with a big hug to tell me how much she was loving her new school year. I can’t tell you how happy this mummy was to hear those words!
As I’ve mentioned before, I wholly believe there is no one right way to homeschool; the very beauty of this style of education is the flexibility it affords to tailor your plans to suit your individual family needs.
That being said, it’s always helpful to see how others are doing it, to give you some ideas for creating your own plans. So, in this post, I’ll share a high-level overview of our curriculum plans for this academic year by subject area.
This year, the Beans really wanted to learn some physics, and in particular they’re interested in the topics of forces, electricity and waves.
Last year, at their request, we did an in-depth study on cell biology and genetics with a homeschool friend of ours. This was very successful; the Beans loved working with him, and as he was older, Bean9 was more apt to concentrate, which suited me! So, we’ve joined forces again, this time with his younger brother alongside.
Our quartet of little scientists are using the following books to work through the concepts in each of the three topics, and I’ve layered in as many hands-on experiments as possible to embed their learning:
- Physics for Edexcel International GCSE by Nick England – this is our spine for the topic and explains the ideas in simple and easy-to-understand ways, with lots of questions to practise their understanding.
- CGP Edexcel International GCSE Physics Complete Revision & Practice, and the Exam Practice Workbook – covering the same topics as the book above, but I’ve found it helpful to introduce a concept with the first book in one lesson, and then review using this book, with a slightly different angle, in a second lesson. And the exam practice workbook is hugely helpful to ensure we’re on the right track.
- Junk Drawer Physics – great and simple hands-on experiments.
I’ve also invested in/already have to hand a number of different resources for the experiments, such as this Snap Circuits electricity box, this Newton’s Laws set and this optics kit, and even find myself the proud owner of a gold-leaf electroscope (!), but luckily, many of the practicals call for cheap and easy-to-source equipment.
As we progress through the year, I’ll be sharing our weekly physics lessons to show you what they’re learning and any experiments we’ve completed.
We love the Math-U-See curriculum and have used it over our past four years of homeschooling, but there are some aspects of the Maths GCSE not covered in this curriculum, namely the probability and statistical elements. So, this year, Bean11 will do a rotation of six weeks of the Geometry Math-U-See curriculum, followed by two weeks of probability and statistics, taught by MrJ. On the fifth day of each week, she’ll review the algebra concepts she’s already learned to keep them fresh.
For the probability, statistics and algebra elements, we’ll use these resources:
- GCSE Edexcel Maths for the Grade 9-1 Course, The Revision Guide and the Exam Practice Workbook
- This GCSE Edexcel Mathematics, Higher Level, Student Book
- For the first four days of the week, he’ll complete Math-U-See Zeta curriculum (an in-depth study of decimals) and then move onto the Pre-Algebra curriculum.
- For the fifth day, he’ll do a section from GL Assessment 11+ Maths Practice Book. Once this is complete, he’ll rotate between Schofield & Sims Mental Arithmetic 6, Bond Maths Assessment Papers, 10-11 and this Schofield & Sims Statistics book.
Geography will be split into two parts:
- Geographical Mapwork and Statistical Skills using this excellent book: Geographical Skills and Fieldwork by Stephen Warren.
- Rivers (a topic requested by the Beans) using GCSE AQA Geography, The Revision Guide and the Exam Practice Workbook as our spine again supplemented with hands-on experiments, which we’ll share throughout the year.
Most of her English selections are continuations from last year, using tried and tested curricula that work for us.
- Grammar – Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind, Purple (you also need this instructor text), a very comprehensive curriculum, which we’re working our way through slowly.
- Vocabulary – Vocabulary from Classical Roots A, along with a review of all the words in these selections during our Morning Basket time: Phenomenal, The Small Book of Big Words and Volume I and II of our Latin & Greek cards.
- Writing – Writing With Skill, Level 1 (and instructor text), another excellent resource from last year that we’re finishing off. She also has a weekly slot to work on writing her first novel.
- An in-depth review of Romeo & Juliet. She’s knows and loves this play as she was due to play Juliet in a local theatre production before Covid halted all plans. So, instead, I’ve created my own study, using this CGP Text Guide and Workbook, along with Mr Bruff’s Guide to Romeo & Juliet.
- Mummy and daughter special one-to-one, chapter-by-chapter review of classical texts. Our first selection: Jane Eyre. We’re absolutely loving this – I’ll delve deeper on this in a further post.
- Reading, reading and more reading! We’re complete bookworms in this house, devouring many books each year (again one for another post!).
- Poetry – As part of our Morning Basket, we memorise, discuss and analyse the form, structure and language of selected poems from Power and Conflict, The Poetry Guide. We also review previously memorised Shakespeare passages and poems.
- Drama – A small group of local home educators will be working together to put on the play Dodger by Terry Pratchett set in the Victorian era, using this playscript. She also has weekly acting lessons.
- Grammar – First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 4 (and the instructor text).
- Spelling – All About Spelling, Level 7, he’s nearly completed this excellent curriculum.
- Vocabulary – he’s currently reviewing all the vocabulary cards I made for him, and then we’re going to try this Vocabulary Enhance course from Learning Street (yet to start this, so I can’t vouch for it yet!).
- Writing – blocks of work using the following three books: Writing & Rhetoric, Book 2: Narrative 1, The Creative Writer and CGP KS2 Non-Fiction Writing.
- Comprehension – Writing with Ease Level 4, a curriculum which develops a mixture of comprehension and writing skills using texts from classic literature, GL 11+ English 10 Minute Tests, Bond Comprehension Papers 10-11
- Reading, Poetry and Drama – as for Bean11 apart from the weekly drama lessons as his interests lie on the sports field!
- The Beans will continue with their daily piano practice and lessons fortnightly; Bean9 is teaching himself how to play the guitar, with a little help from MrJ; and they both have weekly singing lessons.
- We also incorporate the SQUILT Classical curriculum and the Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra book into our Morning Basket time.
This post gives more detailed information about our history plans for the year, but as an overview, it’ll be split into four sections:
- An in-depth study of the Victorian era, using this Usborne The Victorians book as our spine, along with a plethora of fictional and non-fictional stories, audiobooks, and documentaries about the period.
- Study of late 19th/Early 20th century world history, using the Story of the World Volume 4.
- A quick review of the Suffragette period, using the excellent book, Suffragettes and the Fight for the Vote, as our spine.
- Start research into World War I, using the Usborne The First World War book, along with supporting literature.
We also do daily prayers in our Morning Basket and read the daily devotional from this wonderful book: Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.
We use a range of tools to build our Spanish reading, writing, speaking and listening skills; expand our vocabulary and improve our grammatical understanding of this language.
Although there are a lot of resources, they all complement each other and we’re working slowly through each one (we’ve been using some of them for a couple of years already), so as to build a wide range of skills thoroughly.
- Practice Makes Perfect Basic Spanish – for writing, reading and vocabulary building. This is a continuation from last year; we’re about half-way through the book. This acts as our core text.They keep a list of problem words from this book, and we review five of these daily.
- Michel Thomas CDs, Perfect Spanish, Intermediate to Advanced – to develop their Spanish speaking skills, vocabulary and grammatical understanding. Each day, they practise conjugating a verb in a different tense. To help with this, the 501 Spanish verbs book has proven to be an invaluable resource.
- Pasos 1 Spanish Speaking & Listening Skills Practice Set – another carry-over from last year, as we’re taking this very slowly, but it’s continues to be an excellent way of developing their ability to listen and understand those super-fast native Spanish speakers.
- Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Reading & Comprehension – only 15-30 minutes a week to build their vocabulary and reading fluency.
- Rosetta Stone – we already had this resource, so we incorporate 15-30 minutes per week to reinforce all skills.
- GCSE AQA Spanish The Revision Guide and The Exam Practice Workbook – this is for Bean11 only. Although our primary focus is for us all to be able to communicate with Spanish speakers, they both want to sit a GCSE in the subject, so this allows her to learn the specific vocabulary and complete the associated writing, reading, listening and speaking exercises, which she’s loving.
- Letters to their Auntie! – luckily for us, my sister is a fluent Spanish speaker, and so in the holidays, both Beans love exchanging Spanish-written letters with her.
Art & Technology
- Continue with the free Drawing & Painting curriculum from Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool, alongside the much-loved Artventure curriculum.
- Read Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories, A Children’s History of Art, and various famous artists books by Mike Venezia in our Morning Basket.
- Intensive sewing course every three months or so, with a local friend of mine. Bean11 made this skirt in her last session:
- Editing videos using the free Lightworks editing software
- Learning how to use Excel, using free online videos.
- Bean9 plays hockey from Sept-April and cricket from Jan-Sept with his local cricket team, along with yearly one-to-one cricket lessons.
- Bean11 has weekly ballet and modern dance classes.
- They both have monthly day-long watersports sessions, including sailing, kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding.
- Weekly runs or strengthening exercises with MrJ.
- Regular walking and biking.
So, that’s it! It goes without saying that clearly, we don’t have time to do everything on this list each week! My aim is for a wide and varied education for them, incorporating as many of their interests as possible.