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Monday, August 18, 2008

Rod & Staff and Year-Round

We have officially started Kindergarten! I am using Rod and Staff's 1st grade curriculum for H, perhaps taking breaks if it gets too hard and supplementing with Five in a Row and other workbooks. I ended up choosing R&S for 3 reasons: no prep for me because of having 4 kids 5 and under (it is workbook based), Christian based (put out by Mennonites), and cheap (plus I got it on ebay for even cheaper!). Those three things were the most important for me, at least right now. With R&S, you just pull out the workbooks for the day. There are SOOOO many homeschool options it is ridiculous, really. I finally had to just pick something! I figure we'll try it, and if it doesn't work well, we'll switch and I'll sell it on ebay again! That seems to be what most homeschoolers do anyway. What's confusing to me is that a lot of people I know use like 3 different types of curriculum for 1 child per year (1 for reading, 1 for math, 1 for science, etc). Way too much work for me to look into right now! I just wanted to keep it simple so I chose 1 for all the subjects (which for 1st grade is Reading, Phonics, Penmanship, and Math--science and social studies start later). Maybe as I become more experienced with homeschooling, I'll start to refine what I do for each subject. Or maybe I'll just keep it simple if that works for my kids, I guess we'll have to see!

The reason we started school already is because I had been contemplating doing a revised year-round schedule. In some schools they have managed to fit more kids into the school building by having school year-round and only having 3/4 of the kids in the school at any one time. There are 4 different "tracks" (groups) of kids. 3 tracks are in school while the 4th is "tracked out" (on break). Their schedule is roughly 9 weeks on and 3 weeks off. Everyone gets 3 days at Thanksgiving and 2 weeks at Christmas. Teachers track out when their students do.

Obviously I don't have a school crowding issue, but this schedule appeals to me for a few different reasons. I do like having the summer off, but there is always going to be a certain amount of catching up that needs to occur to get back on track after such a long break. A lot of times in traditional school, the month of September is spent reviewing things from the past year and re-acclimating to being back in school and following a schedule again. Year-round avoids that with having shorter breaks. It also allows families to take vacations during off-peak times, which can also just be a benefit of homeschooling. I also thought it would be nice to be able to have shorter breaks throughout the year, for when we are both feeling a little burned out. Knowing that we have a break coming up soon might help us get over those humps. I won't follow the strict 9 on 3 off schedule (I started too late and I also would like some time off in the summer), so I'm working on tweaking it to fit our needs. I was wondering when to start when last Thursday morning H asked when Kindergarten was going to start. So I said, "today!" No time like the present, right?

I know some of you are homeschoolers, what schedule does your family follow? What are some of your thoughts on the year-round schedule, or a revision of it? I'd love to hear your comments!


Leys said...

Hi Jessica! I have heard from a few friends who choose to school year round and I think it is a great idea.
We have chosen to do school with summers off, though. But I wouldn't really call it completely out-of-school for the summer, especially at the ages of my kiddos (6,4,1) we learn A LOT during the summer as we experience nature, parks, sports and other learning opportunities.
Our breaks are a bit different from school year breaks during the year, though. We like to have a longer break in December (there is no minimum requirement in the state of MN for school days) and last year our Easter break fell during late April. It is so nice to have the flexibility as a homeschooler to pick and choose when to break! There is no prescribed way to homeschool.. that's what I absolutely love!

Connie said...

Thanks for the invite. This is one of my favorite things to do. It will be fun to get to know you a little better via blog land.
PS. your welcome to come to my blogs anytime.

AmyR said...

We are about to finish our 4th year of homeschooling. We do really enjoy our summers off, we turn the tv off, bike ride, go swimming, etc. However, once a week, we do have a fun little segment in our day called "Skills Roundup" We quiz the kids on state capitals, multiplication facts, spelling, whatever. When they get a little older, we may switch to the year round schedule. Every year is different! Enjoy!
PS look at my hub's blog

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