It’s adventure time!
It’s that time of year again – time for us to start up our ‘formal’ school schedule. Sometimes our formal schedule is quite rigid and we stick to the plan, other times the universe tosses us off that path, we throw caution to the wind and say “whatever!” Somehow, it all seems to work out. Right now, the curriculum is picked, the schedule is set, and we’re ready to go. But this year is very different for us…
Aiden is starting Grade 5. He’s excited to begin again, and I’m really looking forward to this year. We’ve got a lot going on right now that will make this year a true adventure. We’re packing up and selling our house to head out to the mid-west (New Mexico to be exact). We’re following our work out that way and while I’m really sad to leave the East Coast and all my friends and family, I’m super excited to mix up our homeschool year with some travel and new adventures led by a new location and the trip out there. People to meet, different cultures and attitudes to mix with, and lots and lots of new areas to explore!!
We’re all a little terrified of course (who wouldn’t be). This rollercoaster has some huge dips and turns and as we enter the final stage. Navigating the logistics of moving the three of us, the two dogs, and the business across the country is definitely something I hope I’ll never have to do again. Although I know myself, a challenge isn’t something to run from – a challenge begs for me to dive in and figure it all out! So while I enter this final stage and look back on what I will happily run from now, I know I’d do it all again if it meant we were heading toward the next goal.
So far we’ve spent 8 months planning, downsizing, packing, planning, researching, planning, (did I mention planning), and getting everything ready for the day we head out. I find myself looking at the calendar now and realizing that date is coming up soon. While I pack and plan the last few steps, Aiden is starting up his school work. I know that once we hit the road to venture to our new home my formal school schedule will get tossed for a bit so Aiden can be free to learn from experiences and take time to process it all and create – create art, blogs, vlogs, stories, cartoons… anything he’d like. He’s getting complete project days this year which is something we’ve never done before.
Last year I overdid it on workbooks. I was enthusiastic when picking them and even though I figured we wouldn’t finish them all, I had to have them, and had to work them into the year somehow. We did end up completing it all, but by March I knew we had overdone it on worksheets. We ended up with quite a bit of repeat lessons, which isn’t a bad thing for practice, but when you’ve hit the 4th “write a persuasive paragraph” or the 9th “write an instructional paragraph” it gets a bit ridiculous. By the end of the year I was crossing out pages, skipping sections, and only highlighting the things we hadn’t covered yet.
So this year we’re changing it up! Our arsenal of curriculum includes:
- Brain Quest G5 – our multi-subject workbook (This is year 3 with these. I do love them)
- Nonfiction Reading Comprehension G5 – great practice since the majority of his reading is fiction
- Vocabulary for the Gifted Student G5 – for an expanded vocabulary and spelling practice. (This is year 2 with this series and Aiden absolutely loves the exercises, style, and structure – It’s just enough)
- The Gross and Awesome Bug Book – for science, research and writing (Yes, shameless plug of our first book published – if you use it and like it, we’d love for you to review it on Amazon!)
- Cursive practice book – for reference (plus I’m making him do the vocabulary workbook in cursive)
- Khan Academy – our favorite for math and computer science/programming
By cutting down on the worksheets and formal curriculum books this year I hope to open up more time for him to spend on his projects and develop them even further. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday he will tackle his workbooks and other formal lessons, and then Thursday and Friday are set aside completely for him to develop and work on his own projects. There’s a catch to these projects though – no free minecraft time here – he has to work for it and write up a proposal first before he can dive into a project.
Aiden thrives on project based learning so I’m definitely using that to keep him interested, motivated, and engaged. He is always thinking up games he wants to create, art he wants to make, things he wants to code… It’s non-stop. So about a year back I implemented the project proposal sheets. [I’ll include a link to the sheet soon.] He can work on absolutely anything he’d like, as long as he presents his idea and gets approval. To me, this is the best skill he could walk away with. If he masters this, it’s an advantage in a multitude of fields and he can apply it to anything he does. He has to think first, plan his steps, and write down the details. Then we review it together and discuss the plans. I advise on things I may want to adjust or a direction I would like see him go in, but ultimately if it’s a good solid project plan, I let him run with it. A quick list of real life skills he is developing with this: brainstorming, planning, presenting/proposing, receiving feedback/criticism, adjusting and polishing, and finally executing. Sometimes our reviews end up sparking new ideas for him and he’s learning to take criticism positively. Win, win, win!
As this year progresses I’ll be sure to include links to project pieces he has completed and may even post the project proposals he submits so you can see it from concept to completion. He’s already got a million ideas sprouting in that head of his. I’m not sure yet what he’ll create first, but I know that no matter what, this year will be a completely unique adventure for all of us!