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Month: May 2019

Pre-K: Blossom and Root Early Years

While I figure out what I’m doing with the older kids, I figured I could at least write out the general plan for my younger kids. The toddler will continue to blow through life as usual, although he is starting to be more and more interested in listening to stories be read to him.

My next youngest, who turns five this summer; has been itching to learn how to read and write. She isn’t quite ready for formal lessons or learning the basics of reading, but she’s not content to listen from the sidelines or play when the older kids are doing school.

I decided to use Blossom and Root’s Early Years curriculum for her. I like its approach: gentle, interesting, varied topics of learning, affordable, and actually implementable. I don’t follow it to the tee, but I use it as a backbone for the week. Amazingly, my library has a lot of the books used in Volume 1 (which is what we’re working through now), so I can just pick them up when I’m in that area. She’s enjoying the activities, and nothing we’ve run into thus far seems to be “too young” for her.

It scratches the itch for her to “do school” and I don’t have to really stress or worry about what I should be doing with her. Print off the plans, open it up to the correct place, pick out our activities, and sprinkle them throughout the week. It reduces my decision fatigue, and that’s always a help. (If I’m especially on top of things, I’ll have the library reserve 2-3 books from the plans for me so I can just go for 3 weeks before I have to go back to the library for the next batch of books.)

We aren’t too far into Volume 1 but right now it’s definitely a great fit for my daughter.

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DIY Curriculum or Someone Else’s?

It’s hard to believe that my oldest will be in sixth grade this fall. I’m busy thinking and researching about what exactly to do with her. I’m also trying to keep an eye on the overall picture – what will our upcoming school year look like with regards to appointments (autism therapies plus standard human maintenance, 4H, etc)? When will we take vacations? Are there any places we can visit to supplement our history learning?

This last school year, I transitioned from using a pre-written curriculum to writing my own. It worked well, although it was a lot of work for me. This year, I had intended to continue with writing our own curriculum, but given the state of Everything right now; I’m wondering if I should go back to using a pre-written curriculum and adjusting as needed (which is still work, but less).

My oldest had a look at Wildwood Curriculum’s Form 2 curriculum. She was impressed with Form 2A upper using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for a reading selection. I’m not entirely convinced she’s ready for 2A upper though, and would probably put her in 2A lower to start with. If it proves to be not enough challenge for her, I can always move her up as needed.

This past school year was probably the hardest I’ve ever schooled through – a variety of new diagnoses, new therapies, new changes in routine, a death in the family, health issues, a surgery, Never-Ending Winter, and more. Before I figure out which path to take, I need to take stock of what our goals are for the next school year, where we are now, what we can expect in terms of life, and how can we “reset” in terms of atmosphere and as a family?

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Knitting All the Dishrags

Back in March, I decided to learn how to knit. Using Youtube videos and online tutorials, I’ve had some fun (and not so much fun) learning.

Dishrags was suggested to me on Instagram as a Thing To Knit. I found the classic “granny’s favorite” pattern and went to work. And it’s been a lot of fun.

Four knit dishrags
Some dishrags for my aunties, with a couple still needing their ends woven in

I also purchased a book I saw in a craft store called “Knit Stitch Guide” by Rita Weiss. It’s full of different stitches to try, and clear instructions on how to do each stitch. There’s also cabling, colorwork, and more! I figured when I need a simple project, I can learn a new stitch from the Knit Stitch Guide and make a dishrag out of it.

The next project I want to do is this simple striped blanket from the Lion Brand Yarns website. I’m having problems finding the Sphinx yarn locally (and not wanting to shell out $$$ for it online), so I may substitute a different cake in that spot.

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It’s Planning Season!

With the end of the school year just two weeks away, it’s time to start planning the next school year. This upcoming school year will be VERY interesting as we navigate the new-to-us world of learning disabilities. Additionally, I’ll be adding my fourth child to the homeschool in a pre-K/K level.

In order to keep everything straight, I plan on using the following:

  • A scope and sequence from the Charlotte Mason Institute (PDF link here). As we interact with a wide variety of autism-related professionals on a daily basis, sometimes they want or need to know what we’re doing in our school. This scope and sequence from CMI is the best thing I’ve come across to “translate” what we’re doing in a way that is accessible and familiar to non-CM people. It’s helpful for me to have a roadmap of sorts, especially as we get into the middle and high school years for my oldest.
  • Forms 1 and 2 planning guides from the Charlotte Mason Plenary. I love these guides so much, because I don’t feel overwhelmed with the plethora of subjects that each grade has. It’s easy to use, thorough, and it just makes sense to me.
  • Notebooks. So many notebooks.
  • Binders. One for each grade, to house what I’m writing in the notebooks.
  • Pens. I like the Pilot G-2s, smooth ink and smear-proof for my left-handed ways.

My overall planning process is shaping up to be much more streamlined than in years past:

  • Use the appropriate planning guide to select subjects for each grade
  • Use the Plenary’s resource page, the SCM Bookfinder, various CM groups on social media, Googling, and the Internet in general to find books, movies, apps, and other resources for each subject
  • Figure out our schedules (term > weekly > daily)
  • Finalize booklists after sitting on it for a while, finding books in the library, etc
  • Buy said books!

Typically I try to start planning in February, but this year has been so weird that I couldn’t handle planning in February. I’m looking forward to getting back into planning mode!

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