1. Don't try to plan a year's worth of school for 5 children in 5 days. Stressful!
2. I use Apologia science courses for my children beginning with General Science in the 7th grade. Well, actually, I sometimes use their elementary science books like Botany or Astronomy, but once they are in 7th grade we follow this schedule:
- 7th--General Science
- 8th--Physical Science
- 10th--Biology II (The Human Body, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made). Olivia is doing this course as an 11th grader, and she did Chemistry last year, but I am switching it around for the rest of the children. Olivia is my guinea pig, you know!
3. I go to www.donnayoung.org for all kinds of resources for these Apologia science courses. The main thing I use are the PDF files for daily lesson plans. Someone has taken the time to divide the books into daily reading assignments. All you have to do is print them out and give them to your child to follow. They are free! The child just follows along and checks off each day's assignment as he completes it. But, no one has made one for Biology II. Not that I could find! So, today I spent almost 2 hours making one.
4. I provide each of my science students with either a binder with 3 sections (for Clay) or a spiral notebook with 3 sections (Olivia and Julie) to use along with their science textbook. Section 1 is for writing the vocabulary words and their definitions. Section 2 is for answering the Own Your Own questions (usually one or two questions per day), and Section 3 is for answering the Study Guide questions (one at the end of each chapter).
5. I allow 2 school days for the children to complete the study guides, meet with me and go over the answers, and then study for the test. I also look over the test while we are meeting, and I make sure they write down any pertinent information that may not be on the study guide. Also, I tell them which vocabulary words will be on the test--words that they have to write the full definition for. But something new that I may to do this year is to also make an additional page for each test with ALL of the vocabulary words in a match-the-word-with-definition format.
6. I printed out labeled black and white maps of the world for the children to mark the places we read about in our history/geography studies. In the past we have just located the spots on our globe, and we did that every day, but I wanted something more permanent. Sonlight provides maps for each book you read, and the locations are marked, but I felt like that was too many maps to copy for each child to use. Sonlight also suggests that you mark the locations on a large markable wall map, but I don't want a markable wall map in my den, and that is where we read all of the books. I did hang one of those maps in my schoolroom closet (the only place I had wall space last year), but we never went down there to mark the map. So, I made each child their own little set of maps that I am keeping in either a binder (Leah and Clay) or a folder (Julie and Olivia). I am guessing that I printed about 10-15 maps--the U.S., Canada, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, etc. Each day, as we read about a certain location, they will use colored pencils, crayons, or markers (whichever they prefer) to mark their map. I hope it works as well as I think it will!
6. I have assigned Clay (7th grade) daily Bible readings. Sonlight lists daily Bible readings at the top of each day in the IGs. These are intended to be read aloud by the parent, but since we read the Bible together anyway as part of our daily Bible lesson/study, I am going to use Sonlight's daily assignment for Clay's personal Bible reading. He can simply check off the square after he completes the daily reading. I also am providing him with a spiral notebook (in his color) to write down two things each day after he reads. I am really not intending for this to be "school work". He can read his Bible first thing in the morning, in bed at night, in the afternoon--whenever he wants. He and I both just needed some sort of plan and accountability to get him in the habit of daily personal Bible reading.
That's all for now! I need to get back to work. The next thing on my list is Home Economics planning. I am using a variety of resources to put together a custom-made course.