The Electives…Getting It In
An ambitious homeschooling schedule can routinely bring you to some crossroads, trying to determine which way to go. Having high expectations for my little ones makes me want to expose them to all the right activities at the right time. I realize children can do a lot without feeling overwhelmed, if it meets their interest. So we have included a few electives in our academic calendar year, but we had to be attentive and creative to fit them in.
There are five electives in our schedule and they do not require a lot of time, only a little consistency to make progress. They are: Art, Spanish, Typing, Music and Soccer – the sport of choice.
So how were we able to get them in?
One strategy that worked for us is capitalizing on each others strengths. Since my husband and the boys are early risers, he is able to get them started each morning way before breakfast. Each morning he’s able to rotate one, two or all three boys on Typing Instructor, depending on the day. Then mostly on the weekends they conduct their Spanish Lesson on Rosetta Stone. A 30 minute session is all it takes. Art and Music usually take place after lunch, alternating days.
ART – I Can Do All Things
We were introduced to this through the Adventures in My Father’s World curriculum set.
Resource: Written by Barry Strebbing, this is a 3 year long art curriculum. It includes rotating instruction in Drawing, Coloring with pencils and markers, Painting, and Art Appreciation. We also benefit from Mr. Strebbing’s introduction of each lesson on the DVD set.
Feedback: All three of our sons really enjoy this. Especially our 9yr old. Often I find him doodling and putting into practice the lessons as he draws in his personal books during his free time. When I slow down and am not overwhelmed with all my other responsibilities, I sit and do the lessons with them.
SPANISH – Rosetta Stone: Latin American
Rosetta Stone needs no introduction, as it’s a widely known tool to learning a foreign language. This was our major purchase at our local 2011 homeschool convention.
Resource: We purchased all five levels in preparation for future advancement. The HomeSchool edition allows for each member of the family to have their own log-in and learning tutorials with customized lesson plans and learning track selection. I have all the boys on Speaking & Listening Focus so they are not currently focused on reading and writing at this present time.
Feedback: It’s like having a completely different teacher and the instructions are clear enough that the boys can navigate their way independently. We have noticed that younger children who are still learning to enunciate specific sounds (like our twins) may require extra effort to advance since this program is largely built upon pronunciation. On the other hand, this has been proven beneficial as it does cause them to recognize their errors and correct them.
TYPING – Typing Instructor for Kids: Platinum
I found this program strongly recommended by Timberdoodle, as well as a few fellow homeschool bloggers.
Resource: The children travel and explore Typer Island through 160 different age-appropriate lessons. Upon installation you can choose the full English or Spanish Language option. This will be a great feature to try as the boys continue to advance in their Spanish lessons. Also included on the CD-rom is a pdf file of a very informative User’s Guide.
Feedback: Typing Instructor for Kids gave the boys the outlet to be introduced to typing skills with a caveat of playing various games after successfully completing a section. The games involved more typing to complete the required task, but they found enough excitement in it to continue typing. We have noticed that occasional monitoring is needed to remind them to keep their fingers on the home keys to properly develop the skill. Typing on a standard full size keyboard may also present a challenge for those little hands, so having a smaller keyboard will make it more achievable.
MUSIC – with Ms. Jenni
In the previous year my eldest son received a first class introduction to guitar. This season, our instructor was able to incorporate the twins (now 7 years old) into weekly music theory intro lessons where they are learning the fundamentals of playing the piano. At Ms. Jenni’s insistence, I am learning alongside them. Ms. Jenni is very patient with all of us and routinely gives pop quizzes, which the boys enjoy, especially if I make a mistake.
Resources: Ms. Jenni has selected the Bastien Piano Basics Series to incorporate our instruction. It includes piano, theory, performance and technique. So far, we have learned proper body posture and hand placement; as well as finger numbers, the musical alphabet and playing simple rhythm patterns.
Feedback: It is possible to teach your child yourself using similar resources. However, we have a great asset in our personal instructor, who is more knowledgeable and passionate in this area. Ms. Jenni is PRICELESS. More information about music is contained in our previous post, How We Home School.
SOCCER – Upward Sports in Sept.-Nov.
We talked more about this in our post, How We Home School. It will be the same format next fall.
So, an ambitious schedule is quite manageable if you are able to leverage some assistance from members of your household. And if you’re children are like mine who rise early perhaps engaging them in an early morning activity is a viable solution to increase their productivity. Your spouse or an older sibling could supervise the activity or perhaps it is simple enough that a child could work at it on their own.