Yes, we use the Well-Trained Mind, but …

People tend to forget that it’s a plan, not a prison. Yes, I peruse it every spring, but my children are not theoretical constructs. I customize it.

For example, next year will be the 6th grade for my eldest child. So, I flipped open my Kindle copy of the most recent edition, clicked on Part II. The Logic Stage: Fifth Grade through Eighth Grade, skipped the introduction (I’ve already been convinced!), and re-read the How to Teach.

I noted the “if she can support her points with the facts” and reminded myself that I’d like to use the exercises from The Writing Revolution with Gwen next year.

“Language, mathematics, logic, history, and science are staples of the logic stage; art and music should be pursued if possible.”

(Location 5986 in The Well-Trained Mind)

Step 1: Logic.

Last year, my eldest child attempted The Art of Argument, but I didn’t have time to devote to going through it with her, and she didn’t get much out of the DVDs. She’d already done Bonnie Risby’s Blast Off With Logic Series the year before. Swamped at the beginning of the school year, I had her work through Unlocking Analogies instead, and then when she finished it, switched over to Building Critical Thinking Skills. She also participated in a local NCFCA club last school year.

This year, I want to do better for her. Since little sister is going to demand more of my time as a kindergarten student, I signed big sister up for CLRC’s Beginning Logic course that uses Art of Argument and Discovery of Deduction.

Step 2: Math.

This is a difficult subject for my eldest child. I’ve tried Singapore Math, RightStart Math, Math Mammoth, Beast Academy, and Saxon Math, and the program that she’s made the most progress with has been Saxon Math. Last year she successfully completed Saxon 6/5. I reviewed the scope and sequence for Saxon 5/4, 6/5, 7/6, and 8/7, and decided that since there were only three new concepts introduced in Saxon 7/6, she could attempt Saxon 8/7 next year.

Step 3: Science.

Sixth grade in the Well-Trained Mind method is earth science and astronomy. Science is one of my daughter’s favorite subjects, and I splurge a little in both time and money.

For earth science, I’ve decided to use CPO Earth Science as a spine, and downloaded all the supplemental worksheets and labs from their website. I still need to sort and plan exactly what we’ll cover and when. I also purchased TOPS 23 Rocks and Minerals.

For astronomy, I happen to have access to a 17-week course that uses Elemental Science‘s Astronomy for the Logic Stage.

Step 4. History and Geography.

This year is the Middle Ages for my daughter (AD 400 to AD 1600). Like science, this is one of her favorite subjects. I’m signing her up for the WTMA course, which will have outlining, summarization, and primary sources, using Story of the World and the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia.

She does keep a timeline. I purchased the Pandia Press timeline series, and the current year’s timeline hangs in the dining room.

For geography, while she’ll do the map work assigned in class, I’m adding in Evan-Moor’s Daily Geography.

Since she loves history so much, over the summer I’m also creating a supplemental curriculum to extend and deepen her knowledge as they go. I took the significant people list in the Well-Trained Mind for history and literature, added in the suggested primary sources, and mixed in a couple of the supplementary resources, like MP’s Famous Men of the Middle Ages. Then I spent a great deal of time finding locating them in OUP’s Human Odyssey, as well as high quality Internet resources. I like to add in videos and other illustrations. Jim Weiss is always a favorite!

Step 5. Spelling, Grammar, Reading, and Writing.

My daughter is precocious in her language arts skills, so her items for next year are not quite where the Well-Trained Mind recommends.

In terms of literature, the Well-Trained Mind recommends essentially what Memoria Press uses for 9th grade. Since my daughter is a precocious reader, I think I’m just going to purchase MP Poetry, Prose, & Drama Book One and MP’s Ninth Grade Literature Guide Set with Novels. I’ll probably use some of the poetry as this year’s memory work.

For writing, I’ll sign her up for WTMA’s Expository Writing 2, but I think I’m going to add in some exercises from The Writing Revolution and extend the exercises from Writing With Skill 2.

For spelling, she’ll continue the Vocabulary from Classical Roots.

For grammar, she’ll continue Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind, half-speed.

I also compiled a tentative list of novels and collections that I’ll keep in mind for “extra” reading. The MP set won’t keep her busy all year, and I like to offer her choice as much as possible. Because most of these are set in Europe, I’m always looking for non-European settings, authors, and characterss.

Step 6. Latin and Languages.

My eldest child has been studying Latin for a while, most recently using Ecce Romani in an Outschool class and First Form Latin at home. I’m looking forward to outsourcing it entirely to CLRC’s Intermediate Latin I, which is using chapters 1-8 of the Oxford Latin Course Part 1.

Spanish using Getting Started With Spanish this year didn’t go well, mainly because I failed to follow through. So, based on good recommendations from other homeschooling parents, I’m tentatively planning to sign both girls up with Homeschool Spanish Academy.

Step 7. Art and Music.

My eldest daughter spends hours every day doing art, so that’s not really a worry for me. I want to emphasize art appreciation with history, and add in some music appreciation other than her love for EDM and pop music. To that end, I’m using Harmony Fine Art’s Grade 6: Medieval and Renaissance Art and Music

All done!

This will be my eldest daughter’s seventh year of homeschooling, and by this time, I’ve got a good handle on what works for her, and what doesn’t. I also know what I can do, and what I can’t do (or am not interested in doing.) I outsource wherever I think it’s useful, use quality pre-built curricula whenever I can, and generally customize for a perfect fit.

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