What’s Working in Our Homeschool
Now that we’re well into the new school year and have settled into a rhythm, I’m excited to share with you the curriculum we are/will be using this year!
First, a little bit about our family. We have 4 kiddos, ages 16, 11, 6 and 4. I’ve been homeschooling them since the beginning, so this will be our 11th year as a homeschool family. It’s hard to believe it has been that long! This year, Ellie (16) started an online program through Snow College. She is earning her Associates Degree in addition to a high school diploma. She is doing well so far, despite the heavy workload and is enjoying the challenge, despite the very full days.
Because she is participating in that program, she doesn’t join us for school stuff very often. It’s bittersweet for me, a strange transition to more independence for her and less time that I get to spend with her. So anything I share below includes just the three younger kids, because Ellie is pretty much doing her own thing all day.
Every morning we gather for what we call Morning Time. We begin with a devotional including singing a couple of hymns, scripture memorization, poetry and a scripture verse and/or quote to discuss. I usually put this together on my own, but this year we are using the beautiful Christlike Attributes study from Seek Learning Home. It’s simple to use and absolutely gorgeous.
I try to do as much learning together as we can, despite the difference in ages (our boys are 5 years apart). We do history and science as part of morning time. This year we’re trying a new rhythm for science which I’m super excited about. Read more about that below.
We are using A River of Voices this semester for our History spine. I love it! It recommends a much more diverse selection of books, offering a more inclusive view of history, than many other white-washed history options we’ve tried. I love that it doesn’t sugar coat the difficult/heartbreaking occurrences in history, but it does give options to approach them in a gentle way, as well as providing recommendations for diving deeper into difficult topics.
Generally for history we read a picture book, watch a short documentary video and/or read our current read aloud (all suggestions come from A River of Voices ).
We are really enjoying our science approach this year! Each term we focus on a different (beautiful) book as our spine. We read a few pages from the book each day during morning time and the boys add to their notebooks the things that stood out to them from our reading.
Each Tuesday and Thursday we sit down to watch a documentary together and we choose what to watch based on the topic we’re studying for the term. Most of our documentary choices come from Curiosity Stream. I love that they have the option to only show “kid-friendly” choices. It makes the selection process so much easier!
I am planning to share a collection of what documentaries we watched after each term is over, so stay posted for the first in that series: OCEANS!
I have each of the following books as options for our science spine. So far, I’ve let the boys choose which book they want to focus on when we begin the term and we just go from there.
Most likely we will not finish each of these books within the term we study them. I’m okay with that. We’ll just circle back around to it at a future time. I do not expect us to have a vast, in-depth knowledge of each topic in just five weeks of study. But we do learn a lot and we don’t feel bogged down learning about the same thing for months at a time.
This is a simple, easy to implement approach that is bringing us a lot of delight this year.
HOmeschooling Year Round
We homeschool year-round, using a 5 weeks on/1 week off rotation.
I plan the term ahead during our “Break Week” in between terms (aka, our 1 week off). Most of the general planning is done for the year, but I do take some time to make sure we’re still engage with what we’re studying and to order books suggested in the curriculum or other supplies needed for the next term.
I like to only plan one term at a time because it gives us some added freedom to pursue a topic more in-depth if the interest is there. If we decide to sit longer with a specific time period, or science topic I don’t have to scrap the whole plan for the year.
I like using Teaching Textbooks (available for 3rd grade+). It’s not extremely rigorous, but it is a little math each day. And it’s hands-off for me, for the most part which is helpful when I’m trying to manage lots of kids at different levels.
We are using Simply Charlotte Mason Arithmetic for Elijah (1st grade) and it is a really great fit.
We are also using Spielgaben for both my 1st grader and preschooler. I haven’t yet done an official lesson, so far they just play with it. But I am really happy with that.
I really like The Good and the Beautiful for Language Arts. It’s an academically sound program (I am learning things as I help my boys that I never learned in school!) and it is a manageable length to finish one lesson each day.
How Do You Homeschool High School?
This is a question I receive all the time. Our oldest is in 10th grade this year, so I’m not really an expert. But I can tell you what is working for us. We use MyTech High, which is a really awesome program that pays for our curriculum (as long as it’s not religious). We use MyTech for all of our school-age kids. They also have an option to earn an Associates Degree along with a high school diploma. Ellie chose to enroll in this option, and it has been a really fantastic fit for her.
She is academically minded and is very self-motivated, which is why this works so well for her. I’m not sure that we will use the same option with our boys, but we will decide that when we get to that point.
One of the things I love about homeschooling is that we have so much flexibility. These are the options that are working best for us right now, but we always have the option to change things up when we need a refresh!