Saturday, August 19, 2023

Homeschooling through the Seasons

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It has been a while since I blogged, but so many fellow mamas reached out to me with questions about homeschooling and others encouraged me with their stories of how my blog has inspired or encouraged them in their homeschool journey. So, here we are starting our 11th year of homeschooling and I have a goal to document it once again. This year we will have a 9th grader, 8th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, 3rd grader, 1st grader, pre-k 3 (or little tornado), and Lord willing a baby will be joining us! One of the things I love about homeschooling is the freedom to adjust and make course corrections through the different seasons of life. With one going into high school and a baby due in November, I knew that this year would not and could not look like other years. There are some big changes for our older girls and some smaller changes for our younger boys. We kicked off our school year two weeks ago and so far I'm loving our curriculum choices and think it will work well for this season of our life. If you are in a different seasons of homeschooling, you can check out the Homeschool Tab for an idea of what some of our other years have looked like. 

So I'll start with the biggest change. For the first time I will not be teaching the girls any of their subjects. This was not an easy decision for us at all (I'm a little sad), but it is what we feel is best for them this year. I knew that I would not be able to provide the level of academic rigor I believe they need this year and they are craving social interaction with peers. We enrolled them in a homeschool academy and some online courses. The homeschool academy we chose is a once per week hybrid program, so they will take five courses there with teachers who will assign and grade assignments that are sent home to be completed throughout the week. Some of the subjects they are taking are core subjects (like history) and others are electives (including art and photography). 

For math this year they will be using CTC Math. I have heard other homeschool moms rave about this program for years, and finally gave it a try. Two weeks in and I wish we switched much sooner. For the first time ever, our 9th grader who hates math is completing her assignments independently and without tears! You can pay for a family subscription, which makes this course super affordable for homeschooling families. I will likely switch the boys to CTC Math next year (thinking maybe 3rd grade and up... when they have a basic understanding of early math concepts and are able to navigate a computer independently).

Both girls will be doing their English through Apologia online. We love the teacher and book selections (many Lamplighter classics). Apologia Academy is one of the more expensive online options out there, so we likely will not continue to use them each year.

Because we were so late in signing up for the homeschool academy, the 8th grade science course was already full, so she will be taking Astronomy through Journey Homeschool. The course has not started yet, but so far I am impressed by the syllabus and layout of the course. I love that they have a fill in the blank notetaking notebook to go along with the weekly videos. I think this will work out wonderfully for our daughter with dyslexia. I also like that it is biblically based science curriculum and the affordable price tag.

With the girls mostly on their own this year, it was important to me that we still start our days together as a family. After breakfast and morning zones (their chores) we gather on the couch for World Watch News. This 10 minute daily newscast delivers relevant headlines and global topics from a Christian worldview. It's a great way to stayed informed and spur discussions with the kids. Afterwards, we read a chapter from Proverbs and pray together. 

Since it is the first year that the boys will be schooling at home without the girls, I designed the year 100% to their interests. We are going all out boy here at home! For science, I chose Masterbook's Paleontology class. Our boys are wild about dinosaurs; so much so that their room is dino themed. We love Masterbooks for their biblical worldview. While I'm not usually a huge fan of student workbooks for science (I prefer journaling), for this unique course we decided to use them. We are also using the Masterbooks Academy Elementary Paleontology supplemental videos. So far the course is everything we hoped it would be and the boys are having a blast learning!

For History it was time to loop back around to early American History, so we are using Masterbook's America's Story 1. Instead of worksheets, we will be doing lots of hands on projects and field trips. So far this year we have already visited Toltec (Plum Bayou) Mounds State Park, made duct tape Viking Helmets, and crafted cardboard ships. Looking forward to making many memories together this school year!

For Math and English the boys will be going through Math Lessons for a Living Education and Language Lessons for a Living Education (both by Masterbooks). We love the short lessons and spiral approach. This leaves plenty of time for us to play some educational games (like Sum Swamp, Prime Climb, and Chess) and read books together. 

And while that wraps up the "book" learning, remember that a large portion of education takes place outside of the books. We will round out our days with music, sports, scouts, service, entrepreneuring, and more! Are you a veteran homeschooler, first time homeschooler, or somewhere in between? I'd love to connect with you on Instagram @Pocketful_of_Treasures

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