At the beginning of the 2015 school year I wrote up THIS POST. So now that we are nearing the mid to end of the year in 2016… I thought Id do a quick update.
Figured some may be curious what has worked and what hasn’t.
The longer I home school, the more I question what I am doing haha… Some months I’m die hard, this is SO good, so worth it, the best… other months, I’m ready to sign my kids up for public school and never look back.
It is something you most def. cannot go into thinking it will be all smiles, relaxed schedules and bonding time. Cause its not.
I txt a lot with my best friend in NC throughout my days, who also home schools. Her and I are right on page with similar struggles and it is super therapeutic for me to vent over a frustration in the midst of a hard school day and hopefully it is for her too… It does help you to feel a lot less alone knowing there are others who are struggling with similar scenarios. No one, I repeat. NO ONE, needs to home school and feel alone.
So all this to be said. You have to be flexible… and willing to let go a bit. No schedule will ever be perfect. No curriculum will be the best. There will be days, weeks, months you’ll want to quit… but in the end, it is a decision you have to pray and determine what is right for your family.
For now this works. Will we do it the rest of my boys school years. Not sure yet. But I have no doubt, the experience is growing me as well as my boys.
So here goes.
What worked from my curriculum choices of 2015-2016.
Hand writing without tears. – I did the Kindergarten book for Owen (he has completed it) and Taite completed the cursive one. I will start Owen on cursive this fall.
Loved it. I will use this again for next year as well. Great and simple books.
Abeka Math for my Kindergarten student and 3rd grader. Both are just fine. I love Abeka math books for 3rd grade and under. They are easy to follow and colorful. I feel at those ages, kids need some color… Thats just my opinion tho, obviously kids can do it without colorful pages. :) Its just a bit more fun. I have tried Abeka Math, Math U See (this is a great option too btw) and Saxon. Out of the 3, for younger boys, Abeka wins because of the colorful pages… Math U See was a close 2nd because they had dvds… I really wish Abeka would lower their prices on their dvd options. The cost of those is robbery… However for older boys, Saxon all the way.
Saxon Math 5/4 with Teacher DVDS. AN ABSOLUTE MUST!!! I have adored this curriculum. While it takes Caleb longer to do this than it did any other math he has done, it is also the most thorough math we’ve used and so easy to follow. He can do his math without my help most days… its all on his computer using DVDS that I can reuse for my other boys too. The workbook I re-use as well. I make Caleb write his answers for his seat work into a spirally bound book. So the investment financially to use Saxon is so affordable. Well worth it. If my kids HATED Saxon, I would probably go with Math U See. That curriculum was affordable and well written. The DVDS were also great.
Taite (my 3rd grader) next fall will start on the Saxon 5/4 book and dvds. So next year I don’t even have to buy Taite a book. Love when that happens. Any time you can find a curriculum that allows you to re-use things, that is such a bonus. Both Saxon and Math U see can work this way. Reusing curriculum for larger families is the way to go.
Apologia for Science – Love it so far. While I do not follow it to the T, it is a great and easy book to read along with all the boys. I do not suggest using the Apologia Handbooks that come with printables. To much busy work… We don’t use it, ever. My boys would much rather just sit with me on the sofa and listen to the lesson, than do a bunch of seat work. I have found no benefit in using the seat work either. It just makes more work for me, making copies and such. So next year we wont even order the workbook, just the readingbook. Next year we hope to do Apologia Astronomy.
Typing.com – great great great site! We are still letting the boys use this to work on their typing skills. My 3rd and 5th grader do this.
Stuff that Did not work, but may work later…
Mystery of History Vol 1 – This is a great book but we have not used it much. I fell back and started using the Story of the World series instead. My boys prefer it and so we are working our way through those books for now. I will hang onto the Story of the World book still, and use it later.
Abeka Lit for Kindergarten – I have used this with two other kids and love it… however, Owen is not clicking with this book. He is struggling big time… and it is just evidence to me that he is not ready. He can not retain the concept of blends… and has trouble even remembering letter names. Owen is still only 5… and while I think we could push him to do it before age 6… I’m not. My other two boys didn’t start Kindergarten until they turned 6… so why am I pushing so hard to make Owen do it before hes 6. Not worth it. Owen will fly through this if I just wait. One thing Owen is able to do very well though is Math. He is going through his Math book with flying colors. So next year, he will do 1st grade math but we will repeat Kindergarten Phonics with him. This is one the many things I adore about home schooling. Owen had he been in a public school or even private, would have to repeat EVERYTHING. He couldn’t just repeat part of the Kindergarten Curriculum. I like that ill be able to move him forward in areas he excelled in… but work more intentionally on those areas he struggled. Without him thinking he failed.
Each kid is SO different and the more boys I home school, the more I realize, we should never expect one kid to do exactly as the other.
Stuff that did not work AT ALL.
BJU Literature for English. AWFUL!!!! I hated every second of these books and will never ever use them again. In fact they are going up on ebay as soon as I get around to it. To complicated. TO much seat work. To much, to much, to much. My kids would be in tears by the end of most lessons. I would be confused and defeated as well.
After speaking with a veteran home school mom with college aged kids now… she suggested I look into EASY GRAMMAR. I did, ordered those books and the “daily gram” set and so far we LOVE IT! That is what I intend to use for my kids as they enter 3rd grade and up.
Stuff we added…
Besides adding Easy Grammar… that we do intend to work through the summer, since we got such a late start on it.
I also added in Explore the Code for Owen. We will begin working our way through this little by little.
I am also trying out Reading Eggs for Owen too.
For my boys writing, to go along with their Grammar, I am making them write descriptive papers after they read chapters in their story of the world books. These books are great and easy enough for my 3rd grader to read. Very very well written books that they do enjoy reading. After they read their chapter they have to write a paper telling me what they read, in order. I then correct and mistakes and then have them re-write it. This is sort of along the guidelines I guess you could say with the practices of Charlotte Mason. Sorta kinda. Im so new to learning about Charlotte Mason, that I am still learning… but I am finding a lot of freedom in what she taught and pushes… and think its great to apply to the classroom.
Caleb is also reading through the Lord of the Rings series with his Dad right now. A Chapter a day roughly, along with his Story of the World book. Its a good bit of reading… I think it will do nothing but improve his vocabulary and spelling.
We also participate in a local home school co-op. At this co-op the boys meet in classroom settings from 9-12:30 roughly. Able to socialize and learn from someone besides me. All 3 of the older boys go. There are around 200 students in the entire co-op. Over 100 families! Classes vary… from PE, Architecture, Literature, Art, Science classes and so forth. We’ve enjoyed being a part of that community and it adds a good bit more fun to the home school experience for the boys.
Once a week I also try to take the boys on a trip.
May it be to the zoo (we got a membership to the Columbia Zoo near us). Home Schoolers also get in free to the SC Museum. Taking trips out to parks and other places where theres lots of nature works well too.
That is about it.
Hopefully this helps… feel free to comment with any questions. Also if you have a curriculum you love, let me know! :)