Thursday, September 7, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

At Long Last- Our Plan!

So its been a long time coming!  Typically what happens is that I decide at tax return time what we will be doing the following year, then purchase what we need.  Then, as the year progresses our needs and situation changes and we end up scrapping at least part of the plan and starting over.   Well, this year was no different in that respect.  The one thing that set apart this spring's planning session was that we decided to homeschool Leif and Anna at the end of the year. 

We'd been considering the move for a few months, but it was a really really hard decision for both of them.  For Anna, her school was going through a transition and was not looking good.  It had been going downhill progressively each year that we had students in it, (Anna and before her, Chloe)  And our capacity to deal with any more downhill motion was maxed out.

 At home, Anna will have the ability to work at her own pace, have more 1 on one attention, and be able to have social studies, for goodness sake!! Since the school nixed the choir program, the one remaining draw was her amazing math teacher.  She was such a huge blessing to us.  And Anna made some major progress when we switched to Ms. D. partway through the year.  Now the baton will be passed off to our wonderful math tutor Stephanie, and me, to supplement her tutoring.   Anna is an 8th grader and plans to go back to school next year, largely to be able to participate in the renowned Decatur choir program.

With Leif it was a somewhat harder decision.  His school was fine, however, being twice exceptional, (gifted and adhd) he found himself being bored more than i'd like.  The problem is that he tested above 7th grade in both language and math and was only able to work through 4th grade work (in math)  LA was a little better since they had leveled readers that he could work at a higher level.  Leif, however, is such a creative, joyful person and he LOVES to learn, (He'll decide to focus on a subject.  For a while it was almanacs, the latest has been chemistry) and he'll read and do activities, and research...  He's still got that amazing love of learning that many students have lost by his age.   One thing about Leif is that he does have special needs that need to be accommodated and home is a perfect place to do so.  Leif is in 5/6th grade. (We initially held him back in Kindergarten since he has a late summer birthday and he was lacking in maturity when Kindergarten rolled around.  At this point we will figure out which will be more advantageous to him when the time comes.  It might be better to maintain his status as a 5th grader if he'll be more prepared for running start, for example.)

Nik is a 12th grader.  He struggled with academics greatly and we opted to hold him back a year in 9th grade, to give him more time to blossom.  And blossom he did!  Last year, as an 11th grader, he was excelling at his schoolwork, even math, which has been a horrid struggle for him from the get-go.  Thanks to Ms. Stephanie, he's working on algebra and doing really well.  He does have to progress to college algebra level in order to get his associates degree, so the extra year has been really helpful.  This year he's doing a combination homeschool/running start.  Running start is a Washington thing.  11th and 12th graders can choose to go to college instead of, or in conjunction with, high school.  He will earn both high school and college credit simultaneously.   The first quarter he will be taking an online english class and hopefully in winter quarter will transition to on campus course (s)  He works slowly so we wanted to start him out gradually.  He has a 504 plan to give him accommodations in college, (thank goodness!!) but he still has limited hours in the day so I don't want to make it impossible to get his work done.  His fall english course will meet the entire year's english requirement, however, he'll also be doing NaNoWriMo this year, which is a month long novel writing experience.  He'll do planning and outlining before November, and write his novel in November, and spend the rest of the year editing.  He'll be earning an ELA credit for that class as well.   He'll also be doing conceptual chemistry and physics science course at home.  Additionally he'll be completing year 2 of Latin.  Ideally he will take 2 classes in winter quarter at the community college, and 2 in the spring quarter which will be social studies and electives which will complete his high school course of study. 

Elliott is our final student this year.  He's in 3rd grade.  He's gifted like Leif, and is super easy to teach.  For him, i need to help him to challenge himself, as he tends to get in a place where he's doing grade level work, which is way easy, and then isn't challenging himself further. Its my understanding that this is a common thing with gifted students.  The curriculum we are using this year, I think will be a huge help with this. 

So what is the primary curriculum we are using this year?  Its Moving Beyond the Page!  MBTP is a program designed for gifted kids.  It will be a great fit for all three of the littles, with Anna working at Leif's level.  One thing I like about this curriculum is that they have a few different themes.  so in science, instead of only studying human body and astronomy as originally planned they will be studying a few topics, including the human body, astronomy, energy, the living seas, biomes and technology and invention.  Fun stuff! Its going to be a great year! 

Other curricula we are using-  Teaching textbooks math for all three youngers, and algebra TT for Nik.   I'll be putting together a course of study of the middle ages for the youngers, drawing from Build your library curriculum, and Story of the world, medieval level.  We'll also be doing daily nature study, and i'm hoping to fit our daily Ted Talk, "big idea of the day" that we did when we were homeschooling everyone.  What else? I'm sure i'm missing stuff. Oh well.  you get the idea.  Anyway, this year is going to be a slamming good year and i hope to keep up with posting some of our projects and day to day stuff we are doing. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

End of year review

What worked? What didn't?  What did we keep?  What did we abandon?  Well... it was a pretty good homeschool year.  We abandoned less this year than many years, but we still made some changes.

 For Nik, (11th grade)  we quickly discovered that he did NOT have enough time to get all his subjects done, so we removed James Madison Critical Thinking, (an area that's a strength for him anyway) And we removed The Power in your Hands, because we discovered that History Odyssey had a very large amount of expository writing and doing both was not going to be manageable.   The school year went well.  Nik functions a lot slower than the average child so he was not able to complete all his curricula this year, so I dropped what was not necessary, modified what was left, not counting Latin, which needs to get done without modification so he can continue with Latin 2 next year, And he'll continue his work through the first part of summer.  No, actually the later part of summer since VACATION is coming up at the beginning of July. 

Elliott had a good year as well.  The workbooks got kind of old.  we made it a little over half the year with those before loosening up with them and not doing every subject every day, except for spelling.  We also added more read-alouds and some hands on work.  We bailed on Bookshark science and did science more organically.  I learned SO much about Elliott this year, about what works and doesn't work, and what our days/weeks/year should look like.  Despite several changes we still had a great year!

Summer is upon us! Tomorrow is the last day of school for the school kids, and Nik, Elliott and I will be celebrating the end of the year by visiting the library where the "lizard man" is going to be.   Our plan for the summer is to intentionally avoid unbridled screen time.  To do so, we will be limiting screen time to an as of yet not determined time block. They will have 1 hour per day, more on weekends.  Schoolwork for the 4 youngest (worksheets and reading) will be done from 10-12.  The older kids will just be reading during that time.

Sooo... that's the latest update! I hope to post end of year pictures tomorrow.  But we'll see if that actually happens!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Our Curriculum this year:

In our homeschool, we'll be using mainly secular materials.  This is a pretty big shift from past years, but as I'm secular, and i'm the teacher, it makes sense to teach from my heart and not to pretend to be something that i'm not.  Its important to me that we learn (I alongside the kiddos) about evolution and other solid science that we've neglected in prior years.  This is exactly what they will be learning about in college and I don't want them to be at a disadvantage, particularly if any of them decide to pursue a scientific path.

Back to curriculum, this year, as all years, I bought what I needed for school back in February when the tax return arrived, And since that time i've refined, rebought, and replanned.   i'm not great about sticking with stuff and curriculum in no exception.   So here's what we have planned- the (hopefully) final version 

Nik-11th grade:

Math- One on one work with his math tutor.

Life of Fred financial choices-

Language Arts-

Easy grammar ultimate series grade 11-

Literature-  This year he'll be reading one book every month, (in addition to his normal reading)  including a mix of classic literature:  Flowers for Algernon, The Book Thief, The Old Man and the Sea, The Great Gatsby, 1984, The Odyssey, The Chosen, And Then There Were None.

Writing-  Is included in his history curriculum. (nonfiction writing)

Foreign Language-

 Visual latin 1 


History Odyssey Level 3 

History Odyssey is AMAZING.  I hope Nik is able to rise to the challenge because this is a very rigorous curriculum. I think he will.  He's incredible at both History and Language arts so i think this is a very good match.

REAL Science level 2 biology

Life Skills-


Intellego Health unit study

Planetary Stewardship-  I found Global Village School and absolutely fell in love!  I lamented that my curriculum was all purchased, but when I saw the Planetary Stewarship course, i knew that we had to make room for it.   Nik's in the home stretch and this is one of those critical "life skills" sort of classes that are of great benefit to him.

Critical thinking-  We are tentatively planning to use James Madison critical thinking course hesitating only because Critical Thinking is a strength of Nik's and we think it might be information already covered.  And lets face it.  He has a LOT on his plate this year.  So we might start out with it and see how it goes. 

And Finally-  Art.  Nik's favorite.  And I'm embarrased to say, we haven't quite figured out what to do for art yet.  I have a few ideas and will likely piece together a drawing course, but so far Nik is trying to decide if he wants to work on drawing the human anatomy or take a generalized course in drawing objects. 

Elliott- 2nd grade

Math- Mathematical Reasoning level C

Language Arts- 
Language Smarts level C

Spelling you see

Italic Handwriting

He'll also obviously be using a variety of readers and we'll be doing a variety of read alouds as well.


History Odyssey

Geo Puzzles (or as Elliott calls them- G.E.O puzzles)

Blue Planet Puzzle

Book Shark level 1 Science this year is filled with amazingness.  We'll study Animals, astronomy and physics. I love how the book shark set is complete with all the experiment supplies and books and everything!  We were fortunate to have won this set last year, and i'm excited to try it out!!



Engino-  The one i've been taunting poor Elliott with since February... hahaha....

Art-  I've got a few doodling books and a fun art set from Timberdoodle, but the main part of our Art curriculum is Home Art Studio.   WOW.  So blown away by this curriculum.  I can't WAIT to get started!!!

SO,  I believe that's about it!  Feel free to post if you have any questions.  And if you have your own post about what curriculum you are using, please link it to me in the comments! I love to see what others are doing!!

Monday, August 15, 2016


Greetings!  My name is Rebecca and I'm a mom to 7 children ages 21,17,15,12,10,7 and 7.  We used to exclusively homeschool, up until a few years ago, when we ran into a few issues that made homeschooling really hard.  Right now I'm homeschooling Nik, my 17yo and Elliott, my 7 yo.  Chloe, age 15, Anna, age 12, Leif, age 10, and Asher, age 7 are all in school.  As the url to this blog might have clued you in, we evaluate our educational options on an each child, each year basis.

Personally, I love homeschooling.  I think that it is the ideal, but there are certain things that keep us from pulling them all out of school.  Namely that each of the school kids is doing so incredibly well in school.  Each, other than Chloe who just chose to go to school, was put in public school because they had special needs that became overwhelming for me to meet at home.  Asher has fairly low functioning autism, so him being in school is necessary for everyone in the house's mental health.  Anna also has autism, but less severe.  She has pretty severe learning delays and her needs are being so well met with an extraordinary special ed teacher.  I failed to mention that Asher's teacher is AMAZING.  She blows me away with how much energy she has and how much she invests into the kids in her care.  She's one of my biggest heroes.  Leif has ADHD (though i'm pretty convinced its actually Aspergers, now called autism) and just plain does better when someone else is his teacher.   I'm over taking it personally.  Alex just graduated from SU and is currently looking for a "real" job.  I'm so excited for him!!

That leaves Elliott and Nik who are both homeschooled and thriving.  I'll post later when I get a chance about what materials i'm using with each of them.   Right now is such an amazingly fun time of the year! I get to sleep in, (as much as Asher will allow!) I get to prepare for the upcoming year... its such a great time of the year.  I'm loving it.  I'm looking forward to the fall, though dreading the early mornings, and am excited to start a new school year!

Thanks for reading!  I'm going to be posting our experiences as well as some hopefully inspiring bits here and there.

Many Blessings,
Rebecca K.