Well, we are officially in our SECOND year of homeschooling! I gave the kids a choice of whether or not they wanted to continue homeschooling or return to public school. This choice was given before I became aware of major budget and staffing issues going on in our local district. With what I know now, I would not have even given the, the option. I was TERRIFIED that one or both of them would choose to return to public school, thus cementing my failure as a homschool mom! Abigail immediately said, without a doubt that she wanted to continue homeschooling. Caleb needed some time to decide. The WORST 72 hours of my LIFE as I imagined him actually wanting to return to the big brick institution! In the end he said the ONLY reason he was considering returning to public school was to see his friends. I pointed out that the school gives them ZERO time to socialize during school hours and what is so great about sitting in a room with your friends if you can’t chat. I also reminded him that he is welcome to see his friends any time he wants to outside of school, where they can actually socialize!
Throughout the last year we discovered that straight unschooling does not work for our family. Our children need more structure, direction and suggestions. We are still searching for the happy medium between direction and freedom so that they will learn how to manage their own lives and become adults with a variety of useful knowledge and skills. That is, after all, the whole point. Not only for them to learn but to also grow into self sufficient and functional adults when we send them out into the world on their own.
So, where is this happy medium? What do I insist upon them learning? Do I give them a certain time limit in which to learn it? Whenever I make the decision to add something into our education, I stop and ask myself, ” Is this something that they will enjoy and/or is it something that will be useful and/or necessary for them to successfully adult?”. I want to balance what I feel they NEED to know with things that will interest them.
This is what our second year will (tentatively) look like:
Resources we will be using:
Math: Learn Math Fast: We started using this last year after we found CTC math and Life of Fred were not good a good fit for us. We found, as far as math goes, we wanted something that was not online. The Life of Fred stories were fun and it was great that they saw how math could be applied in real life, however, it just wasn’t a good fit for us. We were looking for something secular and more involved (less fluff). It’s still worth checking out as it is very popular Learn Math Fast is a very straight forward and relatively inexpensive math program. It teaches by example. The author literally teaches by showing step by step examples for each skill and only teaches 1 skill per chapter. Each chapter then builds upon the previous one. Here is a video:
I will also be sharing a blog post for those who prefer the written word and static images 🙂
We will be supplementing as necessary with topic specific worksheets and workbooks for skills they have some trouble grasping. I do not time, test or grade my children. When they understand a concept it will show in their work and then we move on.
I’ll expect them to do math every day, but workbooks only 2 or 3 times a week ( I haven’t quite decided yet). The other days we will be making math fun by using board (See my recent blog post about making math fun with games HERE) and online games like Prodigy. You can watch a demonstration by my 10 year old daughter of Prodigy below:
We are focusing more on writing and Language Arts this year with the BraveWriter Program. Caleb and Abigail will both be working on the same level and we will be using the Partnership Writing Bundle Caleb HATES writing and is either too lazy or really doesn’t know how to use punctuation or capitalization AT ALL and has awful spelling. We tried free writing last year but it didn’t work so well, especially with Caleb struggling so much with spelling and grammar. This is an example of Caleb’s writing.
Please understand, I am NOT posting this to publicly humiliate him, but to show you what passed as acceptable for a child in the 6th grade in our school district and, I’m sure, many others. Scary fact. in the United States 19% of High School graduates CAN’T REA . I knew for more than 5 years that the school was failing my son and I did NOTHING. But all that is in the past and all we can do now is work for the future. I wanted something with more direction and structure. BraveWriter was highly recommended by fellow homeschoolers who have had children with problems similar to my sons.
We will be trying out Intellego Unit Studies for science and also using Various topic specific Usborne Books. Intellego Unit Studies are incredibly affordable at less than $15 per unit (PDF download) less than $20 if you opt for the disk. They are internet linked. You can print the whole thing if you want ( I don’t recommend it, Abigail’s Astronomy unit study is 141 pages! I did, however print the table of contents, the material list for the hands on projects and the first worksheet to fill out). Kids can read the unit on the computer and click the links that go to other safe videos, informational web pages and other interactives. You can see a bit of the Abigail’s Astronomy and Caleb’s Physics unit studies below.
Astronomy Grade 3-5:
Physics Grade 6-8:
We will also be using field trips, videos and books. We are planning a 2 week long trip to Virginia in September! It’s coming up fast! We will be visiting Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown, Grand Caverns, Natural Bridge National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Montecello, Montpelier, George Washington BirthPlace Monument and ending in Assateague Island in Maryland!
Language: I am requiring my kids to learn a foreign language but am leaving it up to them which language. We will be using italki.com for that. I feel like talking to someone who is fluent in the language is the best way to learn it. Software, Audio and things can only get you so far and you can tire quickly. Caleb has chosen to learn Russian and Abigail has opted for the more traditional Spanish. Mom wants to learn Swedish!
Cooking: My kids will be learning to cook this year, I think we will be creating our own curriculum for this, We wont be starting this until sometime later in fall beginning of winter, but we’ll share everything on this with you when we have a solid plan.
Typing: We are going to use Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing for Kids.
Other skills: We will be using Quest Clubs as a supplement as well as an introduction to other interests and skills the kids want to learn. It is a really fun program kind of like scouting but with no religious affiliation (though they DO have religious badges you can earn if thats your cup of tea) and you don’t have to join a club, you can do it all as a family and YES Mom and Dad can earn badges too!
Caleb also wants to learn how to fix cars, as well as carpentry, drawing and Computer coding, animation and video game creation. I have not done a ton of research on this yet so not sure how we’re going to go about all of this. We’ll let you know what we find though! I’ve tried appealing to local mechanics to take on an apprentice to no avail.
Abigail wants to focus more on learning to play guitar, drawing, sewing and crochet.
We shall see where all this takes us, but one thing is for sure…. It’s going to be a FUN and BUSY year!