As much as I truly want to share weekly updates, life has a way recently of flying by. My time on Instagram and Facebook has been limited. BUT our time with school has definitely been in high gear. We started our school year the first week of September. ...

Homeschool Wrap Up September 2019



As much as I truly want to share weekly updates, life has a way recently of flying by. My time on Instagram and Facebook has been limited. BUT our time with school has definitely been in high gear. 

We started our school year the first week of September. It’s the latest we have ever started, but after a crazy busy summer, two kids working, swim team, and still feeling behind from the rush of Laurianna’s graduation and then joining Mercy Ships – well, I personally needed to breathe a little. 

(Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been a bit quiet here overall lately?)

I’m hoping to share a bit more on the whole “catching up” that I’ve been trying to do with life as we settle into a new year and adjust to a different season. 

But – how are YOU all doing this year so far? 

Despite my best intentions, we didn’t get a first day of school picture of the kids. So McKenna was more than happy to jump in and help out with that. She was even nice enough to include Laurianna – all the way in Africa. 

All that said – we have jumped back into school and managed to get into a fairly good groove overall. Most school days start rather early (M/W the boys are up at 4:45a and T/Th at 5:15a) for the boys’ swim practices. The boys have been doing really well with the early mornings (some days are a little harder than others). 

7th Grade Learning

Even though we have a school room, the boys often like to spend time working in the living room, especially since we have a new couch and can spread out a little more now. Kaleb is really enjoying the switches we made this year with his curriculum. It’s allowed him a bit more independence and he is working hard to do as much without my help. 

This is a HUGE step for him, especially with his reading. He is currently 7th grade and although he is still behind grade-level, he has been making some great strides – which has definitely been encouraging to both him and us, and helped tremendously with his confidence. 

Grammar and math are two of Kaleb’s “pocket” areas. Grammar is one subject he has always done well in. In years past, he has worked through the daily lessons alongside me, but this year it is another one that he has taken over independently (and is doing great). 

Kaleb has also been working slowly through Word Up Vocabulary – short video clips and then some online Quizlet work with the new words. 

Another area we’ve really been hitting hard is spelling. While there are days it seems we are going so slowly, we are really trying to make sure Kaleb really has it down firmly. This year has been a lot easier going (some things have “clicked” a little more for him as well as his willingness to jump in full force).

There are moments when I can sit and breathe as the boys work. Sometimes that means I can grab a little bit of reading time, but more often it’s catching up and trying to stay ahead (currently reading Homeschool Bravely, amongst other things). 

9th Grade Learning

Most of our days are spent with our puppy VERY close by. Sometimes more of a hinderance than a help. :) 

Zachary started North Star Geography  last year and we initially planned to work on it over the course of two full years. After he started back up with the program this year, he decided to wrap it up sooner, so he will hopefully be finished with that class at the end of October. 

Last year Zachary started Algebra 1 with Teaching Textbooks. While he did get a good chunk of the program completed, I will admit to not being on top of all of his work, especially once our year went a bit haywire at the end. We initially planned to work on the program over the summer – but that just didn’t happen. 

Admitting my shortcomings to you all – plain and simple. 

Now Zachary has had to step it up to finish the Algebra 1 lessons and then jump into Geometry as soon as he completes it – hopefully end of October as well!

A new-to-us class this year, Grammar for Writers, has been going really well also. This should be a one semester class (1/2 credit) for Zachary, so he has a little wiggle room with lessons if he needs to focus on another area. The video lessons have been engaging so far and Zachary and I work through the lesson quizzes together. 

One of the things I am so glad that we decided to do again this year is a small co-op for both biology and Personal Finance. Biology has been so much fun already – and quite honestly it’s been interesting to see how much Zachary really remembers (and how easily he can memorize – because let’s face it, sometimes I wonder about the teenage brain). When it’s something he ENJOYS, he is all in.

And personal finance, he absolutely LOVES. We were recently out with friends and the bulk of the time he spent explaining compound interest to all of the kids. It was rather hilarious to listen to, but again – when he loves it, he is ALL IN!

11th Grade Learning

The bulk of McKenna’s work has been independent, and she checks in with me with papers she has written, etc… but overall she is falling into her own routine for the new year. She started a new job and works two afternoons a week, and her fall drama/musical class started at the beginning of October. 

The Kid in Africa

Laurianna is adjusting to life on the Africa Mercy and doing really well. Since flying to Guinea, Africa at the end of May, she has since sailed to the Canary Islands (while the ship was in dry dock and getting prepped for Senegal) and then on to Senegal.

She has already decided to extend her time with Mercy Ships. Her initial return would have been in March, but at this point she has pushed the date into May. We’re still waiting on a specific date, but thankful she is settling in. :) 

You can follow along with her trip via her blog here: https://deeplyrooted.blog/

One thing we are thankful for is the opportunity to Facetime with her. The ship has wifi, and we sometimes have a spotty connection, but it’s good to be able to SEE her, even though she is so far away. 

It’s rather strange adjusting to life with one less kiddo in the house – and being a parent of one that is technically an adult – and learning how to parent from a different place in life. But it’s also a good adjustment too. :) 

What We’re Using

If you’d like a peek at our curriculum choices (because we did switch some things up this year), feel free to click on any of the below links. 

 

 

 

Homeschool Tools Footer

 
 
 

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

 
 
 

Access the subscriber only page at any time HERE. Password to open the page is freecards.


         

{disclaimer ~ this is a sponsored post in partnership with Teaching Textbooks}

Any of our long-time readers know that we have had a staple in our yearly homeschool curriculum. It’s a program we love and recommend whenever we can – Teaching Textbooks. As dedicated users of the program since 2010, we’ve had the opportunity to use every one of their math levels from Level 3 through Pre-Calculus.

One of the questions/concerns I’ve had from several parents over the years has tied into Teaching Textbooks and preparing their child for college. Will Teaching Textbooks be enough for college entry? And SATs? 

Here are some of my honest thoughts and opinions on the issue – and the short answer is this: I do believe that YES their program will prepare our children and is an incredible resource to homeschool families

Before I jump fully into things, I would invite you to read a little more about our switch to Teaching Textbooks back in 2010 and the overall reasons we recommend their program.  

When we first started with Teaching Textbooks, I heard and read various criticisms by some about their program. A few said it was behind other programs or that their kids used it and didn’t test well. Of course, criticisms like this are common with any widely-used math curriculum. But we had several friends who had no problems whatsoever, so we decided to move ahead because we needed a program that our kids enjoyed using – and that would help them learn.

Out of our four children, we currently have two children in high school, a child who has taken and done well on the SAT (and successfully graduated), and have had no issue with college acceptance or with Teaching Textbooks being our math curriculum. 

After the tenth grade, our oldest daughter took entrance tests in language and math so she could register for classes at our local community college (she did great on the math potion, by the way). Math is quite honestly her least favorite subject – just because she would rather delve into a good book, dissect a specimen, or learn more about human anatomy. She’s wired that way. BUT she did well on the math portion of the SAT as well, using zero outside prep other than Teaching Textbooks. (Side note: as we have completed standardized testing over the years, our children have tested highly in math each year).

Whatever criticisms we have heard have not proven true. We have seen success with Teaching Textbooks as our primary math curriculum for the past nine years. Teaching Textbooks will prepare for college – and it has!

Teaching Textbooks is a MUST for high school homeschool. 

For those who struggle in math themselves, Teaching Textbooks is an amazing curriculum to have on hand each year. The lessons are all taught via the program, meaning you as a mom get a break and don’t have to remember al the concepts you may not recall from your own high school days. Each lesson has an instructor who walks kids through the concept being taught, works through sample problems, and then kids work on daily problems and/or periodic tests.

One of my favorite features, especially in the high school years, are second chances. Parents can allow the program to offer a second chance for a correct answer. For kids that get frustrated easily, this can be a huge help. Let’s face it: sometimes kids try to rush through a problem or enter an answer too quickly. If they make a mistake, they could take a second chance and try again to get the problem correct. 

On top of second chances, the program SELF-GRADES. For those of you working with high schoolers, this is an amazing mom-help. Yes, we definitely want a program that works well for our children, but the benefit to parents cannot be overlooked either. 

We started with the textbook and CD-Rom versions of the various levels and a little over a year ago we moved over to Teaching Textbooks 3.0, a fully-online version of the program (meaning access anywhere you have WiFi access – no disks needed).  

Something I do want to note: as with any other program/curriculum, parent participation/oversight is necessary. Our family has a policy that if the kids score a 90 or better on a lesson, they can move on to the next lesson. If they are having difficulty and/or score below a 90 on a lesson, we sit down with them to review the concept they are struggling with until they understand and are ready to move on. 

You CAN Jump Ahead (or stay on grade level)

All of our kids started at their appropriate level, and we gave our youngest a placement test before he started. As our kids progressed through and enjoyed working on math, we let them work ahead. Instead of tears, our kids enjoyed doing math. 

Now granted high school can mean differences in attitude (because not all kids enjoy doing school – grins), but as our kids have been able, they have worked at the level they are able to. For both of our girls, they started Algebra 1 in the 8th grade. When our oldest reached the Pre-Calculus level, she decided to break it up over a two-year period (her 11th and 12th grade year), and that worked well for her and her school schedule.

Currently we have a 9th grader who is finishing Algebra 1 (he started it in the 8th grade), and he will move on to Geometry when he completes Algebra 1. Our 11th grade daughter started Pre-Calculus this year and her goal is to complete by the spring, wrapping up her math for high school. 

A Few Other High School Notes

  • Each level of Teaching Textbooks high school math is equivalent to a full high school credit and they currently offer Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus. 
  • A quick look at the gradebook will show you if a lesson is FULLY complete. This is one of my FAVORITE new features that has been added to the program. Prior to this update, the parent had to do a little more digging in the grade book to see if a lesson was 100% completed, but now – there isn’t any hiding if a kiddo “forgets” to do a problem.
  • Print gradebooks anytime.  Maybe I’m not the only one who struggles to keep up-to-date records on subjects, but Teaching Textbooks grades it all for me, and grade books can be printed off at any time for quick and easy record keeping.
  • With the 3.0 version, Teaching Textbooks stores your grades for you, even after your subscription is over. You don’t have to worry about where that grade book disappeared to – they’ve got you covered. 
  • All of the Teaching Textbooks 3.0 programs work on MAC, Windows, and Chromebooks.  For our family, the Chromebook aspect was HUGE since we didn’t have a disk drive. The full Teaching Textbooks 3.0 was one of the few programs we didn’t have any issues with! 

Prior to starting high school, Teaching Textbooks was a lifesaver for our family, allowing the kids a chance to work through math at their pace and independently, while also enjoying the process of learning. As we’ve moved into high school it has continued to be a benefit to our family,

More on Teaching Textbooks

Try Teaching Textbooks 3.0 for FREE


If you’d like to test out the 3.0 version, you can start a Free Trial of the complete program, up through Lesson 15. The trial includes lectures, solution, eBook, and grading on each of the products. If you decide to purchase the full version, everything transfers over for you! 

And bonus – you can try ANY and EVERY level. They are that generous! Learn more HERE. 

Not sure where to start? Download and print a placement test online. 

 

Win a Subscription to Teaching Textbooks 3.0

Teaching Textbooks has generously offered to give ONE FREE SUBSCRIPTION (any level) to Teaching Textbook’s new 3.0 version to one of my readers!! The Rafflecopter widget below will give you instructions below, and includes the option of the free trial as well. :) Because it is an online platform – everyone can enter, provided they are 18 years of age or older.

Giveaway ends Monday, October 7th at midnight EST. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Homeschool Tools Footer

 
 
 

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

 
 
 

Access the subscriber only page at any time HERE. Password to open the page is freecards.


This year we’ve changed up (yet again) a few areas of study with our youngest, even though we’ve used different programs with our older kids at this stage. 

If there’s ANYTHING I’ve learned in the last 13 years of homeschooling, it’s that the best plan is to follow where your child is and not try to fit them into something they aren’t. While there may be things they never enjoy doing, sometimes it means switching things up a bit so it’s at least a little more manageable. 

Kaleb 100% dislikes most anything related to writing and/or extensive conversation. Unless it involves a favorite video game or he is with his best friend, much of his life has been overshadowed by rather talkative older siblings. He is emerging from his shell some and branching out a bit in some areas as he gains confidence, but many of his subjects this year, even though seemingly below “grade” level, are targeted so he can do as much INDEPENDENTLY as possible: reading, answering questions, etc. 

The primary goal is focusing on his reading, writing, and spelling skills – but sneaking it all in via the other subject areas. He is a boy who appreciates a good (and concise) layout of a workbook, so we’re taking advantage of that. That said, here’s a peek at what we’re using this year with our youngest.

7th Grade Curriculum Choices

 

STEM and Swim

I’m hoping to add in a few additional “fun” activities for Kaleb this year as we go along. Right now we’re trying to get into a good groove with the new subjects/format and also balance the boys’ swim schedule. Currently Kaleb has the opportunity to practice 2 early mornings a week and six additional afternoon/evenings – so a whole lot of pool time!

This year we will continue with our small Lego League group. Last year the boys took first at the regional competition and went to States where they were awarded first place in robot performance and second for robot design. They are working on some major robot redesigns and have started on the challenges in preparation for the regional meet in November! 

Overall, it’s a full year with all the extras, including Boy Scouts, and there are literally very few days/evenings free so we enjoy the down time when we have it!

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Kaleb the past few years:

 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

 

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

11th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

Homeschool Tools Footer

 
 
 

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

 
 
 

Access the subscriber only page at any time HERE. Password to open the page is freecards.


           

The fact that we’ve already had two kids in the ninth grade would make it appear that picking out curriculum would be a piece of cake. But one of the huge benefits of homeschooling is that we can tweak programs, switch up the grade level we teach a program, or even completely change to a different program. As I mentioned in this post – each of our kids has been different in their likes/dislikes and focusing on individual strengths is a definite plus!

Last year Zachary started work on several high school credits and about 3/4 of the way through the year we realized that his current swimming times may shift our academic focus as we delve into the world of NCAA course approval (because life just isn’t fun enough!). 

We’ve slowed down the pace a little bit for him (which is GREAT) because his swim practices will really be intensifying this year. Last spring something really clicked for him in several events, and he made some incredible jumps in time and technique. Our mantra through this entire process has been to let the boys lead us in their desire to swim – we don’t want to push them too hard because we want them to enjoy what they are doing. Yes, work needs to be put in, but we also don’t want them to burn out. 

That said, below you’ll get a peek at our 9th grade homeschool curriculum choices – a look at the new (and favorite) programs we are using for the upcoming school year. An * depicts curriculum/programs that are new to us this year. 

*feed readers, please click over to the blog for some of the additional links to curriculum

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 6


Co-op Learning

We have a small group of high schoolers that will be meeting weekly to work on personal finance. Zachary will also be getting together with one friend to do the lab part of biology (because any dissection is better with a friend, right?). 

Math

We have the paper version of Geometry, but this year Zachary will be working on the online version of Teaching Textbooks Geometry (3.0). It follows along with the book, and I’m excited that I can log in on my laptop and see what he is doing since everything is stored online! (He’ll earn 1 credit for this class.)

Confession: boy wonder still has about 20 lessons of Algebra 1 to wrap up before he can jump into Geometry. Keeping it real, people! 

Geography

Zachary is continuing to work through North Star Geography.  Last year we opted to follow the two year plan included with the book so we could “ease” him into high school work. When completed, he will have earned a full credit as a high school class. 

Writing & Literature

Zachary will be using a brand new program from Compass Classroom for grammar/writing this year: Grammar for Writers. He will be watching the lectures online and working through the workbook (we have the print version). Last year he worked through the Grammar of Poetry (1/2 credit), so these classes will be combined together for essentially an “English 9” class for him. 

We will also be continuing with All About Spelling Levels 6 & 7 for spelling. He is sitting down with me this week to choose four main books for his reading over the year. 

Biology

We’ll be working through The Riot and the Dance  biology this year and have a local friend to complete our lab activities with each week. This program is one we switched to with McKenna and really enjoyed the layout and the way things were explained in the text. We mix up the labs a little bit from how the book presents them and added more dissections (because they really are fun!!) to the mix as well. 

Reading

We aren’t focusing on a dedicated literature program this year, but there are a few books Zachary will be reading through over the course of the year. It’s a fairly eclectic list, but some are ones he chose and a few are ones I am reading along with him. 


Swimming

This past year Zachary decided to swim year round. For those of you with swimmers, he not only competed in short course (25 meter pool) but also long course (50 meter pool) this summer. He is now measuring in at a bit over 6’3″ and essentially has flippers for feet. He has been dropping even more time and really loves most everything about swimming (his parents are not as fond of the early morning practices!). :) 

Quite honestly, swimming is a mixed bag for me personally. It does mean quite a bit more running around in the evenings, especially as Zachary is in the top practice group and expected to attend a high percentage of practices each week. But he is WILLINGLY putting in over 12 hours of pool time in each week as well as multiple dryland practices weekly, so his physical activity is beyond admirable.

Sidenote: this is the boy who will now come home after practice and eat about a dozen eggs for breakfast. Our grocery budget is about ready to go nuts again.

Boy Scouts

This will be Zachary’s last year participating in Scouts. He is currently ranked as a Life Scout and our troop will be disbanding next June as our current troop leaders retire. Zachary is working hard to complete the remaining four merit badges he needs to earn and deciding on his Eagle Scout project (ideas welcome!!). Our troop has been such a great outlet for Zachary, and he has really loved it over the last four years. 

Personal Finance

One of the best things that happened for Zachary this past summer was getting his first job at our local pool. He helped serve in the snack area, and it’s been a great jumping point for teaching about saving and spending. The Foundations in Personal Finance class is one of my favorite electives to go through with the kids because it really has helped shape how they view their current and future finances (McKenna saved up and paid cash for her first car this summer and has a $1000 emergency fund!). We’ll be working through this class with a small group of kids – and it will be fun! 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Zachary the past few years:

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

11th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

 

 

Homeschool Tools Footer

 
 
 

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

 
 
 

Access the subscriber only page at any time HERE. Password to open the page is freecards.


The last few weeks have involved a bit of scrambling (if you will) to pull together all of our curriculum for the upcoming year. As I mentioned in this post – each year for our various kids has been different. While we may use some core curriculum pieces from one child to the next, other components may be different.

So far, McKenna has earned a total of 20 credits toward her high school diploma. At the end of her 11th grade year she will have completed 5.5 more credits, making a total of 25.5 credits toward her diploma. 

McKenna spent a few days a week working last year, which wasn’t always the best for her study habits, or life in general. Since she is driving and purchased her own car this summer, that will help out some, but she does still need to work to help pay for her gas and any car repairs. This year I’m hoping to help her establish a little more balance so she isn’t quite as hard on herself, since she tends to stress herself (and those around her) out. 

11th Grade Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 5.5

Pre-Calculus

We’ve used Teaching Textbooks for many years now and this year we will be using Pre Calculus  3.0 online version. We made the switch from the CD version (pictured above) to the online version and loved it, since I can log into the account at the same time and view the lesson, and we can access from any computer, not just one specific (which we had to do with CD-rom version).  

American History

We’ve used Notgrass other years (for different subjects), and McKenna has enjoyed the format of the books in years past, so we’re looking forward to the continuity and familiarity of the layout. 

Spanish

Out of the different programs we’ve tried over the years, Breaking the Barrier has been the best alternative for us in teaching Spanish. We switched to this last year and have had a few hiccups, but overall it’s been more user friendly and easier to follow.

 

Marine Biology

This is a new-to-us curriculum. A friend of ours used it with one of her sons, so we borrowed it all from her. I’ll admit, when she handed me the HUGE dissection tray, I was a little worried! BUT our squid and dog shark dissection specimens were ordered from Home Science Tools and now on the way!! I’m super excited about this class since we had so much fun with our biology dissections. McKenna picked this science herself after I sent her a bunch of options from a homeschool convention. :)

Literature

 

We’re trying something a new to us this year – Lightning Literature, the American literature packs. I’m really intrigued by the format of the program and how it uses various literature to teach different styles of writing (i.e. Narrative of Frederick Douglas to show persuasive writing). McKenna will be working through both of the American Literature sets, possibly jumping over one of the books in one set because she has done so much work in past literature classes. Books focused on in these units include: Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, The Narrative of Frederick Douglas’s Life, The Scarlett Letter, Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Call of the Wild, and The Red Badge of Courage

Drama

This fall our local community college is offering their final youth theatre class. McKenna has participated in this program the last two years and will be participating in workshops, vocal training, and at the end of the semester the group will be performing songs from various musicals. She will earn 1/2 credit for the class. 

 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with McKenna the past few years:

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

 

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

 

Homeschool Tools Footer

 
 
 

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

 
 
 

Access the subscriber only page at any time HERE. Password to open the page is freecards.



Safely Unsubscribe ArchivesPreferencesContactSubscribePrivacy