Our Current Curriculum
This is a list of the subjects we’re currently studying, and the books, websites and other resources we’re using during our current school year. Updated January 31, 2018.
My boys are in high school (9th and 10th grade-ish) this year. We’re using Higher Altitudes High School curriculum for some of our core subjects this year, with some additional resources and links to my homeschooling Pinterest boards below the list. We were severely affected by Hurricane Harvey just after the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year (our house flooded on Wednesday, August 30, 2017; were displaced for 2.5 months, then returned home to a construction zone in which we currently live at the time of this writing). School this year has been scattered and difficult. We began our regular daily schedule in January 2018, and will school through the summer to make up for lost time.
These are the main resources we’re using this year:
- Math – We are reviewing all math/algebra concepts right now using Purple Math, with Khan Academy videos to review or explain concepts I struggle with.
- Science – HA Biology
- History & Geography; Civics and Current Events – HA US History & HA Civics; plus Timeline, various Artist, Composer, World Religion and other unit studies as needed/desired; CNN Student News (note-taking & discussion; research as needed); Unit Studies centered on World Events/Holidays, etc. as needed or desired
- Grammar, Writing, Penmanship & Spelling –The Hobbit Unit Study; plus weekly essay writing, daily handwriting/dictation/spelling/vocabulary drills. We’ll start HA Language Arts at later this year.
- Reading & Literature – We’re going through the College Board Reading List. Assignments include daily reading & note-taking and a quiz/review at the end of each book; participation in the Homeschool Book Club through our local public library
- Logic/Research – games, brain teasers, research project, computer coding, foreign language, areas of individual study/interest
- Arts, PE & Health – group orchestra class (2 days per week – stringed instrument); 1 art project (usually monthly; based on concept); encourage individual study; daily walks; playing with our dog, Max; meditation practice
- Field Trips, Activism & Community Service – 2x per month educationally aligned field trips with our homeschool group; once-a-quarter community service project or activity is our goal. Activism opportunities as they are available.
Here are additional resources that we either currently use, or have used in the past to round out the main curriculum:
My Pinterest Homeschooling boards that don’t fit into a core subject:
- DIY Homeschooling
- Sensory/ADHD Homeschooling
- Homeschool Room
- Homeschooling Blogs
- Holiday Homeschooling
- Homeschool Funny Stuff
- Secular Homeschooling
- Running a Homeschool Group
- Homeschool Field Trips
- We use a Math Journal to keep track of math work each day and to serve as our weekly review. The Math Journal is also where most of their math writing is done. More amazing math journals here, at Integer Jim’s website; Math Notebooking at Squidoo; and my Math Journals post from June 2011.
- Timez Attack (multiplication and division game), Math Dice, SkipBo, flash cards and other games.
Handwriting & Journal (Visual Writing Prompts Pinterest Board)
- While browsing Pinterest, I found this article and decided to try visual writing prompts with the kids. I pin interesting pictures there for my kids to use as writing prompts… describing a person or a scene or telling the story of what happened just before or just after, or where the people are going or what they’re talking about.
- I use other Journal Prompts and Handwriting worksheets from I Wonder and other journaling ideas from Pinterest and around the web – whatever I can find, may think of, or they come up with to write about. We’ve started using the ‘journalist’ idea from Heart of the Matter online as well.
- I really like Let’s ZOOM! for ADHD kids; it’s a technique designed by an OT to help prepare for writing (or just before using any tool; scissors, etc).
- As they complete their reading selection for the day, they use an index card (paper-clipped to the book) to make notes about the chapter/pages they’ve read so that writing a book report is easier when they’re done with the book.
- I read aloud to them from some type of literature book (poetry, classic stories, etc) at least 3x per week. If we have a film of the same book, we’ll often read and watch, then compare the stories.
- We used Reading Eggs (definitely worth the paid subscription) in the past to reinforce basic concepts and boost confidence; plus, it’s fun. If you have a reluctant reader or just want to improve skills, I definitely recommend it!
Language Arts (Grammar, Phonics, Spelling, Literature) (Homeschool Language Arts & Reading/Writing Pinterest Board)
- Love Notes journal
- Extensive use of the Library and online literature, audio books and literary/film comparisons; YouTube for grammar concepts (Grammar Rock, homophones, their/there/they’re, etc.)
- Reading assessment tools
- Discovery Education and numerous videos, lapbooks, unit studies, nature walks, visits to state parks and observation and discussion of the world around us
- Chemistry for Kids & Jr. Boom Academy
- Virtual Skies (mostly just for fun; this is a high school course, but when my kids were interested in flight/NASA, we adjusted down for his age and understanding)
- Timeline: we started a scroll timeline (which is like a wall version, but on craft/butcher paper and rolled up for storage) in January 2011. It’s gotten QUITE full over the years! Here are a bunch of purchase-able options and figures to go on your timeline. We use the timeline for geography, literature and science as well.
- AAAWhere (US States & Nations of the World)
- We used our History Passports to log where we’ve been in the world; not just states, countries and continents, but also geographical areas (like Tornado Alley in the US and the Fertile Crescent in Africa/Asia Minor).
- We also keep a ‘geography folder’ with maps that we use and refer to during other lessons.
- Postcrossing (pinning the map where we have sent cards to and where we have received cards from)
- art journaling and other various crafts and construction projects
- introduction to/introductory lessons for various instruments online via YouTube
- group and individual classes each week with a local music teacher (MusicWithTabi).
- PE Central has lesson ideas for ‘active gaming’
- PE Challenge.org has physical challenges and pins your child can earn
- LogIt – PE Central’s online step tracker for kids 3rd grade and up
- FLASH Curriculum and As Boys Grow (video as an introduction)
- Kids Health.org
- Young Men’s Health (topics) (Young Girl’s Health companion site topics) – a little more mature than Kids Health, but more in-depth
My Awesome Kids:
- LittleBoyBlue is 16 years old and is in 10th grade. He struggles with ADHD and SPD. We use a combination of methods to keep him focused and productive instead of prescription medications. We do use naturopathic alternatives, nutrition therapy and a variety of fidgets and scheduling/work-related modifications, including voice-to-text software for writing assignments. As a high school sophomore in 2017-18, his plans include Driver’s Ed and buying his first car this fall, and is considering a future at an art school with an eye towards a career in the video game industry.
- PeaGreen is 14.5 years old and is in 9th grade. He’s a super-smart kiddo that would thrive in whatever environment he was put into, but he’s happy to be homeschooled! Current interests include all things Slavic, and creation of comedic characters and comedy skits for them. He’s not sure where his future will take him just yet, but he feels sure it will be somewhere cold. His goal is to become a stand-up comedian or performer of some sort, but says that is subject to change.
About our school and progress over the years:
Our 2010 school year began in January and went in a 6 week cycle, followed by a one week break. Each 6 weeks equaled one grading period (for a total of 7 learning modules, or ‘mods’). The ‘school week’ was M-Th. I found that six weeks was too long, but since we only had ‘school’ M-Th, it worked out. 2010 our first year, and I wanted to ease into this new thing, so we were a little more relaxed.
Our 2011 school year began in January and went in four-week cycles, followed by a one week break. Two four-week cycles equaled one grading period. We had 5 ten-week periods of school, and stopped at the beginning of December to take the rest of the month off. For convenience sake, I divided our year up into three sessions: Winter (January – May), Summer (June-August) and Fall (September – December). Winter Session is our heaviest, curriculum-wise; we do more seat-work. Summer is much lighter because of all the classes and programs available to us in our community. We opted for a lot of child-led/delight-led learning with some parent-directed basics thrown in for good measure. Fall is moderate; easing into the next grade’s curriculum. We take a break towards the end of November and December, then start fresh in January with our new school year.
Our 2012 – 2014 school years followed a fairly similar pattern as 2011, however I scheduled more of a true break during the summer for those years. We continued the four weeks on/one week off until July, where we took a 4 week break, then continued with the 4 weeks on/one week off schedule. That left us with a four week ‘small session’ in November, but the number of days scheduled for school is comparable to the local ISD. Planning an actual break during the summer helped to alleviate some of the pressure that I put on myself.
In 2015, I didn’t go by the 4/1 schedule, we just had school and I took breaks as necessary. We also didn’t break for the summer this year; we just took breaks as needed. It works out to about the same, but without the strict adherence to ‘rules’. This pattern continued through July 2016.
For the Fall 2016 semester, we joined a high school-based co-op through our homeschool group, which forced us to have a little bit more structured school schedule. Co-op was planned for 6 weeks on/1 week off, so we planned our personal schedule to match that. My mother died in January of 2017, which affected our schooling for several weeks. By summer we were mostly back on track though. Co-op finished in May 2017, and began again July 2017 for the Fall 2017 semester. We have continued using the 6 on/1 off schedule as the boys have entered high school.
Though our co-op resumed in July of 2017, our 2017-2018 school year didn’t technically begin until August. After a couple of weeks, we took a break because I had to go out of town for a little over a week, and I came back home 2 days before Hurricane Harvey came through SETX. Our home was flooded, and we were displaced for over 2 months. We lost basically everything, so homeschooling went on the extreme back burner until we could stabilize our life a bit.
January 2018 saw enough stability for us to get back to a daily schedule. We’re currently schooling according to Loverly Husband’s work schedule because our house is still a construction zone. When he is home, we’re working on the house. When he’s working, it’s a school day. Co-op is on-going one day each week, and the kids are still in orchestra 2x per week. We’ve had to drop individual music lessons for the time being, but hope/plan to resume in the future.
I don’t keep grades anymore (I used to, in various forms; more for me to learn how to keep track of schoolwork than for assessment, but I let all that go). We’re strictly mastery focused. I do make my kids find where they went wrong, identify the problem and make sure that they get the concept before moving on, and I also make them re-do work that is sloppy or messy. I like seeing ‘this is what we’ve accomplished’, but keeping my planner up to date is good enough. I archive(d) the kids’ work in binders for future reference/transcripts (but all of these records were lost in the flooding of Hurricane Harvey in 2017). I used Homeschool Tracker (Basic or Free edition) when we first started homeschooling. It was really easy to use. I added lessons into the plan 4 weeks at a time for each boy (sometimes I can copy the lesson to the other child). This gave me a good idea of how much time we’re spending on each lesson/subject and a daily average.
If you do grade, consider this – in June 2011, I found a video that discusses grading up (starting at zero and crediting every correct answer) instead of starting at 100 and grading down for mistakes. I started grading that way and found that kids kids were more cooperative and less discouraged by mistakes. The video I originally referenced is apparently no longer available, but a search led me to Gamifying Education.org. Apparently this is a bigger movement than I had realized. Lee & Hammer have created a ‘what, why, how’ article if you’re interested. I wrote about my motivations and methods a while back and find that this year, they’re much the same.
You can read my previous Lesson Planning posts here:
- I didn’t really write a lesson planning post for this school year; I’d planned to, and then Hurricane Harvey threw everything off.
- Not Back to School 2015-16
- Go With the Flow (not lesson planning per se, but related to planning… sorta)
- Homeschooling in Middle School: Lesson Planning (September 2014)
- Lesson Planning: Summer 2011
- Lesson Planning 2011 Part 1: The Overview
- Lesson Planning 2011 Part 2: The Core
- Lesson Planning 2011 Part 3: The Extras
- Lesson Planning for M7
- Lesson Planning for M6
- Lesson Planning for M5
- Lesson Planning for M4
- Lesson Planning for M2 (which was actually M3)
- Final Planning for M2
- Planning for the next 6 weeks
It’s so funny to see the progression of relaxation – I was SO excited/nervous in the beginning. I REALLY wanted to get everything ‘Right (TM)’. That doesn’t exists – it just took me a while to see it. I still love lesson planning – the new books and materials, the new concepts – but it’s MUCH more relaxed these days.