Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

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 August 11, 2015, in our 6th year of homeschooling.

My boys are in 7th and 8th grade this year. Here’s a quick look at what we’re using this year, with some additional resources and links to my homeschooling Pinterest boards below the list.

  • Math – Pre_Algebra review with Kuta Software online as a spine with Khan Academy videos to explain concepts I can’t. Core Skills Math: Grade 8 and Algebra Warm-Ups (7+)
  • ScienceMiddle School Science Education – Nebel
  • History & Geography; Current EventsStory of the World 4 (plus Activity Book and  lapbook), Timeline, various Artist, Composer, World Religion and other unit studies as needed/desired; CNN Student News (note-taking & discussion; research as needed; hasn’t started for this school year yet); Unit Studies centered on World Events/Holidays, etc. as needed or desired
  • Grammar, Writing, Penmanship & SpellingDaily Grammar, Diagramming Sentences (review), Project-Based Writing 6-8, Spectrum Word Study & Phonics 6, weekly spelling list of 10 words & exercises (test on Fridays); weekly essay writing, daily handwriting/dictation drills; One Year Adventure Novel
  • Reading & Literature – Novel unit studies; daily reading assignment & note-taking; Beaumont Public Library’s Homeschool Book Club (each month during the school year)
  • Logic/Research – games, brain teasers, research project, computer coding, foreign language, areas of individual study/interest
  • Arts, PE & Health – art projects (usually monthly based on concept), Discovering Great Artists; encourage individual study; daily walks; playing with our dog, Max; daily workout routine (20 min cardio daily, plus target strength training)
  • Field trips, Activism & Community Service – weekly educationally aligned field trips with our homeschool group; once-a-month community service project or activity. Activism opportunities as available.

My Pinterest Homeschooling boards:

Math  (Homeschooling Math Board)

Handwriting & Journal   (Visual Writing Prompts)

  • 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).

Reading

  • 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 Board)

Science       (Homeschool Science Board)  (Homeschool Science Fair Board)

  • 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 LBB is extremely interested in flight/NASA, so we adjust down for his age and understanding)

History    (Homeschool History & Geography Board)

  • 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. 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.

Geography

  • Seterra.net
  • AAAWhere (US States & Nations of the World)
  • We use 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)

Music, Art, Drama   (Kid Craft)  (Homeschool Art/Music/Drama Board)

  • art journaling and other various crafts and construction projects

Physical Education & Health  (Homeschool PE Board) (Homeschool Health)

My Awesome Kids:

  • LittleBoyBlue is 14 years old and is in 8th grade (ish). He’s also ADHD and has 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 modifications.
  • PeaGreen is 12.5 years old and is in 7th grade (ish). He’s a super-smart kiddo that would thrive in whatever environment he was put into, but he’s happy to be homeschooled!

About our school:

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, so we’ve changed that for 2011. We also updated to a M-F school-week schedule (2010 being our first year, 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 stop at the beginning of December and take the rest of December off. Our summer months tend to be lighter and less desk-y than winter and fall because of all the classes and programs available to us in our community.

Our 2012 and 2014 school years followed a fairly similar pattern as 2011, however I scheduled more of a true break during the summer both 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’.

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 the kids’ work in binders for future reference/transcripts. I used Homeschool Tracker Basic when we first started homeschooling. It’s free and 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.

New for 2011 (still do this in 2015): For convenience sake, I’ve 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, 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.

You can read my previous Lesson Planning posts here:

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

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.

Warmly,
~h