Friday, October 29, 2010

Our school year

I really need to post about Jake's 10th birthday, but I haven't downloaded my pics from my camera yet!

So in the meantime, I'm going to write about our school year.

The past two years we've used Tapestry of Grace. I have absolutely loved the depth and biblical focus of it. I learned a ton. However, the past two years have been the absolute craziest two of my entire homeschooling career. 2008 held 2 sick pregnancies and 2 second trimester miscarriages and 2009 was consumed with mission trips to Mexico and beginning the adoption process in Mexico. Needless to say, I just couldn't keep up with the weekly prep work that Tapestry demanded. It's a shame since it is such a wonderful curriculum, but instead of it helping me, it was making schooling harder.

So, after a lot of indecision (Tara and Mel, I'm so sorry for all my agonizing phone conversations!) I finally chose to go a simpler route.  With the upheaval of the Mexico adoption and the beginning of the Colombia adoption and knowing we will most likely travel for a month in the middle of our school year, I decided to make this year a more "independent study" type of year.

I really felt like I needed to focus on preparing my middle schoolers (7th, 6th, 5th) for the upcoming high school years by solidifying the skills they need to succeed. I did a lot of research to figure out which skills I wanted to heavily incorporate and which ones we already had a good handle on. In fact, instead listing out our yearly line up of subject curricula, I decided to list out the skills I wanted them to work on and then picked and chose our books based on that.

Our list of products we are using hasn't actually changed but I think it helped solidify in my head my purpose for each one. Maybe everyone else already does this naturally, but for some reason it all just clicked in my head this year, and school suddenly became stress free. I think I'd been allowing the curriculum to control us instead of allowing it to serve us.  It's all perspective, huh?

The older 3 are doing most of the same skills, just at the age/developmental level they are in. Makes things easy! Oh, and not everything is done every day!
So, here's our line up:

Memorization- Scripture memory, Science Facts, History Timeline, States and Capitals

Discussion, Inductive Bible Study, Logic- Morning Bible discussion time using inductive method, The Fallacy Detective with real life "debates" since 3 of them are in that phase of life!

Cait and Grant- Prepare for Pre-algebra and begin AlgebraTeaching Textbooks 7 and begin TT Pre-alg. (This has been my best purchase this year. Highly worthwhile!)
Jake- Solidify mult/div facts, grade level math- Teaching Textbooks 5

Independent Study Skills/Test taking skills/Lab Report writing- Apologia General Science for Cait

Various writing genres- IEW Student Intensive Continuation Course A (she could handle B, but we're doing it all together with the boys so she's getting her assignments beefed up)
Current Event Reports- biweekly 
Beginning Literature Analysis Essays- reading lots of classic lit from a list I compiled, weekly literature analysis papers based of the questions in Well Trained Mind, Figuratively Speaking worksheets on literary techniques.
Outlining other people's writing- Kingfisher History Encyclopedia or other books from the shelf or library
Notetaking- Apologia Elementary Anatomy and Physiology (The boys are doing this in more of a "notebooking" fun format but Cait is doing more normal bullet point notetaking)
Research-short and frequent!- Mostly on history topics. We're all listening to the Story of the World chapter on audio and then each choses a topic to research and write an essay. They do this 2-3 times a week. Each child has varying lengths the essay must be.
Diagramming, Grammar fluency, Spelling accuracy- Christian Light Language Arts (just the grammar portion- LOVE this program!) and All About Spelling, Cait- Spell to Write and Read Wise Guide

Reading Speed, Reading Accuracy, Learning to appreciate varied genre, Vocabulary- 1 hour of reading required a day from a booklist I compiled (also includes lots of discussion time!), Vocabulary from the Classical Roots

Master the Spanish language- No! Just kidding! I'll just be happy if they can introduce themselves to their new siblings!  I do think that Spanish for Children, Spanish for Adoptive Families, and living in Colombia for a month will take care of this important skill! LOL!

Wow, that looks like a TON! But it's not really! In fact we are finishing our days earlier than we ever have in the past. I think it's because I don't have a different curriculum for each subject. It's more integrated. I don't think I could manage complete integration like some curricula do, but for us, this is working really well.

We are almost 4 months into our school year (started beginning of July) and already I'm seeing tons of progress. And attitudes toward our school time have improved tenfold. They all love the research part of the day and go crazy with wanting to report on every nugget of info they find.

And, to end this super long post, Here's Quinn's line-up:

Math- Christian Light 1
Copywork/Narrations- Writing With Ease
Spelling- All About Spelling
Reading- every book he can get his hands on, and Phonics Pathways
Trickle down effect- he tags along with everything else!


  1. Glad you are having a great year (and that you FINALLY feel at peace with the curriculum stuff!)

  2. Thanks Mom, for being a great teacher!!!!!!

  3. Awww, cait! She's so sweet ;)

    I can't believe you have 5th, 6th, & 7th graders

  4. Glad the school year is going well for you! I miss TOG too :( But it is good to find what works and still LIVE.


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