I hardly every talk about homeschooling around here. If that floats your boat, this is for you. If it doesn’t, don’t worry—we’ll be back to our regular programming in a day or two.
I realized about five minutes ago that this is our fifth year homeschooling. Five years sounds legit to me, and makes me think I should have this home education thing halfway figured out by now. Not hardly.
This year we have a 6th grader (which terrifies me—it’s hard to screw up kindergarten, but middle school is the real deal), a 4th grader, a first/second grader (if she went to “real school” we’d actually have to decide, but she doesn’t, so we haven’t), and a four-year-old. We’re not doing any formal curriculum or schooling for the four-year-old (although I will say he’s much more enthusiastic about reading lessons than his seven-year-old sister).
We homeschool four days a week, taking Wednesdays off.
This year we’re trying something new: my oldest two kids are participating in a local cottage school, where they take English Lit and classical studies (think: history). If you’ve never heard of a “cottage school” before, just know that it’s like structured like college. Class meets once a week, and students go home with a boatload of homework to do between sessions. The goal is twofold: I want to take some of the homeschool work off my plate, and I want my kids to have external standards and accountability.
Here’s what we’re using at home.
Halfway through the last school year, I felt like we’d hit a wall with the Rod and Staff math we were using for my older kids. They could do the work, but had a poor grasp of the underlying concepts. After doing some research, we switched them mid-year to Life of Fred. It was a good change, but about a month ago we realized they both needed lots of practice with grade school basics: the times tables, multiplication, division. We’re back to Rod and Staff for the time being.
All three kids are using different levels of Writing With Ease, although I’m not hitting it as heavy with the older two as I was last year, now that they’re in the cottage school. We chose to use the optional individual workbooks, but I do refer occasionally to the hardback overview. I love this curriculum.
I also want them to learn more explicit grammar, like how to identify parts of speech and diagram sentences, and I have this book sitting on my bookshelf for just that purpose. I just haven’t gotten to it yet! I’m hoping we will, and soon.
I’m also doing reading lessons with my seven-year-old (and my four-year-old, who begs to be included), using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. This book is in the running for the “best $20 I ever spent” prize.
The older kids are listening to the audiobook version of Story of the World. This year we’re on level two. Occasionally we’ll do an activity from the activity book, but mostly we just listen and discuss. My goal is for them to develop a feel for the timeline, not a nuanced understanding of world events—at least not yet.
The older three are still doing Rosetta Stone German. They need a little bit of help, but can do the program largely on their own. I was a German minor in college, and its gratifying—for all of us—to be able to (awkwardly) converse in German at the dinner table.
The older two are doing Ten Thumbs typing again this year. They can do this independently. Those two also enjoy typing up stories and newsletters of their own creation, which gives them plenty of additional self-directed practice.
This hardly seems worth mentioning, except that its an indispensable part of our daily routine. Everyone who can read (that’s 2 1/2 kids as of this moment) spends at least thirty minutes each day reading a challenging (relative to reading level) chapter book. Sometimes we pick unread books from our own shelves, but mostly these are library selections.
Fallen by the wayside
We used to do weekly spelling lists from Spelling Power, and honestly, I’d forgotten all about it until I sat down to put this post together.
I’d love to hear how many of you are homeschooling or afterschooling this year. Tell us all about it in comments.