state of the union: homeschooling

We’ve had  a great year at Grace Cottage School. Jack finished second grade and Molly first, while Ginnybug went to preschool every morning at a church nearby. Next year we’ll begin our journey with all three of them at home and I alternate between really excited and really anxious about how that’s going to shake out. I’ve never taught Kindergarten before but Ginny is eager to learn, starting to read and happy to be home with us!

I am so thankful to the Lord for giving me the grace to teach my kids at home. I was completely terrified and overwhelmed at the thought of doing it. I loved our wonderful public school. But the more I invest in homeschooling I truly believe it is a calling God gives you if it’s best for your family, just like it’s a calling to send your children to public or private school. It’s an act of faith and trust in the Lord either way, and I think it’s awesome to have so many options for educating our kids. I also love having friends who cover the whole spectrum of schooling. Vive la difference!

What I’ve loved the most (besides the extra sleep {side note to my local school district- 7:20 just. ain’t. right.}) is just having more time with them and being able to be the one learning alongside them. I used to think having them home ALL THE TIME would make me absolutely mental but interestingly, the opposite is true: I enjoy them more, the more time I spend with them.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I need  a break from them but the beautiful body of Christ is always there to help a mama out when she’s reached the end of her very frayed rope!

Jack and Molly being close in age and a grade apart makes it easy for me to combine them for every subject except math and phonics. Here’s a look at our curriculum for this year:

Math: Horizons 1 for Molly and Horizons 2 for Jack. I really like this curriculum, it is challenging, thorough and visually appealing. Molly has done well with it, but Jack has been very resistant to the repetition. Next year we’re transitioning him to Teaching Textbooks 4 and I’m hopeful that will work well for him. Math is one subject in which I really liked the Montessori approach but I did not feel confident I could teach that myself at home. Because my kids only did primary level math at the Montessori school, I felt like it was okay to switch to the ‘traditional’ methods we’re using now.

English: Rod and Staff 2 for both of them. Love it. Simple, comprehensive, easy to teach and both of my kids loved doing it. There is a good bit of writing so sometimes we mix it up and I write on the board for them, or they write on the board, or I copy the textbook into a worksheet, etc.

Spelling: We started out the year with Horizons Spelling 1 and 2 but I bailed on it by October… cute, but I didn’t think it was really teaching them how to spell. We switched over to Spelling Plus and have found that to be much more our style. I like the lists and the memory approach without the busywork. Her premise is that 90% of the English language consists of 1000 words. So she groups the words by difficulty and sound to learn them. Makes a lot of sense. Sometimes we’d use alphabet stamps to practice, or bananagram tiles. I used the spelling list worksheet maker from Handwriting Without Tears to make our practice lists.

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears. I really like their approach, making the letters tell a story to help you remember how to form them. Good practice but not an overwhelming amount. I like their manuscript but I don’t like the way their cursive looks so we’ll use New American Cursive for that next year.

Phonics: Explode the Code 2, 3 and 4 for Molly and 7 and 8 for Jack. This has worked well, I love the funny drawings and the simple approach to helping them learn about letter sounds, blends, digraphs, etc.

Reading: I used guidelines from Veritas Press to come up with our reading lists for the year. The kids kept a log of their independent reading and we did read alouds from ‘More Favorites’Sarah, Plain and Tall, My Father’s Dragon, Now We are Six were included in it. The Comprehension Guide was fun, though I found myself not reading to them as much if we wouldn’t have time to do the sheets. Next year we may do one or two books with reading comprehension but I plan to just read a lot more and discuss the story with them… I want to just saturate them with good books, they are so fun to read and listen to!

Science: Nancy Larson Science 1. This has been awesome. I joined up with Liz and Marni and we did a little co-op on Wednesdays. The teacher’s manual does all the work for you and the kids have a great time learning. It has a lot of review so you feel like they’re retaining the information throughout the whole year.

History: Story of the World 1 by Susan Wise Bauer. We have all really enjoyed this (says the Social Studies Major mama). My fave part is the audio CD of the textbook read by Jim Weiss. He is brilliant and my kids love listening. I let them color one of the color pages from the student book while they listen. The maps are wonderful and the tests are great for review. My only complaint is that it’s 42 lessons, so we’ve skipped some or just listened and moved on without doing the maps and worksheets. We still will have some to finish this summer.

Bible: We participated in Community Bible Study this year, studying Deuternonomy in the fall and Hebrews in the spring. They have an excellent elementary program that has them studying the same material as the mamas but with their own special notebooks and amazing teachers who share the Word with them every week. We had to memorize the same scripture verses so we’d set them to music which helped us all to learn them!

Extras: We also memorized about 5 poems this year, did writing prompts with Silly Starters (so fun!) and Story Starters and kept a journal a few days a week.

Next time I’ll share about some of our other activities and adventures we’ve enjoyed this school year- there have been a lot!

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4 responses to “state of the union: homeschooling

  1. First. How precious are they doing their work? Adorbs.
    Second. I love that you homeschool. And that you respect and don’t dis on the ones who don’t.
    Third. I just flat out adore you.

  2. Em-Bem and Grant will be doing TT4 next year too. LOVE it!

  3. Very cute picture!! After reading that, I am struck by how much work it is for you – seriously a full time job and more. You are meant to do what you are doing as you are so good at it – and the kids are clearly benefitting from the time with you. Hope to see you all soon!! xoxo

  4. Pingback: Day One. |

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