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Homeschool Wrap Up – October 2019

This month has flown by! Overall the year feels different in so many ways – one kiddo overseas, another one spending more time out of the house with her job and the freedom of her own car, and so many swim practices for the boys. 

There’s a part of me that realizes I’ve been silent on social media (and the blog – who am I kidding), but finding our new groove this year and trying to focus on getting things done (there’s a balance there) has been the primary goal. And really truly, that’s a good thing. :)

Typically each year we take a break every six weeks, but at this point we are nine weeks in and going strong. Some days go more smoothly than others. Some days not so much. 

The 7th Grader

Taking pictures of Kaleb involves a lot of sneakiness. He is working quite hard this year on doing as much as he can independently. We work together on spelling and some of his reading, but otherwise he comes to me when he has worked through his primary subjects and we wrap-up the rest of his stuff together and review his answers.

We’re working through All About Spelling 3, doing 1 or 2 lessons a week, depending on our time. Kaleb has definitely gained more confidence in his writing/spelling this year. He still isn’t the world’s biggest fan of it overall, but he is trying, which is a huge jump from years past.

One thing we are trying with our reluctant reader is a book bingo this year. Because Kaleb is not a fan of reading at all (or writing), we are trying to encourage him to read some different books, branch out a bit, and we have some small incentives for him as he completes a book or row on the bingo card. He does have to complete a short summary on the book as well

If we wrap up a school day early, I try to throw in a fun educational game. I’m a huge lover of games, but the kids aren’t as much into them. Sequence is one of my personal favorites, and there are so many variations on the game  – Sequence Numbers has been the game this month. 

Kaleb and his Lego League group are prepping for their first competition in just a few short weeks. Last year their team went to the state competition, so they are hoping to do well again this year. They’ve added a new team member and switched up their robot, so it’s going to be fun to see how it goes this time around.

The 9th Grader

Zachary has been working hard the last several weeks to wrap up several of his subjects, specifically Algebra 1 and World Geography. Algebra is about a week away from wrapping up (woohoo!!) and geography was wrapped up this week (YAY!!!!). Although there are days that Zachary’s motivation can be lacking, it has been really encouraging to have him dig in and work hard to finish something up.

Most of our days involve working around our puppy friend. She’s a legitimate mess, but loves being the center of attention. All day every day. Sigh.

We celebrated Zachary’s 15th birthday this month too!! I have to secretly admit that it’s a bit of a relief to tell people that he is 15 – especially since he is pushing 6’4″. I know it sounds funny, but it seems that he has finally aged into his growth. :) 

Another first for our boy this month was a local homecoming with a group of his friends. It was so much fun hanging out with the other moms, snapping a million pictures, and just watching them enjoying their time together. 

I will say that finding pants to fit this boy – OY!! Amazon for the win!!

Some days (ok, quite a few) involve a teenager who likes to be in ANY position other than one that is conducive to working on the subject at hand. Please tell me we aren’t alone in this. :)

BUT – there are other days that go super smoothly. And wonderfully. And that’s a lovely thing. :)

What We’re Using

If you’d like a peek at our curriculum choices (because we did switch some things up this year), feel free to click on any of the below links. 

Homeschool Wrap Up September 2019

As much as I truly want to share weekly updates, life has a way recently of flying by. My time on Instagram and Facebook has been limited. BUT our time with school has definitely been in high gear. 

We started our school year the first week of September. It’s the latest we have ever started, but after a crazy busy summer, two kids working, swim team, and still feeling behind from the rush of Laurianna’s graduation and then joining Mercy Ships – well, I personally needed to breathe a little. 

(Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been a bit quiet here overall lately?)

I’m hoping to share a bit more on the whole “catching up” that I’ve been trying to do with life as we settle into a new year and adjust to a different season. 

But – how are YOU all doing this year so far? 

Despite my best intentions, we didn’t get a first day of school picture of the kids. So McKenna was more than happy to jump in and help out with that. She was even nice enough to include Laurianna – all the way in Africa. 

All that said – we have jumped back into school and managed to get into a fairly good groove overall. Most school days start rather early (M/W the boys are up at 4:45a and T/Th at 5:15a) for the boys’ swim practices. The boys have been doing really well with the early mornings (some days are a little harder than others). 

7th Grade Learning

Even though we have a school room, the boys often like to spend time working in the living room, especially since we have a new couch and can spread out a little more now. Kaleb is really enjoying the switches we made this year with his curriculum. It’s allowed him a bit more independence and he is working hard to do as much without my help. 

This is a HUGE step for him, especially with his reading. He is currently 7th grade and although he is still behind grade-level, he has been making some great strides – which has definitely been encouraging to both him and us, and helped tremendously with his confidence. 

Grammar and math are two of Kaleb’s “pocket” areas. Grammar is one subject he has always done well in. In years past, he has worked through the daily lessons alongside me, but this year it is another one that he has taken over independently (and is doing great). 

Kaleb has also been working slowly through Word Up Vocabulary – short video clips and then some online Quizlet work with the new words. 

Another area we’ve really been hitting hard is spelling. While there are days it seems we are going so slowly, we are really trying to make sure Kaleb really has it down firmly. This year has been a lot easier going (some things have “clicked” a little more for him as well as his willingness to jump in full force).

There are moments when I can sit and breathe as the boys work. Sometimes that means I can grab a little bit of reading time, but more often it’s catching up and trying to stay ahead (currently reading Homeschool Bravely, amongst other things). 

9th Grade Learning

Most of our days are spent with our puppy VERY close by. Sometimes more of a hinderance than a help. :) 

Zachary started North Star Geography  last year and we initially planned to work on it over the course of two full years. After he started back up with the program this year, he decided to wrap it up sooner, so he will hopefully be finished with that class at the end of October. 

Last year Zachary started Algebra 1 with Teaching Textbooks. While he did get a good chunk of the program completed, I will admit to not being on top of all of his work, especially once our year went a bit haywire at the end. We initially planned to work on the program over the summer – but that just didn’t happen. 

Admitting my shortcomings to you all – plain and simple. 

Now Zachary has had to step it up to finish the Algebra 1 lessons and then jump into Geometry as soon as he completes it – hopefully end of October as well!

A new-to-us class this year, Grammar for Writers, has been going really well also. This should be a one semester class (1/2 credit) for Zachary, so he has a little wiggle room with lessons if he needs to focus on another area. The video lessons have been engaging so far and Zachary and I work through the lesson quizzes together. 

One of the things I am so glad that we decided to do again this year is a small co-op for both biology and Personal Finance. Biology has been so much fun already – and quite honestly it’s been interesting to see how much Zachary really remembers (and how easily he can memorize – because let’s face it, sometimes I wonder about the teenage brain). When it’s something he ENJOYS, he is all in.

And personal finance, he absolutely LOVES. We were recently out with friends and the bulk of the time he spent explaining compound interest to all of the kids. It was rather hilarious to listen to, but again – when he loves it, he is ALL IN!

11th Grade Learning

The bulk of McKenna’s work has been independent, and she checks in with me with papers she has written, etc… but overall she is falling into her own routine for the new year. She started a new job and works two afternoons a week, and her fall drama/musical class started at the beginning of October. 

The Kid in Africa

Laurianna is adjusting to life on the Africa Mercy and doing really well. Since flying to Guinea, Africa at the end of May, she has since sailed to the Canary Islands (while the ship was in dry dock and getting prepped for Senegal) and then on to Senegal.

She has already decided to extend her time with Mercy Ships. Her initial return would have been in March, but at this point she has pushed the date into May. We’re still waiting on a specific date, but thankful she is settling in. :) 

You can follow along with her trip via her blog here: https://deeplyrooted.blog/

One thing we are thankful for is the opportunity to Facetime with her. The ship has wifi, and we sometimes have a spotty connection, but it’s good to be able to SEE her, even though she is so far away. 

It’s rather strange adjusting to life with one less kiddo in the house – and being a parent of one that is technically an adult – and learning how to parent from a different place in life. But it’s also a good adjustment too. :) 

What We’re Using

If you’d like a peek at our curriculum choices (because we did switch some things up this year), feel free to click on any of the below links. 

 

 

 

Teaching Textbooks Will Prep Your Kids for College

{disclaimer ~ this is a sponsored post in partnership with Teaching Textbooks}

Any of our long-time readers know that we have had a staple in our yearly homeschool curriculum. It’s a program we love and recommend whenever we can – Teaching Textbooks. As dedicated users of the program since 2010, we’ve had the opportunity to use every one of their math levels from Level 3 through Pre-Calculus.

One of the questions/concerns I’ve had from several parents over the years has tied into Teaching Textbooks and preparing their child for college. Will Teaching Textbooks be enough for college entry? And SATs? 

Here are some of my honest thoughts and opinions on the issue – and the short answer is this: I do believe that YES their program will prepare our children and is an incredible resource to homeschool families

Before I jump fully into things, I would invite you to read a little more about our switch to Teaching Textbooks back in 2010 and the overall reasons we recommend their program.  

When we first started with Teaching Textbooks, I heard and read various criticisms by some about their program. A few said it was behind other programs or that their kids used it and didn’t test well. Of course, criticisms like this are common with any widely-used math curriculum. But we had several friends who had no problems whatsoever, so we decided to move ahead because we needed a program that our kids enjoyed using – and that would help them learn.

Out of our four children, we currently have two children in high school, a child who has taken and done well on the SAT (and successfully graduated), and have had no issue with college acceptance or with Teaching Textbooks being our math curriculum. 

After the tenth grade, our oldest daughter took entrance tests in language and math so she could register for classes at our local community college (she did great on the math potion, by the way). Math is quite honestly her least favorite subject – just because she would rather delve into a good book, dissect a specimen, or learn more about human anatomy. She’s wired that way. BUT she did well on the math portion of the SAT as well, using zero outside prep other than Teaching Textbooks. (Side note: as we have completed standardized testing over the years, our children have tested highly in math each year).

Whatever criticisms we have heard have not proven true. We have seen success with Teaching Textbooks as our primary math curriculum for the past nine years. Teaching Textbooks will prepare for college – and it has!

Teaching Textbooks is a MUST for high school homeschool. 

For those who struggle in math themselves, Teaching Textbooks is an amazing curriculum to have on hand each year. The lessons are all taught via the program, meaning you as a mom get a break and don’t have to remember al the concepts you may not recall from your own high school days. Each lesson has an instructor who walks kids through the concept being taught, works through sample problems, and then kids work on daily problems and/or periodic tests.

One of my favorite features, especially in the high school years, are second chances. Parents can allow the program to offer a second chance for a correct answer. For kids that get frustrated easily, this can be a huge help. Let’s face it: sometimes kids try to rush through a problem or enter an answer too quickly. If they make a mistake, they could take a second chance and try again to get the problem correct. 

On top of second chances, the program SELF-GRADES. For those of you working with high schoolers, this is an amazing mom-help. Yes, we definitely want a program that works well for our children, but the benefit to parents cannot be overlooked either. 

We started with the textbook and CD-Rom versions of the various levels and a little over a year ago we moved over to Teaching Textbooks 3.0, a fully-online version of the program (meaning access anywhere you have WiFi access – no disks needed).  

Something I do want to note: as with any other program/curriculum, parent participation/oversight is necessary. Our family has a policy that if the kids score a 90 or better on a lesson, they can move on to the next lesson. If they are having difficulty and/or score below a 90 on a lesson, we sit down with them to review the concept they are struggling with until they understand and are ready to move on. 

You CAN Jump Ahead (or stay on grade level)

All of our kids started at their appropriate level, and we gave our youngest a placement test before he started. As our kids progressed through and enjoyed working on math, we let them work ahead. Instead of tears, our kids enjoyed doing math. 

Now granted high school can mean differences in attitude (because not all kids enjoy doing school – grins), but as our kids have been able, they have worked at the level they are able to. For both of our girls, they started Algebra 1 in the 8th grade. When our oldest reached the Pre-Calculus level, she decided to break it up over a two-year period (her 11th and 12th grade year), and that worked well for her and her school schedule.

Currently we have a 9th grader who is finishing Algebra 1 (he started it in the 8th grade), and he will move on to Geometry when he completes Algebra 1. Our 11th grade daughter started Pre-Calculus this year and her goal is to complete by the spring, wrapping up her math for high school. 

A Few Other High School Notes

  • Each level of Teaching Textbooks high school math is equivalent to a full high school credit and they currently offer Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus. 
  • A quick look at the gradebook will show you if a lesson is FULLY complete. This is one of my FAVORITE new features that has been added to the program. Prior to this update, the parent had to do a little more digging in the grade book to see if a lesson was 100% completed, but now – there isn’t any hiding if a kiddo “forgets” to do a problem.
  • Print gradebooks anytime.  Maybe I’m not the only one who struggles to keep up-to-date records on subjects, but Teaching Textbooks grades it all for me, and grade books can be printed off at any time for quick and easy record keeping.
  • With the 3.0 version, Teaching Textbooks stores your grades for you, even after your subscription is over. You don’t have to worry about where that grade book disappeared to – they’ve got you covered. 
  • All of the Teaching Textbooks 3.0 programs work on MAC, Windows, and Chromebooks.  For our family, the Chromebook aspect was HUGE since we didn’t have a disk drive. The full Teaching Textbooks 3.0 was one of the few programs we didn’t have any issues with! 

Prior to starting high school, Teaching Textbooks was a lifesaver for our family, allowing the kids a chance to work through math at their pace and independently, while also enjoying the process of learning. As we’ve moved into high school it has continued to be a benefit to our family,

More on Teaching Textbooks

Try Teaching Textbooks 3.0 for FREE


If you’d like to test out the 3.0 version, you can start a Free Trial of the complete program, up through Lesson 15. The trial includes lectures, solution, eBook, and grading on each of the products. If you decide to purchase the full version, everything transfers over for you! 

And bonus – you can try ANY and EVERY level. They are that generous! Learn more HERE. 

Not sure where to start? Download and print a placement test online. 

 

Win a Subscription to Teaching Textbooks 3.0

Teaching Textbooks has generously offered to give ONE FREE SUBSCRIPTION (any level) to Teaching Textbook’s new 3.0 version to one of my readers!! The Rafflecopter widget below will give you instructions below, and includes the option of the free trial as well. :) Because it is an online platform – everyone can enter, provided they are 18 years of age or older.

Giveaway ends Monday, October 7th at midnight EST. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

11th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

The last few weeks have involved a bit of scrambling (if you will) to pull together all of our curriculum for the upcoming year. As I mentioned in this post – each year for our various kids has been different. While we may use some core curriculum pieces from one child to the next, other components may be different.

So far, McKenna has earned a total of 20 credits toward her high school diploma. At the end of her 11th grade year she will have completed 5.5 more credits, making a total of 25.5 credits toward her diploma. 

McKenna spent a few days a week working last year, which wasn’t always the best for her study habits, or life in general. Since she is driving and purchased her own car this summer, that will help out some, but she does still need to work to help pay for her gas and any car repairs. This year I’m hoping to help her establish a little more balance so she isn’t quite as hard on herself, since she tends to stress herself (and those around her) out. 

11th Grade Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 5.5

Pre-Calculus

We’ve used Teaching Textbooks for many years now and this year we will be using Pre Calculus  3.0 online version. We made the switch from the CD version (pictured above) to the online version and loved it, since I can log into the account at the same time and view the lesson, and we can access from any computer, not just one specific (which we had to do with CD-rom version).  

American History

We’ve used Notgrass other years (for different subjects), and McKenna has enjoyed the format of the books in years past, so we’re looking forward to the continuity and familiarity of the layout. 

Spanish

Out of the different programs we’ve tried over the years, Breaking the Barrier has been the best alternative for us in teaching Spanish. We switched to this last year and have had a few hiccups, but overall it’s been more user friendly and easier to follow.

 

Marine Biology

This is a new-to-us curriculum. A friend of ours used it with one of her sons, so we borrowed it all from her. I’ll admit, when she handed me the HUGE dissection tray, I was a little worried! BUT our squid and dog shark dissection specimens were ordered from Home Science Tools and now on the way!! I’m super excited about this class since we had so much fun with our biology dissections. McKenna picked this science herself after I sent her a bunch of options from a homeschool convention. :)

Literature

 

We’re trying something a new to us this year – Lightning Literature, the American literature packs. I’m really intrigued by the format of the program and how it uses various literature to teach different styles of writing (i.e. Narrative of Frederick Douglas to show persuasive writing). McKenna will be working through both of the American Literature sets, possibly jumping over one of the books in one set because she has done so much work in past literature classes. Books focused on in these units include: Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, The Narrative of Frederick Douglas’s Life, The Scarlett Letter, Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Call of the Wild, and The Red Badge of Courage

Drama

This fall our local community college is offering their final youth theatre class. McKenna has participated in this program the last two years and will be participating in workshops, vocal training, and at the end of the semester the group will be performing songs from various musicals. She will earn 1/2 credit for the class. 

 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with McKenna the past few years:

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

 

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

 

Our Adventure to the Netherlands Begins – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Last weekend was a flurry of last minute errand-running and making sure we had everything together for our upcoming trip. I’m so very thankful that we had some time on Monday morning to relax, recheck our packing, and clean up the house a little before we left. 

Our dog, Addie, was all over the place (especially our luggage) and in the middle of everything while we were getting ready. We have a friend staying at our house with her while we are gone, and apparently she is rather out of sorts and not very happy at the moment.

We brought lots of fun gifts to share with my cousin. She and her family are hosting us for the entire time we are staying in the Netherlands. So plenty in our suitcases on the way there! Two of ous weighed in just shy of the 50 pound limit. 

The big “discussion” on the way over was who would get to sit at the window seat, mainly because the girls wanted to take pictures out the window. The boys said they could care less, so Laurianna and McKenna switched off. 

Just as we were getting in line for takeoff on the runway, storms started rolling in. The line of clouds was crazy and within just ten minutes we could barely see out the window of the plane. Our plane ended up taking off about two hours later than expected. 

We found out later that the above is a shelf cloud – and there were some severe storms and a tornado warning in our area. This is where I will say I am thankful for the wonderful on-board entertainment KLM offers (we were on one of their newer planes) and the distraction that provided in the delay. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the trip – the boys slept ZERO minutes, so they arrived rather exhausted and konked out about 15 minutes into the two-hour car ride from Amsterdam. :) 

The first few days we spent relaxing with the kids riding bikes into town for ice cream. On Thursday we got together with one of my uncles and some of his family for lunch and then to visit a few places nearby. 

Our first stop was to visit a wooden clog (klompen) maker, Klompenmakerij ten Hagen in Winterswijk. His family has been making wooden shoes for four generations. (He told us he has three sons, so another generation can continue. :) 

We were able to watch the process from their start as a round of wood to the unfinished shoe. At this point they have to dry for several weeks. The shoes were made of either willow or poplar and damp when you touch them. 

A fun fact we learned: each klompen maker has their own pattern they add to their shoes. This is the pattern you will find on their shoes. The kids had fun trying on pairs but decided not to buy any for themselves. 

We later took a walk through a swamp area near the German border, not a common part of the Netherlands, but it was a nice walk to see some of the nature and different plants in their area. 

In a few areas there were border markers between the Netherlands and Germany, so Zachary took a quick trip to Germany while we stayed in the Netherlands. :) 

This next week we will be heading to France and Belgium with my cousin for a few days, and all the kids are looking forward to the trip. 

I hope you all are having an amazing week as well and would love to hear what you have been up to! 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

The Week of Running Here and There (and Everywhere)

In some ways it feels as though my bum has spent a good portion of the week in the van. We are trying to get as much as we can D.O.N.E. before we leave for the Netherlands in a few short days. You all – I made a five page list of all the things I wanted to do before we left (I only wish I was kidding). 

  • Pick up suitcases from friends  ✔
  • Get all the swim team stuff lined up before we leave – (mostly) ✔
  • Run to various appointments ✔
  • Finish up a few subjects with McKenna ✔

The bulk of it will get done, but I’m a little over-zealous to say the least. Just call me crazy. 

Meanwhile I’ve been busy sorting curriculum too since the Build Your Bundle sale is happening and I wanted to snag a few things for next year

We started off the week with a sleepover. One of the upsides to homeschooling – your friends can sleep over whenever the moms say YES. 

These two are hilarious together and one would think the world is coming to an end because they won’t see each other for a little over two weeks. So movie night and a fun day together after should hopefully be enough to hold them over until we see them again in June. :) 

McKenna and I have been working on wrapping up a few of her classes. She took her last biology exam and I helped her with a few geometry problems she hadn’t finished – so two more things checked off the list! She is *this* close to finishing history and Latin, but will likely have to wrap those up when we return from our trip. Meanwhile, McKenna is chomping on the bit to get her permit. Saturday is the earliest she can take her test, so guess what we’ll be doing bright and early in the morning? 

Kaleb finally had a chance to work on a model we gave him for Christmas, mainly because we didn’t realize we needed to buy practically every paint color the store had to work on it. Let’s just let it sink in for a moment that it’s been FIVE MONTHS since he received it, and we finally bought the supplies for it (because a certain mom kept forgetting). 

Laurianna has been reveling in the fact that she doesn’t have to drive anywhere this week. She has been trying to finish up her final two classes, Latin and Pre-Calculus. We’ve been using the Teaching Textbooks 3.0 version (which we love), and it was great when she was at the community college or at a friend’s house. Our internet at home lately has been horrible, so it’s difficult for her to work on the online portion. BUT – in early June we should have high-speed internet installed and we are beyond excited for that! 

Zachary only has a few more math lessons to go and he will be done, and Kaleb is almost done with All About Reading 4, which will finish up his year (YAY!!). I’ll be sharing more in the upcoming weeks with a year-end wrap-up for each of the kids, so stay tuned for those. 

Other than that, the kids and I have been stopping over at my parent’s house a few times over the week since they have the most adorable kitten. Now the kids want us to get another cat too (not going to happen). There are now approximately 1, 562 pictures of this kitten on my camera thanks to the kids. 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings.