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8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Again this year we’ve made a few changes to curriculum pieces in an attempt to follow along with our 8th grader’s learning styles and help him better manage the areas he struggles – and exceeds!

We’ll be focusing on more writing this year and hitting spelling hard as well, but I am really excited about some of the options we have to use now that will (hopefully) work alongside with the other programs we use and still allow him independence in his studies.

That said, below you’ll get a peek at our 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices for Kaleb – a look at the new (and favorite) programs we are using for the upcoming school year. An * depicts curriculum/programs that are new to us this year. 

New to Us This Year

A few of the new pieces we are using this year (and are really excited about) are highlighted below. We are a little late sharing our picks, so at this point we’re about five weeks into our school year, and so far they are all working GREAT!!

History

One thing that we are looking forward using is the World Civilizations program and the interactive version that it provides. Kaleb has been using both the book and listening to portions of the text online via their iPad app. He is able to log in using his student account and also has access to go-along videos that tie in with what he is learning in the lessons.

Typing

Earlier this year a friend told us about Touch-type to Read and Spell and Kaleb is REALLY enjoying this so far. He is able to work through about 5 lessons every day (essentially working through each module in 5 to 6 days.

Essentially it focuses on both typing and phonics based spelling by embedding word groups within the typing lessons. Kaleb can use help in both typing/keyboarding and especially in his muscle memory on spelling certain words.

Daily News

We’ve tried to stay current with the news, and this year we are using WorldWatch.news each morning and adding in some writing summary along with our 10 minute news segment. Another part of the day we are really enjoying – especially the perspective.

Co-op Learning

There’s really only one other person that Kaleb will be spending time with this year (aside from swim team each day), and that’s his best friend Caleb. Last year they worked through the first year of  The Rainbow program for science and they will continue this year with a weekly lab time after working on their lessons at home.

For Kaleb, it’s a fun chance to get together with another family (and especially his friend) – and have a chance to actually talk. :)

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 Kaleb the past few years:

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

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. 

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Nursing School, Mercy Ships, and Everything In Between

It’s been a little quiet around these parts because there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes, and there’s a huge part of me that needs to focus on all that is going on since it’s coming at light speed (or so it feels). 

Laurianna received her acceptance to nursing school and shortly after (on her 18th birthday) she also received her official YES from Mercy Ships. She applied in December and recently let her know they had an immediate need for a receptionist on board the Africa Mercy. The original plan was to have her leave in July when the ship docks in Senegal, but they have requested she arrive on May 26. 

For those of you doing the math, we are ONE MONTH AWAY!!!

As an added bonus, nursing school emailed us back to let us know that they will defer her acceptance until the fall of 2020 because of her work with Mercy Ships!!!!

Before receiving her official acceptance, we couldn’t start with any fundraising for her trip (she needs to raise roughly $10-$12,000 and have 75% of her funds raised prior to purchasing her plane ticket). 

You all – this has been a huge, gigantic, overwhelming, amazing time to step back and really truly trust in God for all that needs to be done. 

The planner in me (you know the one who has the spreadsheets going, checklists of what needs to be done, etc…) may have been innerly freaking out a little bit. While I had it mentally figured out, I have cried so many happy GOD TEARS the last two weeks – because I know God is just laughing and quietly saying, “You think you know how this is going to work? Put your hands down and just watch this.” 

It’s been so incredibly faith building for all of us. But at the moment I can’t quite bring myself to think about 30 days from now when Laurianna will be on a plane, flying to Africa all by herself. 

But – enough about that – we celebrated Laurianna’s 18th birthday in Florida while we were there for a big ol’ swim meet for Zachary. The girls and I went to the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg and wandered around in the shade enjoying all the beautiful plants. 

Meanwhile Zachary blew us away at the TYR Elite Showcase, knocking off some great time and placing 4th in several events, and already qualifying for events next year. He has really taken off this past year and it’s had us looking hard at some different things (including NCAA requirements for high school – which is an entirely different can of worms). 

This week my cousin is here visiting from the Netherlands (this is the same family that we stayed with when we went to Europe last summer). We are currently taking two days to visit Philadelphia and see some of the “must see” sights – of course, the Liberty Bell. 

The area where Benjamin Franklin’s house was is beautiful as well, between the blossoming trees and streets, we had fun wandering around and learning bits and pieces of history. 

And having my cousin here is absolutely wonderful! We’re off tomorrow to tour the 76ers court (her son is a HUGE fan and it’s the one thing he wanted to do if he visited!). 

Hope you all are doing well – and at some point, I will be back with so much more, but for now I’m soaking up the moments with the kids and family.

A Whole Bunch of Ordinary Homeschool Time – Homeschool and Life Happenings

The last few weeks have been filled with all sorts of ordinary (and more, of course – because LIFE). One of my favorite things lately is making a cinnamon maple latte of sorts – super strong coffee (I use the smallest cup our keurig makes), frothed milk, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 Tbsp of maple syrup. So very tasty. And often necessary in the morning. 

You know earlier this year how I mentioned our daily/weekly routine was feeling all out of whack because swim practices changed and work schedules and all. They changed again. I just have to laugh, because really, truly – what else can we do. My brain is still trying to adjust, but we’ll get there. 

The boys are plugging along with their various subjects. Kaleb has been learning how acids and compounds react, so we had a little fun with eggs (compound: calcium carbonate) in vinegar (acid). Unfortunately there was a wee crack in the shell, so a bit of the egg oozed out when the shell started softening. He got the point though. 

Kaleb has also worked through seven of the ten Lifepac geography units for the year, so we are slowing it down a bit and taking a pause as we are wrapping up our study of Africa with a little more in-depth look at Nelson Mandela. I picked up Who Was Nelson Mandela and we’ve been reading through that for a quick overview. 

Notice all the paint cans still in the corner of the room. Yeah. Still haven’t finished painting the stairwell. It’s a project that is “out of sight, out of mind” until we’re in the middle of school – and well, you know. 

Working weekends on things will be a little harder over the next few months because we are moving into competition season (states, regionals, etc…) for the boys swimming and almost every weekend we have some type of meet for one of them. 

McKenna has decided that she likes to sit on her bedroom floor and work on school there. I will say it has caused some amount of tension because she and her sister differ on what “clean” entails in a room. Having her books, clothes, and everything in between makes it a little harder to keep thing tidy (in one sister’s mind…and the mom’s as well). 

She and I are still working on catching up on a small bit of chemistry, but otherwise she has been doing a great job balancing work and school. This past week she ended up flat out sick (same cold I had), so both were a little more difficult, but she is finally feeling better. 

One of the things I didn’t realize was that Zachary had gotten a little behind on his math. I found out when Teaching Textbooks 3.0 online did an update that added a lovely little “C” for “completed” next to the finished lessons.

Someone didn’t have a super happy day when that showed up, but he can’t blame the math program for that! So…time to do some catching up!

Don’t let the table resting fool you – this boy loves diagramming. Even if he doesn’t always show it. :) 

He’s also been doing a fabulous job working through All About Reading 4 and he has been such a goof at the same time. It definitely is helping show where he needs to improve, and at the same time his reading confidence has shot up (I AM SO THRILLED ABOUT THIS!!). 

Rick and I went away for the weekend and while we were gone and having fun, both boys were home READING. ON PURPOSE! 

One of Kaleb’s friends let him borrow a book and in one day he managed to read it. Meanwhile Zachary cranked out another Harry Potter book. In full disclosure, I had told the boys that if they started reading in their free time (as in not what we are reading for school), they could earn some extra Fortnite time. Apparently that was a key component to reading. But I won’t complain.

Having Laurianna around more in the mornings has been nice in so many ways, especially since it’s her last semester in high school. Lately she’s been on a baking kick, and shockingly, no one is complaining about that. 

Our week ended up with me not at home quite as much as I had planned, especially after my grandmother ended up in the hospital for a few days and needed some help with things. She’s doing much better now, but it feels like much of the week has been spent in the van driving all over the place – and that’s okay!

This weekend, as Rick and Kaleb are away for a swim meet, I’m planning to curl up and spend some time reading, probably do some cleaning (it’s inevitable, always), and hang out with the kiddos staying home. I just finished reading The Road Back to You (all about enneagrams and completely not on my reading list for this month – I got distracted), and then Walking With Henry by Rachel Anne Ridge showed up on my doorstep, so THIS is my reading for the weekend! Henry is a real-life donkey-friend and the cutest thing!

Hope your week has been fun!

The Week with a LOT of Falling Asleep – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Last week we started a blue jay chalk pastel project and managed to wrap it. Kaleb and I tweaked ours a little from the tutorial we saw, since our woods are filled with evergreens. In the process we realized that some of the paper we have for chalk pastels has two different sides – something we hadn’t noticed before. The texture on Kaleb’s pastel was so different from mine and it wasn’t until the end that we realized the difference. 

Saturday at some point I managed to get hit with a head cold that just didn’t want to let go. Most of the weekend was spent curled up and hoping my head wouldn’t explode. I attempted to read It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst and did get through a bit of it over the weekend (loving it), but focusing was so hard. 

Unfortunately the cold just stuck around, much to my dismay, but also amusement. 

Monday morning my voice went along with it, with hilarious results. Siri wouldn’t recognize me when I tried talking to her and then when my father-in-law called, he thought he was talking to my husband. The flip side to my cold though has been falling asleep at the drop of a hat. Or the opening of a book. 

Kaleb especially has been having fun with this aspect. He takes an extra moment to cover me up with a cozy blanket, turn on the sound, and quietly tiptoe out of the room – and distract himself. :) 

The boys and I did manage to get pretty much all of their school work done, with the exception of our read-aloud since my voice has been completely shot. Or I start falling asleep when reading. 

Kaleb has been working through one lesson each day from All About Reading 4 and doing such a great job. I mentioned before that we are repeating this level (this time using the NEW color edition of the reading program that recently released). He has patiently been reviewing word cards with me and we are tackling a few problem areas (he sometimes wants to gloss over and rush through things), so this slowing down to review is great for him. It’s also been building his confidence when he sees what he CAN do and already knows/remembers. 

Laurianna and I have also been working on her Pre-Calc. Oy. She has been putting some of it off and my brain is flipping all over the place trying to remember key concepts and skip back and forth. What’s been so interesting about this process is realizing that sometimes my brain remembers how to solve an equation (or just does it) yet I can’t fully explain it. Trying to figure out how to backtrack it has been almost hilarious! Often what we are ending up doing is typing in the answer and then watching the solution walked out. (Gotta love it). 

Zachary has been working hard to get ahead in a few areas, especially his world geography. He has been reading like CRAZY, especially since he finished the last book in the Harry Potter series, starting with the first book in the series again and working his way through them.

He has been staying up late each night to read on his own and finished the first one and is reading the second one now. Seeing him get excited about reading and WANT to read has been such a huge encouragement! 

One new and fun thing that Kaleb and I worked on together this week was learning Scratch to create some animated graphics. It’s a part of his Wonder Crate box on Bill Gates and we’ll be sharing more on that soon! 

Not a lot of pictures this week (most of school took place on my bed this week), but the boys are gearing up for a swim meet this weekend as they move into state and regional competitions and try to make qualifying times for the last of their events. Kaleb is so close in a few events and Zachary is still trying to qualify in a few he hasn’t already. 

Tomorrow we’re going to catch up on a few things (Zachary is a bit behind in math and I didn’t realize that until the other day). He’s going to have to do two lessons each Friday and we’re going to add in some learning games for all of us as well (states and capitals and President Brain Box at the moment). 

That’s about it for us – how has your week been? 

 

The Week Seemed Almost Too Easy – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Aside from the general craziness of life, school itself seemed almost EASY this week. Either we’re getting into a groove much more quickly or I’m missing a huge chunk of something. (Let’s just hope it’s not the latter.) 

McKenna now has a set work schedule and she is blocking her days to work on subjects and get her schoolwork done, which is a huge relief to both of us. Initially she was getting a little stressed out (admittedly, her shifts were longer and now her job has adjusted their open/close hours which helps out a lot). 

She and I had a chance to work on her Chemistry labs as well. We’ve had to make some adjustments to the days we go over things together, but we’re getting it all worked out. 

I’ll be sharing a mid-year update on her 10th grade year next week – so stay tuned for that! 

One thing that has been so great to see is Zachary jumping into reading and WANTING to read. I will admit that we are rewarding him with some Fortnite time, BUT he spent most of his Sunday afternoon reading next to me. 

Tuesday we had Laurianna home with us most of the day (have I mentioned how nice it is to have her HOME this semester?). While we are still waiting to hear from Mercy Ships on what may happen this summer, we will soak up the time we do have with her. 

Zachary absolutely loves the Harry Potter series and has decided they are his favorite books – so he picked up another one and asked if he could read it, after finishing one on Sunday. Yes, please! There are one or two other books I would love to have him read this year, but for now we are going to run with his choice. Plenty of time before the school year ends.

Last week we started working through All About Reading Level 4 with the hopes of boosting Kaleb’s confidence in his reading. There are definitely some areas he can use improvement, but even starting the program again last week and testing what he was doing well, was a huge encouragement to him. Since then he hasn’t been hesitant to work on a lesson daily in addition to his general reading. 

In addition to All About Reading, he is reading Who Is Bill Gates, a book that goes along with a subscription box called Wonder Crate (we’ll be sharing more about this!). Next week we are planning to learn more about coding and scratch – he is really looking forward to it. 

As I’m going through the pictures from this week (all taken different days, mind you), I’m noticing a common thread – Kaleb is wearing the SAME SHIRT every day. I do promise the boy has showered, but apparently he likes his pajamas and puts them right back on. 

Kaleb is learning about chemical reactions in Christian Kids Explore Chemistry. I am so glad we are using the program (we used it previously with Zachary), but he really enjoys the lesson topics and hands-on activities that each lesson provides. 

One thing we FINALLY got around to doing was a chalk pastel art project. We were only able to get about a third of the way through it and will finish it soon (our walls need a little decorating), but chalk pastels are so forgiving and enjoyable to work with. :) And they may be a little relaxing for the mom too! 

 

That’s it for our week – how are you all doing? 


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