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9th Grade Mid-Year Homeschool Update

Yesterday I shared a bit about how our 11th grader is doing mid-year and today I’d love to share a little about our 9th grader, McKenna is faring. 

In short – fabulous

This has been a year of her discovering new passions and jumping in with both feet. There are still struggles to find the right fun:work ratio (fun is always more tempting, isn’t it?), but McKenna has been doing great finding her own groove. Granted, it isn’t always the way I might have her do it, but for me that’s also a part of this whole high school journey – guiding her, but giving her the freedom to make her own decisions (and helping redirect her when needed). 

9th Grade Homeschool Update

McKenna has 7.5 credits on her plate for this year. Several of the classes are using programs we have used in past years (history, math, literature, and Latin), and a few of them are new to her (or us) this year. We did make a change in one program around the end of October (biology), which I’ll share more about below.  

History – Notgrass has a great format that we really enjoy. Each lesson is broken up over the course of five days and has a weekly quiz and project. We are only using the history portion of the program (it includes a literature and Bible portion as well, but we have opted not to use either of those). 

Science – This is an area where we’ve made a big switch this fall. We are working on this class with another family and together decided to change programs. We started out with Biology from Science Shepherd, a program we used with our oldest a few years ago. When Laurianna worked through it, one of our other friends taught both her daughter and Laurianna. 

While the program wasn’t quite what we expected, when we pulled it out this year to go through with two new girls, both were struggling to fully comprehend some of the concepts – and truthfully, the moms were having a hard time too. Some of the answers were hidden in subtext and odd places and trying to wade through was rather difficult. We did love the labs we were working on and worked through nine chapters before making our switch.

We found a new program, The Riot and the Dance, which we really liked the layout of and found it explained things in a way our girls both understood much more clearly. The book is full of hand-drawn illustrations and analogies that give you an “aha” moment – something we love. 

Our plan with this is to merge some of the labs from the new program with the ones we had initially planned on doing with our other biology program (I may like the mashup we’ve put together). One other thing that we like about this program as well is there are weekly quizzes at the end of each chapter, tests after every three chapters, and then unit tests so the girls are constantly reviewing the information they are learning. 

(So far our only complaint is there isn’t an answer key for the chapter questions at the end of each lesson.)

Drama – This has BY FAR been one of the best things we decided to do with McKenna. She loves singing and truly has an amazing and unique voice (yes, I know we are biased parents, but she does) and stepped out of her comfort zone and auditioned for a role in Les Miserables. 

Acting is something she has decided she would like to continue pursuing in the upcoming years. Auditioning was a challenge for her since she had never done anything like it before, but when she was placed in a part (not the part she had hoped for), she fully embraced it and ran with it. 

Over the course of the class she made some great new friends, and as parents we learned the ins and outs of working behind the scenes. Rick helped out by running sound for the production (something he loves). This past month, Rick has also been looking at various recording programs for the kids to use as they record some music together. 

Literature/Writing – One of the books we read this year, The Count of Monte Cristo, about kicked McKenna’s bum. Weighing in at 1200 pages, it was about the death of her. This is one of the classes we are working on with a few other kids and so far they have read through four different books: Robinson CrusoeWalden, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Heart of Darkness. 

During the spring semester we will read through four more books. Each of the book units takes us four weeks to work through and the kids work through a cycle of three papers: an author profile, an approach paper, and an essay. One of the weeks the kids work on peer reviews of each others papers and then take an extra week to make adjustments to their paper. 

Latin –  Visual Latin is one of McKenna’s “no problem” classes. She is in her second year of the program and loves the teacher. 

Personal Finance – I love seeing a subject carry over into real life. McKenna has been fully embracing the principles being taught in Foundations in Personal Finance. One of the first things we covered was putting aside the $500 emergency fund which she recently completed. 

Her next goal is saving for a car, even though she still has a bit of time until she will have her license (she has a little over a year until that can happen), but it’s great seeing her set goals for herself and treat her money with responsibility and planning. 

Currently we are talking about not incurring debt when attending college, and as she follows along with her older sister’s journey, it’s a great hands-on look at how there are other options available when working toward a degree. It’s also given her some time to sit and consider what she would like to do after college (still deciding on that). 

Math – Geometry is the subject of the year for McKenna. Math really isn’t her favorite subject – ever – but many days you can find Kaleb sitting along side her with her explaining things to him. It’s rather sweet. 

Swim – Over the course of this fall McKenna hasn’t been able to participate in as many meets as she would have like because of the weekly drama classes. The next few weeks have us in a bit of a lull, but things will pick back up after the start of the year.

 

That’s about it for our 9th grader up to this point. You can read our 11th grade mid-year update here. I’ll be sharing how our 7th and 5th grader are doing as well soon. 

How is your year going so far? 

11th Grade Mid Year Homeschool Update

With four kiddos, it seems a bit overwhelming to share a mid-year update all in one post. For both my sanity (and yours), breaking it up over a few individual posts makes a little more sense, no? 

This week I’ll be sharing a bit about each of the kids and will start off with our 11th grader, Laurianna.

There is a tricky balance in this year for me personally with Laurianna. There have been a lot of firsts: getting her drivers license just before we started school, taking classes outside the home, visiting colleges… exciting things for sure, but my mom heart is really having a hard time in some many ways. 

Watching your firstborn grow up and become independent is a hard and scary thing. On the one hand, this is what you have been wanting and praying for over the years. On the other hand, there is a releasing that is oh-so-difficult. There is joy is seeing passions develop and grow, and meanwhile the reality that there are only a few years left with her at home can quickly overwhelm. 

11th Grade Homeschool Update

Last year this time we were dealing with some major health issues with Laurianna, and the start of this year had us still visiting various specialists (it’s been the year of medical bills to say the least). Since the start of the fall, Laurianna has had a few rough days health-wise, but overall she has really been doing much better. 

And that alone, people, has made a WORLD of difference. 

This fall Laurianna had four classes on her plate. Two of those classes were completed at the local community college and the other two will carry over into the spring (math and foreign language): 

Laurianna has really THRIVED in her classes at the community college. She has jumped in and truly applied herself, working extremely hard at all she does. 

(Sometimes to the detriment of her classes at home – just saying). 

While it’s great to see her pushing herself and excelling in her classes at college, we have had talks at home recently about not forgetting there is a balance – and still other classes that need to be completed as well. Again with the balance. 

This is where the newer independence of having a license, friends that are more accessible now thanks to said license, working, and all the fun stuff come into play and create some wonderful life lessons. 

Grades for her fall classes at the community college are in and hands down her favorite class was Anatomy & Physiology. She loved both her professor and the content, which made it a definite favorite – and she can’t wait for the second class in the spring semester. 

Her English class was honestly not well-loved, mainly due to her professor. In that aspect, she is rather thankful it was only one semester – and we have also learned the value of reading reviews of potential professors via the Rate My Professor site. While we realize some of the ratings are subjective, as we read through her current professors reviews, we definitely could agree with much of what was said for both of them. 

All that said, I am rather thankful that Laurianna had a taste of two completely different teaching styles and had to figure out how to work toward her goals for each of the classes. 

As for her classes at home (I suppose you could say the true homeschooling, eh?), she is plodding through Pre-Calculus – and I mean that quite literally. Laurianna hasn’t been overjoyed with the subject (she would rather be done with math, thank you very much), but this is her final math class for high school. 

11th Grade Changes and Updates

For the spring semester, Laurianna will have a few changes to her schedule. She has completed two college-level classes so far this year and received a high school credit for each (earning 2 credits so far). Here’s a peek at the spring classes, where she will be focusing on three more classes that will apply toward her nursing major: 

At some point in the upcoming months, Laurianna will also take her SAT test. She completed her PSAT and will be going through a prep class this spring too. 

Laurianna has also been babysitting (a LOT) and working for a local small business, both of which she loves. This summer she met a few new families and really connected with them, making it even better since they are regular jobs that help her keep up with her monthly expenses. Having your own car is great, but you need to keep it running! :) 

As for college, we do have a bit of time for final decisions, but it has been great to sit down with the university Laurianna wants to attend and also our community college to map out a plan for the upcoming years. Initially she had wanted to attend all four years at the university, but the more we have talked to both schools, the better option appears to be a few years at community college and then completing her degree at the university through a RN to BSN program the two work together on. This program will also save us a significant amount of money in the long run as well, so double win. 

One plug I will make here: don’t be afraid to contact colleges your child is interested in attending and reach out to them with questions. It can be overwhelming, but it has also been wonderfully informative. The earlier you can reach out, the better too! Talking to the colleges has given us a game plan for the remaining time Laurianna has in high school (I’ll be sharing more on that later) and calmed my nerves quite a bit! 

Stay tuned – I’ll be sharing more on the other kids in the upcoming days. :)

11th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Now the textbook pile may be looking a little sparse, but I promise it’s not because our oldest is taking a break from anything. This year marks a big turn for Laurianna! As of the end of her sophomore year, Laurianna has earned 20.5 credits toward her diploma. An advanced diploma in our area requires 26 credits and she still has two years to go in school, and this year she will be taking at least two classes at the community college that will count for both high school credit and her college degree. 

Fall Semester

Spring Semester


One of the biggest helps has been finding our textbooks on Amazon. Until recently I had no idea you could rent textbooks via their site! When we priced out books at the campus bookstore and also via the Chegg website (for college texts), Amazon came out with the best prices overall for brand new, used, or rentals (another reason to love Prime!!). Laurianna’s Human Anatomy book was $335 new at the campus bookstore and $92 from Amazon. Since it’s one we knew she would use in her nursing degree, we went ahead and purchased it (and truthfully, the $92 isn’t much worse than some of our high school text costs). 

We kept her class load in the fall fairly light with only two classes at the community college since she is still struggling with health issues (and we are still in limbo on a diagnosis). There are a few classes we are looking at for the spring, but we are waiting to hear from one of the colleges Laurianna is interested in attending before committing to the specific classes. 

This year Laurianna will also be studying for the SAT and hopefully taking it either November or December. Prior to that, she will be taking the PSAT in October. To help her out, we are using CollegePrepGenius. Both Laurianna and I sat in on a class with the company in June and it was one we both believe will help her out this year (I’ll be sharing more about it on the blog this fall). 

Overall, Laurianna is very excited since she will be taking one of her classes with a friend and we are thrilled she has this opportunity this year. Granted, not as many of her classes will be at home with us, but it’s all for a great reason!

Does High School Have You Scared?

If homeschooling high school is worrying you, don’t miss the free middle and high school planning printables and map out your middle and high school years!

Homeschooling in High School Middle and High School Planning How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

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! Here are a few posts that you might find helpful as you discover what is best for your family. Be sure to check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

I’ll be sharing more in the upcoming days and weeks on what our other kids are studying this year, so stay tuned for those posts. 

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017

 

What subjects are you excited to work on this year with your kids?

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

9th Grade Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 7.5

 

While the bulk of our classes for 9th grade are the same ones Laurianna took a few years ago, we have changed up the order a little for McKenna and are using a few different things with her. McKenna really took ownership of her classwork last year and earned 5.5 credits toward her high school diploma (8th grade). This year she will be earning an additional 7.5, possibly 8 depending on her class decision in the spring semester. 

We are switching the order of math for her (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2) where we did it a little differently for Laurianna (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry), partly based on feedback from Laurianna on how they tied in with her other classes (chemistry, etc..). 

Also, McKenna is really excited to be taking a theatre class at our local community college. Each week she is participating in workshops, vocal training, and at the end of the semester the group will be performing Les Miserables (cannot wait!). Because this is an intense class with a lot of in-class and out of class hours, she will earn 1/2 credit for it. If she decides to participate in the spring semester class as well, we will bump it up to a full credit. 

The Joys of Independent Learning

Last year we did have a few issues with McKenna putting aside subjects she was “less enthusiastic” about, creating a bit of a back log in some areas (and then some added stress on her part). This year we are going to have to be on top of her a little more to make sure she is staying on target and we will be putting markers in her Student Planner so she can be sure she is where she needs to be in each subject at various points of the year (i.e. if there are 32 lessons in Latin, she should be at lesson ___ by Christmas break).  She and I may have butt heads a bit about this throughout the year. :) 

Hint: my idea of how things should be scheduled may be a little different than hers, and since this is a life skill, we think it’s important to master this now.

Co-op Learning

We have a small group of high schoolers that will be meeting weekly to work on literature and personal finance. McKenna will also be getting together with one friend to do the lab part of biology (because any dissection is better with a friend, right?). 

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:

Does High School Have You Scared?

If homeschooling high school is worrying you, don’t miss the free middle and high school planning printables and map out your middle and high school years!

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017

 

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! Here are a few posts that you might find helpful as you discover what is best for your family. Be sure to check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

 

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Many of Zachary’s 7th grade subjects will be worked on independently, but history and read-alouds are areas he and Kaleb will be joining up together. We are cycling through history and will be starting up this year with world history. 

Zachary definitely needs a little (or a lot) of direction throughout the day. He never stops moving. Or talking. (grins) This year we will be focusing on responsibility, serving others, and following through on projects (even though we might not always enjoy what we’re doing). This will be the first year Zachary will use a full Student Planner, but he is actually looking forward to it (and I know I’ll have to keep up with him to write things down too). 

7th Grade Curriculum Choices

One subject I think Zachary will really enjoy this year is the Word Up Vocabulary program from Compass Classroom. McKenna absolutely loved it when she used it a few years ago (both funny and engaging), so I think it will be a great fit. 

Co-op Learning



We are still in the midst of co-op planning for the upcoming year. At the moment we have plans for Zachary to help out with the 4th and 5th grade boys on STEM projects, but we may see if there is something else we can work in for him. 

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 Zachary the past few years:

Planning Middle School

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

These free middle and high school planning printables have been such a huge help to us as we started mapping out Zachary’s middle and high school years. As much as I don’t want to think about the fact that he is growing up, it has helped me look at the bigger picture 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.

 

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

I’ll be sharing more in the upcoming days and weeks on what our other kids are studying this year, so stay tuned for those posts. 

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017

 

What subjects are you excited to work on this year with your kids?

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017

Even though we’ve been homeschooling now for almost 12 years, each year our curriculum changes based on the child and something new that may have caught our eye. This 5th grade year for Kaleb will be one where we continue to focus on his independent reading and comprehension as well as handwriting and spelling. Typically in the fifth grade year we add in another independent subject (or two) and walk toward fostering as much independence as we can.

Kaleb is one who enjoys worksheets and things that are cut/dry in what needs to be done. He is our science and math boy. Reading and writing aren’t necessarily his favorite things to do, unless it’s on his terms (more on that below). I’ve tried to cater to those likes and dislikes to push him a bit and yet make it easier for him to grow in the areas he struggles and that can be a difficult balance at times. 

Below you’ll get a peek at our 5th grade homeschool curriculum choices – a look at the new (and favorite) programs we are using for the upcoming school year.

*feed readers, please click over to the blog for some of the additional links to curriculum

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices


 

As I mentioned earlier, Kaleb really enjoys the subjects that are do “this” and you are done. He struggles with his handwriting and keeping his letters smaller, so we are including several things that will help along those lines this year (Print Power Plus). While he hates writing overall (I typically let him dictate his stories to me and write them out), he loves copywork. Go figure.

That’s one reason you’ll notice several workbooks focused more on that aspect (Spelling You See D and Soaring with Spelling). All About Spelling Levels 3 & 4 will be our primary spelling curriculum, and the other two programs are more for handwriting and extra practice. :) 

Kaleb has also loved Nancy Larson Science in years past, and he is looking forward to using that again this year. Last year we held off on the Level 4 program because his reading needed a little more targeting, but one thing I love about this program is the focus on reading aloud (and following along) as well as learning study skills (see more on why we love Nancy Larson science here). He is also very much into learning how things work, so Little Bits and EEME projects are going to be a ‘bonus time’ at the end of each day for him for some STEM work.

Overall, we are SO excited for his year to start and see how he grows this year!

Co-op Learning


The fact that Kaleb is technically in middle school is about to make me cry. Our co-op class has a group of all boys in this age group, so Kaleb will be working on two classes with them twice a month. We are tweaking the classes we will do with the boys, but they will likely be science-based and we are hoping to do one with a little more cooking/science fun. Explosions and anything that involves eating is typically a huge hit with the boys!

I’ve listed some of the books we’ll be using to go along with our studies above (feed readers can see them by clicking over to the blog post). 

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.

 

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

I’ll be sharing more in the upcoming days and weeks on what our other kids are studying this year, so stay tuned for those posts. 

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017

 

 

What subjects are you excited to work on this year with your kids?