This week is our official start of the school year! This is also the first year without Jack a part of our year, planning and day to day life. There were a few changes we made this year to our curriculum and daily schedule and I am very excited about this breath of fresh air into our school year. This is our 13th year of homeschooling (not including kindergarten) and I am a big believer in using what works, not getting distracted with what everyone else is doing and that consistency and showing up each day makes up for all of the ways I will fall short. AND breaks. Lots and lots of breaks!
At the beginning of each school year, we get so many emails asking how we got started or what we use that I wanted to give an update.
This year I have purchased all of our studies from She Reads Truth. With the beautiful books, memorization cards and little extras that they create it was the perfect choice for time together each morning.
I get so many questions about this that I wanted to take the time to talk a little bit about it. We have so many artists come to our studio each year and they often hear our children play the piano or so many of our friends online ask about how we got started (and stuck) with piano. Here is the straight and easy truth. My mom grew up in a very musical family and my Grandma Jeanne was a performer, composer, and pianist. My mom loved music but probably not all of the practice and theory of taking piano lessons. When it was time that I started to ask about playing an instrument I went from the clarinet, piano to the cello and I quit each one when it became too difficult. I never played anything long enough to know the joy and accomplishment of being intuitive in an instrument. When Jack was six years old we started him in piano lessons and we just treated it with equal importance to math, reading, and writing. It was just what we did. I really believed then and now that music and the arts are equally (if not more important) than all of the core subjects. I have never been mad that I was taught to read, write and to balance a checkbook. So, whether our children choose to pursue careers in music…I knew they would never be upset for the rest of their lives that they can sit down at a piano and play.
Our favorite math is Teaching Textbooks. This has been an easy way to teach more complicated math skills, keep track of the practice/quizzes/tests and to also track the grade. This is very helpful to make sure our kids are staying on track.
We have spent the past two years studying Shakespeare with the kids and we have let How To Teach Your Child Shakespeare to lead us. This is just another great example of plugging away and consistency. We have taken the time to dig deep, explore, memorize and understand the works of Shakespeare and we are all really proud of the outcome. Maybe we will finish the book this year and maybe not but it will be finished when we finish and we will be better because of it. We supplement this with videos, youtube and live performances.
5. Current Events
One of my favorite parts of the day is when at dinner we each share our high/low and also when we talk about the current events from the day. Each day we watch CNN10 together and they each go to BBC on their own and find one event (national or global) that they will discuss later at the dinner table.
Science is so incredibly inspiring but so often the curriculum is a big snoozer. So, we use Apologia for Ben (this year he is doing THIS one) and we will be trying something new for Madolyn. I will get back to you on that one. To supplement science I get experiments delivered from Tinker Crate and MEL Chemistry. We also have a monthly subscription to Smore Magazine and Curiosity Stream.
For the first time in the history of homeschooling, we are changing from Story of the World to The Good and Beautiful. I am really excited about it and as a history major this subject has always been a huge part of our year. I love that Madolyn and Ben can use the same curriculum but they dive deeper based upon their age. I will let you know what we all think as the year goes on. If you are looking for a wonderful supplement, my children have always loved Drive Thru History! You will love them too.
For both of the children we, have focused online writing courses through Brave Writer. They are more expensive but just having one online course each semester has taught them greater responsibility, learning from another teacher (they have lots of this though), feedback from other students and strong deadlines. Weekly we are also using WriteShop.
In the past the children all took French. They learned French through private and group lessons, Duolingo, and Rosetta Stone (which they hated). Madolyn and Ben have both chosen to start American Sign Language. We are really excited about this and we are using THIS website and also purchased THESE flashcards. This is all new for us but I believe it will be such a fun language for them to both study, learn and use.
Our home is full of books and finding a book to read has never been an issue. So, our children are usually reading something but for school, we are guided by the Boomerang curriculum from Brave Writer. We also enjoy a monthly book club with their peers and I try to read one book with you that challenges us both. Madolyn and I are starting Do Justice at the moment. She just finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell with a local public school book club and loved it (Jack and I also love this book and have loved anything by this author).
This is a subject that will come back to bite you in the butt and it is totally worth it! When your children start calling you out based upon things you have taught them you will know you are doing a good job:-) When the children were younger we started logic using The Fallacy Detective. It was a perfect beginning and we have been making our way through The Art of Argument.
I believe our children’s lives are rich in music, art, theatre, museums, and travel. I hope that long after they have left our home that they will still appreciate this part of our home. Our children have had the opportunity of meeting so many artists and seeing their teaching up close. As an artist and teacher of our children, I do not push art instruction onto them though. I don’t ever want to this area of my life to be not just enjoyed. So, I find that in this area I am more likely to do journaling, exploring and just enjoying. No pressure. Teaching our children to just be present in their life.
This year we are doing nature journaling. We have the Wild and Free Nature Journal magazine, Watercolor With Me In The Forest, The Natural Navigator and The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs. These books along with our land, good watercolors and an art journal will lead us.
Jack was active in the local high school orchestra and then later joined our town’s youth symphony. Madolyn has participated in the last three youth symphony seasons and is about to start her fouth. I have loved watching Madolyn try new and hard things and she has actually loved her opportunities to get out of her comfort zone and play percussion.
The extras are all of the fun things that are around our children’s gifts and passions. Our children also have ALWAYS attended a one-day a week enrichment school through the public school and they have loved it. The have been able to do debate, more science experiments, theatre, art classes, creative writing, investment, film making and so much more. We love our enrichment school! We buy Masterclass for the year, we will find them often watching TedTalks or listening to podcasts, reading books, writing music, gathering with friends, active in youth group, symphony, playing tennis etc.
No matter what we study, I hope they know who they are (Lord, please) and how much they are loved.
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