Friday, July 8, 2011

School Plans

Last Tuesday the boys & I finished up our 2010-2011 school year. What a relief it is to mark "done" on our year so early - for us. Typically we school year round, but this year we were able to take a nice long break. I'm currently using that time to figure out what we'll be using next year.

Next year is a bit scary for me. My oldest son will officially be in "ninth grade." While we use grades a bit loosely around here, I still figure I need to spend the next 4-5 years getting him ready for "real life." My goals for the next few weeks will be to sit down with hubby & figure out what B14 needs to accomplish in order to graduate from our homeschool. It will not only include academics but also life skills. Any tips for those who have done this before would be greatly appreciated. Our state does not have a set of standards for high schools - each school can set their own - so I don't even have a state outline to go use.

Perhaps B14 is looking in to his future?

My middle son will be entering "fifth" grade while my baby is going in to "second." I'm not sure how all of that happened as it feels like just yesterday I was changing all of their diapers! Now B14 towers over me (although, I admit it's fantastic to have someone tall in the house all the time to reach things I can't, but don't tell him that!) and his shoe size is half a size larger than his father! Yeah, growing up fast seems to be the thing to do around here.

So my rough plan for next year is:

J7 - Second Grade 
  • Five in a Row Volume 1
  • Math-U-See (finish current book - Primer - and move right to Alpha)
  • Alpha-Phonics for reading lessons
  • Math Drill using various programs we have 
  • Explode the Code (We finished all the "Get Ready" books this year.)
  • Handwriting - various books/online pages
  • Piano Lessons
N10 - Fifth Grade
  • Math-U-See (moving on to Gamma)
  • Handwriting
  • Piano Lessons
  • Independent Reading

J7 thinks he's on top of the world sometimes. 

All of the boys will also need a few other subjects that I plan to teach together as much as possible. Those include spelling. I'm leaning towards Sequential Spelling - any thoughts? I know they have a DVD program - we were able to use a sample - and I really liked how that worked. 

I also discovered a video based grammar program. It seemed a bit cheesy at times but also very solid. I liked that I could purchase individual lessons and stream them. A good way to try it out. Obviously I still need to make some decisions. 

I do know that we'll be doing the follow subjects together:
  • Bible - most likely using Apologia's Who Is God?. I've had the book for two years and need to use it. Although, I see that they now offer a coloring book and notebooking journal. I'll have to think about adding those to the mix. The coloring book would be great to have on hand for J7 and the journals would be good for the older two boys. We'll also work out way through reading a book of the Bible. We did this over the course of this year and it worked well. It covered Bible plus it also helped the boys with reading out loud. They both do this well, but it's always good to practice. 
  • Institute for Excellence in Writing - This was a TOS Crew review item this last year. It was excellent and we'll continue working our way through. I may add in some Understanding Writing as well to bump things up even more. Writing is a weakness here.
  • We are planning to join a science co-op that will run only in the fall (August-November). The high school children will be working on the experiments in the Apologia Biology book together. Since many of them have younger siblings, we'll also be using Considering God's Creation for the elementary/middle school age siblings who will be there as well. Anyone younger than that will have fun play dates - hopefully!
  • My sister & I did a co-op this year covering music and art (application and appreciation). This coming year I think our focus will be on geography. We haven't decided yet if we'll be focusing on world geography or United States geography. Any suggestions? We have Around the World in 180 Days so we may just use that to focus on world geography. 
  • I'd also like to really focus on sign language this year as our foreign language. It's always been a fascination of mine and I've been gathering materials now for some time. This year I'm planning to actually use them!
  • Lastly I have volume 4 of Tapestry of Grace. My plan at the moment is to use that for our history basis and book list. It is a great literature list. I'm not sure how much of it I will implement since it's a full course of its own, but I do plan to use it as an outline for history and literature. 
His future is so bright he has to wear shades!

So those are my thoughts for the upcoming year. Any suggestions? What am I missing? Thoughts? Thankfully I still have four week to get it all figured out.


  1. I am in the middle of trying to decide what to do for my kids. Love reading what others are doing. I am very interested in Five in a Row, and thought about it for my 1st and 3rd grader. i have never used it before and really do not want to purchase something that we will grow weary of in a month. Would love to know your opinion?

  2. Do you have a copy of the Maine Learning Results? It's a booklet that outlines what public school teachers should teach students. It might give you additional ideas for high school. Here's the link:

    I *think* I'm all set for next year. I just need to order the rest of our curriculum. My oldest wants to do Around the World in 180 Days too!

  3. Sounds good. I haven't gotten far in our planning yet. It's always fun to read what others are planning for their homeschool year. For my high schoolers I will admit to looking at the local area high school curriculum offerings online, just to make sure I have the right basic idea of what a high schooler might be doing in our state. When you read between the lines you see that it's not set in stone anymore than homeschools. A 9th grader might be doiung Alg. 1 or Geometry as is "typical" but they might also opt for pre-algebra, basic math or higher math depending on the student. It's the same with all core subjects, there's a range. As for electives it seems anything goes, just about anything that takes a school year to go though can be called a "credit". There are all kinds of off the wall electives such as science fiction Literature (which includes movies), auto repair, film making, animal science.... So, just keep meeting your children's needs and you'll do fine.

  4. Lisa Anne, I've graduated 1 from high school, and have one beginning her senior year this year. You could check this out for typical course of study: Or this: Typical "requirements" are: 4 years of English; 2-4 years of math; 2-4 years of science; 2-4 years of social studies/history. Be sure to figure in economics, PE/health/wellness, and if college bound, 2 years of foreign language and performing arts. I'll admit, I have/had my high schoolers enrolled in the HomeLife Academy, just to have their assistance in all this high school planning/preparation, etc. (because when we began our high school journey we were living in Florida, where HLA counted as one of the options in fulfilling the homeschooling regulations). Also, you could check out Barb Shelton's Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La.

    Hope this helps a little! ;-)

  5. Kayla, we have used Five in a Row in our family for years (at least 10, I think). It is a wonderful, easy to use, curriculum, honestly. You can do as much or as little planning and preparing ahead of time as you want. The selection of picture books used is outstanding! And Mrs. Lambert's lessons are captivating, and thorough. Honestly, there is something in each book that will meet each child's needs/interests. You can also go to the website, to the forums there, and ask all the questions you have. It is a great group of people; and often Jane and Steve Lambert are there answering questions, too!! They are super! :-) Just my humble opinion! ;-)

  6. Choosing curriculum is one of the most fun, but also difficult parts of homeschooling. (Well, other than actually implementing the plan. That's the hardest for me!) You've got some great resources. I'm going to have to check out that grammar program.


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