Friday, June 3, 2016

And That's a Wrap

September 2015

June 2016

It's hard to believe that another homeschooling year is on the books. It's also heard to believe how much these boys have GROWN in a year! I'm sure by next year I will be the shortest person in the photo. 

My middle son (in blue) just finished up his first year of high school. My youngest is just finishing up "sixth" grade. We've continued in our "hodgepodge" style of school and it continues to work for us. 

My middle kiddo took a number of classes online through Virtual Homeschool Group (VHSG). They included Apologia Biology, Introduction to Literature, Scratch 1 and 2, and a short study skills course. All have been great. My youngest took a middle school literature class on VHSG as well.

If you aren't familiar with VHSG I highly recommend it. It's essentially an online homeschool co-op. The best part? It's free! They offer live classes each year as well as "at-your-own-pace" (AYOP) classes. If you volunteer to help in some way - just like an in person co-op - or donate funds to help with the cost of the server, your child will be guaranteed a spot in any live class you want. Otherwise, they can often go to a lottery and there is a chance they won't get in. This fall will be our third year really using it and I find it well worth it to donate and/or volunteer. This last year I did both.

We also participated in a local homeschool co-op at our church. The biggest reason we did this was so that my boys could make more friends at church. We've only been here for a couple of years and they hadn't made many connections. I can say we've been very successful with that this year and they had a great time. 

At co-op they both took the high school track even though my youngest is only 12 and "6th" grade. It was a better fit for him. The boys were part of the production we did of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe back in April (post coming at some point). They had a really good time with that. 

My middle son was Aslan (middle of the photo).
My youngest was a wolf - grey wolf behind in the red fox on the right of the photo - back row.

The other classes they took were Apologia Biology - experiments only. This worked out so well with my middle kiddo doing the online class for the book part and then doing the experiments together with the co-op at church. They also did an art class and played with all kinds of different mediums from painting to crayon resist to using fabric to using beans to make a mosaic to just drawing. Then I led a military history class. We covered the wars from as far back as King Phillip's War all the way up to the current war. All-in-all it was a great year of learning with friends. 

We've also continued with Teaching Textbooks for math - for both boys. They have also been getting some extra tutoring from Daddy which is awesome. I am so not a math person at all. Thankfully I am married to an engineer who can make math fun - go figure!

They both also use Rod & Staff for spelling. It's something I hit on later for them so, yes, I'm still making my middle son do spelling even in high school. He will do one more year of it next year. I love Rod & Staff spelling. It has been the one thing I've hit on that actually seems to work to help them learn and remember using the words they are learning. It has a strong phonics base but we did that when they were younger so it's worked well for them. 

For history we're doing Story of the World Volume 2 with my youngest. We're doing it very simply this year in order to just get some history in. I read and we discuss. Simple and done. For my other son we're using World History by James Stobaugh. I didn't like it though. I want him to use something a bit more indepth next year. I'm planning to switch them both to Notgrass history.

We also went through Winston Grammar this year. I liked it. I'm not sure my boys did but I think it helped. Now if I can just get them to apply what they've learned, I'll be happy! We did this all together and I think that helped. I would give them time to do the workbook and then we'd review with each one taking a turn sharing what they put down. 

The boys also continued with their music lessons this year. They've both been taking piano for about six years. About two years ago my youngest son started with violin and just this past year my oldest started with drums. He's progressed so quickly! We started out with a practice pad, went to a snare drum, and now he's been using a full kit for at least the last six months. We are also blessed to have an instructor that comes to our house once a week for two hours and gives them both instructions on all of their instruments for an extremely reasonable price. He's also very patient and a great teacher.

Newly set up in our den. It now resides in our basement. 
November 2015

I rounded out their learning this year with various videos I found on YouTube. My middle son is going through the Crash Course Government video series. They are also both going through the Geography Now! A-Z Countries channel. These are short 8-10 minute videos on various countries that go over the flag and what it means, the people and culture, where it's located, and other interesting facts. 

I'm now busily planning for the fall. We'll be taking most of June off from active learning (we have a bit of unschooling in us so learning never really stops). The boys will also continue music lessons throughout the summer. In July we'll start back with our "light school" schedule and slowly add things in by the of August so that we will be back at our full schedule in September.

I'll be posting something later this summer with what we plan to use next year. 

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